Being Politically Incorrect With Zachery M. Hembree

Zachery M. Hembree in his natural habitat, Shadebeast Records in Athens Georgia. (Photo credit Deric Jiles)

On the cusp of releasing the debut album F*ck Your Feelings, I was able to track down the ever elusive HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS frontman, Zachery M. Hembree. Before I go on, let me give you a bit of a backstory. There used to be this band that I was into in 2000 something called MUSIC HATES YOU. The only way I could hear them was to wait for the local college metal show that came on every Saturday night at 9 pm called Shell Shock. I started asking around and acquired a bootleg copy of one of their albums. In sharpie, all it said was “MUSIC HATES YOU!” I would later find out that the album was Send More Paramedics. As time went on I learned the members’ names and even saw Zach on a documentary about southern metal called Slow Southern Steel. Then one day I see this facebook profile called “Bubba Hembree”. We had 8 mutual friends and I thought it was another Bubba Hembree that I used to go to school with. We talk and determine that it isn’t the Bubba that I thought it was. Well, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t Zachery M. Hembree from MUSIC HATES YOU. I started paying attention to his new projects and chatting with him about them. He slid me demos and YouTube releases. I didn’t mention that I wrote for a metal magazine. Zach announces on his facebook that he has started a project called HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS. Not long after that, he stated that he was leaving the current project he was in called TORO. I immediately asked for an interview. He said “Only if we talk about my new project HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS.” I agreed and you can read that interview at //metaladdicts.com/site/an-interview-with-zachery-hembree/

You can check out some solo HEMBREE acustic stuff, TORO, and MUSIC HATES YOU below. TORO was my favorite until HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS.

It was crazy going to chill at this awesome tiny record store called SHADEBEAST that I almost didn’t find. The chill factor in that place is like metalhead heaven. It was hard to concentrate on this interview because of all of the awesomeness around me. The first thing that caught my eye was METALLICA‘s Garage Days, on vinyl, and he had some damn TYPE O NEGATIVE Blood Kisses jamming on the house turntable, and I had a hangover.

D-Rock: So The first album hasn’t been released yet and you are already in the studio on the second. Any news on that?

Zach: Yeah we have 4 or 5 songs written and ASH(Miltiades) and I are getting together this weekend to do some more work on them and maybe write some. Start hashing out the other new songs. The last album, I wrote all of it. He’s such a really good songwriter and an awesome guitar player. I wanted to do it together so it doesn’t become stale. The first album was just one guy, pretty much. To me, it was just me. All of the songs sounded different but it was just one guy. It all came from the same place, which can be good, but I want this to be a little more ambitious, harder songs maybe. Three-minute songs instead of one-minute songs.

D-Rock: So tell me about the Producer you guys scored.

Zach: His name is Warren Riker. He’s actually an old partying buddy of mine. I didn’t know who he was when we first started hanging out, but he’s produced albums for DOWN, CROWBAR, ARETHA FRANKLIN, MICHAEL JACKSON, he did the first FUGEES album as well. He’s got like 5 Grammys. I didn’t know who he was till a couple of months after I met him.

D-Rock: You mentioned on Facebook that you guys would be taking a small break. Can you tell me more about that?

Zach: Just to write. I mean we have a couple of shows coming up. (I did this interview months ago and have been slacking. My bad.) There are two shows at the end of January. One is called SCUMSTOCK in Orlando (Florida). It’s a huge punk rock festival. I think the theme is more underground bands, like semi offensive or against the grain kind of thing so they asked us and we fit right in. (They ended up headlining.) There is another one in Macon (Georgia) the day before but it’s not set in stone yet. We were supposed to release the debut in August but we got swamped and couldn’t. It’s pretty typical for most bands. You say it will be out in January and November it’s still not out. Even bigger bands like SLAYER. You announce a release date and a year and a half later you’re like “3 months”. Everybody shoots high.

D-Rock: Are you gonna put it on digital platforms for download purchases, like Spotifi or I-Tunes?

Zach: I’m not sure yet. My original plan was to bypass all that and make people just buy physical copies, maybe put a digital download card in it. I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle of me having to keep up with three or four more platforms just for a few cents a song when I can just sell it outright. It sounds greedy but I would only get a little bit of that, barely anything at all. If you just buy it from me It goes toward new music.

D-Rock: Well call me old school but I like to own it. I want something I can hold and look at and take to shows to try to get signed.

Zach: Yeah I get all fanboy. Even with my close friends. I say “Hey man sign this.” and they are like “Get the f*ck out of here.”

D-Rock: Yeah I got Zac Brown to sign some stuff back in the day when he was still in college and doing open mics at the Mellow Mushroom in Carrollton Georgia and he was like “GTF outa here.” and then he blew up huge.

Zach: Some people say I look like him. I worked one of his shows out in Portland Oregon. I met him. He was a super cool guy. It was like 9 or 10 years ago.

D-Rock: There are people I have partied with before they got popular that would smoke out with me and then they shy away from it after they were in the press. What do you think about that?

Zach: Well I can understand that. Sometimes it’s better to play neutral. A lot of bands stay away from stuff like that, and political questions. You don’t want to alienate people. Unless you’re Willie Nelson. He’s 85 years old and don’t give a sh*t. I mean James Hetfield is probably conservative but he never answers the questions. He doesn’t have to, you know?

D-Rock: The bassist That this band started with was injured or something I heard. What’s up with that?

