A heavy metal Juggernaut looms
Out in Chicago Illinois a three-piece metal trio Hemi is making it’s mark. The Bands recent release “Undivided Intentions” is a classic early 90’s throwback with plenty power, passion and fuel. The trio which is lead by, Trent Zuberi,(Vocals/Bass), along with Mike Cieplik (drums) and Tim Wilkens (guitar) should be very proud of “Undivided Intentions.” The 6 track EP is full of bad ass riffs and an assault of classic thrash metal. The EP is very well produced and shows off the bands skills. “Larry’s Song” is a stand out track for me on the EP. Zuberi vocals remind of Fear’s Lee Ving while Wilkens drops the tasteful shred on guitar. Hemi defiantly takes me back to my early years blasting thrash mix tapes on my walkman skateboarding around the bay area. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Hemi front man Trent to lean more about the band.
WORM – Trent, Thanks for doing this. Could you tell me a bit about how Hemi got started?
TRENT- HEMI was always a band of friends coming together to create something. The band was initially formed by 3 great friends from high school who just decided “why not?” I’ll never forget our original bassist, and the guy I always credit as the founder of the band, Paul Paulin who, after a night of cruising around listening to old classic rock albums turned to me and who would become the original guitarist, Erik Alvarez and said “we should form a band.” The cool thing is that none of us really had any idea what we were doing, we just threw the idea at the wall and took it from there. Looking back it all really sounds so innocent. I could never imagine that 13 years later I’d be sitting anywhere even answering a question about how it all happened. But thats some of the most fun of the entire ride, that initial innocence and unknown territory of seeing what becomes of it all.
WORM – How does the song writhing process work for you guys?
Well what I realized ever since going to a 3-piece lineup was that the writing process got dramatically easier. I guess the less people to worry about composing the better! Haha. We do an open jam where our guitarist, Tim will riff around anything he has in mind and myself and our drummer Gup will follow in. We build on it and if I begin to hear something take shape I have us steer into the direction of what would be a verse riff/measure. Once we establish at least an idea of that I’ll have them play it repeatedly while I begin to write lyrics. Once I have at least a verse or two down we build to the next stages.
Now the interesting element with us is that we have another very talented guitarist named Sean Turnbull or Pterodactyl King that performs live with us. He also sits in and joins for collaborations when possible as well. As much as I am trying to work out him being an official member, in the meantime he is open to writing with us. He and Tim performed in a previous band together so their synergy is completely on point so you can imagine how easily guitar work comes together on days Sean is there to add his elements.
WORM – What is your favorite song to play live?
Hands down my favorite is our opener, Nevermore. Its such a great burst of energy that just sets the mood for the night. I love it because it really gets me rolling and every other song after that is feeding off the energy it gave me in the opening.
WORM – Tells us the meaning behind the title “Undivided Intentions?”
I have to answer this I have to say how happy I am you asked this! The meaning behind it actually is deeper than just something that essentially sounded cool and something that Tim and I closely thought about when we were putting everything together after it was recorded. The interesting thing about each and every track on this album is that it deals with a mood or feeling. From a personal level as I wrote the lyrics for them, they all came from a very tough period in my life. Each one is an expression of a basic human emotion that say the “lead character” of the album felt with the underlying tone being that of death.
For example the tracks all follow the feelings of: Thought, Act, Regret, Struggle, Acceptance, and Reclaim. The “character” goes through a wave where he thinks of bringing death upon someone, actually killing them, regretting it, struggling with his demons, accepting his fate and who he really is and then ending with him embracing who he was truly meant to be.
It’s a bit dark but what I am most proud of is that it all made sense. Each of the 6 songs was another chapter in this character’s life during one of the hardest periods he had and it flows so well.
WORM – Does Undivided Intentions represent the idea of getting your head straight?
You know I never thought about it until you asked this question but I think in a way it really is. Of course the story arc of the entire thing is a bit amplified for the character in it but from a personal point of view I think it really became a therapeutic outlet for me to get things in order. Each song represented an eccentric expression of my feelings at the time and the various stages of them so starting at the “Thought” stage and making it to the “Reclaim” stage of it was a way for me to come full circle.
WORM – How did the recording process for the album go?
Smooth as I could ever ask for! We had the greatest producer I have ever come across in all my years in this business, AJ Kolar of TAG Music Studios leading the charge at the board and he made the experience so incredibly fun that at the end of it we were almost bummed we only had an EP’s worth of material that we were laying down! Haha. He has officially joined the HEMI family as our go to producer for anything we do going forward (including the upcoming MotorHemi release) and we couldn’t be happier. Combine that with the fact that Tim has an incredible ear for composure so he caught all sorts of things that people like me would never even catch or notice. He was able to find several areas to improve and enhance each and every measure of that album to truly give us the best finished product.
