Social Distancing With ZACH HEMBREE

Photo courtesy of Misha and Kevin Turner Photography

So, the whole world has shut down and everyone “non-essential” was pretty much ordered to shelter in place or stay home or whatever. My friend Zach Hembree of HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS happens to be in my contacts list and I was bored. I hit him up with “How y’all holding up?” and he replied “Hanging in there but bored to tears.” and I asked if he wanted to do another interview. He said, “Hit my e-mail with the first question.” and it was on. What follows is the end result.

D-Rock: What’s up Zach? Nice to speak with you again. How are you and yours braving the WTF storm everybody was thrown into?

Hembree: Man, we’re doing as well as everyone else during these weird times. We are a strong unit in the Hembree Household. I have damn strep throat and a cough. All of this pollen added to it and my face is swollen like a Hammer Horror villain, which looks awesome! But, I ain’t gonna complain much, too many folks on this earth got it way worse than me.

D-Rock: Is any writing going on or are you just chilling with the family unit?

Hembree: It’s about fifty percent of both. I never stop writing. At this point, I have enough material for at least three HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS albums. But, yeah, the writing is always going on. And it drives me f**king crazy at times. I know I drive my bandmates insane with constant text messages about songs. They pretend it doesn’t make ’em nuts and I pretend to feel bad about it.  My problem is that I write so many songs that I don’t know what to do with all of them, and I tend to forget some even exist. Thankfully, I demo EVERYTHING because I know I will forget something! Yet, again, I ain’t complaining, the more songs I write the saner I stay…sort of at least! Let’s just say the more music I write the safer the world is! As cliché as it sounds, it’s my therapy.

D-Rock: I totally understand. I have always called rehearsal therapy. So what is the household doing? What music and movies is everybody checking out?

Hembree: The Hembree Household is still enjoying the type of entertainment we usually do. My wife and kids love horror movies and anything creepy. Our middle child is obsessed with Pennywise from the IT movies. She’s only five years old so it’s probably pretty odd for some folks to see her in public decked out in her Pennywise the Clown hat, shirt, socks, and backpack, hahaha. Don’t freak out folks she doesn’t watch the f**king movies, yet. She thinks he looks cool so we let her roll with it. Our oldest son is super into slasher movies right now. He’s a total little horror nerd. My wife and I honestly don’t get to watch many movies together, but usually, when we sit down to watch something it’s serial killer or science fiction related, she loves all of that stuff! Or it’s the WWE Network, I love that stuff! We actually have 2 sections of our living room dedicated to the Undertaker. Our entire household loves music. It’s always on. If you’re around my wife you will be subjected to healthy doses of DANZIG, TYPE O NEGATIVE, SLAYER, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, and CANCERSLUG. She has some damn good taste in music. With me, you’ll be forced to hear everything from DMX to GG ALLIN to BOBBY WOMACK. I’m musically bi polar and all over the place. I have a new favorite band or artist on a weekly basis. One album it’s GEORGE JONES and the next could be early SEPULTURA I’ll be blasting. Our daughter loves BABYMETAL, ABBATH, IMMORTAL, KING DIAMOND, and OZZY, as do I. And our 11-year-old son worships at the alter that is IRON MAIDEN, as do I! Our 2 year old likes the ABC song.

D-Rock: That’s what’s up! You have a Facebook live show coming up soon for everybody stuck at home and you asked everyone’s picks on covers. Do you have a set list yet, or too soon?

Hembree: Actually, that was supposed to be tonight. But, since I am sick I decided to postpone it. I have a setlist. It’s a pretty all over the place as far as songs go. Doing a couple of ANTiSEEN songs that Jeff Clayton picked for me to do, a TYPE O NEGATIVE cover will be there and some David Allan Coe for sure. I know there will be a couple of brand new HSS songs in there but that’s all I’m willing to let loose about that set for now. I hope to be able to healthy enough to get it going in the next week, I’m sure there will be a couple of songs in there that turn a head or two. It all could change between now and then but when I am able, It’s going to happen.

D-Rock: Any word on progress of the Nothing To Prove video? Is it still in the editing phase and who do you have working on it?

