The world of SWNK interviews isn’t one I’ve forayed into much before, being a little on the real journalism side of things for me and a little intimidating initially. However, some times things come up that make you think you should probably just jump in and get on with it, so a few weeks ago I caught up with Jamey Jasta over the phone to talk Hatebreed and various other things.
Being the first telephone interview I’ve ever done, and with such a well known guy, I was a little nervous before he called and things seemed a little surreal, but Jamey was a nice guy and a pro at this interview stuff (the man knows how to plug a record by now, as you’ll see), so he was easy to talk to. Our rather long conversation is what follows. Questions from me are highlighted in bold.
So, how are you then, man?
Doing great, thanks man. Here at Nuclear Blast headquarters in Germany, and everything’s going good.
That’s cool. I’ve seen your schedule for today, looks pretty busy.
Oh, yeah, yeah, haha. I instagrammed the photo and everyone was like holy shit, haha. Yeah, I had rappers, MMA guys, metal-heads. Everyone on my twitter responding, it was cool.
So to get straight down to the important stuff, you’ve got a new album coming out in January, is that your sixth full length album now?
Yeah, ‘The Divinity Of Purpose’, out January 26th.
I’ve been able to share the stage with Ozzy, and Kiss, and Slash. That shit was so cool.
Not many bands manage to produce so much material and have such a long career so this is a big deal for you guys, are you excited?
Yeah, we’re very grateful, we truly are, and we’ve had a lot of second chances as a band, but even through the up’s and down’s and the line up changes and everything we’ve managed to maintain, you know, and this has been our career since 1997 so, you know, we’re just feeling good. It’s the right time for this record and we’re proud of everything that’s on it, from the artwork, to the lyrics, to the riffs. I mean, overall, I feel it’s just a real quality record.
You’ve just sparked about seven different questions I want to ask you from that one response man, haha.
Well that was the point of this record, the title, the artwork and everything; to spark new ideas and new thoughts about all things surrounding Hatebreed you know. Just trying to stay with the positive themes but create new questions.
I get that. There’s only so long you can write this music without needing new lyrical themes and ideas would you say?
Absolutely. I mean, it doesn’t have to always come from this place of anger or resentment or frustration. Those all go very well with heavy music, but we’re hitting on some new topics and older topics we’ve updated for the period of time this record was written in. So it’s like, there’s stuff that Hatebreed fans will be used to, which I think it’s vital to include, but there’s new stuff too.
Cool. So does the record title and the artwork contribute to any sort of religious content in the album?
No, but it was definitely to spark idea of the album’s central character, be it the person listening to the record, myself or whoever, being involved in this tug of war. Be it with good and evil, or darkness and light, the ying and the yang or however you want to interpret it. I feel like we all have that angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other in certain situations in our lives and having a purpose can be what gets us through, having a purpose can be this spiritual thing.
Totally. That’s what the hardcore scene is for me.
Yeah, I mean if music can give you this feeling you can’t even put into words, it’s almost like divine intervention in a way when you find a band or a record or a show that really mean’s something to you.
I guess the title sums it up pretty neatly then, ‘The Divinity Of Purpose’.
Yeah, for me, my purpose has changed all throughout my life, whether it was music or my daughter or my family, or other areas of my career or what have you. But you know, that’s the beauty of art and music and film and books, something that you pick up can be instantly life changing, and this record is about sparking that thought. We just wanted to be a compass for people. We’re not telling you where to go but on a compass you can see where each direction is.
So what do you think has contributed to the longevity of Hatebreed? Certainly not many bands manage to stay at the forefront of metal and hardcore for so long. Do you feel having original and new members in the band brings more to the table?
Yeah, definitely, and, you know, just trying to keep the consistency. Everyone knows how hard we work to keep the records consistent, and I think the constant touring has totally helped. You know, mixing up the tours we do has really helped us stay in the limelight. Especially in America where we’ve done everything from arena tours, club shows, festivals to really keep the name out there. We’re also pretty consistent with a new record every 3 years or so, the DVD and the cover album, so we’re still pretty active, and we’ve kept the message clear. Having such an inclusionary message and feeling welcome was what brought me to metal and hardcore and punk music when I was a kid so hopefully we’ve been able to carry that on ourselves.
