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Hatebreed: Jamey Jasta wants to unite through music


Committed, Jamey Jasta? Yes – and no. There are many things in the American system he doesn’t like, starting with the famous American Dream, which he sees as a giant lie, or even a manipulation. Jasta is a man who wants to be himself, and accepted for what he is. That’s what he’s found in metal and punk music.

The thought of going into politics has never even crossed his mind. For him, the political system is all about fighting to get power. As opposed to music, it’s not unifying. Jasta has never seen a politician unify people as much as music can: his band caters to people from all social classes and nationalities during their shows.

Hatebreed is a band with a massive, devoted fanbase, which will go to every concert and won’t hesitate to defend their beloved band, as they did when CNN slandered them. For these fans, Hatebreed make their shows unique and interesting by always changing their setlist. Jamey Jasta told us in length about this spontaneity, which has driven the band to build their shows according to their current mood.

Jasta also talked about the band’s new album, to be released in January, and about what the next one could sound like. But he also points out that, because he has neglected his family life a bit lately, he has some work to do in this respect.

« We felt that if we were gonna borrow from anybody we may as well borrow from ourselves. »

Radio Metal: Radio Metal: You said in an interview that Hatebreed’s musical style could be defined as “Celtic Frost hardcore”. Could you develop that idea? What did you mean by that?

Jamey Jasta (vocals): Somebody asked me about that yesterday and I was like: “Where and when did I say this?” [laughs] I just say that it’s crossover hardcore/metal. For us, most of all our last record is more metal influenced, but I say that it’s crossover because just like for the crossover bands that I like, like Suicidal [Tendencies], Agnostic Front, even Leeway or Cro-Mags, we have that metallic influence but the lyrics are more based in hardcore. So I say that we might have a metallic sound but the lyrics are personal and more based in hardcore. But we love Celtic Frost. We wanted to cover them on For The Lions, but for whatever reasons it just didn’t make the cut. We appreciate them as a band; maybe they influenced us on our first album a little bit, but not really. When I think about Celtic Frost influenced bands I think about bands like Goatwhore… We do the “OOH!” and the “AAH!”, we do things like that but that’s about it.

About this new album, you said in an interview that if you like any Hatebreed record, there is a little bit of it for you on this one. Was it something that was intended before the making of the record? You wanted to cover all the aspects of Hatebreed’s music?

Yeah, we felt that if we were gonna borrow from anybody we may as well borrow from ourselves, because at least then you’re hearing something familiar, and we’re keeping the recipe pure.

Did the fact that you are celebrating the tenth anniversary of your Perseverance album had an influence on the writing of this album? Is this the reason why you wanted to cover up all the aspects of your music starting by this album?

This record, with the arrangements, the 2, 3 minutes songs and the more positive lyrics, is a good representation of us, so anytime we can try to emulate that is good. So yeah, it definitely had an influence on that record, but a lot of people think this record sounds more like The Rise Of Brutality. I don’t know, it’s hard to tell. I feel like this record is better than Supremacy and than Hatebreed’s self-titled. We’ll see what the fans think in January.

By the way, since it’s the tenth anniversary of this album Perseverance, how do you look at it now, ten years after?

It’s great, we’re really proud of it. The tour was awesome, we hadn’t played all these songs for so long! I felt like I was 25 again, it was fun! It was a great tour because we had a really great time with Whitechapel, All Shall Perish and Deez Nuts. It would be great if we can come and play in France and Europe with those bands, we really got along great.

« I think that maybe because the last record was so metal, that maybe for the next record we will just go really old school hardcore punk and make a record like our first with 1 minute, 1 minute and a half-long songs, have it be like 25 minutes and just really pissed-off, fast, aggressive, like the first album.

Back on this new album… Since you covered all these aspects of Hatebreed’s music, will you try out new things in the next album? Could this album be a summary of your career before a new starting point?

You know, I thought about that when we finished mastering this record. I thought: “Man, where do we go from here?” But you know what? I think that maybe because the last record was so metal, that maybe for the next record we will just go really old school hardcore punk and make a record like our first with 1 minute, 1 minute and a half-long songs, have it be like 25 minutes and just really pissed-off, fast, aggressive, like the first album.

About your shows; you change your set-list very often, almost every night. Is it to maintain a certain degree of surprise for the fans?

Yeah, it keeps us all on our toes. Frank [Novinek] is really good about reminding me which songs we haven’t played or which song we have sound-checked or rehearsed, so if I wanna throw it in the set I can. It keeps us different from a lot of other bands, so it’s something that our fans really like, and our fans know, when they compare their set-lists from different countries, different places. It keeps it exciting for the fans too because they all talk on Twitter, Facebook, online on message boards and so on, like: “Oh, they played ‘Confide In No One’, ‘Facing What Confuses You’”, “No, here they played ‘Spitting Venom’ and ‘Betrayed By Life’!” People talk and now we have a hundred and some songs, so…

Do you think you would be bored if you had to play the same set every night?

