Interview with Hatebreed: The New Crowdpleasers

HatebreedThe modern heavy metal scene, with all its vacillations and trend-chasing, has few names as ubiquitous as Hatebreed. In the last half-decade, the Massachusetts breakdown-masters have emerged as a well-known underground band to become the gold standard for their particular crossover niche of metal and hardcore.

And that success is due in no small part to their formidable frontman, Jamey Jasta. His stint as the host of MTV’s resurrected Headbanger’s Ball, along with the various collaborations, most recently with Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Down) for their project Kingdom Of Sorrow, has kept him in the spotlight nearly perpetually.

But their dedication to touring and recording is the foundation they’ve risen from, and it’s the mantra they’ve always gone back to. It seems like this tour—their appearance on the Jagermeister Music tour with metal icons Type O Negative—is the umpteenth one of the United States since their 2006 release, Supremacy, came out. Yet for all that exposure, it seems their luster hasn’t faded, only gotten stronger. And now with a covers album, a live album, a DVD, a solo project from Jasta and another Hatebreed full-length on the horizon, the band have already started work on a new chapter in their history.

Jasta took some time to talk to the Aquarian Weekly while on tour in the Midwest, and shed some light on the various activities of the Hatebreed camp and of his own, and also, he hints at a Christmas promise for the hardcore fans in Jersey. Read on.

How is the tour going?

It’s the best tour we’ve done yet on this album. It’s weird, it’s hard to believe the album came out in September of 2006, because we’re doing eight songs from the album in the set and people know the words to every song, and it seems fresh even though the record is almost two years old. Some of these places, like Billings, Montana, that we’ve never been, you’ve got 1,500 people showing up in the middle of nowhere, and they know every word to the new songs. You play something obscure off the first album or the EP, and they don’t know it. So it’s newer fans.

As far as summer concerts, everything seems so expensive with gas, is it more stressful or painful to tour now than it was, maybe last year?

A lot of people said ‘Oh, you’re going to go out again, you’re going to tour the USA again, you’ve done the last two Ozzfests, you’ve done Monsters of Mayhem tour, you’ve done all these tours.’ We got offered to headline the Jagermeister Music tour which we’ve never done. And they’ve put a lot of promotion into their tour, more than most labels do for an entire album cycle, so we just lucked out, because every show has been packed and we’re gaining new fans because Type O’s fans stay and see us every night. And I think even with the recession, gas and everything, I think people still want to go out and enjoy the show, go out and see a show. I think movies, entertainment, music, I don’t think it really gets affected that much by a recession or by gas just being totally outrageous.

People have decided not to tour this summer on the basis of gas.

It’s definitely affecting the smaller bands. I have my own label and I deal with a lot of smaller bands that are on the VFW and small bar and small club circuit, and it’s harder than ever for them. But for this tour, us and Type O teaming up, we’re combining our crowds and it’s making for a bigger better show for everybody.

You guys have a covers album in the wings. Why do a covers album?

Well, the covers album was done back in February of 2006, and the majority of it was done and we really thought it came out great. We did it because we were in the studio and we were doing pre-production for Supremacy, and we started jamming covers. It was like reconnecting with why we first started playing music, learning someone else’s riff and taking someone else’s lyrics. It was just fun, it was so fun. And since we were in-between deals, there was no pressure, there was no label saying, ‘You can only do this, you can only do that, this is the budget.’ We did it ourselves, funded it ourselves, so it was a totally fun experience. When we started talking to Koch about this DVD, I said, ‘Look we have this covers album that is going to blow a lot of people’s minds. We Hatebreedized all of these songs, what do you say?’ They were like, ‘Yes, we love the idea, let’s do it.’ To have someone agree with our vision and feel like it was a viable project, it was a great thing for us.

There was a feeling that on Roadrunner that you couldn’t do that kind of record?

Well, on Roadrunner, the thing with Roadrunner was we would say, ‘Let’s do all these projects, we’re gung-ho, and 120 percent about everything that’s Hatebreed related.’ But to say to a label, ‘Let’s release three projects, a live record, a DVD, and a covers album, and let’s have you fund this,’ Roadrunner is like, ‘That’s something you should just give us.’ A lot of bands just have to give the labels these types of projects, whereas Koch wanted to make these priorities, they’re not just contractual obligations that a label just kind of throws out there.

We had a great time with Roadrunner. This album, it’s done just as much if not more than albums that had millions of dollars in marketing and bands that were on the cover of every magazine. The album performed and we’re proud of the album and we’re proud that we got to do it with Roadrunner, because we were fans of the label growing up. When we split, people thought, ‘Oh, there’s trouble in paradise, things weren’t working out.’ Roadrunner had a bazillion bands. When they signed us, they signed Black Label Society, Megadeth, The Cult, Dream Theater, and then they sold a portion of the label to a major label. So things were just changing over there, and you never want to be where only a few people are gung-ho like you about your projects. So we split on good terms, and now the sky’s the limit for us. Now we can do the DVD, do the covers album, do the live album which we just did with Vinnie Paul and it’s with a company where everybody is just really gung-ho about it, so it feels good.