Hatebreed is one of the most intense alternative bands on the planet. Raised on a diet of hardcore punk, for well over a decade now, the Conneticut five-piece have mixed pure passion and brutal aggression on record and out within the live arena to great effect inciting mass circle pits and entertaining dedicated crowds across the globe. We chat with vocalist Jamey Jasta about the hardcore scene, New England, touring the UK and more…
“My comfort zone is when I am screaming my head off”
S] You must be used to the cold coming from New England Jamey, how are you coping in the UK at the moment?
JJ] We’re used to it! It’s already snowing back home. This is what we expected. We gladly came for a headline tour fully knowing what to expect. Also, we’ve been here in the winter many times before and it’s always been good.
S] What do you enjoy most about playing live in the UK?
JJ] The cool thing about the UK is that we can do these small bars and clubs at an affordable door price whereas in the States it’s harder for us to do a smaller bar or club tour because of insurance reasons and because of sound and stage stuff. The show we are playing tonight [Bristol, Fleece] is a pretty small place but it has a good PA and stage. There’s not going to be people going crazy and stabbing eachother like we might have playing in Detroit or New York. We’re lucky that our fans out here are rabid enough to help us to sell-out on a small tour, but not have it be so insane that it becomes an insurance liability.
S] What’s been your best experience touring in the UK – you’ve done all the major festivals from Download to Wacken?
JJ] Obviously we loved playing Download and that crowd is always amazing – it’s great to play a big crowd and Wacken was incredible – we had heard from a lot of people that because it was more of a ‘classic’ or ‘darker’-type of metal festival that we might not go down so well, but it was great. We actually put some of that footage on our DVD, we had pyro, and 30 different pits – people were doing ‘walls of death’ without us even asking – it was crazy. In Europe, we’ve done Graspop [Belgium] which was 50,000 people and we were the main support to KISS. We’ve also headlined Full Force Festival [Germany] on our own which we did in 2009 and then we’ll be doing that again next year which is incredible.
S] What do you think about the state of hardcore music now as we approach 2011?
JJ] We’ve always been a crossover band, I mean the first time we came to the UK we were here with Sepultura and we have always played to a more metal audience when coming here – it’s great to see when the metal and the hardcore guys can come together and show unity. We’ve done tours all over the world with punk and death metal bands – we try to always give people a different experience. On this tour we have Rise To Remain who are more of a straightforward metalcore type of band. For our part, we are doing a really long set and we want to represent what we are doing in its entirety and give everyone songs from each album. As far as the ‘state of the scene’ it would be nice to come and do some shows with local bands and hear more stuff so that we can help the scene, but right now it’s about getting our message out there.
We were actually in a nice position recently in Japan where we were the only band on the bill and that was good to be able to give fans 90 minutes of our set and everyone yelled for songs. I mean, it is really nice to ‘give back’ and give fans opportunity. I remember when we had Bullet For My Valentine support us for shows here way back! So, it’s cool to see the talent of the future when we can, but right now we just want to give our fans the longest and most powerful set. I get CDs and demos wherever I go from bands and artists and I do try to check them out as much as I can.
S] Our standout from that record is without doubt ‘Become The Fuse’ – it really embodies the spirit of Hatebreed in our view, can you tell us a little bit about the writing of that track and what went into it?
JJ] That song was something that I had demoed in different forms and I had the words ready…they were actually going to be in a song called ‘Immortal Enemies’ that was on the ‘Supremacy’ album and I pulled the words off of it at the last minute. I changed the title and then the words – I really wanted to tweak them more because I didn’t think they were ready to come out. I didn’t want to release them on a song that I didn’t feel was strong enough. Not that ‘Immortal Enemies’ is a bad song, I like it but the words and lyrics I had in mind originally just didn’t fit. Normally when I write songs, first I will have the lyric idea and then I write the riff underneath it – that’s what I did with others like ‘I Will Be Heard’, ‘Live For This’ and ‘This Is Now’ so, when we ended up demoing the music for ‘Become The Fuse’, I had in mind those lyrics and how they would go together with the riffs. I really needed it to hit hard. I tend to be my own ‘General’ and that was a good song for me to get myself ‘amped up’ – if I was going to go ‘into battle’ and I needed to be ready for something that was the music and lyrics I was trying to find.
S] You released ‘For The Lions’ in 2009, which was covers that inspired the band’s development – can you tell me, what kind of stuff you are inspired by now?
