Hatebreed is endurance music

Hatebreed

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! How are things in Hatebreed these days, are you happy people?

Hello and thanks for the interview! Hatebreed has been off the road since the beginning of November 2015.  We played Ozzfest-Japan, flew home and went straight into the studio to begin recording our new album “The Concrete Confessional” (being released through Nuclear Blast on May 13).  Between demoing, official recording, mixing, mastering, etc, the record took about 3 mths to complete.  Other than that, we were able to be home with our families and friends and readjust to “normal life at home.”  It’s been great.  And now….we are back on the road headlining the IMPERICON tour here in Europe.  After this, we will be heading out in US for a month with DevilDriver, Devil You Know and Act Of Defiance!
So, to summarize, there has been a lot of happenings in the Hatebreed world and we couldn’t be happier. 

How’s Jamey’s voice doing? When our interview was changed due to voice problems, we kinda got worried! Will he be ready for the tour?

Did he lose his voice??  Is he still able to speak???  What does the future hold for the vocalist of HATEBREED???? You will have to come out to a show and find out.  :)

Let’s have a look at your new record that is coming out soon! I just spent three days listening to it, and I love it! It’s definitely a Hatebreed record, but it’s also different somehow. How did your recording process look this time around, did you do things differently?

I feel that the album as a whole is a definitive HB record.  We don’t set out to reinvent the wheel.  I think our mind set was to give our fans exactly what they want and what they have come to expect from us as a band.  I don’t see a defined intent when we enter the studio to do new material other than to give our fans what they have come to expect.  Each member brings different formulas to the table.  Chris wrote the music to “Slaughtered In Their Dreams” and to me, that song has a mid-tempo Carcass-vibe all over it.  It doesn’t get more metal than that.  And then there is a song like “A.D.” that is the fastest BPM that we’ve played to date.  Has a total metal, Slayer feel to it.  But then there are more old-school fast hardcore jams like “Us Against Us” and “Dissonance” that have a shorter, simpler song structure and the trademark Hatebreed crusher breakdowns, like going back to the “Satisfaction….” days. 

For me personally,  I wanted the process to be a separate adventure from our previous stuff.  The guys would send me song ideas and I would jam along to them and try out different beats and fills….kind’ve feeling my way through everything as the songs began to take shape.  What I did as far as jamming on my own and hashing out ideas early on, and then what I did ultimately on the final recordings is somewhat different and I like it like that.  I always take an “improv” approach to my playing so I like the variations that occur during the writing process and then the variations of that will ultimately come out in the live show. 

In an interview in early 2013 you mentioned something about the formula of songwriting. In what ways is the new album a typical Hatebreed album?

Jamey is constantly writing lyrics and collaborates with Chris on many of the riffs.  Chris writes a lot of riff ideas on bass and/or guitar and goes back and forth with Jamey. That formula has been in place since the inception of Hatebreed.  So nothing has changed there.  There are skeletons of songs and new riff ideas that get passed around.  Some song structures are already completed and just need to be polished up.  Sometimes, there are ideas or complete songs from a previous record that just never got the love and attention at the time and we revisit them to see if they can be made better.  As the riff ideas start flowing, Wayne gets into the studio and cleans up all the guitar parts.  Then, I get into the studio and begin throwing drum ideas over everything.  The guys may have a beat or a feel in mind and I use that as a blueprint and I inject my own personality and work to make the song my own from there.  So, we all have a hand in creating and crafting the Hatebreed sound. 

This is a typical Hatebreed album in that the fans will get exactly what they want from us!  Sheer brutality.  Otherwise, I hate to look at any of our albums as “typical.”  Looking at it objectively and honestly, the material stands up to the prior stuff that we have written and still strikes a chord with our fans. 

Lyrically, what’s the new album about?

Honesty, Anxiety, Rage, Aggression, An idea to spark a new emotion or thought, Fast parts, Breakdowns, Jamey, Chris, Matt, Wayne, Frank….

