Intervju med Jamey Jasta i Hatebreed.
Nyligen gästade herr Jasta huvudstaden för lite promotionarbete. Jag slog mig ner på Warner HQ och snackade med en pratglad jänkare som inte alls visade trötthetstecken trots stor brist på sömn.
Det blev bl a snack om kommande albumet med Hatebreed, klubbscenen i 90-talets New Haven, Kirk Windsteins kärleksliv och Kingdom of Sorrow.
I wanna start off with New Haven. I think the first time I heard about the city was when Van Halen released their “Live without a net” video.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, at the Coliseum.
You weren´t there were you?
Jamey Jasta: No, but maybe our guitar player Wayne was there? He went to a lot of shows at the Coliseum.
What was New Haven like back then whe you started out? What was the whole metal and hardcore scene like? Were there a lot of bands happening and cool clubs and stuff?
Jamey Jasta: There was. Even before I started going to shows, my sister had gone to a couple of concerts. She was more into the 80´s stuff. She would go to Toad´s Place and one time she went to see like Ratt or something like that. I started going to shows around 1990 – 1991. There was The Moon and they had the Melvins, Biohazard, Type O Negative and The Exploited. I saw a lot of great shows there like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fugazi and that was a cool club. Then we had the Urban Jungle which became the Tune Inn and they hosted a lot of great shows like Snapcase, Refused, Napalm Death and Machine Head. A lot of great shows there. We had The Palace and I saw Danzig there and Slayer, White Zombie and Testament or it was Slayer, White Zombie and Alice in Chains. One of those, so we had a lot of good stuff. Pantera played at the Coliseum and that was one of the goals I never really fulfilled and a tear came to my eye when they blew it up and demolished. I used to go see the New Haven Nighthawks play with my dad. We lost the hockey team and we lost The Whalers too. Rage Against The Machine played there. At Toad´s Place I saw Bad Brains with Chuck Moseley from Faith No More sang. HR didn´t show up and Chuck Moseley was there singing and the place went crazy. I don´t even think people knew. The guys got dreadlocks and he´s jumping around like HR. Then The Misfits and GWAR. I saw GWAR like twice a year.
Cool. What was it that made you go more for the metal and hardcore scene?
Jamey Jasta: A lot of the bands that were doing it, especially locally, I thought “Well, if they can do it, I can do it.” and I liked the camaraderie. The whole thing about the New Haven scene was that, there was a poppy, almost R.E.M. kinda scene and indie college rock and those people promoted shows. Then there was the punk scene with bands like Big Mistake and then there was the Ska scene with bands like Spring Heeled Jack. It was a very eclectic music kinda area, all of Connecticut. Then there was the hardcore stuff. It was like little pockets of hardcore bands all over Connecticut, which would come to New Haven and play and it was easy. This was at a time where you could still rent a hall or rent a club and it was pretty easy to throw a show, as long as you had a couple of hundred bucks. There was a place called Barbican (?) that I used to rent out. There was a bar and it could hold 150 people and it was like 200 bucks to rent. You sell a couple of bags of weed and you´ve got a show. (laughs). We´d tell all of our friends and go around town and pass out flyers. We had a good little network. I remember this drummer, a guy called Pete McNeil, I remember the first time at Kinko´s I saw him making flyers. He was in a band called Blind Justice and they were a heavy type of band, but this was at the time when Red Hot Chilli Peppers were getting big and the 24-7 Spyz, so they had a bit of that in their sound. But I saw how many kids were going to their shows and it was a lot more kids than what would go to a small hardcore show and I thought “Man, this guy works hard.”. He was passing out flyers and he ended up playing drums for that band Cake. Later on I saw him and I was like “Because of you I started my hustle with going to Kinko´s and making flyers and cutting them into four.” and he was like “Really?”. They were like a promotion machine and it gave me hope to go out and convince people to come see your band and if they liked it, you hoped you´d build a following and maybe get a record deal. That was cool.
Jamey Jasta: Much different times. People go “The internet leveled the playing field.” And I go “How?”. Now people go “Oh, there´s no more underground because the internet leveled the playing field.” Like any band can just get their video featured on You Tube. It´s no leveled playing field. It´s no different than MTV. The marketing, the dollars gets you the exposure, gets you the hits. It´s interesting because people really do believe that they´re gonna randomly get their video featured or people gonna randomly stumble onto their Facebook and get likes. Now you gotta pay to get the likes, so now you gotta really go back. I think it´s gotta go back to where you hit the street with the flyers, “Oh, Slayer´s playing? Good, there´s a line of a 1000 people.” and you go make a 1000 fuckin´ photo copies. I´ll do it! I´ll still do that because I´m not above doing that, you know. I´m realistic, that you gotta get out there and do the work.