No, because we did that on the Perseverance 10 years anniversary tour and that was fun. I kinda looked forward to different points during the set, like “Oh, ‘Hollow Ground’ is coming up” or “’Final Prayer’ is coming up”. I knew what was coming up so, it was different than having to set the pace.

Do you have some fans that follow you on multiple shows on the same tour so you have to change the set-list?

Yeah, and a lot of fans go to the meet and greet every night, some fans actually tattoo the shows that they’ve been to on them; they have lists of shows with our logo and our lyrics, so it’s important for us to keep it exciting and keep it fun.

Isn’t it a bit hard to rehearse the set since it’s changing every night?

Before the tour, what we do is we get everybody together, Frank will fly out here and we get in the jam room or the rehearsal space and say: “OK, what do we want to jam from The Rise Of Brutality?” Then we make the list and sometimes we do the songs further into the album, like “Confide In No One” and “Beholder Of Justice”. Other times we do the first four songs, which is “Tear It Down”, “Straight To Your face”, “Doomsayer”… It depends. With Perseverance, we never really played a lot of those songs because that tour cycle was basically only one year long, because we followed up with Rise Of Brutality the next year. So we just ended playing “Proven” and sometimes “A call For Blood”. Now, we do “You’re Never Alone”, “Below The Bottom”, “Hollow Ground”, “Final Prayer”, and “We still Fight”. Then the last two tours, like with Lamb Of God, we were doing six songs from Satisfaction [is the death of desire]: “Burn The Lies”, “Empty Promises”, “Before Dishonor”, “Betrayed By Life”, “Last Breath” and “Driven By Suffering”. So it really depends on the tour and what we rehearse. I think coming up from the Perseverance tour, we will probably do the other half of Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire, like “Puritan”, “Conceived Through An Act Of Violence”, “Worlds Apart”, “Burial For The Living”, and then the other half of For The Lions and The Rise Of Brutality. It depends, you know?

Basically, how do you make those set-lists every night? Is it improvised five minutes before the show?

We do blocks of three or four songs, and usually we talk about it before the set and Frank makes what I call a cheat sheet where if I forget what it is, I can go over and look and see: “OK, we know half of self titled, we know ‘Merciless Tide’, we’ve rehearsed ‘Hands Of A Dying Man’, ‘Everyone Bleeds Now’ and ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’.” I know I have those four to chose from, so I know the ones I can’t just call out for, I can’t go and say: “This one is ‘Become The Fuse’” because we didn’t rehearse it. You know what I mean? But there is no list, it’s not in any order, and usually I don’t even look at the cheat sheet. I’ll say “Let’s do ‘Severed’” or “Let’s do ‘Conceived Through Violence’”, I’ll just call them out.

« I just thought: ‘You know what? I think the American dream is bullshit!’ The idea of happy marriages and living in a big house with the white picket fence and a dog… I never had any of that! »

On another subject, rebellion has always been the main theme in your music. Where does that come from?

I guess just growing up in the city. I just thought: “You know what? I think the American dream is bullshit!” The idea of happy marriages and living in a big house with the white picket fence and a dog… I never had any of that! I never knew what that was like. I would see the ads on TV, the magazines and the newspapers and I would think “this is all bullshit!” People are just selling, they’re like “buy this product!” and that product gives you cancer, makes you fat and fucks your life up. I started to really see the bullshit through the media and through various different things that happened through my life and that made me want to get into hardcore punk. I saw a lot of other people, even in the metal scene, who didn’t want to live by other people’s rule. One of my friends in middle school, in 6th grade, was really into metal, had long hair, and I was like “Why?” and he told me: “Why shouldn’t I be doing that? Why should I have short hair? Why should I be a jock? Why do I get out of that?” And I was like: “I don’t know! I don’t know what you got having long hair”, and he answered: “I get to be an individual. I like heavy music, I like drinking beer, I like other shows, I like getting in the pit!” I just thought: “Man, that’s cool!” Then I knew kids that were into punk rock and it seemed like the same thing, they just didn’t wanna look the same, be the same, they wanted to think by themselves, they wanted to have a different style of expression that was associated with a different music. It was basically the same thing! It was just a different form of expression. One person has a Mohawk and another person has long hair. I didn’t care! I thought they were both cool. When people talk about individuality and rebellion and things like that, it starts with yourself. You gotta do whatever makes you feel good and whatever is fulfilling to you.That’s what you should follow in life! If you like to dress a certain way or act a certain way, who am I to tell you what to do? I’m nobody, I’m just in a band, but if you wanna be yourself, I’m gonna accept that because I wanna treat people the way I want to be treated.

OK, but haven’t you ever thought of doing politics to try and change things?

