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Brush with noise

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Ross Adams

James Hammontree, singer/guitarist for Paintscratcher, took a bad habit and twisted it into the perfect name for his then-fledging, Oklahoma City-based hardcore group.

“The thing I used to do when I was nervous was scratch the paint of a windowsill furiously fast. I thought, ‘That’s a pretty good name for how I want the attitude of the band to feel,’” he said. “I try to keep everything as visceral, vague and ambiguous as possible so people can get their own feeling for it, but it definitely stemmed out of nervous habits and wanting the music to feel like the explosion of nerves everyone has at some point in their lives.”

Hammontree and bandmates Jamie Schnetzler (guitar) and Colin Ferguson (drums) had played in metro hardcore acts before joining in 2010.

“It seems like for a while, hardcore got popular around here and turned into a widely known thing, but it was more metal-tinged. There was less of an old-school punk perspective and more ’80s-metal side to it,” Hammontree
said. “I just wanted to play hardcore that was based in punk and noise …
less of a tough and intimidating mood, rather a mysterious and surreal
attitude to it. I’m not trying to scare anyone; I want to bring an
emotion different than wanting to fight.”

Two
years of experience have found Paintscratcher as something of a
thinking man’s hardcore band, bringing into the fold post-punk
heavyweights Gang of Four and Wire, along with modern noise acts like
Lightning Bolt.

“If
you can juxtapose an outside influence with a certain style of music you
are doing, you might have a chance at coming up with something
creative,” Hammontree said.

The
group recently released a split 7-inch with like-minded Oklahoma act
Chud and wants to do another in the coming months. The songs — often
clocking in at two minutes or less — demand a listen, all while
accommodating ever-shortening attention spans.

“You
can reach a higher level of intensity when you make something shorter.
To give the most energy you can, it’s kind of got to come in a short
burst,” he said. “I work the songs in a fashion that I can only
physically play some of those songs for that long. There’s a certain
intensity that way. When it’s passing through time so fast, it has a
level of importance, because it’s going to end really soon.”

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