Hatebreed Interview with Jamey Jasta

More than 20 years after their formation Hatebreed are about to release their seventh full-length album ‘The Concrete Confessional’. The album is set to be another punch in your face with 13 short and aggressive metallic hardcore tracks. I had a chat with Hatebreed’s frontman Jamey Jasta about the new album, the strength of the most stable line-up in the history of the band and the upcoming touring plans.

Marc: Your new album ‘The Concrete Confessional’ will be out on May 13. What can you tell our readers about the new album?

Jamey: It’s short and sweet, very fast, heavy and to the point. I think fans of Hatebreed will find there are some new ingredients. We spiced up the recipe a bit but nothing to the point where we’ve changed the sound or the message too much. There are some new wrinkles in the game but nothing too left off centre that would be off-putting. I feel we upped the intensity and the ferocity. It’s very hard-hitting and I feel like everybody is playing to their strength. We are finally firing on all cylinders. That’s a good feeling to have because on the last album I kind of felt there were some tracks towards the end of the record that I could have done differently and that I wasn’t completely satisfied with. Obviously you don’t want to be 100% satisfied. I think you have to remain a little bit hungry each time. This time I was really hungry going in. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made on the last album. Even though there are some big songs on the last album and we play a lot of the songs from the last album. The last album was very well received. This one feels heavier and more memorable.

Marc: The album certainly sounds heavier and more mature. There are some new elements and a stronger focus on some classic trash metal riffs. Did that just happened in the creative process or did you plan for it?

Jamey: It just sort of panned out that way. The whole chugging of the E-chord, having the breakdowns in every song, I think we were the band that popularised that in the late 90s and early 2000s. Since then other bands have run with that sound. A lot of other Hatebreed-influenced type bands have taken that sound and made it their own. So we need to take that sound and reinvent ourselves on each record and not just have the same sort of vibe. I feel if you liked the first album and you liked that vibe there’s some of that on that album. But if you want some more metallic elements and the progression and the technical proficiency, that has gotten so much better, then you’re gonna like some of this as well. I guess just having that balance was the only strategy. How do you balance the old-school part and the progression of wanting to show off a little of the playing? We are playing together since 2009. So everybody wants to show that they have grown.

 Hatebreed ‘The Concrete Confessional’ Album Review

Marc: The new album is the third album you have recorded with the same line-up. So this makes the current line-up the most stable in the history of the band. How has that influenced the new album?

Jamey: I think with ‘Divinity Of Purpose’ it was like we beat the sophomore jinx with this line-up because with the self-titled album our old-school fans were resistant initially to some songs. There were so different to what we had done. There was no fast four-to-the-floor hardcore, there was no thrash metal beat, it was more a straight singalong groove. That threw a lot of people off but it ended up to be a huge hit for us. It was featured in all sorts of different radio stations in America. We got to open for Machine Head on their world tour. We basically gained an entirely new audience with the self-titled record while maintaining a lot of our older audience. So with ‘Divinity’ we had to beat that jinx. How do you follow-up this progression and this building of a new audience with that line-up? We got more opportunities again. We are like a cat with nine lives.  We got on the Zakk Wylde tour, we got on the Slipknot tour, we did arenas with Slipknot and we were doing the huge festival shows with Metallica. You got a stadium singing ‘Honour Never Dies’. That doesn’t happen a lot. With the new album we can just be us. We beat the sophomore jinx so have to look at this as our third album not as our seventh album. If you look at the history of a lot of bands their third album is a lot of the times a very pivotal album in their career. We just have to look at this differently. We can’t be stuck in the past, have a great album that’s gonna be timeless but that’s also gonna be descriptive of what’s happening now. So ten years on people go ‘Yeah, I remember this album. There were all these terrorist acts, this comical presidential race in the States.’ So this is like a snap shot, a little time capsule.

Marc: You are going to start touring in Europe and follow that up with an US tour with DevilDriver and some more summer festivals. What are your plans for after the summer festivals?

Jamey: We’re still not sure. I think on the ‘Divinity Of Purpose’ world tour we planned everything so far ahead that in certain cases we missed opportunities because we had plans too far ahead. Now we’re gonna wait and see. If there is a big support tour we wanna do it. I would really like to tour with Megadeth, we’ve never done it. Their record ‘Dystopia’ is getting a lot of good reviews and they are getting a lot of press and exposure in America. People are coming back around to the idea that metal and hardcore and punk is real music. It’s not noise. It’s a real art form that demands respect. These are people who can play, they are smart people, they are forward-thinking people. I wanna tour with Lamb Of God, I wanna tour with Megadeth, I wanna tour with Slayer, I wanna tour with Anthrax. If we’re gonna be submitted to these tours we know beforehand.  We already know in the States Slayer and Anthrax are going on tour. We’re not gonna get on this tour, it’s already booked. So rather than being in the same vicinity, we don’t wanna play down the road from Slayer and Anthrax the same night. We wanna do something different in a different part of the world. Right now, anywhere you go there are like five metal shows in the same night in the same city. For us less is more. We need to make it more of an event. If we’re coming to your city this is it. We might not come for three, four or five years. This could be it. Last year we played Birmingham, Alabama, with Slipknot and I remember the last time we played Alabama was 2003. So it took 13 years to come. So it is like don’t miss us when we come through because you never know how long it’s gonna be.

‘We need to take that sound and reinvent ourselves on each record and not just have the same sort of vibe.

Marc: Are there any plans for Hatebreed to come over to Australia?

Jamey: We’re trying. Now that I think that the festival has seen its day it’s gonna return to a club business. We’ll play bars, we’ll play theatres, we’ll play clubs. We think there is more value in that experience. I don’t wanna see a black metal band at 12 in the afternoon while some pop punk band is playing two stages away. It just doesn’t do it for me. I want the light to dim in the club, I want sweat pouring from the ceiling, I want bodies hitting into each other. I think that is gonna come back in Australia. I hope that Hatebreed is gonna be one of the bands that delivers a killer tour.

I want the light to dim in the club, I want sweat pouring from the ceiling, I want bodies hitting into each other.

Marc: Besides Hatebreed and a lot of other musical side projects you are also involved in your record label Stillborn Records and your own apparel line Hatewear. How hands-on is your contribution to the record label and apparel line?

Jamey: I stopped doing the label and I gotta say that it’s a major relief. There are only so many bands that are gonna break and break big. So there is this law of diminishing return. You can only put out so many bands. They break up, they argue, you give them $10000 to go into the studio and then they don’t make a good record. It’s just all too much. I am very relieved to have that all behind me. With Hatewear for my podcast, I can do stuff direct for the fans, we don’t have to have it in stores, we don’t have to have retails sales people. We scale it down. Nothing crazy. It’s a very small-scale business. My main focus for the next two years is the world tour. Maybe I’ll do a few new Jasta songs if I get the time. Maybe I put out a couple of Jasta songs next year and have a few Jasta shows but mainly it will be Hatebreed and the occasional podcast.

Marc: What do you do on a day that one of your albums is actually released? Have you developed a routine for that day?

Jamey: I buy it. We’re gonna be in Cleveland the day the record is going to be released. I probably go to the mall or to the mom-and-pop record store and buy the record. That’s it. I do social media but I’m not as active as I probably should be with the record coming out. I think in a way social media has become too prevalent in society. It’s all kind of an exercise in narcissism unless you are promoting your art or just inspiring people.