By Christina Rice
Jesse Ward, Maryville, plays guitar for the metal band Hemlock which is touring Europe for the third time.
Ward, originally from Iowa, came to Maryville to attend Northwest Missouri State University and currently works at Wal-Mart. He joined Hemlock when one of the guitar players left and they had an opening.
Ward said the band classifies itself as a party metal band because people can dance to the music. The group was created in 1993 in Las Vegas, NV, by brothers Chad and Brian Smith who were then 16 and 18 years old. Chad said they started the band due to their love of music and art.
“The fact that we get to travel makes it that much better,” Chad said.
They moved the band to the Midwest 10 years ago to take advantage of the lower cost of living. The Smith brothers now reside in Iowa.
Hemlock travels six to eight months of the year across the United States and has opened for heavy metal bands including Korn, Slipknot, Slayer and Motorhead.
“I think people get nervous around metal music because of how aggressive it sounds, how the musicians look or because of the personas they portray, but they are just regular guys,” Ward said.
The band’s songwriter, Chad, writes many positive lyrics. He said one of his favorite songs, “No Time for Sorrow,” is about being a positive person because life is too short to be angry.
Even though the band plays metal music, they enjoy all music and listen to a variety of artists while traveling including Neil Diamond and Elton John.
“We listen to a little bit of everything. It is nice to switch it up,” Ward said.
Hemlock is currently touring Europe for the third time. They joined the Hungarian band Ektomorf, traveling with them in their bus, and will perform 75 shows during the month-long tour. This past summer, Hemlock invited Ektomorf to the US to join them on a home tour. Ward said swapping tours is a cost-saving measure.
Ward said the music industry has moved bands from swapping tours to buy-on tours in which groups pay to travel with big-name bands. When a band participates in a buy-on tour, its only source of income is selling band merchandise for prices dictated by the big-name band.
“I get to see the world for free, that’s always cool. I get to meet a lot of friends and the shows are always fun,” Ward said.
Ward and Chad urge listeners to support the bands they enjoy by going to shows and buying CDs.
Hemlock currently has nine albums including one live album. Their music can be purchased at Hemlockworld.com, cdbaby.com and iTunes.