Looking at the whole catalog of Hatebreed over the years, lyrically, I always liked the comparison “Self Help for the Hardcore,” since most of the songs are about social survival in a confusing world. Would you say that’s an accurate comparison?

I like that comparison and I think it stands true, although it does kind of sound like the title of a book.  Maybe you should copyright that!
Many of our songs, past and present, deal with the idea of self empowerment, overcoming negativity in your own self-image and taking control of one’s life in general.   And we continue with those themes on our new album too.  Take “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today,” for example- “No sleep, No rest, If that’s what it takes to be the best…”  However, on a song like “A.D.” we touch on the views of our American society, our national debt, our political system and raise the question of does the american dream still exist?  Or a newer song like “In The Walls” that draws some influence from the fictional work of Lovecraft. 

Either way, anything that inspires a new thought or emotion in someone has always been an underlying theme in HB lyrics. 

Hatebreed are widely known for their powerful live performances. I always love seeing you guys play, there’s a high crowd participation level in your live sets. Do you write songs with this in mind?

Thanks!  I think the natural formula of our songs is enough to incite a riot.  Musically, we have fast parts, breakdowns, gang vocals, etc.  Everything is played loud, fast and intense.  The level of aggression in the music is definitely set to 10!  It’s not something we set out to do on purpose.  It’s just how we write and the music that comes out of us.  But we definitely feed off of the crowds energy just as much as they feed off of ours.  If you get up there on stage and give an honest performance, the crowd is going to know it.  And love it.  And I think that is why we have such a loyal fan base.  Because our fans know that we give it 100% every show and they are there giving it their 100% right along with us. 

Lyrically, Jamey is constantly writing and it’s natural for him to uncover a hook or a vocal anthem during that writing process that will be powerful and important enough to use as a crowd sing-a-long.  That may directly inspire a riff or a drum groove or flow that will gradually unfold into a song.

Is it challenging enough for you, as a drummer, to play the music you play? Is there enough variety in the rhythms for you to have fun behind your kit?

Hatebreed is endurance music.  I try to make every song an adventure.  Yes, Hatebreed requires a lot of stamina for the live show and is definitely endurance music.  Yes, there is a more specific formula that I must stick to with Hatebreed because that is the identity of the band.  We are a heavy metal/hardcore band.  Why change that?  I’m not going to try to incorporate Dream Theater parts into a real crusher Hatebreed fast part or breakdown.  It wouldn’t have the same feel.  But there is still plenty of room to stretch out, have fun and challenge myself within the boundaries of what the songs call for.

I look at myself as a funk drummer playing in a heavy metal band.  That is the best way to describe how I look at the way I construct my parts of the songs.  There has to be a lot of groove and a very solid back beat in our songs.  Just like a funk drummer, I want to provide a solid back drop for the other guys to jam over.  But when it’s time for a segway or a fill or a tempo change, why not flex a little bit and show some chops?  You can do that without getting carried away and throwing the song into a tailspin.  I don’t want to be pigeonholed as just a hardcore drummer.  Nothing against other drummers in the genre or the music style, in general.  It’s just not what I ever set out to be.  As a drummer, I need to be rehearsed, versed and influenced in different styles of music.  I try all sorts of different ideas in the studio.  If they don’t work, the guys will tell me.  Zeuss will tell me.  But I have to at least try to show and expand my vocabulary on the drum kit album to album rather than just stick to playing a D-beat into a breakdown and that’s it.  The end. 

Looking at the Hatebreed catalog, what song is the most fun to play as a drummer and why?

Currently, I’m having the most fun playing the handful of songs we have been rehearsing off of our newest record, The Concrete Confessional.  I love all of our songs but after doing 200+ shows a year, it becomes the most fun to play the new material because it’s fresh and still uncharted territory with the fans.  It’s great to watch the fan reactions in different territories as they hear these songs for the first time and they begin to latch onto and learn the lyrics. 