Ah, so that’s part of the reason behind the tours you guys do? Do you find you go down as well with different audiences to… say me for example? Like you guys just toured with Lamb Of God and Sylosis in the States, how do you go down with metalheads?
Oh yeah, that’s definitely the reason we do such diverse touring. Like, we’ve done shows with Dropkick Murphy’s, we’ve done shows with Offspring, The Deftones, we’ve done shows with Cannibal Corpse, you know, we’ve made it clear that we want to get out to as many people as physically possible, and we want our music and message to be heard. And we’ve been pretty unapologetic about that, so it’s really helped us.
You’ve been quite consistent with the touring this year especially, I mean you’re in Europe right now but I hear there’s more in store for January too?
Yeah, we’re in Europe in January and March too, we’re doing Hammerfest in the UK as well, we’re hitting some festivals through the mainland too like Groezrock and stuff, Summerbreeze, so we have a pretty full plate. We’re going to start announcing stuff this week, one announcement a week probably for the next few weeks.
A pretty full schedule from right now then I guess up to the album coming out?
Yeah definitely, I mean as soon as that comes out, or someone leaks it or whatever, we’re going to have to get out there and support it so…
There’s nothing that makes us go ‘Oh god, why have we gotta play this still.’
I really enjoyed it by the way. I’ve only had the chance to listen to it 3 times so far but it seems like just what you’d expect from a Hatebreed record. You know when you get to that point where you wonder whether a band is going to deviate from their time honored formula with their new record, but then you listen to it and you don’t even remember the question?
Thanks man, I’m glad you dig it!
Well done for not doing anything.. weird, haha.
Haha, well no, we said we wanted to stick to ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’.
Definitely. I gotta confess I’ve never yet been able to see you guys play, but maybe I’ll get to see you in the UK this year, or at Groezrock if I manage to make it out there again.
Well, we’re doing Hammerfest and we might do some headline shows as well, we’ll see, but we should know for definite in the next coming weeks.
Can I book your band please? Hahaha.
Speak to Paul Ryan, haha, I’m sure he could arrange it for you if you gave him a call.
So, where is left to tour with Hatebreed now? I’m sure you must have covered quite a few continents by now?
Yeah, we’d really like to do South Africa, and go back to South East Asia too. We’ve never been to China or Malaysia or India either. I’d quite like to do Russia and Iceland and stuff too, and there’s quite a few of the Eastern European countries like Estonia we’ve never been to. The festivals out there are usually pretty crazy too. Like Romania, for example, when we played out there we were main support to Whitesnake and Judas Priest, which was awesome. That show was killer, but we’d really like to go back and headline, you know? So we’ll hopefully do that soon, but we’re lucky and the world is a big place, we’re still looking forward to playing new spots.
So, maybe as a lead on from this question… snap decision, what’s the worst show Hatebreed has ever played?
[Deep inhale of breath, pauses] Erm, the worst show Hatebreed has ever played… I would say… hmmm, that really is a tough question, but we’re lucky cause we don’t really have to play bad shows these days. Ermm…
Okay, well how about any stand out bad experiences then?
Hmmm, I’m trying to think…. Shit, I don’t even know.
On this last tour.. Every show was really good on the Lamb Of God tour… and the Five Finger Deathpunch tour before that.
That band is insane, haha.
Erm, on the Five Finger Deathpunch tour we were playing huge arena’s and shit it was crazy. That band is really big in the States. We took out Cannibal Corpse and Unearth in the States too, and we just did some shows with Whitechapel and All Shall Perish too. You know, one of the shows… we did Littlerock, in Arkansas, we headlined… erm, I wanna say it was in like 2009 or something. That was probably the worst show we ever played. Things just didn’t come together for us or the crowd that night. But we went back and we played there on the Lamb Of God and FFDP tours and the shows were awesome, so you can’t really judge a place from one show you know?
