Robert Dayton (AKA Lil' Hamm) - 2002

Share:   Facebook  Check out Mark Prindle's interview with Canned Hamm's Robert DaytonTwitter   Email to friend               

Canned Hamm is a hilarious musical duo who - you know what, rather than explaining what they do, let me just direct you to They're a kitschy lounge act burlesque kind of troubadour Vegas vaudeville funny karaoke song-and-dance costumes `70s flamboyant good time. For all! They also have a C-Disc available called Karazma!. One of the guys is a large feller named Stephen Hamm who goes by the name "Big Hamm." The other is Mr. Robert Dayton, a more diminutive feller who goes by the name "Lil' Hamm." They're GREAT! I had to interview Lil' Hamm, and so did you. My questions are in bold, his answers are in shocking plain text.


Drippytown Comics I see - Do tell!

I wrote a BIG ASS article for their issue two on the connections between 60's super heroes Fat Man The Human Flying Saucer, Super Green Beret, and the Captain Marvel whose limbs would fly off when he yelled "Split!" A very messy super power, if you ask me, he needs a sidekick named Bounty The Quicker Picker Upper to trail after him. The Dripp Gazette was a free paper co-created by me that lasted twelve issues. Me and the co-creator Lester would stay up all night to get delirious and fulfill our mandate of "Whimsical irreverence." My Mom wrote TV movie reviews, there was Hygiene Hints, I'd write about High School Reunions and Potato chips. We were not a lifestyle magazine. Our target audience was everyone and that's what failed us, no direct niche for advertisers to latch onto, but I'm proud of it. I still have copies in my basement for sale. That is where "entainment" first reared its' head, or was it ripped off of the back of that Great Phone Calls LP (featuring Neil Hamburger)? Yeahhh, it was. We took it and ran.

Co-creator Julian (who I collaborate with in long-running semi-musical group July Fourth Toilet - name given to us by the Zip Code Rapists) applied to get a Xeric Grant - Teenage Mutant turtle money, giving moolah back to what they love, being comics- and got it and thus was born Drippytown Comics out of the ashes of Drippy Gazette. But it really has very little to do with The Drippy Gazette and Lester and I are really not involved in it.

Terminal City? That's something of which I need about info to!

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking long-running free Vancouver Weekly paper that gave up the ghost at the time Drippy was around but is back up again. I have a column entitled "Robert Dayton's Going For It," and they have recently reinstated the pic of my mug for reader visual/vocal recognition, eg. "I am reading him and this is what he looks like!" The pic is very authorly posed with turtleneck and glasses. I have written a two parter about Wired and meeting Cathy Smith's ex-boyfriend, meeting Gordon Jump, being thrown in the drunk tank, and being Artist of the Millennium. I can write about whatever I want! Ha ha!

What was it like growing up in Canada? Was it The Guess Who day and night? Nonstop The Guess Who?

Funny but there's this lady, she's in some feminist offshoot or something, she wants Canada's national anthem changed and, quite frankly, I agree with her, it's a lousy song, have you ever heard it? It's a real yawner. I'm a bit of a feminist, I've taken some gender studies classes, and I think that it should be changed to "No Sugar Tonight" by The Guess Who. Lyrics can be altered to suit.

Have you seen that one Burton Cummings album? It's got him playing piano while looking up a giant pair of legs. The legs are shaved so may be a person who bikes a lot- cyclists like to shave their legs.

When we weren't listening to The Guess Who we'd listen to the wind. Canada has a radio station that broadcasts wind-it came way before your Weather Channel.

How'd you get mixed up with that big galoot you call "Big Hamm"?

I was in a roadside bar being physically threatened by various jilted boyfriends of confused women, I was just trying to help with their confusion, well, Big Hamm saw that my life was being seriously threatened so he hoisted me up over his shoulder and ran threw the woods, he let out a mighty yell, and I joined him on falsetto. That got us thinking. That night we became blood brothers.

What the Hell is "Entainment"?