Zach: Yeah, Randall (Baird). He’s still with us, no matter what happens. If he can’t come back he can’t come back, but he’s still gonna be a part of the band. It’s a brotherhood thing if that makes any sense. He had some nerve damage issues a couple of years back and he had surgery for it. It ended up making it worse and then he lost all feeling in both of his hands. He couldn’t play bass and he had to walk with a cane. He just had another corrective surgery for it. I think he thought it was going to be in and out wham bam, but he’s still having a lot of problems with it. My brother Charley (Ferlito) has been doing it and he is a member of the band now. If Randall does come back, Charley is still gonna be there. Charley plays guitar too. Parker Bradshaw has been on drums the whole time. I guess he’s lucky. (Side note: I hit Mr. Baird up and asked if there was any word from the doc about his issue and he told me “I’m working out with Physical Therapy 3x a week. Fingers are getting stronger…I’ve been working with the bass again trying to get stamina built back up! Spinal stenosis is a bitch but I’m kicking that bitch in the mouth!”).

D-Rock: Well I guess there’s no point waiting around for you to ask bass players to audition so I can throw my hat in the ring.

Zach: Ha ha! You never know man. This band has been a curse. People always get injured. The injury history is the first guitar player broke his leg a week or two before the first show, Randall is hurt, I got that heart condition for a minute (Side note: He is downplaying this one hard cause it was very serious. No sh*t. He is kicking ass and taking names now though), I have been getting death threats and stalker bullsh*t.

D-Rock: I saw that. Did that guy ever get locked up?

Zach: I don’t know. I Googled his name the other day and he hadn’t. I asked for a warrant on him, which makes me feel lame that I did that but everybody told me I should. After a certain amount of time you should probably start to believe it if they keep saying it.

Queeny: Why was he coming after you? (Side note: I take my Queeny everywhere I go and this was a badass question!)

Zach: I had never dealt with him personally. Apparently, he was a huge fan of the band (MUSIC HATES YOU) and my roommate brought him over. I’m not sure what year it was, maybe 2004. He got really drunk the first time he was there and he was a weirdo and tried to fight me.

D-Rock: Did you kick his ass?

Zach: Well We slapped each other around or whatever. It was a pretty even thing. He wasn’t a slouch. He was fresh out of high school and an ROTC guy. There was another time he came over and fought my roommate and it got pretty rough. I tried to let it go cause it wasn’t my business but he was beating the sh*t out of the dude, and he probably deserved it, but I broke it up and I got him pretty good that time. There was a couple of times later he came to shows. He was cool. He apologized and I was like “Yeah man, It’s cool.” and he was totally sweet even. Then I hadn’t seen or heard from him for like ten years and he started writing me all this crazy ass sh*t. There’s another guy who has been sending me crazy sh*t saying that he’s gonna kick my ass if I don’t post more stuff on facebook of myself, like videos. It’s just weird. I think it’s a social media thing. (Side note: They actually have a song entitled To My Face that pretty much sums up what he is about to say, and I will have that for you live right after he finishes this thought.) Social media f*cks with people’s heads, even mine sometimes. People might read or see something that pisses them off, they are drunk, let their emotions take over and they write you some insane sh*t. It might not piss you off face to face and you get over it but if you are on there all the time…Nobody calls on the phone. I haven’t gotten a letter in the mail since I was a teenager. but even in the mid-2000s, or even 2009 or 10 it wasn’t this weird. It seems like the past 3 to 5 years the sh*t just went crazy. Ruining people’s lives and all. We aren’t talking about music anymore. My bad.

D-Rock: No dude, it’s all good. Hell, I am still hung over. My team lost the championship last night and I got trashed. I understand completely and this is good stuff.

Zach: Yeah, I’m sure my father-in-law isn’t happy about it either. I have a blown out knee so I need to take my meds now. (Takes his medicine) That’s why I wear the knee pads onstage. Somebody asked me if it was for show one night and I said “No man” because I used to always wear them under my pants at shows but they would fall off and were a bitch to get back on or off so I just put them on over. My knee is f*cked up. I wear them both because I am scared the other one is going to f*ck up too. I’m an idiot onstage and whatever happens, happens but after falling down on my knees after so many years that right knee just got messed up hard. It’s toast. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and it just pops every time I move. It happens at shows too but I guess there is so much adrenalin at the show that I don’t notice it right away. I’m sure the next ten years won’t see it getting any better for sure.

D-Rock: I have noticed that you are a totally different guy onstage and off

Zach: I can see that but I’m not. That’s just the guy inside. A friend of mine described it as me walking around all day on 5% and when I get on stage it’s me on 100% or turned up to 11. It sounds cheesy but it’s been like that in every band I have ever been in. Not just being a front man, but every position I have ever held in bands. Playing guitar or bass. It was limited at times having to hold and play a guitar but I always tried to push it as far as I could. Still bleeding all over the place but back then it would be from smashing a beer bottle on my head. I have knocked myself out cold doing that before. It’s way harder than it looks on TV.

This was the end of the interview, but Queeny and I stayed and chilled for a bit and bought some merch from the band and store and talked with him more. This article is about HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS but you should also check out http://shadebeast.com

Hembree And The Satan Sisters debut album F*ck Your Feeling will be out this summer via Rusty Knuckles Records @https://www.rustyknucklesmusic.com You can find the band on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/HembreeandTheSatanSisters/ and Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/hembree_and_the_satan_sisters