ClockSMILE!

ATTENTION: I'm constantly (well, for right now) updating this page... so every time you visit, take the time to refresh your browser. I have to give credit here to Matt Swanson and Ken Coomer. Without them, this page would be a festering pile of camel dung.

Clockhammer, in my opinion, was the greatest band of all time. Otherwise, why would I take the time to make a web page devoted to them? Because I'm a drooling, worshiping idiot. Of course, if you listen to enough Clockhammer, you will be too. And I can't possibly thank Matt Swanson enough for his help with this page. Without Matt's inspiration, this page would be about half of what it is now.

 


They're a band originally out of Nashville, Tennessee, about an hour's drive from here, which should give you some idea where I am. In their first incarnation, they were four:

Byron Bailey: Guitar (lead and rythm) and vocals
Christian (Chris) Nagle: Guitar (and vocals?)
Matt Swanson: Bass
Ken Coomer: Drums

Chris didn't end up staying with the band for long ... however, in the most recent incarnation of Clockhammer, he's back.

Their sound was somewhat unique for the time ... a mixture of jazz and rock (otherwise known as fusion) and I consider them one of the primary leaders in this genre. Sure, several other bands have achieved a fusion-esque sound, like Dave Matthews, but this was different. This was hard rock jumping to mellow jazz, and back, and then to a harmonized blend of the best of both worlds. You've got to remember, this was in the late 80's, early 90's, so this was unique at the time.


A quick rundown of the three:

Byron Bailey

The man with the voice of a pissed-off angel. He can sing the sweetest notes, making a song about, say, the loss of a matchstick sound like his world was coming to an end, and taking you with it. Then, the next track or possibly same song, he sprouts hair all over his body and becomes the embodiment of bitter hate.
Great blend.
Of course, his guitar work is nothing to sniff at. Just as if it was an extension of his voice, his guitar goes from power chords to weepy jazz ballads at the drop of a hat. Now, I'm not much of a guitarist, but I know that what this man's playing not just anyone can do.

Matt Swanson

The man laying down some heavy grooves. Taking his tips from Byron, we're introduced to funk one minute, metal the next, and swingin' jazz after that. Now, I do play bass, and I can only figure out about two and a half of his basslines. His bass melds with Byron's guitar, without falling in line. In other words, he plays what he wants, and has an ear for making it good. All hail the man Matt Swanson. I swear he has seven fingers on each hand. You can even email him.

Ken Coomer

The man with the beat. Ken can lay down whatever you want and do it with style. With Ken at the drums, the three are in perfect sync. Sometimes, you listen to the tracks carefully, and think that, "Gee, I don't know jack about playing drums, but that's some awfully complex work he's doing there." At risk of being repetitious, you name the style, and Ken can play it. Just as with Matt, you can email him.


What's goin' on currently?:

Reportedly, the reason they broke up was because Byron's girlfriend was to Clockhammer as Yoko Ono was to the Beatles... in other words, a real trouble-inducer. Since they broke up somewhere around '92 I'd say, Byron has gone on to rebuild Clockhammer. What the hell he thinks he's doing is beyond me, but hey, I can't really tell him that. If you know him, tell him.
He's ditched Swanson and Coomer (actually, as I understand it, they ditched him) and has formed a new Clockhammer:

Byron Bailey: Guitar, vocals
Christian (Chris) Nagle: Guitar, vocals
Mark Smoot: Bass, vocals
Chris Gallo: Drums

One of my friends (okay, I can't leave that sounding anonymous ... his name is Ben Winters) saw Ken Coomer at a Jesus Lizard concert at 328 Performance Hall in Nashville. Ken's words were, "Now Clockhammer sounds like watered-down Kansas. Matt and I are going to go sit in the front row at one of their concerts and make fun of them."

As for Ken and Matt, they're both still involved in various projects around Nashville. Ken does the drums for Wilco, and Matt's tied in to several different things. For a decent list, check out the Dinah Shore Jr. homepage. Or, for a listing of creepier stuff, check out the CYOD page. Info on both Ken and Matt resides there.


The new Clockhammer:

Evidently sometime after Coomer and Swanson nudged Bailey out of the band, he went on to re-form Clockhammer. He got his cousin Christian (Chris) Nagle to play guitar with him, and got a new drummer and bassist. It would appear that they're no longer on the First Warning label, as their label's address on their new (1994) album, Houses In Motion, appears to be in Germany.

So ... there's a new band. What do they sound like, you may ask? Well, unlike Ken Coomer's judgement, they don't sound like "watered-down Kansas" to me, however, they don't sound like Clockhammer either. The guitars themselves are more modern, more (o how I hate to use this word) alternative, less hard rock and jazz. Basically less fusion.

In terms of the vocals, Byron and Chris do a great job harmonizing, but someone's been working their devil majik on Byron, because he doesn't scream anymore. He just sings, and sings higher (or as Ben Winters says, "girlier") than he used to, but it's still unmistakeably Byron Bailey's voice.

Now the bassist, Mark Smoot, can play the crap out of a bass. It's a different style than Matt Swanson, but it's still good. However, Mr. Smoot can't write a song to save his life, and his vocals leave much to be desired. Whoever decided that he could write and sing on this album was sadly mistaken, and should be shot.

Chris Gallo is on the drums, where it's obvious he should be. The drums are the only part of the new album that resemble the old, in terms of skill. In terms of style, they're vastly different, but Ken Coomer's got a good match here. No complaints from my end.


Well, you asked for it:

Here's my list of the other Clockhammer pages I've found on the web. Most of them are music reviews, but you ought to read them because they are far more eloquent than I.


Clockhammer Logos:

For your, ah, damn, what's that word? Anyway, here are the logos:


Pictures from the albums:

I've pictures from all the albums. Mainly (okay, all) it's just scans of the little annoying jackets that come with CDs, and are all the time falling out and impossible to put back in. Is that just me? Maybe I should take my Ritilin. Anyway, it would be easiest for you to load this.


Pics of Byron Bailey (guitarist):

So far, I've only come into posession of two pictures of Byron:

Byron recording in a sound booth (in Studio 19, 1989), and
Byron playing live on stage.


Pics of Matt Swanson (bassist):

Matt is seen here playing a bass. In concert. Live.
Matt is seen here playing a bass. In the studio (Studio 19, 1989).


Pics of Ken Coomer (drummer):

Okay, in concert, here's Ken with his drums.
And here we have Ken setting up his Rogers kit.


Matt's Craziness:

These are some ... things ... that Matt has done. You can view them individually as follows:

However, it's best experienced if you view them all at once.


Group Photos:

Here we have, yep, you guessed it: PICTURES OF THE GROUP! They're sorted by two categories, playing instruments at the time of the picture, and not playing at the time.

Aaaaannndddd:


Totally Random Stuff:

Okay, these things just don't fit into any category. So, having said that, here goes:


If by any chance you have anything you'd like to share with me, please, do so. You can reach me at sc-clockhammer@slickninja.com.