Noted as being “the XXX-rated Evanescence,” New Hampshire’s Sepsiss. are a female-fronted metal outfit with big ideas and the bravado to pull them off. The band was founded in 2011 by Melissa Wolfe and William Savant with an aim to merge traditional heavy metal with modern rhythms, and urban hardcore. Sepsiss is an indie-metal band with anti-indie dreams, like when startup companies become household names. This has only been working in their favour as they have established a serious following of fans, dubbed “Sepsiss Zombies,” by playing their brand of chillingly honest, brash metal.
When listening to Sepsiss, it’s apparent that there is a lot more under the surface. With inspiration drawn from hard rock to reggae, nothing is off the table or out of bounds. The combining of influences is not something unfamiliar to lead singer, Melissa Wolfe, who has nestled into a sweet spot, melding a career in adult entertainment and music.
The band just released their well-received new EP Badd Blood last month (buy now via Sepsiss’ official website), mixed by super-producer Glenn Robinson. We had the chance to connect with the multi-hyphenate lead singer, to talk with her about the future of Sepsiss, a woman’s place in metal, and how she’s managed to hone an identity that is uniquely, and excitingly her.
Was there an “aha!” moment that led you here, combining your worlds and doing what you want to do? Melissa Wolfe: There was certainly. There’s six of us in the band. We are all very unique in background, tastes and personality. We utilize this feature in our sonic fingerprint. Our producer, Mr. Goodbars, is a hip-hop producer and local legend, and William hails from multi-genre culture. William is our main writer and only writes with acoustic guitars and a single voice. Layering these two guys into metal music really pushes our metro urban feel. Ethnic ideas and traditional metal feel sexy and aggressive. Beyond the studio, we ALL come from the lowest form of privilege growing up. A variety of true tests to the spirit and real-life hero-building abilities! (laughs) God that was long, I apologize!
Watch the latest Sepsiss music video for instructions on how “To Write Hate On His Arms.”
With all that in mind, what does the holy grail look like for you? How would you describe ideal success and is it attainable? Wolfe: Goodness...ok. This is where you guys force me into sounding like I’m privileged. (laughs)
We have high expectations but we’re not built on what we imagine or expect. Considering the expectations...we’d rather be goal-orientated. Talking about privileges, for some of our members, Sepsiss is a matter of survival. We have staff members and band members that are simply having a go and enjoying the rock n’ roll gig with all the obvious perks and preconceived ideas or fantasy-driven behaviour. This is a matter of survival for some of us and we sacrificed having expectations simply to work as hard as we can. We want EVERYTHING. The holy grail to me is ultimate branding. I hope we make action figures and foam fingers. Go nuts.
The lyrics on “Eyes of Empathy” are definitely morose and honest. Is putting forth a level of transparency something that is important to you? Wolfe: Extremely. We always write from an interpretive point of view. We’re a diverse bunch and here again, we shine in posture and presentation having women, men, and diverse culture in our team. The interesting part really, is that all the writing sounds artsy and obviously transparent, while the English is 100 percent LITERAL. I mean it. Here’s a fun Sepsiss fact: we have never shared (we never tell folks what songs are about) this is a first.
“Eyes of Empathy” is written literally about a murder in New Hampshire. William interviewed the killers in real life(!) compiling the psychology and their personality, writing the song during the interview from the victim’s point of view. Essentially BECOMING Jamie (the victim) and FACING her demons. Literally. However, we remain focused on creating great sounding music and write about everything and nothing…or... IS there a deeper meaning in our literal lyrics or another play on the psychology?
The Badd Blood EP was released on April 9th.
Wow! So, what has the path and process of creating your EP Badd Blood been like? Wolfe: William Savant taught us everything we know about writing and presentation, theory, etc. He is the new Quincy Jones/Hendrix/Marley. He is a mould-breaker. He writes and records whatever he wants. He has a way of taking ANY idea and making it metal as fuck. Revolutionary writer. So that and anytime I can work with (producer) Glen Robinson I can brush my shoulders off. The man makes things magical. I have the best three guys on this EP. All I had to do was hit the notes. They made it fun and every day was exciting.
There seems to be an element of pleasure-seeking in all of your work. Has that been something you’ve actively sought out? How did you nestle into that “niche?” Wolfe: Fun is #1. We have a motto: “real life first” but now the band has become my real life every day. Now, everywhere we go people notice us and we’re all over radio and TV and news. I was INVISIBLE in school and growing up, everyone thought I was a joke. I don’t know a single friend of mine from when I was growing up. In fact, as soon as I decided to create a rock band was just about the time when I got the LEAST support from my peers. Now I get the attention I love from the humans that matter and make a living in entertainment. I am surrounded by powerful, healthy people and an amazing family. I am a VERY quiet and private person out of the press and off stage.
Do you find it important to develop a distinct identity in music? Wolfe: This is important to me. We are wave-makers. Trendsetters. Developing the band, as we wiggled around in our own tastes in the earlier years, we have seen hundreds of bands fail, not being comfy with their own product. Trendy, rushed, weak, etc. They all grew up, cut their hair and work at Target. It’s hard to get an identity when you haven’t had time to grow. Sepsiss, the music, and lifestyle, are a culture.
Sepsiss work very hard and just might “Force You To Lay Down.”
The “metal,” “"hard-rock” world still seems male-dominated. What advice do you have for women looking to enter that realm? Wolfe: It’s a double-edged sword. Talking trends... you’re going to see a lot of female-fronted bands on the way. Big fish/smaller pond sort of thing. But as the pond gets bigger and more fish arrive, the competition and sadly the saturation and quality control will always be an issue for some. Plus, if you’re pretty, you better be able to sing. Or scream for that matter. Really try to do it well because the easier you are on the eyes, the more you’re going to be all set up on the chopping block for criticism. All in all, we feel subgenres aren’t the artists’ fault. They’re just way for fans to sense of what they’re listening to.
Has your background in the adult industry helped you to feel more empowered in the music industry? Wolfe: You bet! Being a model and adult entertainer gives me a huge outlet to talk about my music and double-down on our production, wardrobe, equipment, and technology. I love role-play, costumes and sexy clothes. Modeling and music are a way to express a very real-life fire inside my personality. I let my work do all the talking. I am not a very vocal person off-stage. I choose (fewer) words and on stage and camera, my body and my voice come to expressive life.
Are there any artists who have distinctly been inspirational to you? Wolfe:Amy Lee, for sure. Lizzy Hale and Heart. All day. But there are handfuls. Michael Jackson is my favorite in the world.
What have you been listening to lately? Wolfe: Female band, Enemy Inside, Icon for Hire, Unlocking the Truth, Skillet, Saliva… and anything reggae. (laughs)