Hembree: I believe the video was scheduled to come out in the spring but… It was a damn fun video to shoot. Usually, I hate doing video shoots but the last two I have done have been a lot of fun and that boils down to the Rusty Knuckles team. The vibe, attention, and overall care that Ralph, Beth, and Brooke put into the bands and products they stand behind shows with their approach and end results. I love working with Rusty Knuckles. Also, in the last video, we had a ton of fans show up to the set and they all were involved. They made it more of an intimate show type affair. It was f**king awesome.

D-Rock: So how did you get hooked up with http://rustyknuclesmusic.com? Were you already friends with them or did you submit a demo to them or what?

Hembree: I have known the owner of Rusty Knuckles, Ralph for about 10 years, give or take. Ralph and I met through mutual friends like Jeff from ANTiSEEN. We have been wanting to work together for a very long time. A previous band of mine called GRIM PICKINS &THE BASTARD CONGREGATION recorded several songs back in 2012 for Rusty Knuckles. The plan was to release an ANTiSEEN/GRIM PICKINS &THE BASTARD CONGREGATION spit 7 inch. But the band, unfortunately, broke up soon after the recording so the release didn’t make any sense at that point. HSS drummer Parker was also the drummer in that band as well, It was a no brainer for me as far as reaching out to Rusty Knuckles for the release of “F.Y.F“.I got the mixes of the record back from Warren Riker and sent them to Ralph and he was all about putting out the album. In all honesty, Rusty Knuckles was the only label I wanted to reach out to for this record. I have a lot of respect for the label and their work ethic.

D-Rock: So, I heard a podcast of you having coffee and talking about your past with a fellow that played drums for MUSIC HATES YOU with you a while back that really got me in the feelers. I like what he does and why. Can you tell me more about that?

Hembree: In all honesty that was by far the most intense interview I have ever done. His name is Patrick Ferguson and he is a drummer amongst drummers type of drummer. A true monster behind the kit. It would be impossible for anyone who has played with him to dispute that. Patrick was the drummer, as you mentioned for MUSIC HATES YOU from 2004-2008. But his resume doesn’t end there! He has played with FIVE EIGHT, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, THE B-52s, THE POWDER ROOM, MIKE MILLS BAND, SOUTHERN BITCH, MOTHERF*CKER… the list goes on and on and on. I think the underlining main reason for his podcast is to reach out to other musicians that struggle or have struggled with addiction, depression, anxiety, or people who have just had a tough life in general. In hopes that others can be helped from hearing about the experiences of the guests on the show. It’s very commendable. I honestly never thought I would wind up in an interview type scenario that would require me to sort of air my dirty laundry so to speak. I guess I meant that I never foresaw myself speaking so openly about my past in such a vulnerable manner. I have always reserved that for songs or private conversations until then. 

D-Rock: Are you ready to get back on stage and do the damn thing like normal? I bet you’re chomping at the bit. There’s a lot of energy there, from all the shows I have been to and what do you do during all of this to compensate for that void?

Hembree: Yea, man I’m itching to get back on stage in a massive way. The energy that you mention from the live shows is always there, always in me. So without the ability to play live shows or hell without the ability to even have band practice is like putting a chain and muzzle on a rabid pit bull. Once the chain and muzzle is off the biting and barking will commence! I try to work out to compensate for the lack of shows for the social distancing we are required to do. I have a 30-pound sledgehammer and 350-pound tire. I swing that hammer and bash that tire as much as I can and I flip the tire up and down my driveway, I do pull-ups, I lift weights, I hit the punching bag. I try to stay physical daily. I am a fat motherf**ker at the moment so it may not be apparent to the eye but I am stronger than ever.

D-Rock: So who cooks in your household? Just one person or does everyone split duty? What’s everyone’s favorite dish?

Hembree: I do most of the cooking in the house. Pasta is probably the favorite in the household.

D-Rock: I never pegged you for a chef. Have you watched any of The Tiger King everyone is all about lately? What’s your take on it? Recommend or no?

Hembree: I wouldn’t go as far as to call me a chef, hahahaha. I can and I do prepare meals. Ha! Yea, that series is a modern phenomenon for sure! I watched the show and i was totally entertained by the series. I enjoy out there and unique individuals and that show had no shortage in that department.

D-Rock:  So I just saw that you posted to Facebook about a few big surprises concerning your new video that’s in the works for Nothing To Prove. Can I ask about that?

