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Meat To The Beat
Never mind their odd name, Ham Sandwich might just be the most exciting new Irish rock band of the year.
Peter Murphy, 25 Feb 2008
When, at the conclusion of our interview in a city centre hotel, your reporter tells Kells quintet Ham Sandwich that he’s going to spare them yet another spiel on what a dodgy name they’ve chosen, it elicits a hearty cheer from the ranks. A cheer, it must be said, that soon turns to bemusement when I begin to garble about the Ham Sandwich Theorem (also called the Stone-Tukey theorem, after Arthur H. Stone and John Tukey) found in a branch of mathematics known as measure theory.
“We should call ourselves the Stone-Tukeys,” considers bassist Johnny Moore, before returning to the subject of his band’s handle. “We were talking yesterday about Johnny Cash’s ‘A Boy Named Sue’, the whole thing of, if you listen to that song, it’s the same as calling your band Ham Sandwich.”
Um, I don’t follow.
“Everytime someone says, ‘Aw man, that’s a shit name’, you go, ‘Well, I gotta fight you then!’”
“Our fathers called us Ham Sandwich to make us mean,” says singer and guitarist Podge McNamee. “But it did actually do a bit of a job, it secretly helped us along.”
Yes, well, this writer recalls a press release from the band quoting Bono on the subject.
Podge: “That’s been mentioned about a million times.”
What do you expect if you put out blurb with a Bono quote in it?!
“We were backstage at a Chili Peppers gig,” Johnny recalls, “and I saw Bono there and said hello and said I was in a band called Ham Sandwich, and he said, ‘You should change the name’.”
It’s too late to stop now. Ham Sandwich have just released their debut album Carry The Meek, recorded with Karl Odlum in the band’s base of Kells, Co. Meath and also in Virginia, Co. Cavan. It’s a sober, often intense, melancholic record very much at odds with not just its creators’ name, but also their quirky visuals, stage costumes and piss-take Lionel Richie videos. Take our word for it, this ain’t no party, no disco, no post ironic pop art fooling around.
“You can have serious music, but it doesn’t mean you have to mimic your music,” reasons Podge. “We’ve always just been ourselves and not been too caught up by what people think. A lot of bands seem to write their music and put this serious persona out there, and they’re not being themselves. That’s one of the reasons why. It is very clashing, but that’s just how things panned out with us.”