In his May 7th single, “Wherever the Hammer Falls,” Philly-based rocker Christian O’Connor succeeds in combining everlasting classic rock with traditional blues-soaked vocals.
The song is a head-banging high-adrenaline sensation, and although the single is more instrumental-heavy with its minimal yet endearing lyrics, the song is developed as an opening jam for live shows while presenting its supersonic energy. The track is also the first single from his forthcoming third album, Laughing From The Other Side.
O’ Connor blends his rapid-fire guitar skills with his soaring melodies, and creates a modern take of rock and this textured vocals of uplifting gospel harmonies. The mood and upbeat tempo continuously reach an unlimited level of a feel-good track. “Wherever the Hammer Falls” proves to be a fun and thriving powerhouse single, displaying his rock and roll chops.
Growing up in Philadelphia, O’Connor found his love for music at a young age, as he learned how to write and produce music, record tracks, and study how the music business works. Since graduating from Drexel University, he’s played countless shows, and worked on several albums, whether he helped produced them or was the main attraction, with his latest one being his ten-track record, “Wine Over Water/ Blood Over Wine.”
The single is one of several releases O’ Connor has planned for the coming months, with much promise on the horizon for his exciting live performances. The upcoming singles will cover the roots of more traditional and hardcore rock.
We had the privilege to ask O’Connor some questions to learn more about him, his single, and much more.
What was it about the guitar that initially drew you to learn how to play?
All of my heroes played guitar. I was a fan of metal growing up, so guitar was the natural conclusion. Also, the more that I started to play, the more I realized the versatility of the guitar. I was very into buying various guitar pedals as a kid to make my guitar sound more and more bizarre. The weirder the sounds I got the more I enjoyed it.
Who are some of your all-time favorite rock guitarists that have influenced your sound?
Jimmy Page was probably my favorite. Led Zeppelin was my favorite band growing up. I would try to learn all of the Led Zeppelin songs and play them with anyone that I could find that played drums and bass.
What are your favorite aspects about rock music that you believe separate it from every other genre?
It’s super difficult to explain exactly what is so amazing about a particular song or genre of music. I’ve equated it to trying to explain what red looks like to someone who is color blind, why chocolate cake tastes good, or why 2 + 2 = 4. It’s just something baked into the fabric of the universe. Some people say that music brings you back mentally and emotionally to the time that you first heard it. I think it’s something more complicated. You have to feel it to understand but ultimately rock is powerful. It’s just beautiful, it’s the musical equivalent of chocolate and cheesesteaks.
What is more important to you as an artist: the instrumentation or the lyrics? Or do they hold equal priority in your creative process?
It depends on the song. I have some songs that are more lyric-driven and some songs that are more musically driven. “Wherever The Hammer Falls” is much more musically driven. It only has a few actual lyrics in it, lol. Both music and lyrics are very important, but I guess I’ve spent more time overall on instrumentation. I was a guitar player for hire before I ever released my own material, so I guess that says it all. Sometimes I write lyrics that speak louder than my guitar, and sometimes my guitar speaks louder than the lyrics.
How were you influenced to create your new single “Wherever the Hammer Falls”?
I wrote this song as a tool for live concerts. My band and I do several jams during my live show. Usually we would tack them on to the end of songs. The problem is they started to feel disorganized. I wanted to showcase some guitar solos but without a definite structure it just started to feel thrown together. I decided to write a song to showcase my guitar playing in a way that didn’t feel as improvised.
Being such a guitar-driven song, can you explain the arrangement process? Is it majorly constructed, or do you leave a lot of room for improvisation?
This song was very improvised. I wrote it by spending a day just soloing to no backing track or metronome at all, and I just recorded the licks that I came up with that I liked best. After that I put it into Pro Tools and gave it some structure. This is actually similar to the way I write a lot of my songs. It has to start with some type of improvisation and discovery of hooks. It could be a riff or melody line, etc… but usually the more things that come to me as improvisations the better the song sounds. Organizing the pieces together is the frustrating part, but as long as it continues to feel inspired I’m always happy with the result. Once it’s feeling complete, I go back and re-record the guitars, playing along with the drums and bass to capture the live feel.
Can you describe what the perfect live performance of your new single would look/be like?
It would have a big audience! As long as there’s a crowd of people that want to hear rock I think it would be amazing. I do best in bars. I’ve been playing at bars across the country since my late teens, almost a decade and I’ve loved every single show. That’s really the key, finding people that have a passion for hard rock and metal just like me, then packing them all into a room.
Is the single an introduction to a bigger project you’re setting to release? And if so, should we expect it to have the same hardcore rock sound?
Yes and Yes! I am going to be releasing a lot of new singles in 2021 and 2022. Stay tuned for much more. I have songs slated for release in June, July, August and many more in the fall. They will be hardcore rock, medium-core rock, and rock with a little sprinkle of trap.
With everything beginning to settle down, what are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2021?
I’m looking forward to finally playing live again. This pandemic has been rough for all musicians who specialize in live shows. None of us saw this coming and it was a big adjustment. I’ve done many Zoom and virtual performances but nothing beats an in-person venue. I hope to see a lot of you out in the music scene real soon.