After 22 years of playing together, countless headline shows and a Grammy nomination, renowned metalcore and hardcore rockers Hatebreed are set to drop their seventh album, The Concrete Confessional, next month.
Frontman Jamey Jasta sat down with us to talk about the new album, his current approach of “living in the now” and how songwriting allowed him to alleviate personal pain.
Living in the now
Jasta often “shut off completely” while writing the new album, trying to “get back into solitude and connecting with nature.”
The lyrics for many songs on the new album, especially ‘Remember When’, came from this viewpoint and Jasta’s love for living in the now.
“Originally I wrote those lyrics [for ‘Remember When’] about all these Facebook stories where people were so obsessed with nostalgia…It’s 2016, you can join us or the bitter motherfuckers in the past.”
Writing about the common feeling of unease that all people share “came together easily” for another track on the album, ‘Something’s Off’.
“When you reach people who are into comics or wrestling, they don’t conform to social norms… [Yet] there’s this camaraderie with people in all different walks of life that they never even know they had.”
Turning very introspective, Jasta viewed the overall writing process as therapeutic, with his raw honesty on the record allowing him to alleviate pain and “become stronger”.
“Once you have a diagnosis, that can almost be a crutch. Since I’ve never been formally diagnosed with anxiety or depression and tried to do things naturally, it does become harder.”
“If that song is a compass for someone to get help, then great.”
Collaborating with a long-time producer
Producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris has worked with the band since The Rise of Brutality (2003) and can therefore help the band choose tracks that are “culturally significant and fit seamlessly” live.
The singer emphasised the need to have an honest two-way relationship with a producer.
While Zeuss was initially against the bridge in one of Hatebreed’s most popular songs ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’, Jasta assured us that “the whole audience sings it word for word”.
He fondly remembered the experience of “10,000 people singing that back [in Japan]” and Zeuss admitting defeat and recognising its resonance with the fans.
The Motorboat legacy
Hatebreed played Motorhead’s Motorboat cruise last year alongside Suicidal Tendencies and Anthrax. Still gazing at the poster and T-shirt, Jasta’s memory of “a nice welcome, a memorable set, and people circle-pitting in the pool” was clearly very special.
“It’s not so much a concert as it is being recognised and accepted by your peers,” Jasta spoke as if just waking up from a dream.
“We’ve toured with the original Black Sabbath… we thought we had arrived then. But we’re still playing with them twelve years later. We were able to open for Judas Priest and Anthrax in our hometown, literally a mile from where we used to rehearse… Rob Halford [Judas Priest lead vocalist] fought for us to be on the bill.”
The frontman’s humbleness shined through as he promised “I will pay it forward.”
Rethinking the recording and signing process
Jasta also delved into working with his other band, sludge metal group Kingdom of Sorrow, also featuring Kirk Windstein [Crowbar, Down].
With their self-titled debut involving “years of red tape” and having to be recorded twice, the experience taught Jasta a lot more about the music industry.
“Having songs from 2004-2005 not come out until 2008 was really disheartening,” Jasta confessed. “But then when it sold 40-50,000 copies on a small indie label and we did a 10-week tour with GWAR… It was a fresh start.”
His tone brightened when discussing their second album Behind the Blackest Tears. Whilst subjects like Greek mythology and Roman history wouldn’t belong in Hatebreed songs, Jasta knew they’d fit perfectly with Kingdom of Sorrow.
Touring with those devils
Supporting The Concrete Confessional in May, Hatebreed charges North America with Devil You Know, DevilDriver, and Act of Defiance.
“All the VIP upgrades are almost sold out, which has never happened for us before. Even on the Lamb of God, In Flames tour.” Jasta still couldn’t quite believe it.
Along with fronting Hatebreed, Jasta also runs a podcast hosting guests like Vinnie Paul [Pantera] and Kirk Hammett [Metallica].
Devil You Know vocalist Howard Jones appeared on the 100th episode, with fans encouraging Jasta to “get him out on the road again”. Jasta felt a kindred spirit in Jones, being someone who has also “struggled with social anxiety”.
Jasta strongly feels that the three bands are “about to hit a peak”, citing DevilDriver’s new record coming out the day the tour kicks off.
“If this does the business similar to the Shadows Fall, Dying Fetus tour [in 2013] – we had 14 sold-out shows – we’re going to be able to add a second leg.”
Check out all the tour dates above, or pre-order The Concrete Confessional.