20 Questions: Old 97’s Murry Hammond

Photo (partial) by Alex Myers

Old 97’s co-founder and bassist Murry Hammond released a solo album in 2008 called I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m on My Way. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, singer-songwriter Grey DeLisle, and their three-year-old son, Tex. Old 97’s will soon begin recording their eighth studio album.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Junebug. Amy Adams’s sweet old Dad reminded me alot of my sweet old Dad.

2. The fictional character most like you?

I’d like to claim George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life — he tries his best to be good and take on the weight put upon him, but he often falls into frustration and has to hunt for new sources of strength.

3. The greatest album, ever?

The Beatles’ Revolver. I’ve had it since I was six and my jaw still occasionally drops at “She Said She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”. And the companion 45 “Rain”.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I never really attached to one over the other, but probably Star Wars would tip the scale slightly for sheer imagination.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I’m a coffee drinker, but black tea sharpens me up best.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Last few years I’ve done some fund-raising for a charity, something I’ve never done before. It was for a finite cause, the building of a number of small houses in a poor part of Mexico near Tijuana. I was able to see both the beginning and the very end of the project, which was very satisfying in a way I’m still chewing on. It changed me some.

7. You want to be remembered for…?

Hopefully for being a good and positive community guy.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

He’s not “real”, but definitely Johnny Appleseed. He’s the one I look to most for inspiration to keep doing the small things that eventually add up to bigger things.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I wish I could say I invented ambient music. The most under-rated musical form out there.

10. Your hidden talents…?

I once owned my high school’s record for the high jump, and I can juggle four balls.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

“You’re gonna have to bear up to it and take it.” A family friend of ours — an old farmer where I grew up who also was my school bus driver — told my Dad that very thing at our mother’s funeral. In his life he had lost two sons, one at 17 and one at 40, so those words carried a good bit of power from him. It helped my Dad a bunch, and it always stuck with me, too. Sometimes, even when you don’t know why, you got to simply be tough and have faith that peace will come again, just as it has before.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

A typewriter! An old Royal manual job that worked very well. My mom taught me to type over the summer when I was 9. I learned to type, then type fast. In my teenage years that same typewriter was what I used to make a punk music fanzine. In my adult years the skill gave me typing-related jobs that enable me to support my music somewhat painlessly. Nowadays, I type probably an average of four to five hours a day working on a Texas history website I run called the Texas Transportation Archive. So, that early typewriter gave me a great deal that otherwise I wouldn’t have had, or had as easily.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?

Levis, workshirts and boots, all the way.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

My wife. She’s already got the outfits ready to go.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Since I don’t think you get to carry things through the time tunnel, I’d go to the 1920s, take a lot of pictures in Texas, hide them in a safe place, and retrieve them when I get back.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

I’ve done a bit of all three, but vacations by far yield the best results.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?


18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

West Texas.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Stop playing nice.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Writing for the new 97’s is done, and I work on my website every day of the world.