Your last name and the band Jasta 14? I googled it and it´s a German WWI plane.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah! The bass player Greg Burns, in the band Red Sparowes, he started that band and I joined and that´s how it became my nickname, just because that´s what people called me around town. They kinda threw me out of the band or whatever. I think at the time I said that I left, but this is like 20 years ago. They went on with another singer and they put out a seven inch. I was only on the demo, which I think is out there. When I put out the first “Under the knife” demo, I said that even if people called me that and everywhere I was known as that, “I don´t wanna do this. I´m gonna use my real last name.” because like I said, I was kinda thrown out of the group and was a little bit bitter. So I put my real last name on the “Under the knife” cassette and we sold 10.000 cassettes and then people called Information and I was staying at my grandfather´s at the time and the phone would ring in the middle of the night and it was like “Yeah, let me speak to Jasta!”. When Hatebreed first started, that demo tape gave us a big buzz and we opened for Machine Head, Napalm Death, Cro-Mags, Sick of it all… I mean, we were playing a lot of shows and when the popularity grew you wanna book a show or you wanna do a ´zine interview or a little mini tour, how do you get a hold of somebody? You look it up in the phone book and Information, so my grandfather was getting bombarded with calls and I said “I´m gonna go back. I´m gonna use my nickname.” and it stuck. I mean, people can obviously just do a quick google search and realize it´s a stage name. Sometime people will book a hotel room or a flight and I gotta make sure that they don´t book it under that, so I´m not stuck in a hotel and they won´t give me the fuckin´ room. I do have an ID actually that says (Jasta) from my MTV days. Luckily. One time before 9-11, somebody booked a flight under that name and I was able to get on the flight because I had a business card, but that would never happen post 9-11 and I almost missed that flight.
The new album then, where did the title come from?
Jamey Jasta: I wanted to have a title similar to “Satisfaction is the death of desire” which is like where it poses a question and people go “What is that?”. It makes you think and sparks a thought. There was a couple of different things that kinda inspired, all of which were something unfortunate and someone we know who had gotten sentenced to eight years in jail. It was a situation that probably could have been avoided, but there´s two sides to every story and for better or worse, it´s someone we know and it´s a shame because it could have been avoided and we don´t get into situations like this because we have music. I thought “Thank God music came into our lives when it did!” because it was all like divine intervention. Same thing with my daughter. I was leaving to go on tour with Agnostic Front in Europe and got to the airport and we basically imploded as a band, we broke up. I think we fired the drummer or the drummer quit and then our guitar player got into a fight with our old guitar player. None of these guys are in the band anymore. I went home and my father had just moved in with his girlfriend and they didn´t even have furniture yet and I went to their place. They were like “What are you doing here? You´re supposed to be in Europe.” and I just said “We broke up. We´re not going to Europe.” And they said “Are you kidding me? This is a huge opportunity.”. I said “It just wasn´t meant to be.” And then the phone rang and my girlfriend was like “I gotta talk to you!”. She came over and she was crying and I knew something was up and she said “I´m pregnant.”. So it was good that I didn´t go to Europe, so I was there to kinda deal with the situation and then I had to tell my family and my father said “You gotta move out!”. The shit hit the fan. I was 20 and I had this band that was falling apart and that became the purpose. I started thinking about all these little things and it might have inspired the title. It´s like, some people they find something that they love. I know a guy who´s an engineer and it´s his lifeblood. He loves his work and loves doing it. It´s like a spiritual process for him with all his engineering and I can see that when you find it can be like almost a spiritual experience or a divine intervention pointing you in the right direction. We bounced around other titles but that one just kinda… because I already had the song I just felt that it was gonna work.
Do you ever get… what do you say… blocked, coming up with titles?
