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Hem at Gorilla in Manchester

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
Band on the verge of break-up return with new album
Brooklyn band Hem were on the verge of splitting up as they recorded their recently released album, Departure & Farewell. But instead of their forthcoming UK tour, which includes dates at Manchester's Gorilla club on October 17 and London's Union Chapel on October 11, being a goodbye trek it is now seen by the group as a rebirth.

Hem, Departure and Farewell
Rebirth: Hem (pic: Walden)

"We hope it's not a swansong," says band founder and pianist Dan Messé. "We certainly have more things we want to say. And we have more songs in the pipeline."

Formed in 1999, Hem self-released their debut Rabbit Songs in 2002 to critical acclaim. With vocalist Sally Ellyson and guitarists Gary Maurer and Steve Curtis completing the line-up they released a further four full-length albums, including the music for the 2009 Public Theatre production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for which they received a nomination for Outstanding Music in a Play at the 2009/2010 Drama Desk Awards.

Hem, Departure and Farewell
New Hem album: Departure and Farewell

It was during the recording of Departure & Farewell that discord set in. Members experienced relationship problems, addiction and family loss.

"The original idea for the album was that we wanted to wrap everything up in a nice bow but it turned into a much uglier goodbye," says Dan, who ended up hooked on prescription pills. "It strained every relationship that I had and the album almost didn't get finished."

But the healing power of music intervened and as members poured their feelings into songs relationships were restored.

"After we came back together, the feeling was a lot more loving," Dan reveals. "We were all really appreciative of what each person brought to the project."

Hem, Departure and Farewell
Like a family: Hem (pic: Brannan)

Adds Sally: "We really are a family. 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. I think that's a real testament to the core of what Hem is."

Hem's 2013 UK tour dates:

Oct 11: London, Union Chapel;
Oct 13: Bath, Komedia;
Oct 16: Sheffield, Academy 2;
Oct 17: Manchester, Gorilla;
Oct 18: Glasgow, Stereo;
Oct 19: Belfast, Queens - Elmwood Hall.
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Why? Rebirth of a band on the verge of breaking up.
When: October 17, 2013
Phone: 0161 407 0301
Where: Gorilla, 54-58 Whitworth Street, Manchester M1 5WW
Cost: £15 (advance)
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