The rigors of being in a band can be grueling. Especially for those that gravitate towards to the heavier spectrum of music.
For Bay Area aggressors Hemorage, the love of the music and the desire to perform for fans has never wavered, but it did reach a point where the reality was stark. Fledging in a stale scene organized by disconnected promoters, pay-to-play venues, and no real chance at gaining any traction, the band was confronted with the old adage - shit or get off the pot.
Rather than leave their career to chance, the band opted to make a sharp redirect and go at this music thing from an entirely DIY approach. While many bands champion those three letters, Hemorage went one gigantic step further. Not only did that take on the responsibilities of writing, recording, and marketing themselves (the band handles all their own media and merch) Hemorage figured out a way to side-step the jaded music venues that were unsupportive of local bands by investing in their own stage.
Securing a short bus, Hemorage poured in their vision and plenty of sweat equity to transform the vehicle into a fully mobile stage designed to spec for their stage show. Operating as equal parts tour bus and performance platform, the band has been trekking up and down the West Coast since 2017, taking over street corners and parking lots with their raucous brand of Bay Area Crossover.
Implementing strategy, the band executes their own mini tours and never misses an opportunity to pull up on a like-minded concert to hit fans exiting the show with another post-show party. Connecting with their own fans that have found them online or from a previous set, combined with the enthusiasm of an unsuspecting and uniquely captive audience, it's the perfect combination to make a memorable experience and convert more fans in the process.
Then came Christmas Eve 2022.
Following a set just outside of Ace of Spades in Sacramento, (presumably following the Machine Head show that was on December 23rd), Hemorage was en route home after a killer street side set. The band was hit by a drunk driver and while injuries were minor, the damage done to the band's primary source of just about everything was catastrophic. The mobile stage, tour bus, and central investment for the band was sidelined in an instant.
In the days since, a GoFundMe was launched with a goal of collecting enough money to get back to whole. In just about a week, the band saw more than two-thirds of their goal surpassed, with fans chipping in to show support and nurture the ethos of DIY by reiterating the notion of community.
Still reeling from a whirlwind ending to 2022, Hemorage are in a place where the future, despite its obvious uncertainty, is paired with a sense of optimism. The band's hustle, strategy and countless miles over the last few years has resulted in a base that believes their work and is willing to shell out to help them get back to it.
The guys in Hemorage spoke with Knotfest about the evolution of the band, what prompted such a bold career approach and how being the Bay Area bus band is about doing something bigger in heavy
When did you guys decide to make this an entirely DIY effort and do everything yourselves? What hurdles did you guys face that drove you to make this decision?
We've actually been around since 2007 with no experience at all. We started the band before we even picked up any instruments. We decided to become fully DIY in 2014 after discovering independent rappers such as Tech N9ne, E-40 and Macklemore. We also got frustrated with the politics of the local music scene. We noticed that promoters are booking the same bands to open up for national acts all the time even though they do not fit the bill. Promoters are making us sell pre-sale tickets without giving us any pay and the venues are taking a cut of our merch sales. When we would go on tour it was very hard to get a show and when you do it's usually not a very good show with almost no pay. Most of the time, when we would play at smaller clubs, the sound guy doesn't treat us well and messes up our sound.
We studied the business and noticed that a lot of things did not make any sense. We wanted to take full control of our careers and be able to make money to keep it going.
How long as the mobile stage/tour bus been a part of the Hemorage camp and can you take us back to the first show?
We started doing the mobile stage in 2017. Our first show was at Warped Tour in Mountain View, CA. It was during the line at 9 in the morning where we pulled up and played. It was very exciting and we were breaking all the rules. We had everyone's attention and we made a huge impression on the public.
Was there a particular pop-up show that reaffirmed you guys were making the right decision with going mobile like this?
It was during our first mobile tour in the spring of 2021. When we first played in downtown LA. The show was barely promoted, we did not pop-up on any shows. It was just us and it was one of the best shows we've ever played. If you're in a band, you know LA was one of the hardest cities to break into. There are so many bands and shows there that it's a big hurdle to stand out. You have to know and get cool with people just to get a show there and we did it without anyone's help. That's how we knew that we have something special.
There have to be some major hurdles with certain cities, cops, permitting - all of the stuff that people don’t really think about when it comes to putting on a show on a street corner or parking lot. What kind of road blocks do you guys face to set up and play?
Some of our major hurdles are the cops stopping us and trying to give us a ticket and getting a good parking spot. We do not have a lot of hurdles because we have full control of everything we do. We pull up wherever and whenever. It is very liberating. No one can stop us but us and occasionally the authorities.
When the band does play more traditional stages - in an actual venue - is the energy lacking? Do you feel like the bus is the most ideal place to experience a Hemorage set?
We don't know yet. We haven't played at a venue in a very long time. We'll be ready to rock out any stage once the right opportunity comes. We feel that our mobile stage is just a means to an end. We want to spread our music all over the world and handling everything ourselves gives us peace of mind of not having to rely on anyone to be successful.
Do you feel like you are establishing a template for other bands - showing them the playbook and how to truly be DIY?
Yes, definitely. I think we are showing everyone that there's other ways to do things.
What is the end goal for Hemorage and how has the vision for the band evolved from when you started to what the band has become now?
We want to break boundaries. We want to inspire other bands. We want to show the world that there's other ways to succeed. You don't have to sell your soul to succeed. At first, we just wanted to rock out and become one of the greats. Now, we have the same goal but we want to do it independently.
Has Hemorage ever had any supporting artists share the bus set up? If you could pick an ideal show scenario - where would you park the bus and play? Who would climb in and headline?
No, we don't plan on having a supporting artist to share the stage we built for ourselves. We don't think anyone can match our hustle unless they are already legendary.
We have this really cool idea where we drive the bus on a big stage and come out and rock out! It would be a really cool thing to do when we play with our favorite bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Exodus, Metallica, Slipknot, Korn, and many more.
Lastly, you come from a region that is forever linked with thrash. Bay Area heavy is crucial, historic. How do you feel like you are contributing to the legacy of a such an important scene?
We feel honored to be a Bay Area band. We are pushing boundaries and inspiring other people. We want the future generations to discover our band and everyone that influenced us. Once everything is said and done. We want to be one of the greats.
For a very long time we feel that there hasn't been any Bay Area band that made a big impact in the world since the 90s. When we would go on tour a lot of people had written off the bay area for having a great music scene. We want to put the Bay Area back on the map and doing this all independently is taking this into a whole new level!
Fans that want to help Hemorage get back to whole can do so by making a contribution – HERE