Hit By A Bus has been in existence, with one lineup or another, since 1998. That's a lifetime in a local scene where projects dissolve and new ones form every few months.
During its decade of making metal with a squishy center, Hit By A Bus has parked in front of venues large and small. From bars to skateparks to major music festivals—the band says if there's an outlet, Hit By A Bus will plug in.
The day after it played a show at a lodge in Pocatello, Idaho, the group got some startling news. "We found out some crazy guy had sawed another guy's head off the night of our show," says guitarist Joe Christ. The incident happened in the lodge where the band was playing. "That was a good show, though," adds co-lead singer Skreech. "They really liked our music, and we sold a lot of merch."
Head-sawings aside, Hit By A Bus is all about the intimate concert, though its members don't mind opening for big-time rock outfits like Fly Leaf either. "We've played a lot of small towns, and we still talk to the people we played a show for three years ago," says the band's other lead singer, Gio. "We build these little friendships throughout the country."
Each one of Hit By A Bus' prog-ish neo-metal offerings bears the fingerprints of its contributors. The band agreed early on that it would try anything any member suggested at least once. Usually beginning with a riff or a short melody, the band slowly gets a picture of what a given song should sound like.
"Then we have to punch-fight with each other until we have something we all like," Skreech jokes. "It gets pretty out-there sometimes." The keyboard, bass, drums and two guitars can sometimes seem like trains on separate tracks. But eventually, they all meet in the same place. Metal growls come and go, but there's some softer, undistorted and close-to-sweet interludes that poke their heads out from time to time.
Hit By A Bus seems uncomfortable with the showboating, image-obsessed persona many of its genre-mates have adopted. Its members aren't shy, but you're more likely to see them acting silly, not sexy, on stage. “Standing in front of the mirror for hours deciding what we're gonna wear to the show is just not how we are," Skreech says. "What you see on stage is the same thing you'll see when we're walking around the mall."
Skreech says for a while some people thought Hit By A Bus was an emo band. "But I think that was just because I tend to wear too much black," he hypothesizes.
The band just completed its second LP, The Optimist's Handgun. Hit By A Bus scrimped and saved to get enough money to record at Radio Star Studios in Weed, Calif., under the watchful eye of producer Sylvia Massy Shivy, whose credits include work with Tool and System of a Down. It wasn't cheap, but for a band looking to take the next proverbial step, it was money well spent. "We're extremely happy with the way the record turned out," Hit By A Bus' drummer, "The Duke," says. "We were crunched for time because we didn't have a lot of money, but it all worked out."
Hit By A Bus has been on a ton of mini-tours throughout the country and also spent three months on the road last year on the Christian-oriented Extreme Tour. (Some of the members of the group are Christian, but they don't consider Hit By A Bus a "Christian band.") The only thing holding back one of the hardest-working outfits in the city is gas prices. Since it only gets about eight to 10 miles-per-gallon, the group's tour van won't be making any cross-country trips in the near future. But Hit By A Bus is nothing if not resilient, and its members are ready to take the plunge into full-time musicianship. "We just have to take the leap of faith," Skreech says. "We don't want to be rock stars. We just want to make this our jobs."