Hem

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Hem

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Hem had recorded three well-received albums—along with a B-sides-and-rarities disc plus a handful of EPs—and had been rewarded with a dedicated following. But as work on Departure and Farewell continued, it was increasingly characterized by upheaval, riven with by the dissolution of two marriages, and punctuated by addiction, family loss and crisis. Eventually discord set in, making it even more likely that the band’s career would end here, and not with a grace note. "It turned into a much uglier goodbye,” recalls Messé, who, in the course of seeking help to function, ended up hooked on prescription pills for the better part of two years. The songwriter now reflects on the time of missed commitments, frustrations and dependence with regret. “It strained every relationship that I had. And the album almost didn’t get finished.” At his lowest point Messé wrote “Tourniquet,” which imagined his surrounding neighborhoods as instruments of torment. “Brooklyn, I’m broken – I’m breaking apart / Greenpoint pins down my hand, Red Hook pierces my heart / And my blood runs into the Gowanus Canal / Where it sinks to the bottom / And hurts like hell.”
In ironic juxtaposition, it may have marked Hem’s worst time professionally and personally, but it’s also the band’s best work to date. And in the process, the sign reading “The End” has been changed for one marked “To Be Continued.”
“We really are a family,” Ellyson says. “We fight like a family. We love like a family. We stick together like a family. Nobody’s going to lose their place in this band because you don’t lose your place in a family. Even Dan couldn’t quite shake us free. I think that’s a real testament to the core of what Hem is.”