Okay, to make things even harder, what’s the best show you’ve ever played then? Haha.
Erm, one of the best shows we’ve ever played was actually just in New York city with Lamb Of God and In Flames. We got one of the nicest welcomes, it was incredible. People were chanting Hatebreed before we went on and shit, and carried on after we’d finished. Really, it was awesome. The reaction was totally incredible. I think, coming off the back of the hurricane and all the issues.. It was like everyone came together for one really big night out, you know, one real big night of hardcore and metal. There was just like this magic in the air, this electric energy you could feel in the room.
That’s really cool man. It’s one of the things that keeps me involved with the music, the way it brings people together in times of need.
Yeah, I still get a smile on my face when I think about it, you know.
All current bias aside, do you have a favorite record or song from the back catalogue. Maybe one you really enjoy playing live?
Hmm, I always enjoy Doomsayer or Face What Consumes You. It’s always really fun to do Never Let It Die too, cause of the crowd reaction. Hands Of A Dying Man is usually a really big song in the set too. We’ve just been playing all the Perseverance record in full on the 10 year anniversary tour too, so it was awesome to get to play Smash Your Enemies and old material from that record again. We’re lucky that there’s nothing in our catalogue that we’re really ashamed of now or anything like that, we still dig our old material. There’s nothing that makes us go ‘Oh god, why have we gotta play this still.’
I suppose you suffer the other way really, when you have so much old material to choose from, it’s difficult to get everything in there that you’d want to?
Yeah, we’ll we’re going to move up to a longer set for this Persistence tour in January, so we’ll probably do 4 or 5 songs from every record at least now.
About an hour, hour and a half then?
Yeah, probably a 75/80 minute set nowadays.
There’s not many bands who can carry off that long a set in this vein of music, but I suspect it’ll work for you.
Yeah, we’re super excited for this tour, we have some new big songs in the set, so we’re able to mix it up nicely. Depending on the album that got people into Hatebreed, we’re trying to provide something for everybody in the time we have.
I saw Black Dahlia Murder from side stage a couple of years ago, I feel so sorry for drummers in big metal bands once it gets past the hour mark, haha.
Hahaha, yeah, I bet he’s working his ass off back there, give this guy a raise, haha.
People were chanting Hatebreed before we went on and shit, and carried on after we’d finished. Really, it was awesome.
To go further from your favorite song/record, what are you most proud of as an achievement, with Hatebreed or in life generally?
Probably…. my daughter, actually. I’m amazed by her everyday, you know. I really lucked out, I’m able to…. I’ve been blessed with a great family life, I really have. But the music is a huge blessing too, I’m proud of every single record, all our achievements, every tour. I’ve been able to share the stage with Ozzy, and Kiss, and Slash. That shit was so cool. Blue Oyster Cult, Motley Crue… We just played with Motley Crue, which was crazy, but it’s great, you know, so much fun. You gotta love what you do and we really are so lucky to be able to do this.
That is insane actually thinking about it. I can’t think of many other, you know, grass roots hardcore bands that are playing with Motley Crue and shit.
I know, it’s awesome. So we just take it day by day and try not to count our blessings too much, be humble to people and treat everyone the way we’d wanna be treated.
So, I suspect you’ve been asked about this quite a bit already, but the whole CNN ‘White Supremacist’ thing earlier this year. How did that make you feel at the time, and how do you go about responding to something like that?
Well, we were lucky that our fans caught it quicker than we did, really, and bombarded them with Facebook posts and tweets and whatever, and we got the message out there quickly and clearly that this is not the case, this is shitty journalism on their part. I mean overall, all the publicity surrounding it ended up being positive for us because it just goes to show how die hard our fan-base is to really defend us like that and show that we have a positive message. We try to bring people together, not tear them down or apart, through music, you know. But every time you include the word ‘hate’ or anything like that… we have an album titled ‘Supremacy’, so maybe people who are ignorant are gonna think it has something to do with some kind of racist agenda, but it isn’t. ‘Deconstructivism’ is taking a word back and using it for your own purpose and if anything, we’ve had a positive message from the beginning. I guess it’s nice they apologized and acknowledged our work in the past, and that’s all you can really expect when someone reports something false about you like that, a retraction and an apology.
