Jamey Jasta Is a Promotional Machine in Los Angeles — A Day in the Life
Luckily for Noisecreep, there’s little-to-no traffic on the 10 freeway as we head east to City of Industry from Santa Monica, CA. It’s late April and we’re on our way to meet up with Jamey Jasta at Hot Topic’s headquarters. We’ll be spending the day with the iconic vocalist as he does a round of early promotion for his upcoming and highly anticipated debut solo album.
The Connecticut native is one of the hardest-working musicians in the extreme music community. In the early ’90s, Jasta founded Hatebreed, arguably the most popular band in hardcore today, and the homes of millions as host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball. In addition to fronting that group, he’s also released two successful albums as a member of Kingdom of Sorrow, collaborated with fellow hardcore veteran Danny Diablo in the band Icepick, not to mention guested on a countless list of records throughout the years.
After getting a bit lost in the maze of stores and warehouses that make up City of Industry, Noisecreep finally arrives at Hot Topic’s parking lot a little before 10AM. Jasta and his manager, Steve Ross, and Bill Meis, a rep from eOne Music, get there a few minutes after. We exchange pleasantries with the down-to-earth star and head into the monstrous building.
Jasta is here to meet up with Jay Adelberg, Hot Topic’s music and music accessories buyer, to play him a rough version of his solo album and film a video interview for the retailer giant’s website. “I can’t wait for people to hear what we did on this record. There are a lot of stylistic surprises on it,” an excited Jasta tells Noisecreep.
Hot Topic’s reception area doesn’t disappoint. Behind the front desk, there’s a massive, gothic cathedral-inspired wood installation – complete with gargoyles – that makes Noisecreep feel like we’ve stumbled onto the cover of a power metal album. The plush couches are deep crimson and the framed photos on the wall feature a who’s who of the punk and metal worlds.
We soak in the room’s atmosphere for a few minutes until Adelberg comes in to give us a tour of the building. As we go through the door, we’re greeted by an army of Hot Topic employees working in a sea of cubicles. Adelberg gives Jasta a quick rundown of the different responsibilities that are dealt with in the various sections. “Most people don’t know how much work goes into running this kind of operation –I’m really impressed,” Jasta remarks.
Jasta knows a thing or two about this sort of thing. He owns Hatewear Inc., a popular line of hardcore/metal-approved apparel. If that weren’t already enough, Jasta also owns and operates Stillborn Records, a label that has released albums by the likes of Full Blown Chaos and Sworn Enemy. Noisecreep tells Jasta that he hustles like a hip-hop mogul. He laughs at the comparison. “I gotta pay for my daughter’s college!”
After checking out the warehouse section of the building, we head to a conference room so Jasta can play Adelberg an un-mastered version of his upcoming solo album.
“I originally laid down guide vocals for the melodic parts with the intention of other singers being on the finished versions. But then my engineer encouraged me to keep most of my parts since they were already strong as is. I think I even surprised myself with the melodic singing on the record,” Jasta says while laughing at the idea.
One of the tracks we are treated to, ‘Something You Should Know,’ features All That Remains vocalist Phil LaBonte. When Noisecreep tells Jamey that we can picture the song on modern rock radio, he agrees. “Yeah, the chorus is so catchy! People haven’t heard me do anything like this before.”
Jasta is spot on about the album. Although there are plenty of mosh-ready moments sprinkled throughout the record, the bulk of the material is guided by a strong sense of melodicism. “I didn’t want to put these songs on a Hatebreed album since they are so different. I didn’t want to mess with the formula of that band, but I really wanted people to hear this side of my writing.”
Once the album is finished, Jasta says goodbye to Adelberg and then heads to an on-location video interview for Hot Topic. Noisecreep follows the vocalist to an abandoned strip mall where he meets up with Hot Topic’s Dan Epstein and a crew of two cameramen and one audio person.
After Jasta talks about the solo album and poses for a quick photo shoot on a train track behind the empty stores, his label rep tells us we have to leave for our next location.
We all agree to meet at the infamous Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood for lunch. Since it’s still midday, the traffic gods spare us and we actually arrive on time.
“Is Lemmy here yet?,” Jasta jokingly asks. The Sunset Strip haunt is unofficially known as the Motörhead legend’s second home, but it’s still way too early for him to be there. Ross and Meis talk about some official business while we scarf down our food, and then Jasta suggests that we all make a quick visit to SoundCheck Hollywood, the new music store owned by his friend, Ash Avildsen, of Sumerian Records.
During the short walk over to the record store, Jasta tells Noisecreep about his recent visit to the studios where ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ is taped. “A guy that works over there turned out to be a big Hatebreed fan so I got a tour of the place. I’m addicted to ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ so it was a big deal for me.” Since I follow the sport so much, I would love to become an MMA correspondent, or something like that, for the show.”
Makes sense to Noisecreep. When you think about it – what happens in the circle pit of a Hatebreed show isn’t too different from what happens in the octagon of a UFC fight.
At SoundCheck Hollywood, Jasta thumbs through the store’s vinyl section and then asks an employee behind the counter if Avildsen is expected at the store anytime soon – unfortunately he’s not. It’s probably for the better as we’re getting close to Jasta’s next appointment.
The caravan of sedans then heads to Beverly Hills for Jasta’s interview with the folks of Artist Direct. Once there, he has on-camera conversation with writer Rick Florino and plays him a few cuts from his album.
“He really loved the melodic stuff on the record. This is the first time I’m playing this for people outside of my close circle of friends, so the early feedback is great to hear,” Jasta explains as we leave for his last promotional outing of the day, an interview for a nationally-syndicated radio program.
We drive a few miles to West Hollywood and arrive at the offices of 10th Street Entertainment. This is where Jackie Kajzer, aka Full Metal Jackie, works and will be recording the interview for her popular radio show. Jasta surveys her office and notices a pattern – renowned guitar virtuoso Steve Vai is everywhere. There are posters, CDs – even a prominently-placed life-size cut-out of him. “I take it you like Steve Vai,” he jokes, in the way you can only do with old friends. Jackie laughs. She and Jasta have known each other for years and play some catch-up before the taping.
“I’ll be going out on the Mayhem Fest this year, so I’m sure we’ll be hanging out again soon,” Jackie tells him. Kingdom of Sorrow is one of the most anticipated acts on the upcoming tour and Jasta will be pulling double-duty on a few dates with Hatebreed.
After the radio interview, Jasta hangs with Jackie a little longer and she presents him with a limited edition vinyl copy of who else but Steve Vai’s landmark 1990 album, ‘Passion and Warfare.’ The gifts don’t stop there – she also gives him a copy of the recent ‘Lemmy’ documentary and some other music DVDs. “I’m heading over to Europe in a few days, so these will come in handy during my flight.” Jackie and Jamey exchange hugs and we leave her office.
It’s almost 5:00PM when we get to our cars. We’ve arrived at the end of our day together and Jasta thanks us for hanging with him. “I know I’ll be working hard to get the word out about the album these next few months and I’m really glad you got to hear it early on.”
So were we Jamey, so were we.