Jamey Jasta: Yeah and sometimes you wanna just, I don´t wanna say dumb it down, but you wanna simplify it so that it´s as palatable, as discernible as possible so people really get it. “Perserverance” was like “Fuck it, people will say it´s generic, but that´s what I wanna call the record.” And I think at the time we couldn´t agree on the title so we were like “Yeah, that´s fine. One word. Put it on a t-shirt, put in on a CD, it´s fine!”, but it worked because of what we had been through when we toured for four years and had problems and one guitar player, God rest his soul, he´s not with us anymore, but he was going through a lot of problems at that time and it worked for that title. Then with “Rise of brutality”, which was a real hardcore, crossover record, so we wanted it to be like… the world was in such a fucked up place post 9-11 and heavy music was in a good spot because people need an outlet, so that´s a snapshot of that time. Maybe not the best record title, but it´s a good snapshot of that time. With “Supremacy” it was like deconstructionism, let´s take the word back. Supremacy over anxiety or depression or inner demons. “Why do all the racists get to use that word? Let´s take it back!”. But now with this, let´s spark more of a thought.
I read an interview recently where you were quoted as describing the new album as “All pit, no shit.”. Where did that come from, because it has spread all over the internet now?
Jamey Jasta: We just needed a catchphrase. Yeah, now people are trying to claim it, like Dez from Devildriver “You got that from me!” and I was like “What?”. Actually, there´s a band, Sum 41 and they have a record called “All killer, no filler” and I was like “That´s great!” and this is our version of that. It´s perfect. But you need a catchphrase, like for every record we have ads and posters that will be some sort of catchphrase that is not the title, but it´s representative of it. That´s what I´ve been using as the hashtag on my Twitter. Now that we´ve released one song, we backed it up with the product so now people go “Ok, I get it.”. But that´s like my least favorite song on the record so I think we´re in a good spot. If people like that, I think they´ll really enjoy everything else. But going back to the title, we could´ve called the record “Nothing scars me” or “Honor never dies” or “Put it to the torch”. All of those would´ve been perfectly fine titles, but this is the one that will spark the most conversations and get people an idea with what we´re going for.
Nuclear Blast then? What made you go German?
Jamey Jasta: Honestly, everything with Testament and Kreator. If you put out a great record, I don´t wanna say it doesn´t matter what logo you have on the back of it, but it does matter what people you have. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, I really believe that. When “Rise of brutality” came out they fired everybody. I joked around that there was like tumbleweed flying around every office. I was so hands on with that record and back then I had an assistant, a guy named Jay. He helped me tremendously on that one. He did the artwork at the very last minute. We had no graphics department, so he did everything. We said “We need a poster for retail!” and I said “Well, who do you have?” and they literally put the Hatebreed logo and they put the title in Impact font and I go “Wow, this is your art department?” and they went “Well, everybody´s fired.”. That was the poster and people went “Really, that´s your poster for the album? It´s just the logo on a black background.”. I tried to tell people with Universal because people were telling us “Oh, you´re on a major label. It´s gonna be cool. It´s gonna be radio rock and you´re gonna sell out.” And I´m like “We do everything! We´re the label. There´s nobody there. Basically we´re giving them something to distribute.”. They were more of a distributor than a label, so with Nuclear Blast, they´re picking up where Roadrunner and E1 left off with the last two records. Look what they built for Testament and Kreator? It´s very impressive. Think about it! Testament charted higher than some Roadrunner records and that´s a big deal. I mean, they made a great record.
I gotta sk about Kingdom of Sorrow because I love those two albums.
Jamey Jasta: Oh, cool! Thank you.
I really love the artwork for both of them.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, Meran (Karanitant)! I really wanted Meran to do the artwork for this one.
I´m not really into the knights and swords and stuff, but the artwork for those two albums are so powerful.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, that´s our Dark rider, our mascot. Meran is a great guy! He did the artwork for “Supremacy”, which is probably our most tattooed artwork. We see that everywhere, multiple times per night people have that as a chest piece or a back piece. He´s just a great artist. He had so many other good pieces that we wanted to use. We actually did a limited edition cover for the last record, because he had just so much good stuff. When me and Kirk decided on naming the band and everything… because at first when it was just a project it was like Hatebar or Crowbreed, but when we decided to name the band we just went “Let´s just go so metal!”, even if we don´t necessarily sound super metal, let´s just have the art and everything be metal. Like Manowar or something like that. Once we changed the colors and made it dark, it kinda became our own thing.
Well, it´s way more metal than Manowar.
