The Rock and Roll Report Band of the Week is Hemmit

hemmit-webThis week’s Band of the Week is Portland, Oregon’s Hemmit. We talked to the band about Portland’s music scene, their plans for the future and the essential elements of great rock and roll.

RRR: How did the band start and who are the members?

Keith Fleming: Drums, bass, vox
Adam Rohosy: Guitar, vox
Oskar Rohosy: Bass, vox

Keith: Adam founded the band as a solo project in 2004 when he recorded ‘What You See (Is What You Get).
Oszkar: What about me? I was on it too.
Keith: They found me though a Craigslist ad (where else) and our practice space for the first couple of years was in the basement of Portland’s “School of Rock”, so the energy was perfect.
Adam: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that we, Hemmit, were to carry Excalibur. THAT is why Hemmit is your your King.

RRR: Your bio refers to hemmit as “punkish Powerpop.” I like that term. What musical influences have shaped the band?

Adam: Really? I thought we were more altpowercore metalpop. Hemmit is my musical influence, and William Shatner.
Keith: I like the balls-out energy of punk combined with hooky powerpop melodies. The Ramones, The Hives, The Vines, Matthew Sweet, Bob Mould/Sugar, Superdrag – if it has a loud guitar and a melody, I like it. I wrote the tunes for this album, and brought them into practice for a thumbs up/thumbs down. Adam is a great producer, and most of his feedback was “it needs to be faster”. And he was right!
Oszkar: For influences, anybody that gave me goosebumps listening to them as a kid.

RRR: What do you consider an essential element of great rock and roll?

Adam: Hot babes and cold beer…and more hot babes.
Keith: Cars and girls. Right – and beer.
Oszkar: Frustration, humor, and indignation.

RRR: What is the Portland music scene like?

Adam: Like my favorite pair of boxers. Comfortable…and sexy.
Keith: It’s super diverse. There’s lots of attention around the folky pop scene, but pretty much every genre is being worked — rock, hip hop, jazz you name it. Bars are really supportive and with the number of bands around, there’s a vibrant live scene. It rains all winter, so you end up with all these talented people holed up in basement studios making great music.
Oszkar: It’s like a bear hug from a fat, sweaty drunk guy.

RRR: How has been the reaction to the two cds you have released so far?

Keith: Really positive. The first album that Adam did (What You See is What You Get) got several Track of the Day awards on Garageband and also had some nice reviews.
Adam: It rocks.
Keith: For ‘RocketRide’, we took our time recording and we’ve also been promoting it more. It’s done well on college radio, ‘Hold Out’ got picked up for a Dirtbag Music compilation CD coming out in June, we got added to Pandora and are also getting good pickup on Internet radio and podcasts. All 14 tracks have gotten airplay and that’s a nice validation of the work we put into the songs. It’s still early, but so far it’s been great.
Adam: All who have feasted on the sounds of Hemmit finish their delicious meal of rock, sated… yet oddly still craving more Hemmit.

RRR: What are your summer/fall touring plans?

Keith: No big plans for the moment. All of us work or have families, so it’s tough to get out there for any extended touring. We’ll probably do the occasional Portland show, beyond that who knows!

Oszkar: I plan on minimizing my carbon footprint.

RRR: How do you deal with all the web 2.0 technology out there today for musicians like myspace, facebook, last FM, ilike, etc.

Adam: I let Keith do it, He is the man!
Keith: Great question. Things are changing so rapidly that everyone is still experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. There are the mainstays like MySpace, Facebook, Last.fm and iLike where you need to be as a band, and where you can reach new fans pretty easily. Internet radio and blogs are really useful, but it takes work to find the right outlets, and to build up your audience and momentum.
Podcasts are interesting and a totally viable way to get music out there – there are places that will host and distribute music to the 1000’s of podcasters out there looking for songs.
Other interesting sites are blip.fm (sort of a Twitter for music), Twitter, thesixtyone.com, soundcloud.com, mevio.com and others. There’s new technology and new sites coming out all the time – I just try everything and see what sticks.

RRR: What are the plans for the band over the next year?

Adam: New record in ’09!
Keith: Promote the record, write new stuff and get outdoors more!

RRR: What’s up with the name?

Adam: My buddy had a black Labrador named Hemmit, he was very cool. He’s dead now.
Oszkar: It’s best left a mystery.
Keith: It’s unrelated, but the fact that there’s a military truck named Hemmit does it for me — that works 🙂

RRR: Anything else you want Rock and Roll Report readers to know?

Adam: I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe, but I knew I had to rise above it all, or drown in my own shit.

Keith: Keep rocking, and support The Rock and Roll Report!

Download and enjoy Hemmit’s track Hold Out courtesy of the band and the Rock and Roll Report!

You can find out more about Hemmit at http://www.myspace.com/hemmit

HEMMIT: What You See (Is What You Get)Buy the CD

HEMMIT: RocketRideBuy the CD