Hemi Cuda

By Alex Teitz

Hemi Cuda

    Calling Hemi Cuda a Denver-based band is a misnomer. The band tours frequently and has opened for everyone from GWAR, The Donnas, Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, to The Bellrays. Hemi Cuda has toured heavily on both coasts and continues to head out on the road. Hemi Cuda plays addictive punk rock
Hemi Cuda is a three-piece consisting of Karen Exley on bass and vocals, Anika Zappe on lead guitar and vocals, and Devon (the newest member) on drums. Hemi Cuda’s 2000 debut CD, Classics for Lovers, is twelve power-filled songs that generate their own energy as much as a live performance. The songs include “After School Special”, “Do What I Please”, “Hop, Skip and Jump.” In some ways, the CD plays at itself and the statements it makes about sexual power, cars, and other subjects. Behind the playfulness, the lyrics are clever and quick and make one wonder what is next to come. Comparisons to The Ramones, The Dickies as well as L7 and Sleater Kinney fit Hemi Cuda easily.

FEMMUSIC had the chance to interview Hemi Cuda prior to their CD release party and return to Denver. The interview was conducted via e-mail with Karen Exley and Devon.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

KE: Well, it differs. Occasionally Anika or I will write something start to finish individually and other times we start with a riff, or a subject, or lyrics and build around it. Kinda like getting dressed; I pick a shirt or shoes, or something that expresses me that day and build around it. I feel that lately our songwriting has been more thoughtful, not only to each song but to each other and our ideas. We’ve found that we prefer to present our ideas to each other and accept one another’s input before really deciding on any one certain thing, that way it holds the element of both of our styles of writing. We encourage each other and each other’s ideas.

FEMMUSIC: How did each of you get into music, and how did Hemi Cuda form?

KE: Speaking for myself, I have always LOVED music. I have always related to things through song and it’s been a very important element in my survival. My older brother has been a musician since before I was born and that was probably my biggest inspiration. My parents were also very musical. It’s always been around me. After high school I got to know myself a bit better and decided, “hey, I love this so much, I can DO this!” I was lucky to have so many musicians around me who were willing to help me get a good start. (and if they don’t mention it, Anika was in her first band ever with our now current drummer, Devon)
I think Anika is ultimately responsible for the intiative of forming Hemi Cuda. She wanted to put something together after her old band The Hectics broke up. She found a drummer and got together with Juli (former Hectics also). I had seen The Hectics a bunch and questioned why they never had a bass player. I guess Anika and Juli had seen me play a few times with my old band, Self Service, and asked me to be a part of ‘the project’. Everything just started coming together. After 2 or 3 live shows Juli moved on. Anika and I perservered as a 3 piece. In retrospect, I really think that is one reason we’ve come so far and been together for so long. The dynamic of a 3 piece just seems to encourage individual strengths in music and the personal relationship between members. The rest is history and a bunch of kick ass memories………
D: I started playing in speed metal bands in the California, then moved to Denver in a bunch of punk bands, but was mostly play with people that couldn’t tour much or were not as into it as much as I was. So I have always been looking for bands that were serious about what they are doing. Hemi Cuda was a band that was always trying to do thing, so when the last band I was in (Register) broke up I started talking to Karen about joining there band, but at that time they had just gotten a new drummer. It wasn’t till a year later that things worked out and I joined the band.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making CLASSICS FOR LOVERS?

KE: I think the biggest challenge in making “Classics” was $$$. Aside from that the details involved in actually finding a label and releasing the CD. So many elements are involved sometimes it turns into a waiting game. There’s the actual process of recording and mastering, the artist doing the cover art, the graphics person doing the layout, the label sending it to print after all of it is reviewed and altered a number of times, etc… Without a sufficient budget individually, it really takes that help of others to make it come together, and when others are being so generous to help, sometimes it’s hard to push them on the timeliness of it all. It actually took almost a year to get “Classics” out after it was recorded.

FEMMUSIC: What was the best experience making CLASSICS FOR LOVERS?

KE: The best experience for me in making “Classics” has been everything that’s come after it; the shows, the reviews, the tours, the friends we’ve made all over the world, the acknowledgment, the inspiration to make more albums…….I think the best is yet to come because things seem to be getting better for us every day.

FEMMUSIC: Is there a sequel to CLASSICS FOR LOVERS planned? Details?