Whats funny is that he and I clashed a few times when I was just ready to release and he kept finding things to improve which I was initially frustrated at but after stepping back and letting him do his thing I couldn’t be happier with what came of it. We laugh about it now in that I’m glad he was so OCD about it because it only made for a better finished product.
WORM – How did Tim Wilkens find his way into Hemis guitar duties?
Tim’s connection to HEMI is a fun one. I actually met him at work through a friend and we came to learn he had a band (the one previously mentioned that he was in with Sean Turnbull) who needed a rehearsal studio. The two bands got to be friends and they moved in to share the space and whatnot. Down the line that band was having some trouble keeping things going and at the same time our second guitarist was departing so it was natural enough for me to ask him to come and sit in with us to see if we all clicked. We did and the rest is history.
WORM – What bands have had the biggest impact on you?
For me personally it always comes down to Iron Maiden, Manowar, Anthrax, Metallica and DIO. My writing and composure always has elements of my influences from those bands.
WORM – What are your top 5 albums?
Wow this is a hard one! Alright if I have to narrow it to just 5 I’ll go with:
Manowar – Gods of War
Rex – Electric Warrior
Dio – Holy Diver
Ramones – Rocket to Russia
Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution
WORM – Vocally, who are some of your influences?
Style-wise I absolutely love Lemmy and Tom Araya. I love that tone that Lemmy has on his voice which I try to do in my own perspective and Tom is the best when it comes to a bassist who never overpowers his guitars but then also is the perfect narrator. He doesn’t have the best voice by any means but he intrigues the listener to come along for the ride. Heroically, even though I will never sound anything like them, Ronnie James Dio and Eric Adams of Manowar to me are the two greatest metal vocalists/frontmen of all time.
WORM – Any underground bands I should be checking out?
I think if you asked every member of HEMI who our personal favorite underground band is we would all answer with Sacred Monster. I always like to refer to them as HEMI’s best friend band. We absolutely love those guys not only because they are some of the coolest dudes around but also because they are simply such a remarkable band. We played one show with them where we all met about 2 1/2 years ago and hit it off immediately. Definitely listen to them, you won’t be disappointed.
WORM – What is next for Hemi?
Well we just had our first session for what is going to be a special commemorative tribute release to Lemmy called MotorHemi: A Tribute to Lemmy that will include two Motorhead tracks; Deaf Forever and In the Black. We are really excited about that. We also have a show on April 8th at The Burlington in Chicago and then a live on air radio performance for 88.3 The Wizard here in Chicago this coming summer.
In between all that we are planning some tour stretches and marketing all of our new merch including, our very own Hot Sauce which has gotten the most amazing response we could ask for! Mostly though we always stay busy one way or another. This band has been around for 13 years this June and despite all the lineup changes and setbacks we have always found a way to persevere and continue to create new avenues and 2016 will be no different.
WORM – I have to ask, Hemi Hot Sauce? How did this come to be?
This is a random one isn’t it? HaHa. Well this business is all about being different what we can do to not only set ourselves apart but also attempt to monetize that to a degree. We figured that a hot sauce would really set us apart from any other band on the independent scene so we went forward with it. One of out former guitarists, MrMaD, who is a pretty badass cook by the way, mentioned maybe doing one years ago but we never really acted on it. Fast forward a bit and we were playing a gig in Wisconsin where this awesome chef catered the entire night for the bands and he had his own amazing blend of BBQ sauce. He offered to do it for us but it was more of a casual thing however it got us thinking about the hot sauce idea again. We came back and Tim & I discussed seriously doing it for the band and I found a company to produce it to our specs and just a few short weeks later, HEMI’s Soultaker Hot Sauce was born! I’m so proud to say that the response from the fans (and even non-fans) has been overwhelmingly amazing. Not only is it delicious but it helped spark more interest in our music from people who normally wouldn’t have listened before.
WORM – It’s safe to say Lemmy and Motorhead had an impact on you, tell us a bit more about MotorHemi?
So the MotorHemi project came to be pretty easily. We have always been huge Motorhead fans and after Lemmy’s untimely passing a few months back Tim proposed the idea of doing a couple of MotorHead covers as a tribute to him. HEMI has only done one cover in the past which was Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, in a metalized way but we never formally released it so the idea of finally doing one that was more up our alley was intriguing, especially since it would release with enough time to hold over until our next formal album. We ran the idea by our artist, Ryan Foster and within a day he had artwork ready! We can’t wait for you all to see it!