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Hatebreed Interview

A Conversation with Vocalist Jamey Jasta




Razor & Tie
Updated February 03, 2013
Hatebreed fans have been waiting for more than three years for a new album, and The Divinity Of Purpose has arrived to overwhelmingly positive response. I spoke with frontman Jamey Jasta about the new record and numerous other subjects.

Chad Bowar: The new album seems to be getting almost universally positive reviews. That has to make you feel good.
Jamey Jasta: Yes. We haven’t had one bad review yet, which is a little weird. I guess the Rolling Stone review wasn’t good, but he didn’t really review it, he just made some snarky response to it, which is fine. They don’t really cover heavy music. But so far, so good. We were confident the second we got the mixes back.

It has been about 3 and a half years since the last Hatebreed album. When did you actually begin the writing process for the new record?
I did a lot of my stuff during the Five Finger Death Punch tour in 2011. I tried to keep my lyrics and a lot of the riffs current. I didn’t go back to my hard drive and pull out riffs from a couple years back like I did with the self-titled album and Supremacy. I tried to start completely fresh. Chris (Beattie, bass) had been sending me a bunch of riffs via email, and we combined our ideas on a bunch of tracks.

On that Five Finger Death Punch tour a lot of the shows were big theaters and arenas and there was a lot of down time, so I tried to write whenever I was motivated. We got in the studio at the beginning of 2012 after we finished that tour. This was the most pre-production we’ve ever done for a record. We did like 35 or 40 days of pre-production. We ended up with 18 demos going in. We did a lot of work on it, so once we got into the studio it really went quick because we had all our demos hashed out.

As far as lyrics, do you keep a notebook of ideas, or do you wait until the music is done and then begin writing them?
I’ll have the idea for the main verse and the main chorus. Once we get the song recorded I’ll try different stuff. For this record it was the first time I had an outline of topics. I touched on each thing I wanted to touch on, and if something sounded better in a different song, I could pick and choose my lines. I wanted to have a lot of big lines, big singalongs, stuff that really meant something to me that I could feel good about singing every night.

There are a lot of songs from previous records that we really don’t get a chance to play, but I could see every song from this record being in the set and going over well. I wanted to make sure the lyrics matched up to the music in the sense that we’d be able to play it all live.

This wasn’t one of those albums where the label was pressing us for more songs. We told them you’re getting 30 minutes, 12 songs. We had 18, but if something wasn’t really hard-hitting or memorable, we just didn’t put it on the record. In the past we’ve had a lot of pressure to have bonus tracks for this retail store or that territory. As much as you want to play the whole industry game, at some point you have to say no, this is how it’s going to be. We made a really solid record and tried to keep it cut and dried.

Did you have the album title The Divinity Of Purpose going in, or did you pick it once the song was written?
We had it going in. Originally I was leaning toward calling the record “Honor Never Dies,” but I thought it was too obvious of a statement, like Perseverance or Supremacy or whatever. It didn’t really spark a new thought in my mind, whereas The Divinity Of Purpose is something where people might think, “What does that mean?” and want to check it out. I think it being a title that sparks a new thought is better.

With the production of the album, you worked with Zeuss again, but also brought in Josh Wilbur. What was his role?
Josh helped us restructure some songs and worked on the vocals with me. I worked on eight or nine tracks with him on the vocals. We needed another ear in there just to make sure we were taking this record farther than the last record as far as the intensity and the focus.

Zeuss is already like the sixth member, so it’s not like he’s a new ear. He’s almost too close to it like we are, where Josh has worked with Lamb Of God and Gojira. He has never worked with a band like us. We wanted to simplify it, not overcomplicate things. This has got to be like the Ramones of metallic hardcore or AC/DC. He helped us do that.

Did you know Josh before working with him on this album?
It was the second time meeting him. We didn’t really know each other. Whenever you interview engineers or producers for a record, you really have to make sure you have a good vibe, because you’re basically going to be living with that person for a few weeks. That was a big thing.

He had seen us in a small club setting in the past. I told him that I want to make songs that if we do another arena tour I wanted the songs to be able to translate to that setting. But I also want to make a record that will make people in small clubs go crazy, too. So he had an idea of what we were going for, a really big sound.

