Interview by Paul Castles
The Divinity of Purpose has been going down really well. Do you find the process of putting an album together easier as you grow as musicians or does every new album just bring about a new set of challenges to deal with?
The challenge for me was to grow as a vocalist/songwriter and not let the opinions of closed minded people affect me too much. Chris wrote a bunch of killer riffs for this one, some more than usual and I combined them with a lot of my riff and vocal ideas which made for a quicker/smoother writing process. Keep in mind, there was a decent amount of whining from fans & critics on the last album because I screamed 2 lines “melodically” in the song ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’. Now that song is one of our biggest hits and people everywhere have those lyrics tattooed on them. It was good that I followed my heart and changed up the formula a little bit, but we’re always going to have those very vocal naysayers and people who are resistant to any sort of change, so I knew that going into this and just stayed the course. I’m happy I did.
How has the new material been received live so far, have the fans latched onto it quickly?
The songs have been going over hugely well. ‘Honor Never Dies’ is already getting some of our loudest sing a longs and ‘Dead Man Breathing’ gets the whole place jumping & pitting. We haven’t even played ‘Nothing Scars Me’ or ‘Own Your World’ yet, but I know those are going to tear the pit up too!
I know the theme of the album is about having a real sense of purpose and direction in your life. These are important character traits. Do you feel so many people go off the rails because they lack those things in their lives?
People lack direction and inspiration, and I feel more productive when I’m giving back. If I can write music and lyrics that do a little more than just entertain, then I’m happy. I do think people go off the rails because they feel like they don’t have purpose, but everyone does and everyone is on the same journey to figure out what that is. I hope that maybe my music/lyrics can serve as a compass in some sort of way.
With a pretty extensive back catalogue do the band members have lengthy debates when drawing up the setlist, perhaps a few good-natured arguments?
No, it’s pretty easy to choose what songs and we never write a set list. We get a feel from the crowd, and go off an overall song list. We usually do about 4-5 songs from every album.
I know you’ll be on the road for a year or more with Divinity. Does that sometimes feel a daunting prospect right at the start of the tour?
We’ve scheduled the touring for this album to meet everyone’s needs better. There’s a week or two breaks here and there and we’re covering the rest of the globe first, now that we’ve been gaining a lot of new fans in other areas. The length of this world tour might be slightly longer, but there will be a few breaks. Initially it might have been a daunting thing, but now that we’ve completed the 2 US tours and the UK/Russia shows, I feel like we have a new energy going into the European, Scandinavian, South American & South East Asia tours that are being announced over the next month or so. I hear we are headed back to Australia too which will be fun.
There are guys in the band with families. It must be hard being away from home for so long. Is it just a part of the job that you have to accept?
My daughter is a teenager now so I’ve accepted that it’s part of the job, but sometimes I feel bad for being away for so long. Right now we are home visiting family for 2 weeks, so that helps us recharge and face the next run with a fresh outlook. It’s definitely hard being away from home. Harder now more than ever, but that’s why we are not going to kill ourselves doing 200-300 shows a year during this cycle, we’ll stretch it out for 2 or 3 years and maybe do 100-120 shows per year. Less is more now. It makes it a special show when you know we might not be back to your city for 2, 3 or maybe even 4 years. For instance, we just played Glasgow. It was an awesome show, but we knew it was probably going to be our last show there for a very long time, so we covered every album and left it all on the stage like we always do. In reality, by the time we’ve circled the globe it will be time to do another record and now that we tour in more places, it could be a very long time until we get back to some of these cities we’ve been playing.
How does it feel about being part of the mighty Nuclear Blast stable?
It feels good! They know how hard we work and we know how much they put into promoting and marketing their acts. There’s a new generation of fans that are just hearing about us, which is awesome, and I believe that you need a good label team behind you to continue to grow as a band. Nuclear Blast has a great staff of people that actually like our band and are not scared to lose their jobs, which is good. The music business is a very tough place to survive, & they have shown they can, just like we have for the last 19 years.
Hatebreed have had a settled line-up for the past few years. Does that have a positive impact on the levels of confidence within the band – making you feel stronger, indestructible?
Well, I’ve said many times that I hope this line up stays the way it has been for the last 2 albums. It’s a good fit right now and fans have embraced Wayne. It seems like every day you hear of someone quitting or being fired from a band and fans notice that instability and are resistant to change. It takes the focus off the music too. Sure there will always be Hatebreed fans that prefer the albums that Sean played on (Perseverance, Rise & Supremacy) but he wrote very little, and was not really happy touring. I don’t mind fans liking albums/line ups of the band better than others, because I wrote a lot of it and was in all of the different line ups, haha, but yeah, having the team we’ve had for the last 4 years has had a positive impact.
Many people were surprised when Hatebreed were added to the Bloodstock bill last year as traditionally that festival has drawn more dark, black metal type bands. You blew the crowd away though. You must have great memories of that night?
I do and I cannot thank the whole Bloodstock camp for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to gain new fans and prove our point. Heavy music should bring people together and unity should be promoted more within all the sub-genres. There’s too much division. When we started in ’94-’95, we played w/ At The Gates, Entombed, Napalm Death, even Six Feet Under and Internal Bleeding, but then the next night we’d play with Voorhees or Vision Of Disorder or someone like Ignite or H2O. Just like when you’d go to a record store, you’d see a kid who would buy a Metallica record would also maybe buy a Misfits or Sex Pistols record. Even though it’s two very different styles, there is some crossover. We want to continue that now, and we’ve been successful and we appreciate the fans having an open mind.
How’s the Hatewear side of your life, Jamey? Is it nice to have something that supports the music but is obviously a totally different medium to work with and be a part of?
It’s been good. I’ve got no complaints! It’s been fun to branch off from music slightly, and by sponsoring MMA fighters it’s been a great way for me to give back to a sport I truly enjoy following. One of the guys on our roster, Emanuel Newton, just won 100K at Bellator’s light heavyweight tournament! He walked to the cage to our song ‘Honor Never Dies’, and even moshed during his post fight interview! If anyone wants some gear, check out http://www.martyrstore.net
What did you make of the scenes in Boston when people came out onto the streets to cheer the police after the marathon bombers were caught – would you have joined in the party?
We did! We actually took the stage about 10 minutes after they caught the guy in Worcester, MA, which is only 20-30 miles away and the crowd went crazy when I announced it.
It’s great to welcome you guys back to the UK. You’ve always been embraced warmly here. I think it’s because of your honesty. Is the relationship with UK fans something you treasure?
Thank you, I really appreciate that and yes, our relationship with the UK fans is something we do treasure very much. I was having a conversation with Frank after the Brighton show. Here we are, in this kind of touristy town that mainly caters to the cool indie bands, and we are not that young/cool band with the fashion sense or cool hair, but we had 300 of the most mental/truly diehard fans show up and give us 120% of their energy. Screaming every word, hitting the pit hard. It was great!! Even a little more energy than some of the shows we played in some small US cities this past Feb. We were really pleased. You know, as we move on in the landscape of music/touring, we don’t have the time/opportunity to do smaller clubs/shows like we used to, so it’s good that we were able to get down and dirty in some smaller cities/clubs in the UK. It was definitely worth it and we’re happy to be able to say we did this tour in support of ‘The Divinity Of Purpose’. Many thanks to everyone who came out to rock with us! See you in August for Hevy Fest!