Hemoptysis seems like an awful infliction but make for a good band name. How did you come upon this word?
Travis: My wife is a pharmacist that specializes in infectious diseases. When we wanted to change our name to something unique, we were stuck. I turned to her for help. I asked if there were any cool medical terms that she knew of that sound like the name for a metal band. The first few terms she pitched at me were very disgusting terms involving fecal matter. We didn’t want to be associated with feces so we didn’t really consider those. The third or fourth word she said to me was Hemoptysis. It sounded cool, so I asked her what it meant and she said, “Coughing up blood.” I loved it and so did the other guys. We have been called Hemoptysis ever since.
How do you get a Grammy Award winner to produce your album?
Masaki: I’ve known Ryan for four years now. I started as his assistant in his studio when he used to have a studio in Scottsdale, AZ. That was about the time when Travis and I started jamming and formed Hemoptysis. It was our first dream to make a record with Ryan. I’ve learned a lot from him about recording and producing, but more than that, I’ve learned what it takes to succeed in this industry. He is definitely one of the people that I respect most.
With a German label handling the release and promotion of the album in Europe what kind of arrangement do you have for the States?
Masaki: We have selected independent stores in the U.S. that carry the CD. It is also available through CD Baby, iTunes, and directly from us at www.hemoptysismetal.com
When I read the titles of the songs I can spot a couple that are also band names. How hard is it to come up with original song titles and how important are the titles?
Travis: I’m sure you are referring to the song “M.O.D.” That song was originally called, “Merchant of Death,” but someone pointed out that we already had a song called, “Shadow of Death.” We didn’t want to have “of Death” appear twice in our list of song titles for this CD, so I thought we should just abbreviate the song title and call it, “M.O.D.” Of course, we had no idea before we recorded the album that Milano of S.O.D. also had another band called, “M.O.D.” When we found that out, we were like, “Oh, well. What’s done is done.” Honestly, in this genre, almost everything has been done lyrically, so you are bound to have a song title that is some other band’s name or some band name that is some other band’s song title or album title. We write our music and lyrics to express ourselves. We aren’t trying to be like anyone else. If something like that happens, it is pure coincidence and nothing else. If you were to try to research every aspect of everything you did trying to make sure it hadn’t been done or said before, you could drive yourself crazy.
Do you think a lot about the appearance of the band? Is it important to look the part too or does the music do all the talking?
Masaki: Music should talk the most, but appearances matters .
Travis: We come from different musical backgrounds, for the most part, so we had to take a step back a few years ago and look at ourselves. We realized we had to tweak or appearances slightly so that we would look like we all come from the same band. One of us looked like a death metal guy, one looked like a black metal guy, one looked like a thrash guy, and one guy looked like he played some other type of music. We didn’t do anything extreme or out of our nature to look like we are in the same band. We just started wearing clothes on stage that we would normally wear, but that are little bit less personalized and don’t belong to a specific genre. That way we can be ourselves and look like we all belong in the same band.
Being from Phoenix, Arizona you have a pretty decent metal heritage to dig from. How important is that you have local acts that have made it to look up to?
Travis: I’m not sure that it is important, but it is nice to have. Phoenix has had so many great bands “make it”, if you can even define what “making it” means. I grew up listening to local bands like Sacred Reich, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Vehemence. I would go see Sacred Reich at a place called The Mason Jar in Phoenix. They had “Sacred Saturdays” back in the 1990’s where Sacred Reich would play that bar when they weren’t touring the world. I also saw Vehemence play there and other places back in the day. Being fans of bands that live around your city and have made something of themselves is inspiring and very nice to have. It makes you think you have a chance, especially when your city keeps churning out great bands like “Job For A Cowboy.”
It is all good and well to have the critics on your side but what kind of fan responses have you had to your records?
Travis: The fan response has been great, too! What’s really great is when you have fans that all have different favorite songs off the album. We have had people want us to play “their” song at shows. Every song on the album has been listed several times as someone’s favorite song on the album. It’s a great feeling to know that every song on the album is appreciated. Of course, there are a couple songs that fans usually sing along to at shows, but we never know if we will have enough time on stage to play what everyone wants to hear. That’s a good problem to have!
What is your greatest achievement so far along in your career?
Masaki: This album (“Misanthropic Slaughter”) is our greatest achievement so far. We recorded with the producer we always wanted and we made a record that sounds amazing from start to finish.
Travis: “Misanthropic Slaughter” is the greatest achievement so far but you also have personal achievements along the way that are special, too. Opening for Hypocrisy was always a dream of mine and we did it. That is probably not a major achievement as much as it is a little dream come true, but it is amazing to share a stage with one of your all time favorite bands.
You seem to have come quite a bit on your journey to fame. How do you step it a notch or two?
Travis: You step it up a notch or two by staying hungry for the music. If you stay hungry and passionate for the music, then stepping it up a notch will just come naturally. We continue to improve as musicians and we always want to keep things fresh. The new stuff we have been writing sounds like us, but different in a good way. Our progression as musicians and song writers is evident. We don’t want to repeat ourselves in any way, so the new music will satisfy our fans for sure!
I guess even the smaller bands notice that the way people consume music has changed. Is playing live still a good way of reaching the most people or are the more efficient ways?
Masaki: If you have good tour support then touring is the best way to reach the most people and the right people. If you are a smaller band without tour support, like us, then the internet is the best way to reach the most people. The only problem with the internet is that you don’t always reach the right people for your genre. That is why touring with tour support from an established band from your same genre of music is the best way to go. We would love to tour the entire world, but it wouldn’t be financially worth it because we aren’t a name that every metal fan knows to go see yet. When you are trying to get your name out and to the right people, you need to make sure you have the right audience. That is why we don’t tour the U.S. or elsewhere without serious thought and consideration of how effective those tours would be. We’ve had opportunities to play different places across the country and across the globe that we have turned down because it isn’t financially possible or efficient to do so. We loving touring and playing shows, but we try to be smart about it.
What can we expect from Hemoptysis in the future to come?
Masaki: We have just filmed a music video for a song from “Misanthropic Slaughter.” We are planning on releasing it in October. After that, we will do as many shows as possible in different cities and write songs for the next record.