“A.D.” is a challenging song to play because it is the fastest BPM that we have written up to this point.  It is a real thrash song, reminiscent of Slayer.  I’m a metalhead first and foremost.  I was into metal before I got into hardcore so the 80’s thrash thing is really where I cut my teeth on heavy music.  I love that we wrote a song that clearly has it’s roots in that era. 

Going deeper into the catalog all the way back to Rise Of Brutality, “Beholder Of Justice” is a really fun song to play because it is pretty drum-busy.  There are a lot of fills going on, double kick, fills over double kick, etc.  I’m constantly moving for the entire song and there is a lot of room for improv stuff to happen in those parts during the live set.  I don’t know how many times I have played that song at this point in time so trying new impromptu fill ideas for the live show really keeps myself and the other band guys on our toes!  And it’s like reinventing the song every time I play it without making it too different for the fans. 

When you’re not writing, what music do you listen to yourself? What artists influenced you?

Most heavy stuff that I listen to will be old school stuff.  A lot of the 80’s thrash metal that I got into when I was a kid and ultimately learned to play drums to.  Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, Metal Church, etc.  All these drummers had some kind of influence on me.  Dave Lombardo, Charlie Benante, Igor Cavalera….all masters at their craft and responsible for creating a new movement in heavy music at that particular time. 
Overall, I like “drummer-music.”  Any music that has a kick ass drummer is appealing to me.  Not saying I listen to country music regularly, but if I happen to stumble across a song where the drummer is really taking the listener on an adventure, then I will give it my ear.  I like a lot of funk music because you really have to be a great drummer with a deep pocket and a lot of groove to be able to play in a funk band and really lock in with a funky bass player.  David Garibaldi is one of my all time favs and influences in the funk music game.  I recently saw Tower Of Power and they were so spot on and locked in with each other, it was really impressive to watch.  These guys have been playing together for almost 50 years and it was obvious on stage that they still utterly enjoy jamming with each other and playing these songs.  It’s inspiring to see and I hope I am in the same mind set when Hatebreed has been around for 50 years! :)

Looking at the current metal scene, who has the best drummer (and why)?

I can’t answer that question.  There are a lot of great players out there with varying styles so nothing points to who is “best.”  The drummer is the first thing that jumps out to me so I’m biased no matter what.  These days, I’m partial to a drummer (and a band) who doesn’t have to rely on a click track during a live show.  A drummer who can have a natural feel and a natural push-and-pull between his/her bandmates on stage.  I see a lot of newer bands that rely a lot on computers and triggers on stage and everything (timing, sound, volume, etc) has to be perfect and pristine.  To me, there is no human feel if everything is metered out to a click and everything is given a que.  It is unnatural.  If you want it to be perfect, why go to see a show live?  Just stay home and listen to the CD then.  I want to see a band play off of each other during a live show.  Not just a machine-like playback of material. 

Where will we be able to see you live this year, and how much of the new album will you be performing live?

We are currently on the Impericon Festival tour (april 21-may 8) with bands Emmure, Bless The Fall, Callejon and a bunch of others.  It has been great so far and there are a lot of old school Hatebreed fans coming out to rage.  But it’s also great because we are playing to a newer scene of younger kids too. 

After this, we have four days off in the states before we begin a month long US tour with DevilDriver, Devil You Know and Act Of Defiance.  Us and DD both have albums coming out the same day (May 13!).  It’s been a couple of years since we have really focused on touring in the US and this tour will fall right within the release of the record so the timing is perfect to hit markets we haven’t been to in some time.  Following this, we will spend the rest of the summer traveling back and forth to Europe doing a lot of the festivals. 

Do you have any last words for our readers?

As always, thanks for all the support that you have shown Hatebreed over the years.  We look forward to seeing you on the road and playing more songs off of the new album!

Randy Gerritse