Sheetrock & Roll 

The Indie Rock Construction Company

AN OVERCAST SUNDAY AFTERNOON at Oxbow park--kids, kegs, barbecue, fevered horseshoe competition: In every way the perfectly ordinary construction company picnic, aside from the gardenburgers and overheard Courtney Taylor gossip, maybe. And, in truth, Hammer and Hand is a perfectly ordinary construction company. Along with a small amount of new construction, they concentrate on residential remodeling and have earned a strong local reputation for high-end craftsmanship. Why, you ask, should they then appear in the music section of such an aggressively indie newspaper? Well they're also kinda the perfectly rock star construction company. A good portion of the company newsletter, "Hammered And Handy," details employees' upcoming gigs. Steve Birch (Mandarin, touring guitarist for Everclear) drew their logo. Swoon 23 drummer Marty Smith designed their website. They've remodeled Art Alexakis' house, assisted Pete Krebs' construction plans, and essentially saved Satyricon from structural implosion. Spike Keating (Magic Fingers, Television Eye) and Yorck Franken (Slack, Kung Fu's) worked there for years. Jesse Emerson (Flatirons, Dolomites) and Randy Givens (Brazilian Drum Corps) still do.

Chester Stallings, veteran of the Skate Drunks, Three Cool Guys and countless past local acts, plays with Oblivion Seeker/ co-worker Ivan French in the New Wave Hookers. Stallings has recently been practicing with a largely unformed combo of fellow H'n'H-ers Amanda Kelly (Team Dresch, Vegas Beat), Pete Deegan (Coos Bay City Rollers, among others) and Chris Cooper (part-owner of Cavity Search). A sorta carpenter supergroup.

Stallings, the oldest consistent employee with over four years' service, enjoys working with bandmates¯"I've been with more straight, redneck companies; nothing's quite like Hammer and Hand"¯but insists that the predominance of musicians was a natural evolution. "A lot of people get hired who are friends of friends. I don't think they get chosen because they're in bands. I'd hope they're chosen for their carpentry skills." The rock star jobs, too, are largely by association. They were recommended for Alexakis' house by Birch. With Satyricon, Stallings laughs, "everybody who worked on that job had played there before." Inside Stallings' own house lies perhaps the most treasured icon of Portland's punk history¯the urinal trough from Satyricon's old bathroom.

"It was a real honor and a total challenge to remodel Satyricon," recalls Sam Hagerman. Hagerman founded the company in 1994 with Dan Thomas, an ex-member of Slack who plays with the Velvida Underground. "The club was about to fall into the space below, and we did a major structural rebuild on the inside. Because so many of the people who worked for me had played down there and knew the kind of abuses it took, we elevated our game, thinking about what it would take to make an indestructible bathroom in a punk rock club."

"I don't know why everything has worked out this way," Hagerman continues. "When you want everyone to work together and have a like mind, you hire a certain type of person and a lot of the people, in our model, were musicians in a way, music and carpentry are basically related. You can definitely find a correlation between an ability to understand musical systems and to study the math inherent to carpentry, which can get pretty complex. If someone understands the basic chords of punk rock up to easy jazz, that's the sort of mathematical knowledge you need to be a good carpenter."

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