(Interview with Jamey Jasta)

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April 3, 2002


Chris McKay: What is Hatebreed all about?


Jamey Jasta: I guess we're just a hardcore metal band. The new record is long overdue. It's been four years since our first record came out. It took a lot of time and effort, but we finally got it out. It's actually been out for four days. We just found out that we're the number 50 record in the country. For a hardcore band to debut at number 50 on the Billboard charts...I don't think it's ever been done. We've been getting a lot more kids at our shows. We're having higher attendance, we're selling more merch and selling more CD's. Things are looking up.


CM: The lyrics on your record are really intense. Do you ever hear from your fans about how they relate to what you're saying?


JJ: Yeah, every night, man...every night. We have kids that come up every night and say that their lives have been affected positively by our records. That's kind of the reason why we do what we do. We are a band. We're entertainers, but we hope that our fans can get a little bit more than that out of our shows and by listening to our records. It's more commonplace in the hardcore scene to alienate people and we're not trying to do that. We're trying to bring people together. We're trying to express ourselves and play the music that we want to play, but at the same time have people connect with it and feel like it's also their voice.


CM: Have you gotten any flak yet from the more mainstream press because of your band name or any of the lyrics?


JJ: Yeah, without a doubt. We had a review in the New York Post. They gave our record one and a half stars and they said all the songs sound the same and that we're hateful and negative. It's like "Hello, did you even read the bio or the lyric sheets?" That comes with the territory. A lot of times people judge a book by its cover. All we can do is just try to defy what people think about us at first and let people know what we're really about. We had a kid who waited six hours in the cold in Missouri a month ago. He waited outside our bus for hours just to tell us that he had gotten our CD off the internet before it came out. He said he was still going to buy it. The song "You're Never Alone" has lines like "This is for the kids who have nowhere to turn." He said, "Instantly when I heard that song, I just got chills. I've gone threw so much stuff with my mother trying to kill herself and I'm living with my grandmother. Whenever I feel bummed out or whenever I feel angry, I just put on your CD and it just takes me away, man. I can't thank you guys enough for that." So to have people saying things like that every night in every city it just goes to show that music is and always has been a release for kids since the dawn of time. Whether you've had a relationship go bad or whether it's a girlfriend or your parents or grandparents or whatever. That's the beauty of music is that no matter how hard it gets in your life, you always have music. You always have the bands and those songs that just give you that feeling. You can't really explain what it is, but it's just a good feeling. What we're doing now is just trying to bring our style of music to the forefront of the music scene as far as making it a real serious, tangible genre of music that people need to take a look at.


CM: Are these songs personal to you or are you just trying to voice what you view in your audience?

JJ: Pretty much all of them are personal to me except for "A Call For Blood" which was written about taking vengeance on a child molester or a rapist or anyone who would prey on an innocent person. "A Call For Blood" was inspired by an incident that happened to a friend of a friend. This person was basically ready to kill someone who had preyed on them their whole life.


CM: Is it hard to get into the frame a mind to sing those words every night and pull that out of you?


JJ: Not really. I have a three year old and I just remember hearing about these horror stories of this guy who was a family friend that the whole family trusted who would just do these heinous things to a young girl. As the father of a young girl, instantly I was just filled with hatred for this person in my whole body. Every day you see fucked up stuff whether it's on the news or whatever. Some things bring other feelings out of you, and in that certain instance, I could feel for those people and how they were feeling. I know if I was ever put into that position, I would probably be driven to kill somebody.


CM: In your press release, you talk about this hatred and you mention something about turning your hatred into something positive. What did you mean by that?

JJ: In one song it says, "Use your hate to achieve your goals." Sometimes you have to use that negative energy. A lot of people are driven to do different things for different reasons. If you have someone throwing cold water on your dreams, whether you're in sports or in a band or whatever aspect of your life, sometimes you've got to spite people. You've got to say, "No, I am going to do this, because it is what I believe and what I want. I don't care what you're going to say." You can have the best intentions in everything you do, but sometimes people are going to throw that back in your face and you've got to use that negativity to overcome. I've seen it my whole life. I see it every day. People say "A hardcore band can't sell this many records, a metal band can't sellout this club or there is no metal scene in this town." We say, "No, well we'll make one." They say, "Wal-Mart won't carry your record." Well, let's put it in there and see what happens.


