For a long time Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta has kept busy with multiple projects. In the past he’s had his own record label and hosted MTV’s Headbangers Ball. These days he hosts the popular podcast The Jasta Show that recently aired their 175th episode. Recent guests have included Dave Lombardo, Dez Fafara, Dave Ellefson, Jacob Bannon and Metal Blade’s Brian Slagel. He also has the Hatewear clothing line and some other musical projects.
But his bread and butter is Hatebreed, who for more than two decades have been one of metallic hardcore’s signature bands. Their seventh studio album is The Concrete Confessional, which they recorded with their longtime producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris. Jasta, along with guitarists Wayne Lozinak and Frank Novinec, bassist Chris Beattie and drummer Matt Byrne, deliver another passionate album that will get fists pumping and the pit moving.
We recently chatted with Jasta about topics including the new record (which also finds them on a new label, Nuclear Blast), this year’s surreal presidential race and his memories of Motorhead’s late, great Lemmy Kilmister.
Heavy Music Headquarters: You’ve been on a lot of different record labels over the years. For this one you signed with Nuclear Blast. I imagine your experience running your own label is helpful when deciding on a record deal.
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, totally. People said, “Oh, why don’t you go the D.I.Y. route?” It’s so hard. When you have a great team of people working for you, we can have everybody wearing different hats and doing what they’re good at doing. That, to me, makes more sense than us trying to do it ourselves. Even with my limited experience, the proof is in the pudding. My label’s shut down, so I don’t think I’m the best person to release it. It’s good to have professionals.
I understand you took a little bit different lyrical approach when it came to the writing for The Concrete Confessional.
We threw in a little bit of social issues. Not necessarily about me, which I think is important. I don’t think every record can be this intense personal experience. I think, for a lot of people, hardcore and heavy metal is like a snapshot of the time that we’re living in, and this will be one of those records where people will look back and they’ll remember different stuff that has happened between the violence in Paris or the bombing in Brussels or the presidential election. Any of the stuff that we’ve seen in the media. I think this is a good snapshot of what’s been going on. Sure, there’s some personal songs, there’s some motivational thoughts, which people do like about Hatebreed. But if you’re looking at the world around you and you’re pissed off about it, then this will be a good soundtrack for that, too.
Where did the album title The Concrete Confessional come from?
We wanted to have the juxtaposition between something that’s heavy and hard and solid and that lasts, and a confession, an admission of something. You’re confiding in somebody, something that you wouldn’t tell anybody else. Something that’s honest. You’re getting something off your chest so to speak, so to have that juxtaposition between the two was important. There still is a lot of stuff to get off my chest. The music’s always been an outlet for that. Now it just doesn’t have to be all about me. It can be about things that I see around me as well.
As you get older, do you find it more difficult to come up with that emotion and anger? Is there still that well of it that’s never going to end?
There’s an ocean of things out there that can really upset you. I try to touch on a little bit of everything with this record. There’s songs about the destruction of the environment. There’s songs about the casualties of all these various different conflicts in the world that we’re seeing. There’s songs about the death of the American dream.
There’s songs about people being obsessed with technology and on this destructive path of being controlled by the media, people being corrupt in positions of power. It’s nothing too new. It’s not like we’re breaking new ground, because definitely in the ‘90s and in the late ‘80s, the music I liked from those eras touched on all this stuff, but a lot of that stuff is still relevant today. I think 20 years from now, it’ll probably still be relevant.
Speaking of the American dream that you address in the song “A.D.,” we’re taught from an early age that America is the best in everything, but the data shows there are many areas where other countries have surpassed us.
Exactly. It just goes to show that we were lied to. It’s funny that I can go to Russia and have the best, fastest internet I’ve ever had in my life, and then at my house, I can’t even get my phone to work. We have veterans that are homeless. You fight for your country and you can’t even get a roof over your head. That’s just shameful.
This has to be the most bizarre presidential race in our lifetime. What’s your take on what’s going on on both sides of the aisle?
It’s a shame that it has to get boiled down into this two party thing, because I think the founding fathers, there’s no way they ever envisioned something like this happening, where the media could be controlled, where ads could be bought, where votes could be bought, where science is ignored, and common sense is ignored. We need to look deeper.
I’m still undecided. I like Jill Stein (from the Green Party), but she’ll never get elected. I definitely am going to register, and we’ll see what happens. I suggest anybody who’s interested in it, go to isidewith.com.
You’ve been doing a podcast for a while now. How much preparation do you do for interviews?
For some I do a lot of research, especially if I’ve seen other interviews where I feel like someone missed a follow up, or someone missed an opportunity to expand on a topic that was interesting to me that might have not been interesting to whoever else was interviewing the person.
Turning back to music, you recently did a Jasta show and released some songs on Bandcamp. Will there eventually be another Jasta record?
Yeah, I hope so. I got some great material from Mark Morton from Lamb of God, and I hope that I can still use it. I hope that not too much time goes by, and that he wants to use it for the next Lamb of God, or for a solo record or whatever. He made it sound like I’m still able to use the songs. It would be cool to maybe get something out around Christmas, but I just don’t see that being possible the way my touring schedule is.
Also, Doc from God Forbid gave me two songs that are great. Who knows? I might pepper some out later in the year and just see if the Bandcamp thing does a little bit better. I think maybe if I said, “Okay, here’s a song that Mark Morton from Lamb of God wrote,” then I could probably drum up a little bit more interest, and that might help my case if those songs sell really good. Then maybe I would have a case to do another album sooner rather than later.
Last year Hatebreed played what could be the final Motorboat cruise with Motorhead. You knew Lemmy well. What are some of your fondest memories of him?
One of the first shows of a Motorhead, Dropkick Murphys, Hatebreed tour, we were told, “Lemmy’s in there. He’s playing pool. Don’t bother him, but just say hey. Go and introduce yourself.” We go over and and say, “Hey, Lem. Thanks for having us on the tour. We’re Hatebreed.” He’s looking at me like, “What are you, 17?” I was maybe 19 or 20. He’s looking at me, I’m this baby-faced kid. I look down and there’s lines of something on the side of the pool table, and a bottle of J.D. and two strippers, and I’m like, “Man, this guy! He’s the real deal.” I’ll never forget that.
Then, throughout the years, seeing him at the awards shows, or seeing him at the Rainbow, or going to see him play, he was always cool. He was great enough to do a full podcast episode with me, and we sat down and we had a nice chat. To have us on the Motorboat was great. There’s a lot of great memories there. He’s really just a sweet, nice guy.
I think it would be cool if they did another Motorhead cruise and maybe had Dave Grohl or guests or someone play bass and sing various different Motorhead tunes, but we’ll see what happens. I hope they keep it alive. I hope it’s not their last one.
(interview published June 2016)