Given the important subject matter we’ve just been discussing, is there anything else important to you that you’d like to discuss while we’re on a serious note?
No, just you know, right now we’re out here promoting the Divinity Of Purpose which is coming out January 25th. We’re all super involved in social networking at the minute, trying to get the word out about the pre-orders and stuff, get people to go to Impericon and order for the UK and Europe, just, you know… for our fans to be active in social media, really. If you want to see us play somewhere, tell us. Tell the festival, tweet the promoters too, get our videos played on Kerrang and Scuzz, or request us on the BBC or other radio rock shows. We want our fans to be as active, supportive and involved with us as possible, so that’s what we’ve been trying to work on recently….
…Oh, you know what there is one other thing. Recently I’ve been telling people about Unite The United on Ebay, all the funds go to Mitch Lucker’s daughter. We donated some stuff, there’s some signed Jasta and Kingdom Of Sorrow stuff up there. I’ve just been urging people to donate. I think you can go to SuicideSilence.net too and donate through there as well.
I’ll make sure we get some links put on the bottom of this article for anybody who’d like to help in anyway at all. Tragic he had to go so young.
Yeah, he seemed like a really sweet guy, I mean I wasn’t super close with Mitch or anything, but every interaction I ever had with him was really positive, and he was just a star of that genre, you know. Really charismatic guy, and just one bad mistake had an effect on millions of people, so it really is sad, and I hope that everybody can come together and give some much needed support to his daughter.
Over recent years there’s been a huge resurgence of bands from the 80’s and 90’s playing re-union shows and tours. Does that get on your nerves at all, as someone who’s been in a band that’s been active for the best part of 2 decades now?
Well, no, you know.. if the fans wanna see it and if they can go out and make some money from it still then… more power to ’em, you know. I’ll never tear somebody else down, thinking that it’s gonna build me up. I know that, erm… you can’t hate the player, you gotta hate the game, haha. With me, I believe in abundance and the more the merrier really. But it is important for people to support those bands that never gave up when things got tough and kept on through the worst to keep it alive, you know.
Are there any bands who’ve reformed your excited to see again?
You know, we did Resurrection Fest with At The Gates and that was killer. A whole generation of kids have missed them.
Unfortunately, I’m one of them, haha.
We opened for them back in ’95 before they split too, and I love those guys, really talented. You wanna talk about inventive, talented metal musicians, it’s those guys right there.
I’ve got another early band to ask you about too, remember Voorhees?
Oh, absolutely, yeah. We did one of our first tours with those guys.
They’ve just started playing shows again, last year or so, in the UK.
No way, that’s killer!
Come play the UK with Voorhees please?
Hahaha, that would be funny. We had a great time with those guys, we played plenty of squats and just, dirty shitholes. That tour was DIY to the max.
Do you ever miss playing tiny shows in shit venues at all?
Haha, yeah, we did a lot of those. We did more than our fair share.
Yeah, I guess you earned that place on the big stage.
Any life lessons you’ve taken from being involved in the band?
You know what, just treat people with respect and how you’d wanna be treated. All the people you see on the way up are the people you see on the way down, whether it’s a roadie or a lighting guy, or a sound man or a tour manager. It’s a small community and at first we learned the hard way, you know. But for at least the last ten years we’ve been really professional and it’s worked out for us. Other than that… I always tell people be careful now with the whole digital age thing. Think it through before you post things on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. All my social networking accounts are super positive, I try to never complain or post anything about politics or anything too personal on there cause I have like 60,000 people who listen to me on these things. I try to keep it uplifting and informative, you know.
That must be crazy, having that many people like a click away?
