Photography by Jason Yu

Charlie Templeman is the father of Jib Machine Records.

He’s also the singer and guitarist of the label’s hallmark band, Hot Ham & Cheese, along with drummer Robby Mitchell and bassist Louie Styx. The punk rock metal power trio just dropped its fourth studio album The Onions Have Eyes and gave us the secret recipe behind the band’s spot on Cleveland’s music menu.

PressureLife: Hot Ham & Cheese has been going strong since 2005. So I’ve gotta ask–how did the name come to be?

Charlie: The way I remember it, after Robby and I had jammed together for the first time and–it went really well–he said, “I always wanted to be in a band called Hot Ham & Cheese.”

Robby: After our first jam the question obviously got raised: “What are we going to name this band?” Having too much fun as usual, I said “How about Hot Ham & Cheese?” Everyone smiled, saying, “I like it, let’s do it.” I said, “OK, but you guys know I was just joking right?”

Louie: I joined the band after the name had been chosen so don’t blame me. I actually enjoy it–people think we are going to be some kind of “funny” band, they are wrong.

PressureLife: How have the times in Cleveland’s music scene since you first started 12 years ago?

Charlie: The rock scene in Cleveland has seen better days. The overall music scene is alive and well, but not if you’re in a hard rock band. When we first started, there were more venues and more people going out to see live original music on a regular basis. The scene really is completely different than it was a decade ago.

Robby: Yeah, the music scene for original rock and roll has definitely declined since we started. The people seem to be more geared towards cover bands and solo artists these days. As a band, we just roll with the punches, do us, and try to evolve musically the best we know how.

Louie: I believe the scene is constantly morphing, which is exciting to watch. I work in the local music industry, so I see it daily. What has changed the most for us is experience? We are now veterans. We have seen a lot. That has only solidified our bond.

PressureLife: What are some of the driving inspirations for your music and lyrics throughout the years?

Charlie: We all have our individual and collective influences, bands like Black Sabbath, Metallica, etc. Plus, we’re influenced by whatever we listen to while writing our albums. Lyrically, we’ve given our political and governmental views, opinions on society and popular culture, and hit on everything from relationships to addiction.

Louie: Since the start, our influences has really been within ourselves. Trying to push our boundaries while still keeping that neck-breaking groove aesthetic. If your head ain’t movin’, we haven’t done our job.

Robby: Not to mention the start and present love for playing all together.

PressureLife: The Onions Have Eyes dropped on Nov. 3. How does the new album carry on the HH&C legacy?

Charlie: The Onions Have Eyes took roughly four years to write and record and we’re really proud of it. I think it shows major growth in songwriting and performance, and Brandon Youngs, our co-producer/engineer/long-time collaborator, did an amazing job capturing our live vibe and mixing it to sound huge. The album’s themes include growing older, dealing with increasing government interference, and oversaturation of social media, to name a few.

Louie: We really took our time with the album and had a vision for what we wanted. It all began with a writing session in the cabin in the middle of the words in the middle of nowhere for an extended period of time. This really helped us find a consistent sound and vision.

PressureLife: What does the future hold for Hot Ham & Cheese?

Charlie: Well, the plan for the immediate future is to get out as much as possible, play shows to promote the new album, and see where this road takes us.

Robby: Definitely a break from writing and recording new material for a while. It’s time to play shows, promote the new album, and keep rockin our catalog, which we are all proud of.

Louie: The future will play out like the past, we will continue to expand ourselves and our minds through this band. We will be brothers through thick and thin. If you want to enjoy the ride with us, welcome to the insanity.

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