Jamey Jasta: (laughs) Yeah! I felt that for Kingdom of Sorrow we needed really good art because I wanted it to be an experience because it´s a place. When we named the band we said “Let this be a destination where it´s not something you´re gonna listen to every day, but it´s a project and a place where we´re going to to express this other kinda side of our musical creativity.”. With Meran I used to get so excited to go look at his art. I try to tell people that you gotta support artists that you really like because it gives you enjoyment, it really does. I look at old Megadeth records and go “This is awesome!” and you don´t know why, but it´s just awesome. You don´t know why it gives you that charge, but we all kinda have the similar reaction.
Definitely. I remember that sometimes you actually bought a record just because the artwork was so cool.
Jamey Jasta: Absolutely. Yeah for sure.
I remember buying Rough Cutt´s second album “Wants you” just because the cover was so cool with a limo and a hot chick.
Jamey Jasta: “Trick or treat” the soundtrack which was also the Fastway record, I think they rereleased it as a record and it was a badass cover and I bought that. It wasn´t a bad record, there were some gems on it. Gene Simmons was in the movie and Skippy from “Family ties” and I think they also released it as their studio album. I also bought the first White Zombie album and Nirvana´s “Bleach” and “Bleach” I returned. (laughs) I brought it back used and I traded it in. I only liked like one song. And White Zombie, I love that record.
He´s playing here next week.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, my friend is tour managing. That´s a wild show. We´ve toured with him and he´s awesome. I got him on Headbanger´s Ball and shot the breeze with him and John 5. Actually, I think Zeuss, who co-produced this record, is working with John 5. I was talking with Zeuss on Skype and John 5 was in the background.
Kingdom of Sorrow then? Do you have any new stuff or plans for a new album?
Jamey Jasta: I have stuff kinda kicking around, but… are you facebook friends with Kirk?
Jamey Jasta: Well, how do I say this… Kirk is madly in love right now and if you were Facebook friends you would see a multitude of posts. We have a saying in the States where we go PDA. It stands for Public Display of Affection and my new nickname for him is Pablo PDA and I break his balls about it. “Why don´t you write a fuckin´ riff? Get off Facebook and write some riffs!”. On the last record it was probably like 70-30 me and he probably doesn´t want me saying it, but he wrote some great stuff too. Until I get him in the studio and sit him down, it´s hard to get him to… like I can never get him to e-mail me a riff. That would never happen, so I don´t know. It´s gonna be a while and the Down EP, those guys worked hard and it´s a killer and I´m happy for them and they´re going out on tour with Warbeast doing the west coast and then Down is going to South America in April. We´re doing Soundwave because what are you gonna say. “You wanna go on tour with Metallica and Slayer?”, you can´t say no so we have to do that with Kingdom of Sorrow. Kirk you can tell he´s in Down mode. He´s already worried about when we´re gonna rehearse and he´s freaking out because it´s gonna be a big crowd and he´s freaking out about the long flight. I`ll go right from Australia to Hammerfest in the UK and it´s Hatebreed till 2014. We have offers and we have some record deals on the table. I haven´t spoken to my attorney about it at length, but I told Kirk and at some point we are gonna have to address it. But he should do a Crowbar record! For me it would be selfish if a Kingdom of Sorrow record came out again before a Crowbar album. As a fan I´d much rather have a Crowbar record because then I don´t have to work on it. (laughs) I listened back to “Sonic excess” the other day and man, that´s a sick record! He´s so talented and he´s got so much great stuff but he downplays it and goes “Oh, riffs are a dime a dozen.” And I´m like “Yeah, but you´ve written some of the best riffs ever and they´re not a dime a dozen, they´re legendary riffs.”.
Next Crowbar album might be a love album then?
Jamey Jasta: It could be. (laughs) He´s got like 5400 people on there and 200 are probably his family and friends and 5000 are fans and they´re probably all wondering like me. I´m sure they´re happy he´s in love it´s just a little stick in the butt. (laughs)
What about Hatebreed coming to Sweden?
Jamey Jasta: We really wanna get a main stage slot at Metaltown. That would be big for us. Playing the tent was awesome. That meant the world to us. We all got on stage and it was awesome because we played at the same time as In Flames and we were like why “Why would they put us against In Flames, one of the biggest exports of Sweden in the last 15 years?”, but we still had a pretty good crowd. It was awesome!
Alright. Thanks Jamey!