Interview and all photographs by Abi Fields
From right outside of Asheville, a trio of teenage siblings (including twins!) decided to become a band – Posh Hammer. And not just a regular old rock band, but a retro-pop, super stylish band writing and playing orignal songs and rocking looks inspired by people and music that was around long before they were born. Photogrpaher Abi Fields sat down with them before their headlining gig at The Grey Eagle last week and chatted about creating and performing, being related, love for The Beatles, and more.
The band members are Tasnim Setayesh on vocals, Navied Setayesh on lead guitar and lyrics, and Tiam Setayesh on bass, and they are currently looking for a permament drummer.
Abi: So guys, The Grey Eagle!! Are you excited?!
Abi: Not to mention headlining! is this your first show at The Eagle?
Nav: Yeah. It's awesome. No, our first real show here was about a year and 14 days ago. That was the last time we played here.
Abi: I bet it feels good to be back! Who did you open for last year?
Nav: Mickie James. She's a country singer. We got the gig with like a 3 day notice.
Abi: Wow, short notice! Who contacted you for that?
Nav: I just sent the Gray Eagle an email. And you always hear around Asheville, “Don't send the Grey Eagle or The Orange Peel, or any of these big venues an email cuz they're just going to say no.” But I sent them one anyway and heard back from them that afternoon.
Abi: Good for you!
Nav: Yeah and I was just like, that's a lie!
(Girls laugh in agreement)
Abi: It sounds like ambition and putting yourself out there are perhaps mottos that you believe in?
Tas: It's paid off!
Taim: I'd say it's just one of our mottos.
Abi: It's about an hour and a half before you take the stage. How are you feeling?
Nav: I mean, it feels awesome. Well, seeing our names in the letter things out front, is pretty surreal.
(Tiam/Tas chime in with agreement)
Nav: This is one of our first real headlining shows actually. Yeah, so it's a lot of fun.
Abi: Any nerves floating around?
Nav: Um they've gone away now. I'm extremely nervous until I get to plug things in on the stage. As soon as I get to plug cables in and see guitars I'm fine.
Tiam: I'm the same way.
Abi: What is it about plugging things in?
Nav: It's just that you have to think about something else and making sure all your equipment works. I feel like it would be more stressful if you had roadies doing it for you...
Tas: Yeah if you had some old dudes doing it. (Laughs)
Nav: If we ever do get to that stage it's gonna be a whole new thing.
Abi: Then it would be more like, can someone just get me a plug!
Tas: Yeah, please let me do something!
Nav: Yeah, I'm just gonna sit here with a guitar pedal and a cable and just plug and unplug it.
Abi: Tiam how about you?
Tiam: I normally get really stressed out during sound check. So I'm like...ahhhh..I don't know if this is really how it's gonna sound. I mean, yeah, this is how it's really gonna sound, but when everyone's there, you get kinda like...what? I can hear myself and what if I can't? But it goes away.
Abi: What have you learned from the last time you performed here? And what's going to be different about tonight's show?
Nav: Tonight we are only going to play, as I look at our set list, two songs that we performed here a year ago. Everything else has been written or learned since then.
Abi: Speaking of, you are heading down to Nashville in a couple weeks.
Tas: Yeah, we're super excited about that. We are going to be recording a new EP with newer stuff with a more disco sound that we've been doing. We are super excited.
Nav: It's not like lame 70s disco.
Tas: No, no. It's not like ABBA. We found these people in Nashville that liked what we were doing and we liked what they are doing. And it just kinda worked out.
Abi: Besides the two songs you played here last year, are the rest of the songs new ones on the upcoming EP?
Nav: The majority of the songs tonight are from our first album, Some Other Time, Some Other Place, that came out in August of last year. And then there are three brand new songs in tonight's set.
Tas: There's one that we've never played out ever.
Nav: And we've decided to lead off with it. My thinking is, if you play ten songs, then play that one, we would all have forgotten it by then.
Tas: Yeah, just get it out of the way!
Abi: I like that mindset!
Tas: And hopefully people will remember the beginning more than the ending of the set and if we screw it up they will have forgotten it by then.
Abi: What's your secret to an epic set list?
Nav: There is a science behind it. The trick is to just have a good opening song, closing song and encore song and then space out the slow songs accordingly.
Abi: So...siblings, in a band...
Tas: And twins.
Abi: Yes, and you and Tiam had an amazing beginning.
Tas: Yeah we did.
Tiam: I can never use the phrase "I was born ready", cuz I wasn't.
Abi: How do you mean?
Tiam: Well I had zero percent chance of surviving when I was born. So then, you really can't say you were born ready.
Nav: You had 0-20, come on Tiam.
Tiam: Was it 20?
Tas: Well I had a whopping 50.
