Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thrillhammer: The band that led the way for early Portland indie bands

Portland had an amazing scene going on in the early '90s...It was the home place of dozens of indie band, and although it was in a tight connection with Seattle, the mainstream success was quite a different thing there. Unfortunately it was all pointed to one direction, Everclear, God dammit! This and the story bellow are the main factors for hating Everclear:

When I was six or seven years old my elder sister had this Everclear tape that she used to listen almost every day. One day (guess she annoyed me with something) I recorded a couple of songs from a radio station on her tape. One of the songs I'm preety sure it was The Cure Lullaby...Anyway, when my sister found out...ha ha ha , she beat the crap out of me...And that was the day I started heating Everclear or anything that sounded like it. Fortunately, my sister lost the tape when she borrowed it to someone.

Leaving Everclear aside(I've already mentioned their name enough times) I guess you all know/agree that the top three bands in early '90s in Portland were Crackerbash, Pond and Hazel. What you probably don't know is that Pond and Hazel had something in common, and that something was a short-lived band called Thrillhammer. The band formed in 1990 in Portland, line-up consisting of David Triebwasser-drums, Pete Krebs-guitar, Ben Munat-bass, and Peter also wrote the lyrics. The band did a self-booked tour down the west coast and in May '91 broke up. Looks like they released their only album-Ghiftless- with the help of Steve Albini, when they weren't even a band any more.

Ben Munat recalls : We had actually broken up on our ill-fated tour in May of 1991. But when we got home, we heard from Mike Morasky, our friend in Steel Pole Bathtub (who worked for Boner Records), that he had vouched for us with the newly formed German branch of Rough Trade records[...] The album was recorded in a few days at Dogfish Studios in Newberg, OR (which tragically burned down a few years later). We slept in the studio and got on each others nerves. (Well, I remember for sure that I got on Albini's nerves.) I think we probably needed a bit more directing. Albini has always insisted that he's not a producer, but is just an engineer... a sonic documentarian, as it were.

Since the band sounds pretty earth-shacking to me, I would have really loved to listen to another material, if they had released any (to bad they hadn't). This is one of the records that was really underrated and definitely needs a listen and a comment on the bottom of the post with your personal opinion(so don't be shy). Post-Thrillhammer, David joined Pond, Ben formed Rotor with Dale Moerer, formerly of the Oily Bloodmen, and Pond ex-member Ken Adams. Pete joined Hazel, and after that Stolen Sweets.


Emile said...

Hi - just to say thanks for this post - never heard Thrillhammer before & i love it - reminds me a bit of Green River. Any chance you could re-upload "motor" and "Jinx" please, i think the links are broken, i couldn't download them? Thanks again & Keep it up - amazing blog!

Dan said...

Well I'm glad you like the post.About the songs...they should be working now

Emile said...

Perfect! Thank you Dan - great tracks!

Ben said...

Hey thanks for the nice write up! I'm glad you enjoyed the Thrillhammer. It was a really fun time for me. Unfortunately I have lost all other recordings of Thrillhammer and everything I had of Rotor.... which frustrates me to no end.

Well, keep on rocking!

Ben Munat

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



janni said...

Hi mr. Dan! Hazel and Pond are two of my favourite bands alongside with Heatmiser. Portland's rock scene was so powerful in the 90's with groups like Skiploader, The Dandy Warhols, 30.06, Sprinkler and others! Well your work is pretty good and I enjoyed the tracks in particular "Pretty Dead Girl" that is the perfect synthesis of Hazel's melody and Pond's rythmic section: AWESOME!I would like to hear the other songs of the album, could you share them with me? Thanks in advance!

Ben Munat said...

The entire Thrillhamer album is available here:


Thanks for listening. Glad you enjoyed it.

Ben Muant

janni said...

Thank you mr Ben! The album is great! "Suffocation Time" is wonderful!
Do you guys have something by a band called "Dimbulb"? I heard one of their song but I can't find their albums...

Anonymous said...

Thanks again.

Dimbulb, at least the Portland version, played in the earily to mid-ninties.

They also just did a reunion show as part of the closing month shows for the club Saytricon.

It looks like they have posted some videos on their facebook page:


You can probably message Storm on FB to ask if there are more recordings available anywhere.

Good luck,

Ben Munat

damon parrillo said...

Hey there Brother !
There was nothing like living in Portland during those times.. Just loved all those bands
Quick question
Was that you who stepped in for bass when Motorgoat disbanded and quasi was formed?
Great fun times!

Unknown said...

Hey, Damon. No, I only played bass in Grind, Thrillhammer, and Rotor. I can't remember a bass player in early Quasi... thought it was just Sam and Janet.