A good number of establishments still won’t book local rockers Posh Hammer. It’s not because they trash dressing rooms or reduce sound men to tears — it’s because of the band members’ ages. “We get there and we load in, and the bands playing with us or the people already there or the owners of the venue always seem a little bit like, ‘Oh no, here’s a bunch of teenagers,’” says Navied Setayesh, the band’s 16-year-old lyricist and lead guitarist. “Then we play, and they really like us afterward.”
Along with a modernized ’70s glam-rock aesthetic inspired by David Bowie and the suits and ties of Roxy Music, the group brings its surprisingly advanced chops to a free show at the Mothlight on Wednesday, July 9, opening for fellow local rockers Alarm Clock Conspiracy and Hard Rocket.
While teen bands are an established facet of high school culture, few manage to move beyond talent shows and the occasional house party. Recognizing that time is a key factor, to better focus on music Navied and his 15-year-old sisters, twins Tasnim (vocals/guitar) and Tiam (bass/harmony), persuaded their supportive parents (Iranian-born Reza and Asheville native Eva, owners of Rezaz and Piazza restaurants) to home-school them. It’s a change the siblings view as more of an inevitability than a choice. “We always grew up with music in the house. Our parents were always playing something and exposing us to different types of stuff,” Navied says. “Then we started playing and just slowly got more into it, so it was just sort of natural that we’d really want to pursue it.”
Progressing from messing around with cover songs in their basement to writing original material, the Setayeshes booked studio time at Echo Mountain and recorded six tracks in mid-2013 with a studio drummer. Shortly thereafter, and thanks to the fact that fellow home-schooler Daniel Cracchiolo is, in Navied’s words, “the type of 16-year-old drummer who has business cards and pins them up around town,” the guitarist spotted said card on a record store cork board and set up an audition via email. Rehearsing together for a single week, the new foursome played its first gig as a unit at The Grey Eagle. Though that show was a success, their dynamic has significantly improved in the meantime.
“We’re a lot more cohesive now and we’ve been writing material with Daniel present, so he’s been putting his input on stuff,” Navied says. “It’s sort of a weird thing because me and the girls are siblings, and when we’re practicing or onstage, I can think something and not necessarily tell them that’s what I want them to do, but they’ll just automatically do it. The more Daniel plays with us, the closer he gets to that.”
Unlike their dedication to music, Posh Hammer is composed of self-professed slackers when it comes to getting driver’s licenses (“It’s a long program,” Navied says). That means a parent drives them to shows in North Carolina and the surrounding states in a creamy pistachio-colored van they’ve affectionately dubbed Oliver. Once their set is finished, the quartet tries to talk as much as possible with appreciative audience members and sticks around to hear all the acts on the night’s bill. This camaraderie has helped expand their popularity in the regional music scene, and while their booking agent and parents provide plenty of assistance with behind-the-scenes duties, the band works to be involved in every business aspect that they can. “We know one day we’ll have to take over, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Navied says.
His wish might come true faster than he realizes. In May, 11 months after their initial session, the Setayeshes returned to Echo Mountain to finish their debut album. Under the guidance of producer Julian Dreyer, they cut six more songs and went back to refine the previously recorded songs, which included Tasnim redoing all of her vocal tracks. The band agrees that the results are far more cohesive than the nearly yearlong space between studio times would suggest. With art currently being finalized, they expect the album to be released sometime in the next few months.
Posh Hammer has learned much in a relatively short time about what it takes to be successful in the music industry. The crucial secret to the musicians is establishing something unique, which Tasnim believes they’ve found with a new genre she calls “Posh rock.” Navied brushes away that claim, saying in a matter-of-fact brotherly tone, “It’s really just pop rock.” Whatever it is, it’s working.
WHO Hard Rocket, Posh Hammer, Alarm Clock Conspiracy
WHERE The Mothlight, themothlight.com
WHEN Wednesday, July 9, at 9 p.m. Free