The meaning of entertainment has become so warped and bastardized that there had to be a new catchphrase, one that was more concentrated, more lucid, more fluid, and more economical! You save three letters!

Who writes the lyrics and plays the music? Is it a duo job thing?

Ooh, it's a push-pull, give and take life experience. Collaboration of two to make one new thing (and I DON'T mean the Beast with two backs).The lyrics come from the heart and the music comes from the soul, you have to figure out which is which now. Hint: I'm the neurotic one with Lil' life crises.

Awww, when we met it meshed, ya know. Like peanut butter and chocolate, wine and women, Hall and Oates...

More importantly, who comes up with the stage act? It's HILARIOUS!!!!

Thank you, this just developed onstage mostly over time. We work out new tricks to dazzle and bedazzle. The banter is usually of the moment! Caught in the act. We're getting choreographers, The Canned Hamm Gypsies, to make us more limber.

Your stage wardrobe (rhinestone denim, pink scarves, satin lounge robes embroidered with initials of course, heavy gold necklaces) is stunning. But how do you dress when you aren't performing? And do people ever comment about the mustache? It's a bold fashion statement in these cold anti-mustache times!

Anti-moustache times? Anti-moustache times? The friggin' Nineties were anti-moustache times. I had a girlfriend who hated it so, I'd shave it often, it reminded her of her Grampa (a creepy unfunny story). But now most ladies find it sexy and those who don't, well I don't need them. Have you noticed how the fashion barriers are breaking down? Less iron-on club patches and soul patches, haw haw. Things are freer now, it seems. I don't get as many funny looks.

The stage outfit I used to wear before as street clothes in a slightly modified sense but it worked well for stage so, it stays onstage now. We love fashion! We're getting new outfits made, baby blue vinyl, partially inspired by Grandmaster Flash and his gang. I love clothes. Most stuff gets given to me now by friends knowing it'll suit me, my personality. My Mom makes me cat sweaters. My clothes have a lot of sentimental significance-friends, exes, family, situations...

Prev question furthered: I have grown a beard for "July Fourth Toilet Plays Dylan," when I wear a flowery shirt I look like a hippy! It'll be shaved after the show, Friday The Thirteenth and the moustache'll be back, it is an unsexy beard. Ohhh, showbiz!

Have you ever run into any macho belligerence from men who aren't prepared for your flamboyant act?

Nawwwwww, doesn't inspire it. Once for a July Fourth Toilet Easter show I was drunk on Jim Beam in a bunny suit trying to fight a biker but all he did was belly laugh. Just doesn't inspire it, too much self destruction going on, I guess.

You always tempt the ladies with your seXXXy strip teases. Do you ever plan to show the lasses The Full Monty?

You mean onstage, right?

Noooo! It's mystery, the dance of the seven veils, burlesque don'tcha know! What you don't see makes it sexier. Separately, Big Hamm and I have old reputations for onstage nudity that was done for different purposes that we are trying to live down. No nudity, the third album is going to be a children's album and the kids don't want that.

Many of your songs celebrate the beauty of the ladies ("Karaoke Lady," "I Kissed All The Girls At The Party," "Platonic Friend"), yet your stage act almost at times seems, I don't know - somehow... ummm.... effeminate. Is this flamboyant act just a trick you're using to score with the ladies?

Nawwww, we're effeminate naturals. I was never good at sports (true fact : I have mild cerebral palsy in my right side and have had to overcome that disability to become more charming, except when too drunk).

New Canned Hamm songs about the unrepressed, smart, interesting beautiful women I've had the pleasure of meeting lately: "Uninhibited" and "In Praise Of Older Women."

How did you get mixed up with Mr. Neil Hamburger?

Can't remember, somebody set it up, but it is the perfect pairing us warming him up. A friend described it as "Good cop, bad cop." We did Australia together more recently!

Because I am an important man, you pulled a quote from my "Karazma!" review and put it on your site. That quote is "From disco to Meat Loaf-style balladry to lots and lots of Vegas-style, karaoke-ish synth cheese, the lyrics are brilliant and the singing is engergetic." Aside from the word "engergetic," do you consider this a completely accurate description of your music? For my readers' sake, I'd love to hear YOUR description of the >CD -- >> what did I not say in my review that folks need be know?

