Triphammer was a Beastie Boys side project whose origin dates back to before the 1985 Madonna Virgin tour. The band, which played hard rock music, was originally comprised of Tom Cushman on guitar, Adam Yauch on bass, and Mike Diamond on drums.
In an interview with Beastiemania.com, Cushman explained the band's origin. "It was a period of time when there were a whole bunch of bands who were rehearsing at the Chrystie Street apartment down in Chinatown," said Cushman. "Michael and Adam [Yauch] were living there at the time. I lived there for awhile sometime later. Big Fat Love was rehearsing there, Beastie Boys were sort of rehearsing there, and this band that Michael, Adam [Yauch], and I had called Triphammer was rehearsing there. It was sort of like a hard rock band that we did as a joke. We actually opened up a few shows on the Licensed to Ill tour [in 1987]. There were a few dates on the southern part of that tour that we opened up."
In 1985, Triphammer recorded a demo tape of original songs, but never distributed it. When Beastie Boys were invited to open on the Madonna Virgin tour (April 1985), Triphammer was placed on a shelf.
"Beastie Boys went off to perform as the controversial opening act on Madonna's Virgin tour," said Cushman. "In the absence of Yauch and Diamond, Big Fat Love and Triphammer both sort of ground to a halt. Those bands then didn't pick up until a few years later [in late 1987]."
The idea to start playing the Triphammer material again came at a time when Beastie Boys and Tom Cushman had grown tired of life on the road. To liven up things, they decided Triphammer would be one of the tour's opening acts while in the Deep South. With Yauch on bass, Cushman on guitar, Diamond on drums, DJ Hurricane on vocals, and Adam Horovitz as the band's roadie, Triphammer was reborn.
In a February 2006 interview with Spin, Jimmy Gestapo, the singer of Murphy's Law, who toured with Beastie Boys when Triphammer was resurrected, described the band: "On certain nights the Beasties would open for themselves as a group called Triphammer. They'd wear these wigs and jam on Black Sabbath-type stuff. It was very Spinal Tap-ish."
In an interview with Beastiemania.com, Sean "The Captain" Carasov recalled a Triphammer performance. "Mainly I remember Triphammer opening for the B-Boys on the Licensed to Ill tour in Savannah, Georgia" said Carasov. "Hurricane was the singer, with an afro wig and DMs, and Cushman wore a clown suit. Horovitz played the British roadie and kept running across the stage fixing things that didn't need fixing. The 99% black audience did not know what to make of it at all, but they were too slow to boo them off or throw things."
According to a fan who attended the Savannah show, one of the songs Triphammer performed that night was "Hey Joe," a song popularized by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Triphammer, however, changed the lyrics to "Hey Joe, where you goin' with your dick in your hand." Triphammer sold merchandise at the show: a cheap, white t-shirt with artwork drawn on with a magic marker.
It is unknown exactly how many times Triphammer opened for the Beastie Boys. Beastiemania.com has been able to track several performances. One performance in South Carolina is documented in a short clip on the Sabotage home video. Horovitz as the roadie introducing the band clearly addresses the audience as being in South Carolina. Beastiemania.com has obtained audio of another Triphammer performance, which we believe may be the Savannah show that Carasov described. A December 14, 1987 wire article described yet another Triphammer show in Los Angeles:
Pop music's nastiest group, the Beastie Boys, have quit after being shamed in front of a live audience.
The foul-mouthed, much-hyped trio called it a day after being jeered off stage when they played a secret gig in Los Angeles under the name Triphammer.
Fans were outraged to see the boys could not play their instruments.
A record company insider said: "They played the gig for a laugh, but it backfired. The fans were appalled at their attempts to play and sing live.
"The boys just couldn't cope anymore."
Because Beastie Boys did not quit and the source of the information is not sited, we question the accuracy of the article and supposed L.A. performance.