Tiam: Woooo...that's big.
Abi: Seems like ya'll are pretty close and interconnected.
Nav: Yeah I'm only 15 months older than them and there's never been any kind of sibling rivalry.
Tas: No, there can't be.
Abi: You are gonna make a lot of people jealous!
Tiam: People are always like, "Do ya'll fight?" We say no. Then they ask, "No, really. Do you guys fight?"
Tiam/Tas: We say, "Nooo...."
Abi: That's pretty awesome.
Nav: Michael here is filling in on drums tonight and he's fantastic. But to have another sibling on drums would have been nice.
Abi: Besides making badass music, tell us something that we don't know. Anyone have a fifth toe?
Tiam: Nav is an expert at skipping.
Nav: I actually can't skip very well. Tiam writes novels and that's a true fact that you can print.
Tiam: I'm a Lord of the Rings nerd. Full out.
Tas: She's written a trilogy.
Tiam: I'm in process of it.
Abi: Wow! That's incredible! tell us a little about it.
Tiam: My inspiration being all the classics like fairytales and high fantasy books. I wrote a trilogy with an unlikely redheaded Scottish hero who has to find a magic sword cuz ooooh that's classic. So I took a bunch of fantasy elements and switched them around and made them very unlikely. One being that my main dashing prince has a fear of horses. And you know, all princes ride horses. I'm trying to take a lot of things that you wouldn't really think are scary, like names, and trying to create a character that people would think, Oooh scary, like Voldemort...
Tas: Please don't say his name.
Tas: He knows where we are now Tiam, goshhh...
Tiam: He started following us on Twitter, and we were like OMG the dark horse followed us.
Tas: But then he un-followed us.
Abi: Any plans to self publish, Tiam?
Tiam: I don't have any official plans, no blueprints. But I have been thinking about how do I get this thing out there because it is sooo good.
Abi: Tas what about you? What are some of your hobbies when you aren't making music?
Tas: I'm an artist.
Nav: Funny story: When we played here last year, we tried to come into the green room. The opening band hunkered down in their chairs, and we didn't have anywhere to sit.
Tas: We were kinda scared actually.
Abi: Speaking of, I'm sure in all of your travels you've probably seen some interesting cats. Perhaps groupies?
Tas: I saw one girl scream in Nav's face.
Nav: Yeah, that was at The Orange Peel when we played. Someone asked for an autograph.
Abi: How does it feel to be asked for your signature?
Nav: It's a bit strange. I mean, I think the autograph is strange – wanting someone's signature and then to have someone want your signature.
Tiam: My handwriting sucks.
Tas: You have to practice it.
Nav: We go to school with a lot of interesting people cuz everyone is trying to do something. I'm really good friends with a guy who's training to be a Nascar driver believe it or not.
Abi: How do you train for that?
Nav: You get a car and enter into these amateur leagues I guess. He practices his signature on every white board of our home school, all day long.
Abi: Let's change it up. If you could tour with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Tas: John Lennon. I love him.
Nav: If you are on the dead or broken up route, then you have to pick The Beatles. Just because.
Tas/Tiam: Yes definitely.
Tiam: If I had to pick someone else I would pick David Bowie. I love him and I draw him.
Nav: If we went the alive route, then we'd have to go with someone playing a big stadium. Even if you don't like them, just because.
Tas: Like Lady Gaga.
Abi: Talk dream venues.
Nav: Candlestick Park, but it closed down. Carnegie Hall, isn't that popular? That's up there.
Tas: Madison Square Garden.
Nav: I feel like you have to go with the cliché two and then Candlestick Park.
Abi: What about Redrocks?
Nav: I've never heard of it.
Abi: What's your favorite venue that you've seen a performance at?
Nav: Grey Eagle. We are in the green room right now. They are fantastic. But there are a lot of great venues around town and in the area.
Tas: Orange Peel is really cool, we did our CD release there. All those funky lights.
Nav: We played this venue in Nashville called The Basement. Everyone who played with us that show was really talented.
Tas: There were 8 bands before us.
Nav: Yeah, they started at 4 in the afternoon and went until 2 in the morning. We got the 2 in the morning slot.
Abi: Powerhouse! You shut it down!
Nav: We were the youngest on the bill yet played last!
Abi: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists or bands that are just getting started?
Nav: If someone tells you to not email a venue because they won't respond, email the venue. I still feel like that email kick started our success and if I wouldn't have sent it, we wouldn't be here right now. And practice.
Tas: And play out whenever you can. I have a theory about that. It's helped us a lot.
Abi: Tiam do you have anything to add to that?
Tiam: Play like no one's watching. Do it like you do it all the time.
Abi: Let’s do a fun exercise...
Nav: Is it like exercise?
