From the ashes of the sun scorched earth; the Arizona desert has unleashed an entity, wielding a sound that can only come from a band that, like their surroundings, lives by only one law: survival of the fittest. Every emotion, note, lyric and breath they emit come from the essence of the wasteland that most call hell, but they call home. The unrelenting sun turns flora to ash by day, only to give way to frigid nights replete with promises of hypothermia; this is where you will find Hemoptysis. Each song delivers a unique expression of emotion that each fan connects with in their own way. Hemoptysis mix elements of Heavy Metal, Thrash, Death and Black Metal into a style that can only come from those that contend daily with an environment of hostility and hopelessness. There’s no red carpet here, no Hollywood to magically green-screen you away from harm. In the desert you will find no hope or salvation except the one you create yourself. If you had to classify their music by genre then put them in their own. Desert Core. Riding high off the release of their 5 song EP, “Who Needs A Shepherd?”, Hemoptysis appear poised to conquer the Metal realm. The band continues to receive both internet and terrestrial radio airplay, garnering plenty of media attention, and have been dubbed the 2009 and 2010, ‘METAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR’ by The Phoenix Music Awards.
Thanks for participating in our question and answer session with us.
Masaki: Thank you for the opportunity. We appreciate it.
So what’s the story behind the band’s name ‘Hemoptysis’?
Travis: My wife is a pharmacist that specializes in infectious diseases, so when we were trying to come up with a band name I asked her for help when we were stuck. She offered up a bunch of disgusting medical terms that had to do with fecal matter, but we didn’t want people to associate our music with that! She said, “Hemoptysis,” and it sounded cool. It means coughing up blood.
We loved the meaning, too, so we went with it.
Masaki: By the way, it is pronounced “He-mop-ti-sis”.
Shadow of Death by Hemoptysis produced by Ryan Greene (Megadeth, NOFX)
Excellent. So how long have you all known each other and how did you meet?
Travis: Masaki and I met through a mutual friend in April of 2007. I was playing drums by myself in a storage space and he wanted to start a band. We liked a lot of the same music and we jammed out to some Slayer and Pantera songs, but it was really hard to hear him because he didn’t have a rig loud enough to be heard well over my drums so it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Then, in June of 2007, he called me up and said that not only did he have a pro rig, but he had found another guitarist and a big practice space in the same storage facility I already played in. He wanted to start a band right then and there and have me ditch my practice space. I wanted to jam with the two of them to make sure it was going to work. During that first jam session, Masaki introduced me to riffs that would later become the song, “Who Needs A Shepherd.” I knew then that I wanted to be in a band with Masaki. The original guitarist we had didn’t work out. We went through a couple other lead guitarists before we got Ryan Miller in January of 2010. Miller is the guitarist in a band called Lunatic’s Vision. He is so amazing in that band that no audition was needed! We knew he could do just about anything. Sunao has been our only bassist and has been with us since early 2008.
Where have you performed and what are your favorite and least favorite venues?
Masaki: We’ve performed in several states in the US, and we went through so many different places where there’s no stage or monitor. I love the venues like Brick by Brick in San Diego, UB’s in Mesa, AZ, and Cheyenne Saloon in Vegas to name a few. We also love places like Cheyenne, WY. It’s sad now days a lot of good venues are going out of business. A lot of all ages venues are gone too.
What should we expect to experience at one of your shows visually and musically?
Travis: Musically you will hear what you hear on the record. We try to make everything the same live as it is on the cd so you won’t be disappointed! Visually you will see us getting into the music we play because we love it. We move around and try to feed the energy to the crowd. We hope to get that energy back in the form of mosh pits, screaming fans, people singing along with the lyrics, and women showing their boobs! Hahaha! We especially love mosh pits! When we get the energy back from the crowd, it becomes a circle of intense energy that can’t be beat! That’s why we love to play live! When the audience is into it, they can get off on it, then we get off on it more, then they get off on it more and so on! It’s like one big metal orgy!
What is your routine like during the one hour before going on stage?
Masaki: We are normally warming up and getting ready to be on the stage.
Travis: I have my drums completely set up and ready to move on stage. I warm up with a practice pad on my snare and a practice pad for my double kick pedal. Energy drinks are a must!
Anything interesting on your concert rider that you can tell us about?
Travis: A bowl of black Halloween M & M’s (I don’t care what time of year it is, you better have them and they can’t be expired. Oh, yeah… I can tell….) JUST KIDDING! We don’t have anything special in our performance contracts.