You just kicked off a tour with Shadows Fall, Dying Fetus and The Contortionist. It’s been a few years since you’ve done a tour with Shadows Fall, hasn’t it?
We did a couple shows on Mayhem Fest with them, but haven’t done a full U.S. tour with them since The Rise Of Brutality. It was overdue to get back together and put a New England package tour together. We did tour with Dying Fetus in 2009. We have a similar fan base, people who like brutal stuff. They are rounding out the bill perfectly.

After this tour you’re headed to Australia with Kingdom Of Sorrow to do some shows there. What do you have planned after that?
Now that this tour is doing better than we expected, I think we’re going to be able to add a short second leg of dates. It will probably be in April when we get back from Russia. In March we’re going to Norway and the U.K. and Russia. We’ll try to go home for 7 to 10 days and recharge, and then do another 10 or 12 shows to squeeze around the New England Metalfest.

With your main focus on Hatebreed now, are Kingdom Of Sorrow and solo stuff going to be on the back burner for a while?
It’s going to be on the back burner for a minute. With Kingdom, I want to say that we would like to do the next record with Relapse, but I don’t know what the contract is. There have been a lot of talks about doing another Jasta record, and I have songs. I’ve had other writers submit some really good songs. But it will be another 11 or 12 months before I’ll get in the studio.

You’ve also put your record label Stillborn Records on the back burner. Was that a creative decision or a financial one?
It was a little bit of both. It definitely takes time away from the creative process of all my projects. There are a lot of great bands out there, but they don’t really have the ability to sell records. I just can’t lose money doing it anymore. I lost money for so many years and I thought it was part of helping the next generation. But at this point the next generation is going to have to help themselves for a little while.

I’m a big fan of the Dan Patrick Show, and was excited when your music was used for their “stat of the day” feature. What has the response to that been like?
It’s been great. It was a fun thing to do. Most of the time with big radio shows they really shy away from anything having to do with hardcore music or Hatebreed or me. It’s still a very scary music scene that people don’t understand or don’t think they can relate to, which is too bad. How can you not relate to five guys from the inner city who overcome great adversity in their lives to have success in the music industry? It’s kind of sad that people’s minds are so closed.

But in Dan Patrick’s case, they are so cool and so open and so helpful to all different types of people in music and acting. They recently picked up a Gwar song for the Wheel Of Torture segment that they are doing. To have that opportunity and to do the song and then be able to go on the show as a guest is huge for me. I don’t get a lot of mainstream media attention. My parents heard about it, a bunch of different people in my neighborhood and other circles that aren’t in music heard about it because he’s such a legendary broadcaster and a huge figure in sports. It’s really cool.

Seton, who is one of the Danettes on the Dan Patrick Show, is a big fan of you guys, right?
Yes. When I first started following Seton on Twitter he said he saw us at the Birch Hill way back when. Everybody knows somebody who has been into metal or hardcore at some point. It’s just that we don’t have a lot of mediums to get the music across. People say the internet has leveled the playing field, but it really hasn’t. The internet is just like TV and radio. If you have a label or big marketing push, you’re going to get that exposure. YouTube isn’t going to give us a free featured video on their front page. It doesn’t work like that. We need every bit of promotion we can get to get our music and our message heard. Guys like Seton are a huge part of that.

You’ve been on Twitter for a while and have a lot of followers. Have there been any random celebrities who have tweeted you that you had no idea were Hatebreed fans?
There have been so many. The other day Jenny McCarthy tweeted me back. CM Punk and Chris Jericho are big supporters of the band. They have been hyping up the new CD. There are a lot of cool, creative people on there. I have been on Twitter since 2009, and I think it’s a great way to get information out there. You can do a lot of stuff, especially with a new CD out.

You have been working on some book projects for a while. What’s the latest on those?
The lyric book with stories is coming along. I’m hoping to have it out by next Christmas, but it’s hard. I never knew how much work it was. I’m writing it on my own. A lot of people work with other writers, which I probably should have done for my first book. I’m hoping for the best. There’s still some red tape behind the scenes to work out.

Weren’t you working on an autobiography as well, or did you consolidate them?
I’m going to put some autobiographical information in the lyric book. I still want to do a book about my time on MTV’s Headbangers Ball, but there’s so much stuff that has to go into that. I have a bunch of great stories, I have a bunch of stuff written, but that’s one is going to be further down the road.

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