Abi: No one's getting sweaty. I actually wrote that into the question. Nav we are gonna start with you. Pick one word that describes you and then one word for your sisters.
Nav: Seriously? I don't like these types of games.
Abi: Whatever comes to mind first.
Nav: I'd say…. Pass. Somebody else do it while I think about it.
Tas: Ok, I'll start. For myself, Sparkly, for Tiam, Sparklier. And for Nav, Fancy.
Nav: Really? I'll go with Sparkliest.
Tiam: The epitome of Sparkliness.
Abi: If ya'll could hop on a plane tomorrow, and go anywhere with unlimited funds, where would you go?
Nav: The Riviera
Tiam: Scotland. Paris. Or Stonehenge and stay there all day.
Tas: Or I'd go back to Liverpool. It has its charm.
Abi: Anyone have an itch to go to college or to study anything different than music?
Nav: If this doesn't work out, then yes.
Tas/TIam: Yes. agreed.
Nav: i think there are things we are all interested in but music is at the top of that list and we definitely want to give it a good shot before we fall back on anything else. The world needs people with degrees and that sort of thing.
Tas: We were once doing another interview and the guy was driving while he was doing it. And he asked if we wanted to go to college. Before we could answer, he lost signal and there was a longgg moment of silence. We thought he hung up because we didn’t say yes!
Nav: Then he came back on and we were like, "Did you hang up on us?!"
Tas: And he said no. And we thought, are you sure because it was radio silent.
Tiam: From a bassist point of view, and everything you have to learn, I'm steadily going towards that. But my bass teacher asked if I was thinking about going to college. I said, well I've heard of one college where Paul McCartney hands you your diploma and I said, "What?!" If I could get into that one, then yes. But that's a long stretch.
Abi: In the music industry, you hear about bands getting their big break. Can ya'll relate to that and how do you define success?
Nav: Do we want the philosophical answer or..
Abi: How about the raw answer?
Nav: Probably album sales and Spotify charts and top positions on other charts. I think there is a personal success which is doing what you want to do and being good and succeeding at it. Personal success for some people may be playing at a certain venue, recording songs and producing an album. I also think there is tangible, physical success, which is record sales, billboard charts, stadium shows – you know that sort of thing. I hate to be cynical, but..
Abi: Not at all, that's real! Next big show?
Nav: The next show, and we are in between drummers, we are playing a function at the Carolina Day School.
Abi: Wonderful! Are there any local nonprofits that you are interested in doing a charity/fundraising event for?
Nav: Yes, we've talked about doing something for the Mission Hospital NICU.
Abi: That's fabulous and also I'm sure very personal to you considering the length of time Tas and Tiam spent in NICU in the first months of their lives?
All: yes, very much so.
Tas: (in British accent) Are there people out there? (Looks towards door) I've been practicing British accents forever! Depending on where you are they can be so very different: (does examples) there's the straight up, british butler, then the lowclass brit, then down to the Liverpool/Beatles accent. People ask me, is your accent British? And I'm like, no. And it confuses American people.
Tiam: I usually go for the BBC British accent but sometimes drop a few consonants and it confuses people.
Abi: That's impressive! My British accent always comes out as a mix between redneck Texan and Australian.
Tas: I've tried Australian and it's hard!
Abi: Like, "Shrimp on the Barbie..."
Tas: They actually don't say shrimp on the barbie!
Abi: First time I went to France I was at a restaurant by myself and these local guys came and sat down next to me. When I told them I was from Texas, they said, you're from Texas?! Are they all like John Wayne? I was like what do you mean? And they really thought that all Texans were cowboys!
Tas: When we went to Paris, the only thing I could say was sandwich. We went into a grocery store and their American aisle was Cheerios, mashed potatoes and Jello. It was really sad! Oh, and Twinkies! Not even the brands of stuff we have here but brands I didn't recognize.
Abi: Well that's all I eat, don't ya'll?!
Abi: Tell us about the creation of Posh Hammer. Was there a definitive time when you were like Fuck Yeah we are a band, we are Posh and we're going to put 100% into it?
Tas: Well we all live together.
Nav: I don't think there was a definitive time.
Tas: Me neither. It just evolved and one day we said, cool, we're a band.
Nav: The closest thing I can say to a turning point was when we dropped public school and started home schooling. But even then it wasn't as if we said, "Ok now we are going to be a band".
Tas/Tiam: Yeah, for sure. Now we are going to be a band. (Laughing)
Nav: I mean it's hard to say because we've just become the band we are now only a few months ago.
Abi: Do you think you turned a corner?
Nav: We figured something out and made a conscious effort to be more modern and a bit younger, musically, since then. That's our current mindset but it's bound to change eventually.
Abi: That's exciting, sort of a musical evolution?
Nav: Yeah, for sure.
