It took Matt Hammon only a few decades to step out in front of his drum set and go solo.
While growing up in Spring Branch, Hammon started his musical journey at 15 when he learned to play drums and guitar. Not too long after that, he was a founding member of the legendary emo band, Mineral. The Sunny Day Real Estate/Dinosaur Jr hybrid actually started in Houston in 1994 before they relocated to Austin. Hammon’s stint was short, lasting only a couple of months before he was replaced by Gabriel Wiley.
“I decided I wanted to go out as a drummer freelance,” Hammon says. “I didn’t have to go get a job at Starbucks. I just went and started playing gigs every night.”
Hammon reconnected with Chris Simpson from Mineral for another band called the Gloria Record. Their original recordings were paid for from a development deal with Interscope Records, who originally wanted to sign Mineral before they broke up.
Hammon’s time in the Gloria Record was short as he left for a golden opportunity to play with Bob Mould on his then-farewell to loud rock, The Last Dog and Pony Show. Hammon had seen Mould play an acoustic set at Fitzgerald’s in 1991 and his life was changed. So, the chance to play with the legend behind Hüsker Dü and Sugar was not taken lightly. “Bob Mould is my hero,” Hammon says. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
After playing with Mould and later Verbow, Hammon would later move to Nashville, producing pop artists. Later he moved back to Houston and started working out of a garage apartment that he made into a small studio. He got a degree in economics and political science from UH while he did music. He loved being in the studio, working with other artists, but slowly developed a desire to make his own music.
But once he started working on solo material, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer; the tumor was as large as a hand. Luckily the cancer was caught early and successfully treated. The life-threatening experience made him realize he couldn’t scrape by on $20,000 a year solely doing music anymore. Getting married and having a child, living in a van year-round, wasn’t for him anymore. “It was a big line in the sand in my life,” he says.
Hammon took a job as a social studies teacher in the Houston charter school system. He’s currently teaching economics and political science at Bellaire High School, and he loves it. And his love of playing music has never gone away. “The teacher schedule works out really, really well for a solo musician,” he says.
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Thus leads to Silver Suitcase, a powerful, self-released debut album that features Hammon on all instruments and vocals. Stylistically similar to the aforementioned bands he’s been a part of, Hammon has crafted an excellent set of tunes that are sonically clear and multi-layered.
He’s formed a backing band to play full-on rock shows, in addition to playing solo shows. He has his sights on playing locally as well as elsewhere in Texas and in other states. But can’t drop everything and tour nine months out of the year.
With a total of 14 weeks off a year as a teacher, he’s plotting how to promote Silver Suitcase. “I think there are about 20 markets in America worth playing, and I can definitely hit those in the summers,” he says.