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State of the Arts: Canned Hamm reheated

Mustachioed musical duo return from emotional hiatus

Its hard to know which part of what Big Hamm and Lil Hamm say is true.

The duo behind song and dance outfit Canned Hamm say they played their last Lower Mainland show at least four years ago in the rec room at fan Raymie Lee McDonalds White Rock condo complex.

Maybe its no coincidence that the mustachioed men behind a memorable song like Father and Son would be beloved by a man who later went on to author a book called Fishing with My Dad.

Nascent authors, artists and other fun lovers can seek inspiration this Saturday night when Canned Hamm returns from its lengthy hiatus to play a show at Main Streets Electric Owl on June 1 with Thee Goblins.

Lil Hamm (July Fourth Toilets Robert Dayton) claims he was lured to Vancouver from Toronto by an offer by Big Hamm (Stephen Hamm of The Evaporators, Tankhog, Slow) of a cot and two squares.

The Hamms finished each others sentences as they explained how karaoke brought them together in the beginning.

It was the dawn and dusk of the millennium, Lil Hamm said.

We were worried that all the karaoke machines would go down and all the computers would go down, added Big Hamm.

Previous shows by Lil and Big Hamm featured matching outfits and costume changes, puppets, balloons, crowd participation and special guest appearances by Hamster Hamm, Johnny Karate and Lil Baby Jesus, all performed to pre-recorded backing tracks.

The Hamms say they were inspired by the Beach Boys previously unreleased album Adult Child.

That album inspired us because it showed us that we can make wonderful, uplifting music about our pain, Lil Hamm said. Our emotional scars were shaped like happy faces.

Songs on their first album Karazma! include Karaoke Lady, Platonic Friend and the aforementioned Father and Son, which spawned a music video championed not only by local musician and gonzo journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette (Thee Goblins, The Evaporators) but also by a MusiquePlus show in Quebec.

Following in the footsteps of recording artists that include Britney Spears, the pair swapped their more innocent images for sexier stylings with their poptronic sophomore album Erotic Thriller. The album cover sees Big Hamm wearing copious eyeliner and Lil Hamm sporting beaded cornrows, and the recording includes the huskily sung Love Handles, and the driving Boyz Nite Out, which Big Hamm says is based on real life experiences.

Big Hamm says he never considered their songs ironic. It comes from the heart, he said, adding that songs such as Karazma!s Hairpiece have become more relevant to him over the years.

Canned Hamm toured with The New Pornographers, Neil Hamburger and Bobby Conn, who all performed on Canned Hamms tribute album Karazma: Reimagined. Canned Hamm also recorded a Christmas album and now they claim theyre following in the footsteps of bands that include Depeche Mode and April Wine and writing a blues song for their upcoming show.

Dayton is also in town for the Points Gray Offshore album release listening party at They Live Video, 4340 Main St., Friday night. Dayton, Dan Bejar of Destroyer and The New Pornographers and Julian Lawrence of July Fourth Toilet and Pocket Caligula recorded Offshore in the late 1990s, but it was never released on vinyl or in its entirety. Sipreano who wrote the album liner notes will perform a DJ set at the event and a midnight candlelight recitation by Daytons other alter ego, The Canadian Romantic, will top off the party.

As for Canned Hamms upcoming gig, the band promises many surprises.

There might be some balloons, said Lil Hamm. Theres going to be special guest appearances. For anyone whos never seen us before, its a pure show of entertainment and emotion.