JJ] Those bands that we covered are a constant inspiration. At home I have the lyrics to Suicidal Tendancies’ ‘You Can’t Break Me Down’ printed out on my work table. On a school day when I have to take my daughter in, I can’t really be cranking up Suicidal Tendancies at 7am. All I need to do is look at those lyrics to find inspiration. That’s still the greatest. It’s the same with Agnostic Front. There’s even the new music from older bands, I have been really getting into at the moment. Fans of metal are really lucky because some of those bands are putting out their best material now. I love the song ‘Addiction’ from Agnostic Front’s latest record ‘Warriors’ – I listen to that every night before I go on-stage. Sick Of It All’s last record is also great along with Machinehead’s last record. I just listened to Slayer’s ‘World Painted Blood’ and I think that their doing a lot of cool things on that record. It’s great to see these bands still putting out great material. I love a lot of new stuff too – there are some great death metal and grind records coming out. I love the new Phobia album [‘Cruel’] and I just bought the new Cephalic Carnage record recently. There are bands that have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years that I really like as well including As I Lay Dying – I loved their last record.
S] Was it your goals to create a guide to everything that inspires Hatebreed?
JJ] Yeah. On the covers record we asked ourselves, can we pay respect to all of these bands who have paved the way for us. We’ve had a career in music for the last fourteen years. We have had a very long and good career and that’s because of these fans that ‘kick down the door’ in order for us to do this. We wanted to pay respect to those bands and do something that was different and step ‘outside the box’ – I did some stuff that’s outside of my comfort zone – I scream my head off and that’s really it for Hatebreed but with Metallica, I had to do those vocals and it was a real challenge!
S] In the past we have been able to spend time in New England and New Hampshire alongside the smaller towns – hardcore seems to be the strongest form of alternative music there – would you agree?
JJ] In New England we have been very fortunate because we led the charge ‘breaking out’ on a national level and right after us came Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Unearth. There’s been some great bands to come out of New England. There was a major metalcore scene and we always had good shows with those bands – we always had a good crossover, but we were never really a part of that, because we were more involved in the hardcore scene. We would play with everybody from Napalm Death to Life Of Agony and Biohazard – those were the type of bands that we would support. It’s great that New England has had some success though, because it really brings everybody together. When metal, rock and hardcore music do well, it helps everyone.
It’s great to see these different scenes popping up in smaller towns because that is how it used to be when we first started too. We would go and play in all of these towns that nobody else would and that has inspired little scenes as well. I think it’s important to keep playing those shows as well and I think that’s something that we will do again next year.
S] What are your biggest plans for 2011?
JJ] There’s definitely going to be some time off so that we can get into the writing process and then I think once we are writing and figuring out what we are going to be doing for the next record and the DVD, then we will see what festivals we are going to play. It’d be cool to get our Hatebreed documentary out by the end of next year, but we will see what happens.
S] What’s the documentary going to involve?
JJ] I think that it is going to be an oral history of the band and everything that we have been through – there will be a lot of interviews with us and past members, also other bands. We’re going to go through our entire history – all of the albums and the crazy stories!
S] What do you prefer most about playing out live in contrast to being in the studio?
JJ] I think that we have always been more worried about the live show rather than the record. This time around we are definitely going to focus on taking our time to do the record. We’re going to be working with a different producer and really concentrating on every part of that process more than we have done in the past. We are going to take our time. In the past it has always been, ‘let’s crank these records out and hit the road’ and then, when we get on tour we just think about the live show. We are so in-tune with each other when it comes to the live performance that we don’t even have a set-list – I just call out songs! It would be cool to apply that in the studio and have all the ideas and everything down when we are jamming before the end. We really want to go in a new and cool direction with the next record, and switch it up just a little bit so that it’s still interesting for us as well as ‘hammering home’ all of the themes, riffs and drums that people know from us.
S] What kind of ideas have you begun playing with ideas for the next record?
JJ] We’ve been thinking about new material since the South East Asia tour. It was really cool to see that even without us having a record label in a lot of those territories, the songs from this latest album, really translated in a major way. Tracks like ‘Every Lasting Scar’ and ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’ were huge with the whole place singing them. They have a place in our catalogue right next to our biggest songs. We want every track from the next record to be an anthem. We don’t want to stray away from the really fast and heavy stuff but maybe put each song in its own world. We want to make sure the next record is undeniable.
S] What are you looking forward to about Christmas?
JJ] I am going to see both sides of my family. Both my grandparents on my father’s side are 91 and 92 and so I am very lucky that they are still alive and well. Also, I will see my sister’s kids who I am now spending more and more time with now, so I will be doing the family thing.
S] In the event of a zombie outbreak, what weapon would you use to defend yourself?
JJ] I think any machine gun will do, right? As long as you shoot them in the head? Unless they are from ‘Diary Of The Dead‘, which I just saw. They were shooting them in the heart there.
S] What kind of film do you think that your music would perfectly soundtrack?
JJ] Maybe the next ‘Expendables’ film? That would be my dream come true – to work with Sly Stallone in anyway, so maybe you can get this interview to his people? Not just horror movies, but more action movies would be great if they used more metal and hardcore music.
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