Clockhammer was an alternative metal group from Nashville, TN., once described as “a cross between Frank Sabbath and Black Sinatra”. Originally the brain-child of Vanderbilt undergrads, Christian Nagle and Matt Swanson, the 1987 line-up consisted of Byron Bailey (vocals, guitar), Nagle (vocals, guitar), Swanson (bass), and Ken Coomer (drums). Clockhammer soon gained a local following, opening for such bands as Firehose, DC3, and Meat Puppets. After an altercation between Nagle and Swanson in the summer of 1988, Nagle left to finish college and the band continued as a trio. In the early 1990s the trio’s music became popular in the college radio scene and many predicted Clockhammer would be a breakthrough success. Bailey’s guitar playing reached a plateau by the time the debut album was recorded, evident in the intro to the song “Extra Crispy.” The lyrics to songs like “Sun Goes Black” show an artistic edge over most jazz metal at the time. Bailey’s guitar playing would draw large crowds at Nashville’s Exit/In, which was “the place” for alternative music in the Music City. He was influenced by the likes of King Crimson and Cream. Infighting doomed the lineup in early 1992, due to disagreements over songwriting credits, what songs to perform live, and money problems. When Bailey left the group in the middle of a tour that year, the trio was finished. Bailey and Nagle went on to re-form Clockhammer in 1993, with Mark Smoot (bass), and Chris Gallo (drums). Nagle and Smoot had played together in the short-lived project Chainsaw Jazz, and Smoot and Gallo in the group Jaws of Life. This last version of Clockhammer produced only one album, So Much For You on the German label Houses in Motion and it was never released in the US. The label-dictated list of songs was not entirely to the band’s liking, and as family, money, management, and other concerns loomed, the group amicably disbanded in 1995.
Ken Coomer went on to record and perform with Wilco and other projects, and Swanson with My Dad Is Dead and Lambchop. Nagle was a founding member of the Japanese band, Illuminati, and is presently a teacher and author in Tokyo, Japan. Bailey played drums and bass for the short-lived Portland, Oregon band, Vista Bridge, and is presently a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati. Smoot continues to record and perform music in the Washington D.C. area. Chris Gallo plays with Richmond, VA. based Hex Machine, a tour-opener for Clutch.