The desert is an unforgiving place. When brothers Tim and Dan Cord deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, music became their solace. To thwart the mental and physical destruction of their surroundings, they began playing guitar for their fellow Marines.
Now, as an internationally known band, American Hitmen continue to help people unload. Composed of Tim and Dan, Cortezian Dan “Jay” Jarmon and Phil Snyder, the band will perform at Blondie’s Trophy Room on Thursday, June 19.
Jarmon was Dan’s platoon sergeant. A bass guitarist, Jarmon was enthusiastic about the brother’s acoustic sessions overseas. He offered his bass skills should they ever get serious – and they did.
After several big breaks in Vietnam and a second tour to Iraq, they were all honorably discharged. The brothers moved to Salt Lake City, continuing to play with Jarmon. The previous drummer stayed in the military. In Salt Lake City, they collected drummer Phil Snyder. That’s when the stars aligned.
“We have no live shtick, no agenda,” said Tim, 29, lead singer, pianist and rhythm guitarist. “We just want to get our tunes out there, tour and play shows.”
American Hitmen are gathering fans across the U.S.. Their appearance on Season 8 of America’s Got Talent in 2013 helped speed along that popularity.
“I didn’t know the impact of the show because I had never watched it,” Tim said. “It was like being shot out of a cannon. When it aired we were given an 8-minute segment (on the band’s background and live performance) and from then on it’s been unreal.”
The band has since toured the U.S., headlined events and played with artists .38 Special, Kellie Pickler, Sheryl Crowe, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Black Stone Cherry.
All the band members contribute to the writing process. Tim and Dan wrote songs while on active duty, but mostly played what the soldiers wanted to hear.
“The smoke pit is basically where we all sat around to decompress after a long day,” Tim said. “It’s very hushed, and we would sit and think ‘we made it.’ Dan and I would play our guitars and someone would ask ‘Hey, do you know this song?’ I would learn songs for them – to give them a breather.”
Now, the band is focused on producing songs that are more personal. Their recently released single titled, Contagious with bonus track Cold Woman, is circling nicely among fans of the band on Facebook and Spotify. Tim’s vocals scratch and grate on the lyrics of Contagious as he bounds intensely into the opening verse of the song, but not before an introductory barrage of guitar chords loose like flaming arrows.
Cold Woman starts off sounding like an acoustic rock ballad, but quickly manifests into a rhythmic tale of greed and deceit. The guitar sound is reminiscent of influential ’70s rock. Tim’s seamless vocals growl in angst as he sings about “all the lies that you keep in your pocket.”
As the band continues to write and produce, they never forget their beginning. Many of their songs, such as Born Again, contain prose that centers on battle and the enduring hardships encountered. Tim said the biggest reward is touching the lives of those who went through the same.