Soon after arriving in Austin, he won a steady gig playing Friday nights at the Electric Lounge. His first shows alienated the audience, but soon he built a fan base that could tolerate music with a harder edge and his shows began to draw more than 500 people every week. He signed a recording contract with Austin's Doolittle Records in May 1994 and released his debut album, Big as Life, soon afterwards. His performance at the South by Southwest conference won him a contract with Mercury Records, who chose to re-release his debut, as well as several subsequent albums, including 1997's The Chord Is Mightier Than the Sword and 2000's Choochtown.
Hamell did his part to promote these releases with his relentless touring, playing up to 250 shows per year until May 2000 when he was seriously injured in a car accident. After recovering from his head and spinal injuries, he released Ed's Not Dead: Hamell Comes Alive in 2001, and could often be found playing shows near his new home in Brooklyn, NY. A collection, Mercuroyale: The Best of the Mercury Years arrived the following year, with 2003's Tough Love close behind. After a brief hiatus, Hamell returned in 2006 with Songs for Parents Who Enjoy Drugs. ~ Stacia Proefrock, Rovi