Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta on the Evolution of Metal, ‘The Divinity of Purpose’ + More
Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Jasta spoke about the band’s upcoming album 'The Divinity of Purpose,' as well as his thoughts on how the metal scene has changed since the beginning of his music career with Hatebreed and much more. Read Full Metal Jackie’s interview with Jamey Jasta below:
Jamey, you're very much a student and fan of the evolution of Metal. What have you noticed that you like about the direction metal has taken since the last two Hatebreed albums were released in 2009 and how did that come into play while making this new album?
I just like that there’s been more unity kind of how it was back when we started. I think it’s really important that metal and hardcore and punk should be inclusionary and it shouldn’t exclude people – it doesn’t matter, your religion, your race, how much money your parent make or how much money you make at your job. It really should be about bringing people together and that’s how it was when we started.
We toured in 1998 with Entombed and in 1999 we toured with Motorhead and Dropkick Murphy’s and in 2000 we toured with Sepultura and bands like Soulfly and Danzig. We always try to bring different music scenes together. I think through the last five or six years as the Myspace fans exploded and as the internet and YouTube got really big I think it’s been more exclusionary. Certain bands only stick together and certain fans only want to see certain types of bands – especially the kind of more scenester bands.
They all stick together and stay together and that’s fine but the fans in the last two, three years - since we’ve done the world tour with Machine Head and since we did a lot of Metal festivals in Europe and different festivals in the states like Mayhem Fest, which was a really nice eclectic bill – I think it started to change back to how it was in the late ‘90s where we would play with Six Feet Under or we would play with Anthrax, we’d play with Cannibal Corpse which we brought that back in 2009.
We had us and Cannibal Corpse and Unearth on the same bill but now we’re taking out Shadows Fall and Dying Fetus again. We hadn’t taken out Shadows Fall since ’03 or ’04 we took out Dying Fetus in ’09 with Chimara and that was great. I just really want to promote unity and make sure that just because there’s some haters on the Internet that only want to see death metal bands with death metal bands or punk bands with punk bands, we shouldn’t listen to them, they’re trying tor divide us and we don’t want that. We want unity and abundance is key, we want the shows to be bigger and better.
Hatebreed’s lineup has been extremely stable over the last four years, what have Chris [Beattie], Matt [Byrne], Wayne [Lozinak] and Frank [Novinec] brought to ‘The Divinty of Purpose’ that makes it classic Hatebreed?
I just think having the good studio environment and having the good environment on the road has made it easier for everybody to be creative and just do better. When you feel better you do better, and luckily we’ve been on an upswing. And there’s been a resurgence with the band and we have been able to do a little bit less touring and have a little less of a grinding schedule which I think has made everybody happy and more focused on the creative process and on the performance.
When Wayne came in and did this record and when he did the last record, too, it was a very good working environment and he picked up all the material very quickly and his performances were spot on. He works great with Zeuss and Josh [Wilbur] and all the great ideas Chris brought the table in the pre-production process and all my riffs that I brought to the table he picked up on very quickly. The same thing goes for Matt and Frank, just touring everybody gets along great and it’s just been a really good working environment.
At the end of the day a lot of fans might not understand that it is a job, it is our career, touring, recording, being a fulltime musician and just like a regular job it can be a little bit of a grind. We’ve tried to keep it from becoming that and the last couple years has been really good for that, just being a good work environment and having fun.
Jamey, what can you tell us about the song ‘Dead Man Breathing’?
I’m just so happy that you’re premiering this song because it’s become one of my favorite tracks from the album. It’s definitely one of the more metallic songs and it’s just hard and heavy but it almost sounds like a new band to us. This was one of the songs that I guess created the bidding war and the stir in the industry when we were unsigned and it really helped us get our deal. A lot of people enjoyed the direction we were going in.
The song is loosely based on how as a society we’ve become over medicated and we’re always trying to treat the symptom and not ever come up with a cure. The song says, “I don’t want to be another dead man breathing,” the lyrics are open to everybody’s interpretation but for me it goes a little deeper, from having faced certain addictions in my life. I hope everybody enjoys it, check it out.
What’s the single most defining element of Hatebreed that absolutely had to be on ‘The Divinity of Purpose’?
The lyrics just had to have a real impact, I think I didn’t focus enough on the lyrics on the last album, that I didn’t have a recurring theme throughout the whole album and I just needed to go back and spark a new thought within myself and hopefully within the listener. This is a band that all over the world, thousands and thousands of people have our lyrics tattooed on them.
Although we had some bright moments on the last record like ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’ and maybe a song like ‘Become the Fuse’ on this record, I wanted every song to have at least a big line or a big lyric that someone could really relate to. And because the title is ‘The Divinity of Purpose’ I really feel like that sparks a new thought within the listener. Maybe it would make someone say, “What is my purpose in life?,” and for me my purpose in life changed, for many years it was my daughter, for my teenage years it was music and now as an adult it has gone back to being music.
Hope this record is like a compass where it could point someone in a new direction, whether it’s a direction of thought or an actual action – I don’t know, that’s up to the listener. As long as it’s inspiring which I feel it is then I feel like it’s a little bit more than moshing and headbanging and whatever else. If someone just likes the riffs and the tunes that’s great too, I feel like we really brought that back even harder than ever so that’s also a very defining part of the whole record.
Hatebreed really put Conneticut and Southern New England on the metal map. When were you first aware that every step you took with Hatebreed was also a step toward making the regional metal scene bigger?
I think I most realized it when I started hosting ‘Headbangers Ball’ and we started doing shows with some of the new wave of American metal bands. To me, Hatebreed was already a very big band, we had already crossed over and done big tours with Slayer and had gained this worldwide notoriety with ‘Perserverance.’ I always thought, “Oh I should have a backup plan” because music at that time was – downloading was huge and I didn’t know if music was definitely going to be my career and I thought “Maybe I’ll go into TV.”
When I started hosting ‘Headbangers' and I started to see this huge ground swell with the music I remember it was Stillborn Fest of ’03 and Killswitch Engage supported us and the whole place was signing along and I was like, “Man these guys are going to be huge,” and then it really started to bubble up with Shadows Fall and Unearth. The rest of the country started to react with Lamb of God and Chimara and on the West Coast with bands like Bleeding Through, Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold and bands we were giving a lot of airplay on ‘Headbangers.’
It really started making me think, “We really got to take this seriously” and that music can be this huge thing, bigger than we all expected it to be and that’s why we followed up quickly with ‘The Rise of Brutality” and we had this big resurgence in 2006 with ‘Supremacy’ and getting the Ozzfest main stage and since then. The fans have been so supportive of us and a lot of bands from New England and it’s a great thing to see because we always felt like it was going to be a big thing but I didn’t thing we knew it was going to be this big.
Full Metal Jackie will welcome former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted to her program this coming weekend. She can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.