Profile: GA’s Unapologetic Punk Rockers Hembree & the Satan Sisters

Hembree and the Satan Sisters

Many of you may remember Zack Hembree as vocalist and one of the founding members of TORO or possibly from this Profile we did with him surrounding the release of an EP. Zack has since moved on to form Hembree & the Satan Sisters, a band that gleefully caters to Hembree’s unrepentant punk side. Together with likeminded band members that share his vision, the band’s debut F.Y.F. will see the light of day later this month. It’s unadulterated punk rock that reeks of barroom brawls and ringside seats. We recently reached out with our set of Profile questions and received in-depth and lengthy answers, which is always appreciated. Head below to see how it went down and show them love from the links contained within.

Hembree & the Satan Sisters - F.Y.F.

How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

Zackery M. Hembree: I was born into a very musical and artistic family. My grandmother on my dad’s side played mandolin, piano, guitar, and Hammond organ, performing predominantly Southern Gospel and Country. Her father was a bluegrass musician, and he played guitar and fiddle. My dad was also a musician, and he played piano and sang Southern Gospel Music. He attracted a following in the late 70’s to mid 90’s touring the southeast and playing churches and upper end gospel concerts. He was also the choir leader, treasurer, or preacher in several churches.  Music was, for a lack of better description, forced upon my brother and I. There was no escaping it, and by the time I was 5 years old, I was being shoved onstage, opening for bigger gospel acts and also singing at church three times a week. My younger brother and I were a singing duo with our dad leading the way on piano. It was one of many of my dad’s groups. He had too many for me to keep count.

My mother was also a piano player, but the biggest inspiration in my artistic life came from my grandmother on my mom’s side. She is an accomplished artist, and her paintings and sculptures have been featured in countless showings. As a matter of fact, former governor of GA, Zell Miller, purchased and commissioned paintings from her.

On my dad’s side, subservience was what was taught through religion. My grandmother stressed the importance of individualism to me on the regular. It stuck with me. I write, record, and release music I enjoy with people I respect. Some people are big fans and some are big haters. Sounds like success to me.

Charley Ferlito: My brother was in a punk band when I was in middle school and I thought it was so cool, so naturally I picked up his bass and never put it down. Success is based on personal perception, I’ve definitely achieved success playing music, It’s never been my main job or paid all the bills but hey I’m still here anyway right?

Parker Bradshaw: I got into playing music through my elementary school. I was in 4th grade when I joined the school band playing the snare drum. I still have a few goals on my list, but for the most part I have checked several boxes off of my music career bucket list.

KC/DC:  From the first time I heard an AC/DC song late at night on a tiny radio when I was ten years old, I knew this would be my life. Those driving Malcolm Young riffs connected with something in me, and I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since. Then I saw and heard Joan Jett and it was all over. Rock n’ roll ruined my life…thank the dark lord! Never gave a shit about success. I just had to keep playing for sanity.  Punk showed me that it didn’t have to be about success or making a career to mean something.

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)

ZMH: I have had many embarrassing moments throughout the last 23 years of playing in bands. But other than drunken fist fights and arrests, nothing that holds any weight.

There are too many to single one out, but many of them occurred onstage. Brawling with my bandmates or the audience, most are absolutely hilarious in hindsight. There’s not enough time to even scratch the surface of that insanity, the stories will never end. But, a lot of them involved myself and our bassist Charley, whiskey is a hell of a drug. I have never debased myself to be a part of anything musically. If I want to do it I will, and if I don’t, I won’t.  Life’s too short to take the joy out of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Especially if it entails losing any self respect to receive praise.

CF: Too many stories to pinpoint and they’re all a little too blurry. I’ve definitely done more to piss off anyone that could help more than to please them.

KC/DC: Answering these questions. Just kidding. I don’t have any stories like that. I’m shit at hyping myself. It makes me really uncomfortable. Even sending out Facebook invites feels weird. I can’t think of ever asking to get on a show or slinging presale tickets or anything like that. I’m like Lloyd Dobbler.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

ZMH: I don’t think we fit snugly into just the metal genre, but there are elements there for sure. But, I am fine with any genre people want to identify us with as long as our name is spelled correctly.