Anything interesting on your concert rider that you CAN’T tell us about?
Travis: You are starting to make me feel like we should have some special requests in our contracts! “I want a plum floating in red wine, served in a man’s hat.” Hahaha!
Any special rituals that you must do before going on stage?
Travis: No special rituals for me. Just stretching and warming up on a practice pad. Ryan Miller usually has to check the tires on the trailer before he does anything! Hahahaha! You have to get know us personally if you want to know what I mean by that! Hahaha!
Masaki: I make sure I have everything ready with me, like a few bottles of water, a towel, and extra picks in my pocket.
What’s the best, strangest and/or funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Travis: There was this guy in Prescott at the Drunken Lass that was really drunk and doing some kind of interpretive ballet dancing to our music while in the middle of the mosh pit! He had glow sticks in his hands and he looked so serious about it. Hahahaha! We were all laughing our asses off, but trying not to mess up. I had to keep my head down. Ryan Miller had to turn around completely. We just couldn’t look at him! Hahahaha! I don’t know how Masaki was able to sing and not mess up. I bet he had his eyes closed or something because that guy was way too funny to watch, especially when the mosh pit knocked him over and he would get right back up and continue where he left off! Hahahaha!
Masaki: There’s always moments like that, but I must perform my duty.
Guys, that’s hilarious! So what do you and the band love most about performing?
Travis: Mosh pits. When the crowd is really into it and mosh pits break out, it just gets us more into it! The energy can be amazing when you have a great audience! That is what makes the most memorable shows is when the crowd is moshing a lot and getting into it like we are. There is nothing better than that!
Masaki: When the crowd responds to what I tell them to do. Huge pits are always priceless.
Do you ever get tired of playing the same songs show after show?
Masaki: It’s funny because when you are jamming the same songs at the rehearsal, you will easily get bored, but when you are playing shows, it’s fun because every show is different and each one will never be the same.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Masaki: Budget. Obviously, a lot of money is involved in order to keep the band going. It does not make sense that labels want bands to tour without giving them tour support. We need to be able to eat too.
What do you think is the importance of music in the world?
Travis: Music is the release of all the energy and emotions you can’t show at school or work or to most people. There is a part of us all that needs to be let out. It’s an energy that is usually fueled in metal by frustration and anger and rage. We get it out through our music. We think other people can listen to our music and get that release and express their anger and frustration and sadness. Finding the right music to let out what you truly feel can be almost magical. If you don’t find a way to release it, it can destroy you.
Do you use your music to help promote awareness?
Travis: No. We aren’t going to preach at you like U2 or like some preacher at church. That is the last thing anyone wants at a show. Fans come to have fun and get off on the music. We come to entertain, not do public service announcements!
How many roads must a man walk down?
Travis: How ever many roads it takes until you find what you are looking for or until you are dead and maggots are making their own roads to walk down through you! Hahahaha!
What would you like to accomplish that you have not yet?
Masaki: Tour worldwide.
Travis: Tour and record more albums.
Fill in the blank. The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear ______
Travis: …the same clothes I always wear because I don’t want anyone or anything to change me. Most people say “sunglasses,” right? That’s gay. The sunglasses I wear and will probably always wear (because I lose them anyway) are cheap black sunglasses that you find at any gas station or drug store. I will wear those cheap ass things even if we do become really successful. The last thing we want is to become different people if we become successful. We don’t want to become sellouts or the kind of person that goes around saying, “The future’s so bright I gotta wear sunglasses.” We are modest and we want to stay that way.
Fill in the blank. Girls Just Want to Have ______
Masaki: three or four letter word.
Travis: …money! Just kidding… I had to stop myself from saying something dirty.
Are there any projects that you are working on now, what’s next for the band?
Masaki: We have just finished recording our spring 2011 release new record called “Misanthropic Slaughter” with Producer Ryan Greene (Megadeth, NOFX). We will be pushing this record in 2011 and will be touring a lot, so we hope to see many of you at the shows! We actually just posted the title track of the record on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/hemoptysis), so check it out, add us and spread the word out!
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for other artists?
Masaki: No means not today.
Travis: Music is your art and it should be something you create under your own terms. Promoting that music and trying to get further in the industry is all business. It is a real business and the sooner you treat it as such, the sooner you will get where you want to be.
In 140 characters or less, what would you like to say to the music industry?
Masaki: Wake up.
Travis: You get nothing for nothing. If you give a band nothing in a record contract, you will get nothing from them. Make investments in bands if you want to get a return. Tour support is essential.