It’s cool because I can spread the word about my stuff, and I’ve tried to keep that in mind since I got on this stuff in the end of 2009 that this is a conversation with people who support your art and music and tours and everything. A lot of metal-heads are like ‘That’s not metal, that’s not hardcore, that’s gay’ cause there’s plenty of 13 year old girls on there talking to Justin Beiber and stuff, but it’s a direct, up-to-date way of communicating, I love it. I follow comedians and artists, sports personality’s and stuff, actors and directors.. I’ve learned a lot of stuff really from social networking.
Team Jasta found me cause I tweeted your name earlier on today, haha.
See there you go, I have my guy Jordan, and Erin, he’s a real cool kid, and my girl Kelly who does the stillborn one for my label. When you have a good team of people, it’s great for getting the information out there, it’s right at the click of a button.
So what’s going on with the numerous side projects at the minute?
Nothing! No plans for anything, we’re completely focused on Hatebreed at the minute besides a little tour I’m doing with Kingdom Of Sorrow. No new record just yet. We’re just gonna do this one tour with that then all Hatebreed. I might do some Jasta shows in my downtime in 2013, but full speed ahead with Hatebreed.
A solid definitive answer there man.
Yeah, I think we did like 6 or 8 shows with Jasta this year, but other than that it’s all supporting the Divinity Of Purpose, coming out January 25th in the Europe and UK, and the 29th in the states. So we’re plenty busy for now.
Do you ever feel like Hatebreed’s been pidgeon-holed to any particular sound, and that’s why there are side projects?
Well, you know what, I think when Hatebreed became really popular on the back of Perseverance and The Rise Of Brutality, people that were critics, who didn’t know anything about music, or at least hardcore and metal, were like ‘I don’t get it, is this guy just yelling, he’s talentless, yada, yada, yada’. So with Jasta, that record was a little bit of my way of being like… fuck you, I can do other stuff and branch out, I’m not just a one trick pony. If people like it, they like it, if they don’t, they don’t, I’m just having fun getting outside my comfort zone a little bit and playing with ideas. I’m not reinventing the wheel, it’s not a ground breaking thing, it’s just something I did for fun and I’m lucky enough to be in a position to get a world-wide deal for that record, and it did okay, so… I only did a handful of shows and stuff though.
As a side project it’s still not bad in it’s own right though..
Yeah, and you know what, I just wanna…. Because there’s no previous records, it’s a completely different band, it’s judged on it’s own merits for the most part. I mean some people will say what they wanna say and that’s fine, but for me, it was just about challenging myself and working with other song writers and artists. It was a painless process for me really. Zack Wilde is on there, Mark and Randy from Lamb Of God, Tim from As I Lay Dying, Phil from All That Remains, I mean I got to branch out and do some really cool stuff with that I don’t normally get to do.
Yeah, that’s a big list of names man, impressive. So with so much going on, how do you find time to check out new music? Is it just a case of the bands you see are the bands you play with?
Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve not really had time recently, but we’re doing……Oh shit, that’s my next interview calling already, we’ve run over time!
Oh that sucks man. We can end it here though, seems that we’ve been chatting way longer than scheduled anyway.
Thanks, well I guess I’ll answer this one.. With the next tour we’re doing in the US we’re giving support slots to local bands we like in each of the 21 cities. Promoters have submitted the bands and we’re picking our favorites to have a local band on every show, and I’m using that as a good way of keeping my ear to the street, haha.
Right, can I do one last final question?
Sure, go for it.
Cro-mags or Leeway? [I actually had a bunch of these 2 choice questions to finish the interview, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to do them all].
Oh, well, I’d say Cro-Mags, I think.
See I think I’m a Leeway guy.. Born To Expire!
Well, I think, they’re both… Both of their first records are classics, and then both their second records are good, but not as good as their first so they’re similar in that.
Very true. Anyway, I’ll let you go man, still a load more interviews for you to do. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me to today.
No problem man, maybe see you in 2013 and have a good night!
If you’d like to donate to the fund for Mitch Lucker’s daughter, you can visit www.suicidesilence.netBack to interviews overview