Not attempting to speak on my bandmates behalf, this is just my opinion on the worst things happening in Rock ‘n’ Roll. One thing that I roll my eyes at is the heightened sense of supposed virtue or morality that is going around in general. From my viewpoint, most of it seems so disingenuous and hollow, but I know there are exceptions to every rule. I have no time for that shit. I am a busy man. I have a wife, three kids, and a working band, and I have zero interest cultivating a project that considers anyone’s opinion about our music outside of myself and my bandmates. That’s a boring avenue that I refuse to walk down. If something bothers you about our band then great, and if you love our band then great. But if anyone expects an apology because they were perturbed, then you can line up with the rest of ’em and kiss my ass. Adoration or hatred towards the music we create holds similar value to me. If it’s appreciated then I smile, if it’s hated then I grin. Both are strong reactions, and I will take either as a compliment. But that being said, there are still many rebellious bands out there that I enjoy that pay no mind to anything but their own view on Rock ‘n’ Roll. That is always great to see. Our pals in Die 985, Taped Fist, Guillotine, Jack Covington, and DDC are a few within our circle that share that spirit.

And to me that’s what it’s always been centered around. Do it your way and to hell with the detractors.

KC/DC:  I really hate modern recording on so much stuff. Especially metalcore sounds. Triggered drums. Loads of compression. Everything ends up sounding the same. I like a little more space so shit can breathe. I love that Earache Records did those Full Dynamic Range reissues for Bolt Thrower and Massacre and some others. I bought a ton of those LPs.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

ZMH: I think like anything else inserting political or social views into your art can be good or bad. You are immediately alienating many people if you draw a line in the sand within your music. That is not what bothers me. I say write about things the way you see fit, as long as it’s authentic and then I can respect that.  This ties back to our previous discussion regarding the heightened sense of morality and virtue that just grosses me out. I’ll say it like this: I think it’s commendable if people interject political or social stances, but they only gain my respect if they are genuine in their beliefs and not just bandwagon jumpers on the hot progressive topic of the week. Do what thou wilt, but the moment an attempt is made to silence another due to sensibilities being compromised, that is hypocritical horse shit. Obviously, I have a strong opinion on this, but it is a passing trend that will most likely will be replaced by something equally moronic but hopefully more fun.

CF: The issues listed are definitely a part of our music but I try to stay on the outside of all of that personally.

KC/DC:  I’ve always been a very politically oriented person, but I prefer to live my life the way that I think is right rather than making a public issue out of it. There are people far more eloquent than I, so I’ll leave it to them to talk about publicly. I don’t need to get pats on the back for it.  I think we’d be better off if everyone chilled out a bit and quieted down a touch. There’s too much noise in the system. Just don’t be a dick, ya know. It ain’t hard.

What, or who, got you into metal/punk ow old were you? How did your family take the news?

ZMH: The first music that I remember hearing that I considered to be “heavy” was Charlie Daniels Band.  But the turning point for me was undoubtedly Metallica like millions of others. I saw the Enter Sandman video and was blown away in an indescribable way. I read about the bands that influenced Metallica, such as Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Venom. They all became dominating forces in my teenage bedroom. But I must say upon hearing Metallica’s covers of “Last Caress” and “Green Hell,” it was game over and I was a staunch devotee to the Misfits and all three of Danzig’s bands. It knocked me for a loop, and at 35 years old, I can still listen to them with the same joy as I did when I was 12. Once I heard “Where Eagles Dare” I was hooked. Samhain and Danzig had an equal and massive impact on me.

I was also a total thrash metal nerd.  Being young, I focused on the bigger bands, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Pantera, and Sepultura. Thrash metal was another genre that lead to my discovery of more underground and crossover bands, like Suicidal Tendencies, Sacred Reich. S.O.D., Minor Threat, Carnivore, and early Type O Negative.  Monster Magnet was huge for me, as was Iron Maiden and of course Judas Priest! There are five artists/bands that undoubtedly inspired me the most to write and perform music: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Glenn Danzig, Peter Steele, Ronnie James Dio and ANTiSEEN. It’s too difficult for me to talk about this stuff and only a name a few. I could keep going forever. Rock ‘n’ Roll kidnapped me at 12 years old and has never let me go. In fact, I have full blown Stockholm Syndrome with Rock ‘n’ Roll.

My family was definitely bothered by my venture into what they considered “devil music.” Remember, I was raised very Christian. My dad and I went to war for years over my love for punk rock and metal. He frequently burned my cassettes, CDs or LPs, and shredded my posters. Hell, he even enrolled me in Christian School to try to break me of the devil’s grip. I used to wear my Slayer and Misfits shirts under my uniform. Christian school did nothing to stop my love for the music. Naturally, it only fueled it. It’s very poetic that my tenure in Christian School only allowed me to collect more metal and punk albums ironically from peers. I’d say at least 50 percent of the students were way more ill behaved than me. For the first time, I saw hard drugs and kids smoking speed under the bleachers. Most of the kids I encountered there were all into counter culture music, not more underground or dangerous bands like some of the stuff I listened to. But Metallica and Megadeth ruled that school way more than Jesus did.