Hembree:  You can ask but I ain’t telling ya what the surprise is! Hahahaha! Just know that it will make a good majority of our fans happy when they see the kickass extras we threw in the video after the initial shoot.

D-Rock: That’s good enough! Is there an ETA on the next album? Has anything been recorded yet or is it still in writing stage? What’s the word on it?

Hembree: There is no ETA on the new album as of yet. I have assembled a batch of songs that I feel are up to snuff for the second record. Hopefully, it will be released in 2020. The first album is by far and away my personal favorite recording I have ever been a part of. So with the next album, I naturally wanted to feel the same way if not better. We had just started fleshing out the album song by song as a band and then the covid19 b*tch reared her c*nt face and f**ked up the world and obviously halted the new album progress with it. But I’ll say this: the songs on the next album are already my favorite songs we have worked on and I can safely speak on the behalf of my band-mates that they feel the same way. Before covid19 hit we had more or less finished 4 songs out of approximately 12 for the next record. Ain’t gonna give too much more away about the album. But, I’ll leave you with one song title from the album to give some insight to where my sensitive side is going, the first song written for the album is called “Your Band Sucks”

D-Rock: So you have added another guitar and she’s a badass. KC/DC rocks. How did that happen?

Hembree: Yea! KC/DC joined up with us last August. Her first 2 shows were September 20 for Slaughter Que at the Masquerade in Atlanta and our record release show for F.Y.F. at Caledonia in Athens on October 5th of 2020. Our lead guitarist Ash and bassist Charley have actually played in a band called THE MIDS with her off and on for years. Side note, that band kicks ass and also features our former rhythm guitar player Jeff Rapier on bass and our great pal A.D. Crawford is the frontman. If you get a chance to see them don’t miss it! They rule and it’s a rarity to see them live. We have all ran in the same circles for years. I had a practice space at Thunderbox about 10 years ago adjacent to KC/DC’s band’s room at the time. Every band she’s been in is better for having her a member. KC/DC reached out to us about a year ago asking “how the f*ck do I join this band?!” And we replied immediately that she just did join! Ash, Charley, and Parker and I have a lot in common musically. We all grew up on punk rock and country music, etc. But, I am also a massive metalhead, and until KC/DC joined I was the only one in the band that brought that influence. Well, KC/DC is a massive metalhead, too. We nerd out on all the early MORBID ANGEL and BATHORY records together. She brings pure rock n roll vibe to the band and while I think the band was already vicious, KC/DC has brought a certain darkness to the music that wasn’t there until she joined HSS. She is a f*cking force to be reckoned with, I think the world of her. I’d take a bullet for KC/DC and I know she would for anyone in the band. She’s legit.

D-Rock: So you said you were doing a lot of writing being cooped up and all. Do you and Ashtray just kind of hash it out over the phone, send videos back and forth?

Hembree: Usually, I’ll record the most basic stripped-down versions of songs on my phone then send them to Ashtray. Sometimes he and I will meet up before the rest of the band flesh out things  I have written between us on the songs. After that, Ash takes over the musical responsibilities with the song from there for the most part. Basically all the songs start with me. I bring him a song and him and  I flesh it out, and then he brings it to Charley, Parker, and KC/DC and they make it sound great while I stand around scratching my ass and picking my nose.

D-Rock: Are you guys and gal eyeing a studio yet? Will you use Mr. Riker again?  The debut was f**king perfect by the way.

Hembree:  We will be returning to Full Moon Studios in Watkinsville, Georgia. The studio is run by Jay Rogers and we love working with him. And yes, we will be f**king for sure be using Warren next time around, and we will be using Joel Hatstat for the mastering as well. We love the way the last record turned out so I ain’t about to change that part of the formula.

I had a really good time conducting this interview and I hope you ladies and gentlemen have just as much fun reading it. As always it was a pleasure, and MOST of my questions were answered. The only one that wasn’t was cool because we like surprises, don’t we? Remember that Facebook live broadcast Zach spoke of?

Want to see something official from HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS? Here you go…

Want to know what a live show is like? I went live on my phone or the full set at HEMBREE AND THE SATAN SISTERS‘ album release show for F.Y.F. The audio is crappy cause it’s a phone but…