Stomping Grounds: Hank Shteamer of STATS on New York City, New York





New Atlantis Records presents the August 7 release of Mercy, the debut full-length album by Brooklyn trio STATS.

Founded in 2002 under the name Stay Fucked (from a line in Tropic of Cancer), STATS consists now of bassist/vocalist Tony Gedrich, guitarist Joe Petrucelli, and drummer/vocalist Hank Shteamer. This gang holds some heavyweight avant-rock credentials: Gedrich played in Extra Life and has collaborated with guitar phenom Mick Barr of Orthrelm and Krallice; Shteamer bashes things currently with Big A Little a and has lent his skills to Psalm Zero as well as projects with members of Dazzling Killmen and Craw. (Shteamer also holds the title of music editor at Time Out New York and has authored a book about Ween for the 33 1/3 series!)

STATS’ upcoming debut full-length, Mercy, was recorded at Strange Weather in Brooklyn by former The Men guitarist Ben Greenberg and mastered by Khanate’s James Plotkin (Thou, Merzbow).  In Shteamer’s own words, STATS is “dedicated to rawness, intensity, complexity and abandon.” Indeed. On Mercy, the trio applies the liberated mindset and musicianship of progressive rock to songs that are turbo-powered with the raw passion of hardcore. The end result is furious and perplexing music with all the heart of Rites of Spring and all the chops of King Crimson.

Mercy follows 2010’s Crowned EP, released on The Path Less Traveled Records, and 2009’s Marooned EP.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Shteamer to discuss his current home, New York City, New York, the margaritas at La Superior, the Hungarian Pancake at Karczma, Music Matters, and more.

What’s your town’s nickname?

The Big Apple.

What’s your nickname for your town?


Why do you live there?

I came here to go to college in 1998 and never left. Music is my life, and NYC complements that obsession extremely well. (Case in point, the greatest radio station in the world, WKCR, is based here.)

Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?

Nope, I’m from a suburb of Kansas City, MO. I only ever visited the city once before arriving here in ’98—see above re: the reason—and I remember being absolutely terrified by Times Square.

What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?

Getting randomly and vehemently cursed out by an (apparently) mentally disturbed woman while walking a friend’s dog on the Upper East Side early one Sunday morning.

What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?

Grand Army Plaza.

What is your favorite local event or festival?

The 4th of July fireworks on the river are pretty awesome, especially if you have a great rooftop view.

What is the best time of year to be there?

Who is your favorite local celebrity?

Tie between Andrew W.K. and Milford Graves.

Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?

Not a big drinker, but the margaritas at La Superior in Williamsburg are outstanding.

Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?

Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood. Tons of great ’70s and ’80s rock, ranging from cheesy to badass.

Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?

Indeed. Some venues I’ve enjoyed performing at over the years are Saint Vitus, Death by Audio (RIP), McCarren Park, and various lofts around Brooklyn.

Does where you live influence your music?

Hard to say. A lot of my favorite bands in the same general vein as STATS are Midwestern, so I tend to think of myself as more of a KC musician at heart. Certainly the unavoidable circumstances of living in NYC—crushingly high rent, scarcity of affordable practice spaces—influence the general experience of playing music here, if not the music itself.

What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?

The Village Vanguard. Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley; July 15, 2008.

What is your favorite local band?

Some current favorites are Couch Slut, Voice Coils, Feast of the Epiphany, Mitski (not a band, per se, but I love her music) and Survival (formerly known as Birthday Boyz). I don’t think Vaz is technically local anymore, but for years, they were the gold standard for ferocity and mastery in the NYC underground.

What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?

Gonna have to shout out the Hungarian Pancake (chunky beef stew served atop an enormous, plate-filling latke) at Karczma in Greenpoint.

What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?

I’m currently a big fan of Music Matters in Park Slope. Recently picked up choice vinyl reissues of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and the Stooges Fun House. I also really like Record Grouch in Greenpoint. Found a beautiful used copy of Ornette Coleman’s This Is Our Music there a month or so ago.

What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?

I love the music coverage in the Times, and I find The New York City Jazz Record indispensable.

What is your favorite local shop?

I’d have to say Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint. Best donuts I’ve ever had.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

Probably back in KC, where my family lives. Shout-outs to my new niece and nephew, Millie and Leo!

(Mercy will be released August 7 on New Atlantis Records. Pre-order, here. The official Mercy record release show is set for September 23rd in Brooklyn:

Sep 23rd – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right

w/ STATS, Survival, Couch Slut

Tickets, here.)