For lovers of alternative rock, it may be hard to find bands in Columbia that cater to an emo music taste.
"I think it's no secret that Columbia is dominated by the country music scene, so it's hard to be an alternative grunge emo band popping up in South Carolina when everyone just wants to hear Darius Rucker covers," Gavin Seboe, founder and guitarist of Bleeding Trees, said.
Bleeding Trees is an alternative band local to Columbia. They released their first EP, "Late Nights & Alien Lights," in 2021 and their single, “Strawberry Swirl,” in 2022.
Seboe said the band went searching through Catholic texts to find a name with great significance that matched the tone of the band's music.
“We were looking into Catholic Apocrypha and stuff like that and really cool, end-of-the-world imagery," Seboe said. "One of the telltales of the end of the world in the Catholic Revelations is the trees will start to bleed.”
Each band member has their own inspirations that make Bleeding Trees unique. Blake Walker, the bands drummer and a fourth-year philosophy student at USC, said he is influenced not only by his classical training, but also by his love for different types of music.
“What I really love is funk drumming. I love the drummer for James Brown," Walker said. "A lot of that's mixed into the heavy music that we play, so it adds a funky texture to it.”
Gavin Seboe said he finds inspiration in video games, and Boodrix Seboe, Gavin's brother and the bass guitarist for Bleeding Trees, said he finds his in anime.
"I'll be watching anime and just playing bass and watching it, and I'm like, 'This is the feeling I want. I want whatever's happening in the scene. I want to make that music,'" Boodrix Seboe said.
Jeremy Wheeler, the band's lead singer and guitarist, said music is incredibly emotional to him, and he writes songs by drawing from his feelings. Gavin Seboe said the band's first song, "Escape Plan," has a lot of value to him because of the emotional impact it had on him.
“I remember we were sitting in my car, and Jeremy was showing us that riff," Gavin Seboe said. "I shed a tear because I looked back at Jeremy, and I was like, 'Man, I'm actually in a band.'”
Wheeler said the band's most popular song, "Strawberry Swirl," which has over 10,000 streams on Spotify, combines heavy lyrics with an upbeat tune, creating one of their most danceable yet emotional songs.
“It lets people feel very real emotion but in a way that's not completely depressing. It's like getting to feel those same feelings but also be happy and upbeat and get to dance to it as well,” said Wheeler.
Boodrix Seboe said his inspiration came from bands like Metallica and Megadeth because he grew up with a love for the styles of the bands' guitarists.
“Like David Ellefson from Megadeth — I love his tone and his playing. And Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted from Metallica, I try to mimic that as best I can,” Boodrix Seboe said.
His brother said the band is usually compared to My Chemical Romance since the members dress similarly. He and Wheeler said that dressing the part is very important, and the members like to feel that the audience is receiving a full performance experience.
"We want people to actually come out and watch our shows because that's how they want to spend their time, and we want them to enjoy being there and enjoy the theatrics of it all," Wheeler said.
While Gavin Seboe said that it can be difficult to build an audience for an alternative rock band in a city dominated by country music culture, Wheeler appreciates the challenge.
“In the long run, it helps us out because it makes us work harder to find ... that audience," Wheeler said. "It makes them way more passionate about it and willing to drive two hours just to get to watch us play.”
Wheeler said that the members hope to make careers out of the music they love and that they are not afraid to go after their dreams of success in the music industry.
“I mean, really, we have all of the goals. I think people are a little bit too scared to say that they want to achieve great things," Wheeler said. "But I don't think there's any one of us who would still want to keep doing this if we thought that there wasn't a chance that we could be great.”