At 14, 15 and barely 16 years old, the up-and-coming rockers of Posh Hammer credit all the right people with their early buzz — the British Invasion, a bevy of local teachers, and, their parents. “They’re extremely supportive. Without them, we couldn’t do all of this, because none of us can drive yet,” says guitarist Navied Setayesh, with a wit that would make a fresh-faced 1964 Beatle smile.
“We definitely couldn’t get anywhere,” agrees lead vocalist Tasnim Setayesh. The parents of Navied, Tasnim, and her twin sister Tiam of Posh Hammer, are Reza and Eva Setayesh, owners of Rezaz and Piazza restaurants in Asheville.
“They’ve let us home school, and they’ve bought us instruments. They’re completely behind us,” says Navied.
The group recently added drummer Daniel Cracchiolo, and after only a few shows around town, even highly tuned ears are switched on to Posh Hammer’s brash and energetic sound — big beats, catchy guitar riffs, and melodic hooks like “It’s not you, it’s me…but it’s really you,” that poke fun at teen angst more than revel in it. “I mean, I’m 16, the girls are 14, our drummer’s 15. So I’m not trying to write anything too serious or too heavy,” Navied says. “Just trying to make fun music, you know.”
Sound technician Maresllus Fariss dug the group’s kind of “Bangles meets Spinal Tap” vibe at a January Grey Eagle show, saying, “Those kids play real instruments, sing real songs, and they do it real well.”
“We grew up on our mom’s music, which was the ’80s,” says Tasnim. “I remember it always blaring in the car. When we got older we really started finding other artists. It started with our mom’s generation of music and then went back to the ’70s, to the ’60s and then the ’50s. So it’s always been there, and we always loved it.”
“It was a natural progression. Now we’re exposed to different types of music, but we still always gravitate back towards rock ‘n’ roll,” says Navied.
As a singer, Tasnim Setayesh was inspired by Freddie Mercury of Queen. “His voice was amazing,” she says. “I’ve been studying it. As a front man, as a performer, his vocal range and power, and all the harmonies.”
Tiam Setayesh also found inspiration from across the water. “It guess it started when I got to The Beatles, it was Paul McCartney,” Tiam says. “I was like, ‘Hey I should play bass.’ I mean, Paul’s awesome. With his songs, there was a kind of form that always caught your ear, very easy to listen to, but yet interesting. His bass lines always are catchy.”
Navied’s biggest influences were Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and George Harrison of The Beatles. “I really like their feel and their solos,” he explains. “Mick Ronson (David Bowie) was also a big influence. Even people like The Edge (U2). Just people who have really good feel for the instrument.”
At least for now, Navied prefers the melodic guitarists to the more technical “shredders.” “I respect what those guys have done, but it’s not really my thing. I’m more into people who play with lots of emotion,” he says.
A large part of the siblings’ home schooling consists of music lessons. They all take piano lessons with Brian Turner and guitar with Jason Mack. Tiam takes bass lessons with Zack Page, Navied takes extra guitar with Mike Barnes, and Tasmin takes voice and saxophone. “Asheville has great musicians,” says Navied. “Later today we’re going to finish shooting part of our music video. And as far as school goes, just the normal kind of stuff.”
The group also makes time to rehearse and write new songs during the week. “Sometimes stuff just pops into my head, or sometimes I have chord changes that I really like, so I just put the lyrics over them,” explains Navied. “As far as lyricists, I really like Lennon and McCartney, and the stuff that Bryan Ferry’s done with Roxy Music. They can come from anywhere.
“Normally I’ll have some idea that prompts me to write. I’ll bring little melodic ideas to Tasnim, but I am no singer, so then she’ll take it and put it all together and make it an actual song. Tasnim does melodies and from there we’ll all add our instruments on top.”
A good song is a combination of things, according to Tasnim. “For me lyrics are a big thing,” she says. “Amazing lyrics, and definitely melody, because that’s what most people hear and pay attention to. And just how the musicians put it out, how they sing it and how they play it, like the emotion put into the song. You can hear what they were thinking, all they were going through.”
As brother and sisters, Navied, Tasnim and Tiam recognize a bond that extends even to the music. “Sometimes we’re playing, and without telling them what I want them to be doing they’ll automatically do it,” says Navied. “There’s a built-in connection, like some sort of telepathy thing. We’re always on the same page when it comes to playing.”
Last year the band went into Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville and recorded six songs. They plan to return late in the spring and complete what will be their first album. “It’s what we love to do, and it’s what we spend pretty much all our time doing,” says Navied. “So we figure, why not give it our best shot.”