What Jamey Jasta Thinks the Rest of the World Can Learn From Metal’s Ethics
Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, chatting about the band's legacy as well as the frontman's big venture as a festival promoter, having secured the rights to the classic Milwaukee Metalfest. He also spoke about what the rest of the world can learn from metal's ethics.
Having toured behind the 20th anniversary of Hatebreed's Perseverance album last year, Jasta reflects on the idea of legacy and what is most important to him in presenting this band and its music all these years later. Continuity in regards to personnel is a big deal to Jasta as he's strived to keep the same members together for long periods of time while also occasionally welcoming back former ones onstage.
Always one to promote and vouch for his favorite artists both young and old, heading up this year's Milwaukee Metalfest has been an enjoyable challenge as he hopes to provide bands with similar prideful experiences of having played the fest a while ago in the earlier years of Hatebreed.
And, later on in this interview, Jasta explains one of metal's most dearly held values is something that can have a positive effect far outside the reaches of heavy music.
You toured in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Perseverance, an album that was pivotal not only for you, but hardcore overall. What's evident about that album now that maybe you didn't fully realize back then?
Just the change from more nihilistic and boutique lyrics to something that was a little more positive and uplifting. At least on half of the tracks, that really was the recipe for success. It also took us from this genre that's really known for having aggressive and negative lyrics and broke us into crossover and metal and even death metal, which you would not think with positivity being infused in there.
But I think the five years of touring in between and playing with all different types of bands such as Danzig, Six Feet Under, Disturbed, Slipknot and Mudvayne — really branching out — as well as showing people that hardcore/metal/crossover wasn't just these angry guys with shaved heads yelling at people. It's for all walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds, and it was really something that could give you a charge and lift you up like so many of the records that we loved growing up and still do now.
Having done this tour, you see the tattoos of the lyrics every night of the lyrics, you see the people at the meet and greet, the crowd was singing every word and it was great with Sean [Martin] coming back onstage with us as well. It just sort of summed up a real nice time and reminded us why was so impactful because, really, it changed our lives for the better.
Hatebreed, "Perseverance" — Live in 2022
Sean Martin has occasionally been joining Hatebreed onstage. What makes you sentimental with regard to former members of the band?
Everybody put in the work and really sacrificed a lot to live out this crazy dream of traveling the world and performing music. I always want to be on good terms with people and always want to be known as one of those bands that that keeps the same lineup throughout the years.
There's a thing in the business where a lot of times it'll be just two guys or a manager and one member of the band. I get it — everybody has their reasons for lineup changes and revolving door lineups, but I think that part of the reason why Hatebreed is an institution and has really just been this solid draw live is that people know what they're getting every time.
Not that there's anything wrong with the bands. Especially the bands with the revolving door lineups, we've toured with a bunch of them and the tours are always great and I'm sure some new ingredients bring some stuff into the fold. But, with our band, and especially with our genre of punk and hardcore, so many of the legacy bands just don't have as many of the original members as they once did. We don't want to necessarily follow in those footsteps and I think it adds value when you look at the record and then the same guys on the stage.
You're not only in Hatebreed — you have your own podcast and label and you produced the new Ripper Owens EP, two albums for Dee Snider... What do you do best when working with more traditional metal artists?
I think the phrasing and the melodies are my strong point.
I've had so much fun because, for years, I had no place to express that side of me. When melodies come to me, I would always record them and then I thought that one day down the line, maybe I'll prove myself to one of these artists that my melodies are memorable or different from what they're using. A case of that would be on [the Dee Snider album] Leave a Scar. Although Dee wrote the majority of the lyrics on that record, he used the majority of my melodies. So, even if I'm writing a different line and he plugged in different lyrics, it's still really fun and collaborative.
Different creative muscles are being used that I can't use in my other bands.
With Tim "Ripper" Owens, it was the same thing except he was open to writing everything with us and really letting us lead the charge on going heavier. If you listen "Return to Death Row," it has a little easter egg throwback to the song ["Death Row"] off [the 1997 Judas Priest album Ripper sang on] Jugulator, which just had his 25th anniversary.
