A group of students is drawn together Thursday evenings by a common interest: heavy metal.
The Heavy Metal Enthusiasts Club (HMEC) at USF is an outlet for students who enjoy listening to heavy metal music as well as other sub-genres of metal.
William Stone, president of HMEC, said he was a part of the heavy metal scene at UCF until financial burdens forced him to transfer to USF. Since there was no heavy metal student organization at USF at the time, he started one and used Facebook to find new members.
“I searched metal bands and looked for USF students who seemed like metal guys and asked them to help start the organization, and they helped me out,” said Stone, a junior majoring in mass communications.
The group has around 92 members, according to its USF Blackboard Web site, and nearly 150 fans on its Facebook group. Stone said about 25 to 35 people regularly attend weekly meetings.
Michael Brady, a senior business major and vice president of HMEC, said he became second-in-command after Stone deemed him most enthusiastic volunteer in helping to initiate the club.
“We posted flyers all over campus,” Brady said. “On student organization days, we set up booths with photos of the craziness and shenanigans in the club. To be fair, we only probably got about five people by doing that, but it’s something.”
Meetings used to involve exchanging music or inviting a heavy metal band to perform at USF.
This semester, Brady said the group has been more organized. The band “Sorcerer” performed at the USF Marshall Center Amphitheater at an HMEC event in October. This week, the band “Suggestion” will be playing at the group’s regular meeting.
Meetings have placed a greater emphasis on music education than in the past, Brady said. Officers organize movie and documentary nights, which Brady said are essential for learning about the metal genre.
Selections for movie nights vary. Last semester, the group watched the movie “Orgasmo,” a parody of the pornography industry. But some are more serious, like “SLC Punk,” a movie chronicling the life of a “punk” in Salt Lake City during the mid ‘80s.
“Most movies we’ve watched so far have been documentaries,” Brady said. “It’s important to open up club members to stuff beyond our genre. Punk and metal have a lot in common, though a lot of people don’t want to admit it.”
Besides serving as a haven for University head-bangers, HMEC has become a close-knit group of friends, Brady said.
“To be honest, I don’t look forward to the club so much because of the music,” he said. “Before the club was formed, I still listened to music a lot in my spare time. It’s basically just about friendship – about having people to communicate with who love what you love.”
Before joining HMEC, Brady said he would sometimes go to metal shows by himself if he couldn’t find anyone to go with.
“The entire point of the club is to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen,” Brady said. “It’s making sure we have that community behind us, making sure we can organize car pools to shows.”
He also said the club tries to dispel a lot of the typical “metalhead” stereotypes.
“We want people to know that metalheads are very intelligent people – that it’s not just a den of violence and debauchery,” he said. “Some bands focus on the aspects of death and destruction, but there are also other bands who write a lot of songs about freedom and self-empowerment.”
Selena Razack, who is the “metal scribe” of HMEC, said the group surprised her, as she feels it’s a community of people who share similar interests.
“(The club) is not all about heavy metal,” said Razack, a sophomore majoring in German. “We connect with people not only on a music level, but on a social level as well.”
Before finding the club, Razack had the same problem Brady did when metal bands came to town.
“I wouldn’t go to concerts because I had no one to go with,” she said. “If someone doesn’t have a car or doesn’t want to go alone, there is always someone else who wants to go.”
During meetings, Razack said she enjoys exchanging CDs, listening to metal music and participating in the week’s “metal gossip.”
“It’s a place where we can feel safe and comfortable with each other,” she said.
HMEC meets Thursdays at 9 p.m. in the Marshall Center Room 3705.