The title of this interview says it all. You’re not reading about Hemoptysis -an unsigned band that has released a fabulous first record- because I’m good at finding unsigned underground bands. No, the reason why you’re reading about this extremely promising band is that they did an amazing job promoting their self-financed record, all by themselves, with tons of talent, passion and hard work. These guys managed to perfectly blend old-school & modern melodic death/thrash and the result on Misanthropic Slaughter is outstanding. No need to introduce any further, the interview with Masaki (guitars/vocals) and Travis (Drums) will tell you everything you need to know.
My first question is pretty simple: what is “Hemoptysis”? Is it some sort of rare disease?
Masaki: We had a hard time naming ourselves when we got together. We wanted a name that was one word with a sick meaning behind it, but most of the words like that were already taken.
Travis: When we were stuck, I asked my wife for some help. My wife is a pharmacist who has special training in infectious diseases, so I asked her to give me some sick medical terms that could be band names. The first two or three terms she gave me disgusting words that had to do with fecal matter. I told her I don't want this band's name to be associated with fecal matter, so she suggested "Hemoptysis." It means coughing up blood. We all liked the sound of it and what it means, so we decided to name ourselves Hemoptysis.
Hemoptysis is a young band; can you tell me a little bit more about your history?
Masaki: Travis and I started this band together back in mid 2007. We went through several lead guitarist changes and Ryan Miller has been with us since January 2010. Our bassist, Sunao, wasn’t a permanent member at first, but he officially joined us in February 2008. We have played shows with Sepultura, D.R.I., Obituary, Hypocrisy, Krisiun, Scar Symmetry, Goatwhore, and Warbringer to name a few.
Two members have Japanese names; you guys live in the US? You’ve been there forever or did you specifically come to play in a metal band?
Masaki: I came to the States for college initially and wanted to start a band in the mean time. It wasn’t easy for me to find serious musicians, but I was lucky enough to find guys to jam with when I moved to Phoenix from Seattle. I’ve been in the US for about eight years now and I’m currently staying in the country with an artist visa. Sunao was born in Japan, but his entire family moved to the US over fifteen years ago, and he is a US citizen now.
The feedback on Misanthropic Slaughter is AMAZING. I guess you guys are satisfied…
Masaki: Absolutely. We are very happy about it. It was our first goal to have a solid album in our hands and we made it happen. W have received allot of great feedback!
If you like Death/Thrash, and if Arch Enemy keeps on disappointing you, then give this record a listen...
You guys did the entire record by yourselves; you even released it by yourselves? Or do you have a distribution deal?
Masaki: We recorded the new album “Misanthropic Slaughter” with Producer Ryan Greene and it is distributed in Europe via Rock It Up Records in Germany. We had several offers on the table, but none of them were worth taking, so we turned them down. We are staying independent. Our deal with Rock It Up is a non-exclusive licensing deal.
Was it something you wanted to do or did you have no choice? I mean it’s getting really hard to get signed these days…
Masaki: Well, we get that question all the time. Just because you are signed to a label doesn’t mean shit nowadays unless the label actually puts money and effort behind you. Based on what we’ve been offered and other “signed” bands we know, labels just aren’t getting behind the bands like they should be. We’ve worked really hard and invested so much money into this band. We don’t take 360 deals just to say we are signed. Look at the labels’ rosters and how many bands they have. How many bands have you heard of? Not that many. You will hear and see a band's name on a Metal news/blog website when they get signed, but you will most likely never hear them or see them touring. Why? Because they can’t afford to tour. Most labels are not doing anything and taking every cent of profit from the bands they sign. How is it fair for a label to tell us to tour before they will consider signing us when most of the bands on their label are not touring because they can't afford it? That is what labels sometimes tell us. Yes, it is extremely hard to get the RIGHT record deal nowadays, and only previously signed bands that have been around for a really long time that sell a decent amount of CDs are getting offered a decent deal.
Yes, there's a lot of shredding madness on Misanthropic Slaughter
And did the awesome feedback on Misanthropic Slaughter change things in terms of record deal and touring offers?
Masaki: Again, we got some offers that we can’t accept. We’d love to tour, but there’s no way to stay on the road 365 days a year with no tour support, selling drugs just to eat while we have bills waiting for us at home that we can't pay. We have paid for the professional record and two music videos. We've gotten over 60 positive reviews, and over 40 interviews in 2011 alone, but labels seem like they’d rather sign bands that take 360 deals and make a quick profit in the short term and drop those bands shortly afterword. This is 2011, and we all are having a hard time with changes in the music format, consumer’s buying habits, etc, but we must work together to sustain and survive.
Travis: We love playing shows, especially the out of state shows, but there is only so far we can travel on our weekends and vacation time from work, if some of us are lucky enough to have vacation time. If we had a decent record label, we'd all quit our jobs and tour like crazy. And don't get us wrong, we are not expecting to get rich. We just want to be able to survive and play music. We do what we can every day and will continue to do so.
Ok, enough asked about the business now let’s get back to what matters most: the music. What I really loved about your album is that it’s a perfect blend of modern and old-school death/Thrash.
Masaki: Thanks. I grew up listening to those old school death/thrash bands and that’s the foundation of my writing style. Those old-school bands created the greatest songs because they are timeless and have dynamics.
It’s also like a mix between the European thrash and the American Thrash.
Travis: That just kinda happens with our music. We don't set out to sound like a certain band or genre. We just play what we like and it comes out like that.
And what are your influences precisely?
Masaki: Old school thrash bands such as Megadeth, old Metallica, and Slayer. Travis and Ryan have huge influences from death metal, and Sunao mainly has influences from non-metal music.
What also struck me is the nice balance between riffing aggression and cool solos/melodies. It really seems like you meticulously composed each song and each part on the album.
Masaki: Thank you. I like to have solos in our music that are melodic and add dynamics to our songs. That’s how I got into metal, shredding solos with lots of emotion!
How did you guys compose the songs?
Masaki: I mainly bring the riffs to the band and we cook it together as a band in the jam room. Everybody comes up with his own part and we blend them together to make it stand out.
The lyrics also sounded 100% thrash – what are they about?
Travis: Masaki and I write the lyrics for the band. The songs are all about our personal struggles and frustration in life. Those feelings might take the form of lyrics about murder, revenge, hopelessness, fear, depression, religious brainwashing, or songs about a corrupt government. Even if a song seems like total horror movie fantasy, it has real emotion in it that we personified in different lyrical ways to make the feelings more vivid and extreme. That is the way we write.
You guys also have already played many live shows right?
Masaki: Yes. We play as much as we can including out of state shows. We love playing out of state and getting every bit of tour experience that we can get.
How would you describe the band on stage, in 3 words?
Travis: Balls out intense!
What’s the next step for the band right now?
Masaki: We are currently promoting the new music video for the song “M.O.D”, off the album we recently released and we are working on new material for the next album.
And what are your wishes for 2012? Like touring with a specific band? Recording with some notorious producer?
Masaki: Writing new songs and hopefully we can record another album in 2012 with producer Ryan Greene!
Anything you’d like to add? Like to try and convince our readers that Misanthropic Slaughter is the ideal Xmas gift this year?
Masaki: Thanks for checking us out and we hope you liked our music. If you did, please buy our CD and merch (www.misanthropicslaughter.com) as a Christmas present for yourself or your friends or family and show us support! Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/hemoptysis) and stay updated! Hope to get to see you on the road soon!
Thank you guys for the great interview and for being true to yourselves and to the fans!