CF: I touch on this question in question #1 so it’s still that I guess. What you’re into shouldn’t be “news” to your family, if it’s a part of you they either take it or leave it but I think that has more to do with who you are than the music you like right?!

KC/DC: My parents were way older, and there were no siblings around, so I just found my way there pretty much on my own. Through the radio and finding CREEM magazine at the grocery store and other mags and later zines, watching obscure shit on Night Flight. Just kept digging. My parents never gave a shit about “devil music” or anything. Even though I was a typical 80s hesher in t-shirts and my room wrapped in posters, they just didn’t care. I feel bad for today’s kids with parents who monitor everything. That’s fucked.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

ZMH: Again, speaking just for me here, I can offer no advice to music critics. My job is done with the album once it’s recorded and released. I quickly move on to the next batch of songs. I have never heeded a critic’s advice on how I should change my music, and I can offer no insight on how someone should listen to or interpret music.

CF: Personally I think everything and anything artistic would flourish with less online activity but shit, who knows really.

KC/DC: Ask interesting questions, avoid falling for trends. Just stay true to what you care about.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

ZMH: Foremost my personal goal is to create music and art that my bandmates and I can be fans of. You know the old adage? “Create the band you would pay to see.” World domination would be ideal, but I will gladly settle for casting our shadow on whatever stage or stereo we are on. Funny you mention starting a cult. We do have a very grassroots and dedicated following, and there is actually a group of HSS fans calling themselves “Hembree’s Hellions”  or “HSS Army,” founded by our first supporter, Austin King.

KC/DC: Play the next show, record the next album. Have fun and push some boundaries here and there. I like pit bulls, muscle cars, cooking, film, travel, reading, records, all the usual shit… Cult leader has always been a career aspiration of mine, falling directly below eccentric supervillain preferably with an eye patch and mechanical arm. Sadly, I was denied entry to the graduate program and had to settle for a workaday gig like all the other schmucks.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal/non punk)

ZMH: I am currently on a big Monster Magnet binge, rotating between “Powertrip” and “Dopes to Infinity.”  I am a massive country music fan, and David Allan Coe’s “Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy” has been seeing a fair amount of rotation. It’s not widely known outside of country music enthusiasts that David Allan Coe is a songwriter of elite status and fucking prolific. Naturally, his career is largely overshadowed by the offensive albums and that makes sense. But, “The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy”  at times makes me think DAC was like the insane mixture of Waylon Jennings, Simon & Garfunkel and Leonard Cohen. It’s very emotive music.

CF: I listen to literally all genres on a daily basis, I work with six others in a tattoo shop, so we all feel very strongly about different types of music. Anything from Kodak Black to Tyler Childers and back around to old Metallica.

PB: The new Strung Out album rules!

KC/DC:  I’m on a constant search for new music. I read constantly to find new bands and dig around on Bandcamp and Spotify and in record store bins. Recently, I’ve been on a big Squeeze, Adam and the Antz, Junkyard, hardcore kick. Next week it could be something radically different. Oh, the new Cherie Currie LP is fucking killer. Too bad it got a super limited release and isn’t streaming anywhere.  I listen to music constantly. Old favorites and new finds.

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

KC/DC: I’ll leave that to the boss.

ZMH: Let me start by saying our long time friend KC/DC has officially joined the band on rhythm guitar. She is the perfect fit for our brand of “Fuck You Rock ‘n’ Roll!” We are all damn happy to have her, she is a badass.

It’s been a hell of a year.  First on the list is to release our debut record “F.Y.F.” It drops on Sept. 20th. The following day, we play a massive Metal and Punk Festival in Atlanta called Slaughter Que. It’s hosted by longtime ATL venue the Masquerade and features over 30 bands including heavy hitters and legends like Exodus, Exhorder, Kataklysm, and Krisiun. Our pals Guillotine, Dayglo Mourning, and Rotten Stitches are also on the bill.

On Oct. 5th, we celebrate the release of our album in Athens, Ga at the Caledonia Lounge with our great friends The Casket Creatures, Donkey Punch, Die 985 and TAPED FIST! Lucky for us, it’s being presented by our label Rusty Knuckles, heavy music record shop Shadebeast, and Athens’ own Ratio Podcast.

We have several shows after that which have yet to be announced.  Our last show of 2019 will be December 7th with ANTiSEEN and the Independents, in Spartanburg, SC at Ground Zero.

After that, we focus on gigging and working on the follow-up record, which will hopefully be finished by this time next year.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite.

ZMH: Unapologetic

Many thanks to Hembree & the Satan Sisters for their time!

F.Y.F. Will be available September 20 on Rusty Knuckles Music. For more information on Hembree & the Satan Sisters, visit their Facebook page.

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