Well, there's a lot to us, it comes from so many places, I mean it is hard for US to describe. So keep describing us and we'll keep morphing whilst staying true to our personalities.

When's the book you're writing on us coming out? It's never too soon!

I for one greatly applaud artists with the GUTS to speak out against self-destructive lifestyles. Do young people often tell you that you have inspired them to pursue a healthier way of life through your wonderful anti-drug track "High On Life"?

No. But we plan to do a one hour message video for free rental at Blockbuster. Wait for our much heeded and needed fourth album Twelve Stepping Out.

Your arrangement of "Shortnin' Bread" seems to be based upon the Beach >Boys' >> late-70s version of the song. Are the Beach Boys a major influence and if >> so, what fascinates you about them?

Ha ha, we ripped off their version from Adult Child, a moving masterpiece. It and Love You are great albums. Any so-called Beach Boys fan that disses those albums while going on and on about Pet Sounds is about as fun to talk to as a diehard Zappa fan. Sheik Yerbouti, indeed!

It is sad that the label had to deprive the world of Adult Child by rejecting it. It describes emotions that I can so relate to, the lyrical and melodic possibilities it opened up, the synths, the human flaws, the show tune covers. "When I was younger my mother told me Jesus loved the world, and if that's true then why won't he help me to find a girl and find my world, or then I'm just a dreamer." I think that's how it goes, it comes from a very real, a pained place. The subject matter in the songs is so original! Truly an amazing band even when they don't use their incredible harmonies to wide extent.

Have you recorded any new music? It's been ages since Karazma came out, and we fans demand satisfaction!

Well, besides songs for the Bananafish magazine CD and The Screamers tribute album, we are hard at work using our egos to compile and organize Karasma:Reimagined featuring artists like Destroyer, the new Pornographers, Monotrona, Neil Hamburger, Bobby Conn, etc. doing our songs from Karasma, our first album!

Our second album, Balloon Fantasy, is being worked on right now, it's a real dance party album, very layered.

What kind of music do you listen to in your own home and life these days?

There is so much great stuff out there! I love getting turned on and turning people on! Lesse, Dylan by Bob Dylan, new Wilco, new Flaming Lips, Sparks, Wolf eyes, Berlin by Lou Reed, Neil Young's "Sample and Hold" 12 inch mix, Andrew W.K., Nina Hagen, a 70's Australian Glam Rock band called Skyhooks, Bee Gees always, Dennis Wilson, Jack Nitsche (sic), the Chipmunks' first album, Bobby Conn, Destroyer, Robert Wyatt, John Cale, Gary Wilson, Tim Buckley, Royal Trux, Holy Modal Rounders, Bonzo Dog Band, Sorcery, Capozzi Park, soundtrack to "Candy", Can, McCartney 2 .it goes on and on.... I listen lots at work too.

What kind of "day job" do you work? Do you work it into your act or lyrics at all?

Father and son is about the business I work for, a pub, I am a short order cook. The pub's decor is innocuous tack, it can't decide if it wants to be a sports pub or an ersatz British pub so, decor is indecisively gaudy, nothing goes with each other.

Where would you like to take Canned Hamm over the long-term? Are there any ideas floating around that you're anxious to work into your music and/or act? Or branching out into TV and the movies?

Our jobs are not careers, we hope. No limits. We want to take it as far as we can whilst stay remaining true to entainment.

A TV talk variety show? Yeah! We wanna do it.

Currently have two movie ideas: the first one is a wacky farce chase entitled Pobody's Nerfect. The second is a character-driven road movie gritty drama entitled Street Cred with the tag "You'll believe that men can cry."

Add your thoughts?

Some, though not all, Canned Hamm CDs may be purchased online at a site reachable through the simple "clicking" of a mouse whose accompanying cursor has been placed geographically atop this text

Click here to read reviews and interviews courtesy of Asshole McFuckYousealot