KE: But of course, darling. We currently have enough material to record another full-length album (less one or 2 songs). At this point it’s really about finding the $$ to get into the studio to do it. We recently recorded a couple of our newer songs but our ultimate goal would be to find someone willing to pay for the recording of the rest of the album this time around and get some solid distribution. These days anyone can make a CD, but to really get yourself out there it requires touring, good distro, publicity, and a lot of hard work beyond just playing the music. Many people have expressed interest in helping us to reach the people who can help us. And of course, we won’t sit on it forever. If it takes us saving our own $$ to put out our second album, then that’s what we’ll do.

FEMMUSIC: Hemi Cuda tours frequently. What experiences stick out for each of you in your road history?

KE: Oh boy, there is a plethora of things that stick out . Aside from all the wonderful, generous people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, there’s the numerous funny cop stories we’ve experienced. And the time Anika got her ankles hancuffed together and there was no key. She was stuck for hours and had to have them buzzsawed off. Man, that was funny!!! There’s the time that ICP protégé band, Twizted, asked us to play some shows with them. It definitely reached a different crowd than we’re used to playing for, and that was pretty funny too!! We’ve seen so many beautiful parts of the country. At one point, the drummer we had with us on tour was my boyfriend. I don’t know how well Anika liked that but it’s an awesome memory that’ll stick with me forever. There’s nothing like going on the road playing music with someone you love. Oh yah, and on that tour Anika forgot to pay for gas in Kansas. Twenty miles down the road we got pulled over, then escorted back to the gas station where a whole crew of police were waiting for us. It took about an hour to process us all before they let us go. They thought our drummer was a fugitive because in fact there was someone out there with his same name and stature who was a fugitive. We got everything cleared up but it was as if those cops thought we actually intended to steal the gas, when in fact it was merely an innocent brainfart. There are so many stories I could go on all day……….
D: As for tour stories, most of mine are sad, bad weather no one coming to the shows, canceled shows, breaking down in the middle of nowhere, but one of the worst was in New Orleans the day after Mardi Gras, the whole city is a big nasty mess, but not one person is out. I am not sure who booked the show but they weren’t thinking

FEMMUSIC: As women in the music industry, have you been discriminated against?

KE: Certainly. I think in so many ways, being women has really generated a lot of the attention we’ve received, which I’m thankful for, but I think I would play whether I was born male or female. It’s part of my soul, not a way to capitalize on my womanhood. I think one reason women in music get the attention that they do (and most genuinely deserve it) is because there are many who immediately assume we can’t play as good or don’t understand the business aspect of things or we’re just getting by because we’re women. There are so many amazing female artists out there!! Hemi Cuda is noted frequently for the fact that we wear tiny outfits. Anika and I have a good time with our costumes and it’s a bonus that it adds an extra element of entertainment to our music. So many think that’s all we’ve got. There’s no satisfaction like proving them otherwise!! People like that have only encouraged us to become more aware and rise to the challenge of backing ourselves up with some quality music. I think whether you’re male or female it’s important to understand the way the industry works because it sure can be nasty.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

KE: The lack of honesty is what I wish I could change about the music industry. It’s as if you’re always covering your back and utilizing the eyes in the back of your head to not get ‘raped’. So many just want to make a buck off your creativity, talent and hard work. I understand everyone wants to make money, but I don’t agree with the ways some go about it. There are snakes everywhere, sometimes even people you think are your friends.

FEMMUSIC: What advice would you give to an artist or band just starting out?

KE: Don’t give up, give it all you got!!

FEMMUSIC: What one band would you most like to open for and why?

KE: Boy, that’s a tough question. There are so many and all for different reasons. So many of the ones I would love to open for I have fortunately been blessed with the opportunity to do so already. I guess if there’s one that I can think of off the top of my head right now, I would say Tenacious D. Those guys are so musically amazing and so fucking hilarious, plus it would be amazing exposure. It would’ve been great to open for the Ramones, they set the stage for the kind of music we play today. Another being Joan Jett, cuz she’s the Queen of Rock n Roll. If I had all day I could list a hundred more.

FEMMUSIC: What is the one secret to being a successful band today?

KE: Perserverance. Shit gets rough sometimes. It’s so important to stick it out and give it your best at all times.

FEMMUSIC: What are HC’s plans for the future?

KE: We have had so many amazing opportunities lately and things just seem to get better everyday. So who knows what we have in store??? I do know that our short-term plans are to tour in November down the west coast of California and along the south coast. Next Spring we plan on touring Europe and I’m sure there will be other tours in between. We plan on playing out of Denver as much as we can and continuing to write new material, really hone in our skills, and seek out people willing to help us manage all Hemi Cuda is becoming.

0 thoughts on “Hemi Cuda

  • Kayla Hood

    I was at the Twiztid show you opened for in Portland Oregon! I have been trying to find your song about the other white meat a tasty treat…. Help


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