Half-Dead Hamster
Gig Seeker Pro

Half-Dead Hamster

Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Album review"

Three guys go to Peotone Illinois High School together and start a garage party rock band just like we all did. But Half Dead Hamster manages to stand up on a milk crate and get themselves a cut above your average basement band wannabes. You might think the difference is just that their name is really stupid (though bassist/keyboardist/backup singer Josh Bult assures me the group has no animosity towards hamsters, or any animals for that matter, and wishes they’d spent an extra 30 seconds coming up with different nomenclature), but it’s a bit more than that.

In four years of playing together, Half Dead Hamster has developed a gentle simplicity behind the cymbals and old-amp-fuzz guitar which lends a mature rock-roots sophistication to their youthful earnestness. The band spent last summer converting Josh’s grandmother’s farmhouse into a recording studio, and in addition to stressing over their name and playing P.R. guy for the band, Josh also produced, mixed, and engineered their premier, self-titled CD Half Dead Hamster over the winter.

The boys out there in the barn filled the disc with eleven all-original compositions which they released in March 2006. Some of them – the opening untitled “Intro,” and Jared Piepenbrink’s piano epilogue at the end of the last piece, “The Kids”– are downright pretty. Al Hoffman’s lead vocals not only carry a resonant tune on melodic tracks like “In the Mourning,” but manage to impart sensitive meaning in a tonal-nonscreaming manner so startlingly unusual for the garage-band crowd that your parents or spouse might even let you play this disc on the living room stereo at high volume rather than limiting it to your headphones. Even my thirteen-year old daughter, deep into her monosyllabic phase, pronounced it “pretty good”.

When the drums and bass pick up, the sound gets a little raw, and if you are happily accustomed to current big-studio-slick-discs, you might think they blew their mixing. Fans of the Velvet Underground, the Yardbirds, and other vinyl grooves of that ilk, however, will think much differently. If you’re anything like me, a slow smile will spread across your face as you wonder how these guys managed to drag Maureen Tucker and Sterling Morrison out of wherever they are hiding to cut some tracks at grandma’s farm. Even the lyrics have a complex retro air to them – or is it just that we are always at war, always discouraging people from being ‘different,’ always hiding darkness behind civil small-town facades? (CSNY wouldn’t have written it much plainer than HDH’s “Dirt,” for example: “Brother on brother, on a strip of land, pile of dirt, grain of sand, you know our blood, flows the same red, how many wounds, will get that through your head.”)

When you realize it’s not some re-release of a recently-found psychedelic rock trove, your smile only gets bigger, because you know that instead of has-beens from thirty years ago, these guys got lots of time to get where they’re going, and the first-edition Half Dead Hamster CD you just bought is going to be worth a fortune on eBay in about twenty years. Buy two, just in case. Now if only they’d release their CD cover as a blacklight poster...

Cindy Hill, CD Reviews - CD Reviews


Half-Dead Hamster (self-titled) 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


Despite having one of the stupidest names you have probably ever heard, the power trio Half-Dead Hamster is a serious no frills, no gimmicks, straight to the point, rock band with memorable guitar riffs backed by extremely catchy harmonies. The music is both raw and melodic and the sound is bigger than you’d expect from a three piece.

Formed in 2002 in Peotone, Illinois by drummer Jered Piepenbrink and bassist Josh Bult after the breakup of their last band together, they quickly added guitarist Al Hoffmann who would eventually become the lead vocalist as well. The band has been writing and performing music ever since with a true love for their work and their fans.

With their new self-titled CD, “Half-Dead Hamster has developed a gentle simplicity behind the cymbals and old-amp-fuzz guitar which lends a mature rock-roots sophistication to their youthful earnestness.” (Cindy Hill, CD Reviews) From catchy riff-rock like “A Fire is Burning” and “Pamphlet” to the darker and more insightful “In This Place” and “Dirt” it has become clear that they are no longer a garage band, but emerging artists to be closely watched.