Let’s have a look into the new record. What was the mind-set when you started writing for ‘The Concrete Confessional’?
Basically, all pit no shit. But, really, that is the mindset that goes into recording any HB record. We love to give our loyal fans what they want.
‘The Concrete Confessional’ turned out to be an impressive disc. Compared to your previous album I feel this one is a little more aggressive, a little more direct, more in your face, more energetic. Next to it, the album has a little more emphasis on thrash riffs. Do you agree and if so, is this something you deliberately looked for?
I do believe with every new HB album, the riffs get a bit more intricate, the speed is pushed a little more, the picking patterns are a bit more intricate, etc. We are all metal heads and come from a metal background of sorts so it is nothing new to us to show some chops that we may have not on previous albums. Whatever songs we write, be it metal or hardcore or whatever you want to call it, it’s really just about rehearsing and getting the songs tight to really give 110% of a live show. I think it’s important for a band to push the envelope a little bit and try some new things but not to necessarily do so much that it loses the identity of the band or alienates loyal fans. It keeps the music fresh when you take some chances. So, experimenting a bit and adding some contrast to the already solid formula is healthy. Whether that be trying some shredding guitar solos or a different vocal melody. It helps to appeal to a wider audience and not be one-dimensional.
How does Hatebreed compose a song? How do you determine whether a track is good enough for you/fully after your liking?
We’ve always had shorter song structures. I think that is just how we write. We get right to the point in our music and don’t leave a lot of room for filler. I think the natural formula of our songs is enough to incite a riot. Every song gets equal attention. 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 every record 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.nWe have been a band for twenty years now and have built up a pretty loyal following. Our fans know what to expect from a new Hatebreed release. You don’t fix something that isn’t broken. So, yes…I think we do a pretty good job in getting our point across in two minutes.
Out of the thirteen songs, only one lasts longer than three minutes. Was it a intended, conscious choice to keep songs short and intense or it is something that just ‘happened’ while writing the music?
That is how we write and it is the identity of the band. All killer, no filler. 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.
This is the third album that you make with the same line-up. To what extend did that influence the outcome of the album?
Hatebreed has a pretty set formula that works and has been in place since the inception of the band. 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.
For this album you worked with Zuess, as you have been doing since ‘Perserverance’. What makes him the perfect producer for Hatebreed to work with?
We have a great dynamic with Zeuss because we have been working with him for so many years. He knows our music and how we operate personally, the way we write and how the general dynamic of a Hatebreed record will unfold. He’s not afraid to tell you what sucks and what is great. I guess the correct term is 'chemistry'. With another producer, we just wouldn’t have that same chemistry and work dynamic. Each of our releases is a different experience. Whether it be the studio we record at, how the varying song ideas are exchanged or how we go about getting tones and the equipment we use. So, nothing is put together hastily or just goes down in the books as 'just another Hatebreed record.'
Where do you draw the inspiration for your lyrics? With the primaries in the US, all sorts of ‘events’ taking place around the world, it must not be that difficult to find subjects... or am I mistaken?
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. There is a lot to still be pissed off about in the world, no matter where you are from. Socio-political issues, new sicknesses, the economic climate, increasing debt and just general anxiety about where we are headed as humans. Just turn on the news channel at the end of any day and see what new, devastating issue is plaguing us and causing wide spread panic. 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.
You have released a lyric video for ‘A.D.’ and a video for ‘Looking Down The Barrel Of Today’. What made you decide to pick these specific two songs as video?
These are the first two songs on the new record and they are two very strong songs. The record starts out with a BANG! Also, these are the two songs we knew we were going to begin playing live first so it is fitting to have videos for them.
The new album is your second release with Nuclear Blast and they are also handling worldwide distribution when I’m correct. How has the cooperation been this far? What did Nuclear Blast bring you till now?
I think NB has done good by us and I like the relationship that we have built since our last record, 'The Divinity Of Purpose'. They have a lot of huge bands on their roster and they have a large team to offer a lot of support. We have been doing a lot of press and they have been good about beating the street and creating a buzz about our new release. We have also done two lyric videos and one official video so far and they have gotten a lot of push on the internet. Our last record was only released through NB in Europe but we are now with them worldwide.
Thank you for taking the time to go through these questions. Let’s come to a closure; if there is anything left that you’d like to mention, feel free to do so…
Thanks for the interview!
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