Abi: Especially since that was so recent in respect to your big show here tonight.
Abi: Is it a debut of sorts?
Nav: A little bit, but a lot of these people have seen us before, so I’m not sure if it's a debut.
Abi: Will they see much difference in your style?
Nav: If the last time they saw us was here, a year ago, then yes. If the last time was at the Orange Peel at the end of last year, probably not.
Tas: (Chimes in) Probably not.
Abi: Right on. As we wrap it up and let ya'll relax before the show, is there anything you want to add?
Tiam: She loves David Bowie.
Tas: I do! I really love David Bowie.
Abi: Enough to marry him?
Tas: Ummm...no. Probably just be friends with him. Have tea, you know, talk. I went to a tutoring place, last year, on his birthday and I had the lightning bolt on my face. And first of all, nobody knew what it was. So all day, I had to explain what it was, who he was, and that it was his birthday.
Tiam: She draws his portrait all the time.
Tas: But it made me sad. I was in the bathroom washing my hands with this big orange lightning bolt on my face and two kids came in, screamed and ran out! I scared them and felt so bad!! And if you know anyone that knows Paul McCartney, give me a call. I've been wanting to play with him since I was like 10.
Abi: Everyone hear that? So a playdate with Paul and a cup o' tea?
Tiam: Yeah, play a bunch of Beatles songs.
Abi: Favorite Beatles song?
Tas: I don't have just one. "A Day in the Life".
Tiam: I've always liked "Octopus Garden".
Tas: We went to the 50th anniversary of the theatre showing of A Hard Day's Night. It was awesome because there were no previews, just a bunch of old people and us going nuts!
Tiam: "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", on the album Help. Awesome CD and movie.
Abi: And what about your awesome sense of style?!
Nav: Roxy Music.
Tas: Yup, Roxy Music. They were a band in the 70s, not big in America, but huge in England. They started a new genre called Art Rock. Brian Ferry, argulaby the coolest person ever, and Brian Eno – you know [worked with] U2 and Coldplay. They wore the suit jackets. Brian Ferry is kinda like the musical version of Humphrey Bogart in my mind. But they had a really cool style. We actually learned about Roxy Music from a David Bowie interview from back in the 70s. They asked if he had been listening to any new bands and he said "Yeah, (returns to brit accent) this band called Roxy Music. You should look them up". And I thought, this is awesome!
Abi: Fantastic story! So in terms of shopping for your style in Asheville, what are your options?
Tiam: We get alot of our clothes off of TopShop. It's an English store, but they have them all over America now.
Abi: So a lot of online shopping? You don't even have to leave the house!
Tas: Ha. Yeah, it's pretty cool. We have a set a few stage outfits that we rotate. (Nav comes back into the green room.)
Abi: Tas and Nav: You handle a lot of the cowriting. Tiam, do you help out at all?
Nav: She wrote a line to a song that we don't play anymore.
Abi: What was it?
Tiam: What's that? What's that?
Nav: She once asked me, It was a pun of sorts, if she could answer a question in the form of a question. And I said, don't you always?!
Tiam: I said, "Ohhh, I guess you're right. Nevermind." Then he said, "Wait, that's good." And I said ok. And then it turned up in a song!
Abi: It made it! What happened to the song?
Nav: Well we recorded it and then it got cut from the record.
Tiam: What song was that anyway?
Nav: It was called "What Kind of Love." Hopefully, twenty years from now, someone's gonna dig it up and want to hear it.
Abi: That's a pretty cool creative process. Is it always that instantaneous for you and it just comes to you?
Nav: It's always different. Some songs I write very quickly and some take a long time. It normally starts off from a singular moment of inspiration. Sometimes that moment doesn't make it into the finished song, but it kicks it off. Could be a chord progression, a title, or the first line of the song. I'll write the lyrics and basic chord progression and then Tas will structure it into a proper song with melody.
Tas: The songs always kinda get passed around, between me and him, and back and forth.
Tiam: I'm here for moral support. Like, "Good job! You’re on the right track!"
Abi: What is each of yours favorite Posh Hammer song?
Tas: "Which way you Fall" or "Only You".
Nav: I second that.
Tiam: I like the newest song, "One Last Dance", although every time I try to sing it, and this isn't anything we've done, my brain is just a little weird, every time I get to the chorus I start dancing to...
Nav: Don't say that, Tiam, you can't give all of our secrets away!
Abi: That's right, it's good to leave us with some unanswered questions! Nav what are you drawing over there?
Nav: I drew Genghis Khan on Tiam's set list. To inspire her on stage.
Tas: Can you draw Spock on mine?
Nav: The only thing I can draw is Genghis Khan.
Abi: On that note, we'll end with with Genghis Khan. Much appreciated and knock 'em out tonight!