Courtesy of Dave Hoffenberg
Alex Abraham said this weekend is “fixing to be one of the better weekends” of his life and it could be yours too if you head to the Wobbly Barn on Friday night, Dec. 18, to see his band, “Hamjob.” It’s a free show if you’re 21 and over and the doors open at 8 p.m. The band is going to be passing around piggy banks to raise money for “Annie,” a pit bull friend of theirs who sadly got hit by a car and left to die. She needs emergency surgery.
Abraham is the drummer and he is joined by Connor McGinnis on guitar and Zack Jepson on bass and vocals. The stars could not have aligned any better in getting these guys together. Two years ago Abraham had just finished his summer job at Lake Dunmore and was walking down the street when a dump truck pulled up and the guy in it had been searching for him for weeks and weeks. He wanted Abraham to play in a band with his son. Abraham called up Jepson and the three of them jammed together for two weeks straight and wrote four songs, two of which “Piney” and “FGR” are their most popular songs today.
Abraham said the dump truck driver’s son, however, wasn’t really digging it. “He wanted to play more metal, more heavy stuff and we just wanted to play anything and everything that sounded good,” Abraham said. “We parted ways, found Connor and boom two weeks after the summer job had ended, Hamjob was born.”
Hamjob played some open mics for a few months, practiced really hard for a few more months and within a year’s time Hamjob took off.
“We’re two years in, feeling pretty good and we’ll keep it flowing,” Abraham said.
Coming up with the name was pretty random, he continued. “It’s funny, I don’t even know why ham was even an option. A lot of people think the name comes from my last name Abraham but that’s not even close to true. Zach had the idea of calling the band Ham Cannon and a few other Ham ideas. We all came up with a bunch of Ham names but it was a good friend of mine, Aaron, who nonchalantly said, ‘Why don’t you guys just call yourselves Hamjob?’ We all started crying with tears of laughter and it was just so clear that’s what it had to be.”
Hamjob hails from Pittsford, VT and that’s where they make all the music happen. The music they play is a wide variety that Abraham describes as, “a lot of funk, a lot of reggae and a lot of blues. Then some jazzy soul, hip hop, rock ‘n’ roll and a little metal and even some polka. We try and cover every end of the spectrum and make music that’s not so much a genre but a feeling. If it feels good, it sounds good and you dig it, there’s a little something for everybody in there. There’s parts of our songs where the metalheads will love this and then the jazz crowd, the funky people and the jam band kind of folk will get into stuff and it’s all part of the same song.”
The band’s major influence is Primus and that’s who they’ve been compared to. They share many similarities like being a three piece with the bass player as the lead singer.
“We all love Primus,” Abraham said. “Our lead singer is a phenomenal bass player who plays intricate weird bass lines that your average bass player would not do. Zach is hugely influenced by Les Claypool and Frank Zappa. We cover a handful of Primus songs. Some bands have their ‘Dead’ sets but we want to start doing ‘Prime’ sets. If we can pick a set to do of any band out there, it would be Primus.” Abraham was brought up on underground death metal but in the last five years he has been infatuated by blues and funk. He loves when people turn him on to new stuff and put songs on his phone.
McGinnis is a huge fan of the Black Keys and they all love Sublime.
Abraham got an electric guitar when he was 10 years old but said it was really hard, so a year later he got a cheap little drum kit and started fooling around on it. A few years later when he was 13, he got an actual five piece drum set. He got into that and took lessons. He started his own band when he was 15. That’s when he realized that he wanted to drum professionally and turn it into a career. For the past 11 years he’s been trying actively to make that happen. He didn’t give up on the guitar though and still plays it to this day. Sometimes Hamjob will all switch up instruments mid-song. It’s something that they want to do more of. It’s fun for them and for the audience.
Jepsen writes most of the songs but they all contribute to their music parts. They’ll spend a couple of days in the practice room turning one riff into a 20-minute-long song.
They’re now working on raising funds now so they can get into a professional studio and release their first album. They’re an all original band but like to throw in some covers just for fun.
Hamjob first played the Wobbly Barn last January but are excited to have been given a weekend night this time around. Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury is a second home to them. They also feel indebted to all the time they’ve spent playing at Center Street Alley in Rutland. That’s where they got their start and the support they get from their fans there is amazing, Abraham said. Hamjob is a purely Vermont grown band.
You never know what you’re going to get at a Hamjob show — it might be someone drinking Abraham’s sweat. Yes, you read that correctly, and like me probably got a sick feeling in your stomach. “That started early on in the game. It was a random stupid idea. It was my plan to wring out my shirt because I get so hot every show and it’s disgusting. So I thought what if I wring it into a cup and see if anyone would drink it. I never ever thought anyone would but it turns out the first time I did it, someone grabbed it and drank it. After that it took off. I don’t do it every show but eight different people on seven occasions have drank my sweat. I’ve never tried it and failed. At this point, guys and girls have drank my sweat. I feel bad but I never thought in a million years this is how it would’ve gone.”
Abraham has had a tough road but thoroughly digs what he is doing now. “I spent a lot of my life messing up but throughout all the bad, the only time I felt really alive like a human being is when I got up on that stage. When I play music in front of people, the energy that flows and the reactions we get I love. The whole respect and family aspect of it … I’ve met some of the best people in my entire life through shows that I play and the music that I involve myself with. I’m making a bunch of noise that people like so much and it makes them happy… my whole life revolves around pigs and Hamjob. I got a ham tattoo on my face. Hamjob is my literal dream come true. There is no one person to thank for it but the people who come out and support it and that is the only reason it’s a good as it is,” he said.