As diehard metal fans, we get excited, not only being able to direct Ripper in this new direction, but have him be open to our input and our creative process. He's such a pro and one of the most rewarding things what when he would literally send the idea back with multiple takes — multiple tracks, melodies, harmonies, different screams and different things that can be so versatile. It was just amazing and I'm really looking forward to doing a real full length album with him as we did with Dee.
Because he hadn't put some solo work out in so long, we wanted to test the waters with the EP. It's getting great reviews, the pre-orders were amazing and now we're setting up like this new foundation to release the full length next summer or next fall.
Ripper, "Return to Death Row"
Dee Snider, "Time to Choose" ft. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher
You recently required the rights to the Milwaukee Metalfest. What appeals to you about presenting a metal festival, particularly this one?
I just love the memories of going there, not just as a fan but going there and performing on some of the most legendary lineups. Milwaukee has always had a soft place in my heart, so I just had to do it. I knew that the time was right to come back with there being no Maryland Death Fest next year on Memorial Day weekend.
A big shout out to Lesley and everybody at The Rave Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. It's going to be amazing.
I don't know if you remember a while back that people were commenting on every festival announcement with #WhyNotDying Fetus. So, the first offer that went out was to Dying Fetus [laughs]. There's no need to respond #WhyNotDyingFetus because they will be there and we're so pumped.
So, you're saying that when fans are angry about a band not coming to a market or a band not being on a festival, that when they get together and revolt, it works? Is that what you're saying?
It worked for Download. The Download Festival poster got announced and I don't remember exactly who the headliners were, but people wrote #WhyNotDyingFetus and next thing you know, it was trending on Twitter in the U.K. and they added Dying Fetus to Download.
It can't be Milwaukee Fest without Dying Fetus.
Metal has long been regarded by the mainstream as debaucherous and evil, but there's an integrity to our community. How would society be better if it adhered to the ethics of heavy metal?
Well, first and foremost, respecting your elders is something that I can say now that I'm just past my 45th birthday. That's something that I always liked. When you see these lineups on the big tours and festivals, they, for the most part, do really well in honoring the legacy of the people who put in the work and the people who kicked down the doors for guys like me and guys and girls younger than me.
That does mean something.
I think sometimes out in the normie world, they have an attitude that you had your chance to change the world and you didn't do it. That's just not how I see the world. I see every day as a new opportunity to make a positive change or even just to lead your life with kindness and acceptance.
I love that when you go on Instagram or you go on any of the metal news sites and it's Judas Priest's 50th anniversary tour or Motley Crue and Def Leppard selling out stadiums or even a lot of the band's having success on the casino circuit... My friend Zuess just produced the new Queensryche record and they're killing it everywhere they go. I saw them open for Scorpions and they just crushed it.
Also, you looks at a band like Slipknot taking Knotfest global and you look at what's happening with Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante doing the Pantera thing. These are bands in small and big ways, changed everybody's lives for the better. They're our elders and no matter where someone getting into metal has come from a different genre or from a different place in life, these are the bands that are the gateway bands. Hopefully, these fans go down that metal rabbit hole and then they find Hatebreed and Lamb of God and everybody else.
I cannot thank you enough for Jasta's Weekly Pick From the Pit on the show every week. I always look forward to it and I'm so honored to have you part of the show with all the things that you do in life. You fly that flag for metal and you're a good guy for metal, by the way.
Thank you and I appreciate the opportunity. The best part about the weekly Pick From the Pit is when the bands who've never gotten their song played on national radio, get to hear their song. I remember how exciting that was and is still for me and I never want to lose that.
Whether it's getting on a big tour or any of the milestones that you have at the beginning of a band... I know I'm not always choosing new bands, but when I do and they hear it and it means something to them, I'm always really appreciative of the opportunity to be able to do that and get some exposure for these younger bands.
I'm appreciative of all the work that you put in and for being open-minded enough to play a lot of these bands. I know it's tough out there for bands right now. There's not a lot of avenues to get their music out there and to get their voice heard and you're giving us this opportunity. It's amazing and we appreciate you.
Thanks to Jamey Jasta for the interview. Get your copy of Hatebreed's latest album 'Weight of the False Self' here and head to this location for ticketing information for Milwaukee Metal Fest. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.