CM: "We Still Fight" sounds like it was inspired by September 11. Was that an inspiration for that or mere coincidence?

JJ: You know what? All of the songs that people think were inspired by 9/11 are all coincidence. The reason why we had a lot of producers interested is because everybody got our pre-production on 9/11 or the day before. I've always felt like the inspiration for "We Still Fight" was pretty self-explanatory. You know, whenever there's something happening, everybody has an opinion about what our reasons are, and what's right and what isn't, but no one realizes how people take for granted how much we really do have. It's always "the glass is half empty" when it should be "the glass is half full." If you don't like America, go check out Croatia. You know what I'm saying? I never thought I'd get to this point, but especially after 9/11 I'm like "love it or leave it." That really opened a lot of people's eyes as does all tragedy. It makes people come together. The end result from something really negative is something positive if you can pull anything positive from that. People stand together. My father's a Vietnam vet and he's told me about other veterans coming home and getting spit at by people that protested the war. These were 19-year old kids that were drafted. They didn't know what was going on over there. These kids were put into a situation where it's somebody else's life or theirs. So "We Still Fight" is saying that whatever the reasons are, we've got to support and realize that there are families that are going to lose their kids.


CM: Do you feel people are turning to heavier music because of the world situation?


JJ: Yeah, definitely, because it's an outlet of aggression. System Of A Down is just selling tons of records and they're playing on MTV and the radio. Slayer is back in the public eye with their last album. Even bands like Drowning Pool are still selling records and all these bands that were on OzzFest. They're just sort of paving the way for bands like us who deal with 11, 12, and 13-year old kids that don't listen to college radio. They hear what's on Rock 101 and they see what's on TV. They like what they hear in those heavy bands and then they hear us and go "Wow, I thought those bands were heavy." So definitely these times are helping us.


CM: How did you manage to get Slayer guitarist Kerry King to play on your record?

JJ: It was just luck, man. We had asked him on the Tattoo The Earth tour and everything was delayed. Our producer had just finished their record. Matt Hyde just did the Slayer record so it ended up that Slayer was in Connecticut while we were in Mass so we went down there and played him the song. I had heard some pre-production of Slayer's stuff with Kerry King singing on it and I liked his voice so I thought it would be cool if we doubled up his voice and my voice on the song. I played him the song. He loved it. Then we just scheduled it so that when our record was being mixed, Kerry King got in the studio and banged out the solo and they overnighted me a copy. It was an unreal feeling. I was waiting when it came. I was shaking just opening the package and when I put it in, my cheeks hurt from smiling that hard. I was smiling so hard my face almost froze. At that point, we could've broken up and I would have been happy that I got Kerry King on my record.


CM: Do you feel like you're where you want to be?


JJ: We sold 200,000 records on an independent label and we did European tours and we did OzzFest and Tattoo The Earth and a lot of stuff where I felt, "Wow, we're at the pinnacle. It's all down hill from here." It's weird, because it keeps happening. The label called this morning and freaked me out by telling me that we're the number 50 album in the country on the top 200 above all these major artists. So we just keep setting our goals higher and keep shooting higher. I would love to have a gold record.  That's been our goal since we started pre-production on this record. It's very possible.


CM: So what's next?

JJ: I think we're just going to stay headlining as a way to give back. Our fans have dealt with paying more when we only have a short set. At those big shows, we have to sell our shirts for what the headlining band's going to sell theirs for and we can't hang out with our friends' bands and we can't give back to the people who have given to us which is the hardcore scene. They've given us our time to shine. We're happy just taking out our friends' bands right now and headlining and playing the bigger clubs that we've always wanted to play. Now that we're the number 50 record in the country, hopefully some bigger tours will get offered to us. We're not taking anything for granted. We're just soaking it all in and try to do as much as we can for all the other bands who have struggled like we have.

(Chris McKay/concertshots.com)