I guess I never really thought about it because in politics – I don’t know about politics in other countries and I don’t really know a lot about politics in America – they do this thing where they go out and basically try to destroy the other candidate by spreading lies about their families and distorting their policies… For instance in Connecticut we have this woman, her last name is McMahon. Her husband is Vince McMahon, who runs WWE, which is referring entertainment. She spends millions and millions on only advertisement, and people put out all this bad stuff about her in the magazines… I didn’t really knew who she was before this stuff was happening, and it really was kinda fuck up for both parties, both people would say really bad thing about each other and I thought: “This seems weird to do all this and say all this just to try to get the position of power.” That seems like a rat race, a big waste of money, a big waste of time, because she didn’t win and I don’t even know the name of the guy that did win whatever it was. It seemed that in order to do that, you have to sacrifice all your dignity. You have to be like a moving target, it seems like a horrible life!

« [Politics] seems like a rat race, a big waste of money, a big waste of time. […] It seemed that in order to do that, you have to sacrifice all your dignity. You have to be like a moving target, it seems like a horrible life! »

Do you think that music is a better way to express yourself than politics because in music, there is no stake?

In music, I feel like everyone is being brought together. At a show, everybody is being brought together to enjoy the night or the evening or the day if you play at a festival during the day. Everybody comes together during the day and everybody has a good time. I feel like music’s a great way to pass the time and to have an outlet and something to do where you feel like you’re part of something. The beauty of music is that no matter where you go in the world, for instance we go to places like Moscow in Russia and the kids do the same thing that they do at a show in New York or at a show in L.A., and then we go to a Muslim country like Indonesia, we play in a city like Jakarta, and they sing the words and they go crazy just like the kids in New York and Moscow… The universal language of music is felt all over the world without having to tear people down, without having to spread lies about people. It’s about bringing people together, whereas politics is to me, with what I know about politics, about spreading lies, distorting people’s views, leading people against each others, dividing people based on beliefs. I guess that’s why I’m more connected with music and I’ll probably never took the time to really learn more about politics. You know, I’ve never voted, I never looked at a politician and said “That’s a cool guy, I wanna be like that!” I never felt that way, I don’t know, maybe that’s because I wasn’t programmed by the media or whatever…

In a CNN article published on August 2012, Hatebreed was accused to be a racist band. Then your fans stood up for you and the channel eventually did apologize for the mistake. Did that accident brought you some attention and maybe new fans? Did that terrible mistake had some good consequences?

Yeah, I think in a way it did. In a way, it really brought our fans together to defend us. People all over the world, from Mexico, Asia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Europe, even people from as far as South Africa, were calling, writing letters, sending emails, sending Facebook posts and tweets… I think it really fucked CNN up really bad, and then they had to issue this apology. It really showed how die hard our fans are and how our music is not about racism, antisemitism, sexism, homophobia or anything like that. It actually brings people together, people of all sexual preferences, of all races, of all religions, of all works or lives. Especially on the Perseverance tour and on the tour with Lamb Of God and In Flames, we could see all races, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Indians, Arabs, but it’s always been like that. We’re from the inner city, from the East coast, New York City, the Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, it’s always been multi ethnic.

On the other hand, did you ever see really racist people come to your shows thinking those allegations were true?

No.

Someone said: “When you’re lying long enough, the lie becomes the truth.” Do you experienced that problem? Do you think some people still think you’re a very negative band?

No, I think that anybody that doesn’t understand it or goes out of their way to say that we are a negative band or that we have a hateful message or something, I think that they’re just confused or stupid, and you’re always gonna have stupid and confused people, you can’t take and chose who listens to it, you know?

OK, and how your relationship with CNN is right now? [laughs]

[Laughs] Well, they issued their apology, they retracted their story, they removed our name from the original story, and I’m fine with that. I think people would have think it was lame if we hired a lawyer and sued them for defamation. People would have said we’re trying to get money… Why bother? I don’t need their money, they admitted that they were wrong, and they are.

« I missed a lot of their life and as much as I wanna be creative and to help other people and do projects, it’s more important for me to do this whole tour with Hatebreed then try and get some time at home. »

Since you’re a very busy artist with Hatebreed, Kingdom Of Sorrow etc., can you tell us what you’ll be working on the next few months and years? Can we expect a new album and new shows from Kingdom Of Sorrow?

No, maybe some shows but nothing more… We probably won’t play more than 10 or 12 shows over the next two years. All my focus is basically on Hatebreed. If you look back from 2006 to 2010, I had more time, but I just don’t have the time anymore. My daughter is a teenager now, my grand-mother is 83 and she lives near me, my sister has three kids growing up, I missed a lot of their life and as much as I wanna be creative and to help other people and do projects, it’s more important for me to do this whole tour with Hatebreed then try and get some time at home.

Interview conducted by phone on December 2012
Transcription: Chloé

Hatebreed’s official website: hatebreed.com

Album The Divinity Of Purpose, released on January, 25th, 2013 via Nuclear Blast & Razor & Tie Records



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