HATEBREED – The state of metallic hardcore?
If you fell asleep ten years ago and woke up now you might not have heard about Hatebreed, but even then it’s unlikely. It’s been awhile since the invading hordes of bands from the genre or subgenre known as metalcore got tons of articles written about them. For a while it seemed like every new band or exciting new band that crept to fore was in the genre, the frontman or woman sported tons of tattoos and the band was signed to Victory or Trustkill records. Metalcore or metallic hardcore, whatever you want to call it, has sported some big names that still tour almost every inch of the western hemisphere, but Hatebreed is with all probability the biggest name. Hailing from Bridgeport, Conneticut the band started out in 94 with a back to basics approach to hardcore. With releases like Perseverance, The Rise of Brutality and Supremacy, it seems like a pretty successful winning formula almost twenty years later. This year saw a release of a new Hatebreed record Divinity of Purpose. It’s not just on tours and with their music that they’ve left their mark. The band’s music has been scored in films like XxX(2002) and Punisher(2002) and Hatebreed songs has also been given spots on UFC shows and matches.
Jamey Jasta wasn’t available to do interviews, so the rest of the band had to do their best to please us journalist folks after their gig at Roskilde. A chinese team of journalists were grilling guitarist Frank Novinec in a booth right by the entrance to the backstage area while we waited in line. After a little while I shook hands with Hatebreeds other guitarist Wayne Lozinak and in what I would describe as the sprawling tourbus parking lot of the backstage compound the interview could begin.
Since popular psychology and a fat fuck of a Texan called Dr Phil would and will state that the formative years is when your personality takes shape, it’s perhaps natural to take a trip back to Conneticut. Although Bridgeport is the town where Hatebreed was formed, the state is also reknowned for Revelation records in New Haven, Conneticut. The label had acts like Gorilla Biscuits, Warfare, Sick of It All and Youth of Today on it’s rooster. Did that label influence Hatebreed in it’s formation? "We definently listened to a lot of the bands that were on that label back then. It was also one of the biggest hardcore labels at the time, so it was definently one of the influences." Wayne says this without skipping a beat and I ask him about Moby and his involvement in the Conneticut hardcore band Vatican Commandos. "He definently played in that band. I think he’s from the Stanford area or somewhere South. There was this club there called the Anthrax. I guess he used to play there cause he was in a documentary about that club." Wayne starts laughing before he continues and states the obvious. "That was a little before my time. That was in the EIGHTIES, so I never saw them, but he definitely played in that band." Since the past has been dealt with, what about the present state of Conneticut hardcore? "It’s kinda small, it’s not what it used to be." Wayne Lozinak says this with a hint of nostalgia while he ponders the past. "Back in the nineties when we started, there were places to play and the weekend shows was packed. Now you’ll see hardcore shows randomly at UFW hall or something. It’s definitely a lot smaller than it used to be."
What separates most fans of metal and punk is that fans can argue on end about what’s true and what’s not. That’s just a fact of life. There are as all of you know more facets to that story or the argument if you will. Punk and metal has influenced each other in more than a zillion ways over the past thirty years and hardcore is no different. What surprised me was when I heard the first album or ep-compilation Under the Knife that was released in 96. The first track Smash Your Enemies has a opening riff that is scarely similar to the riff in the Entombed song Stranger Aeons on the Clandestine album. "I think Jamey wrote that and I’m sure he was influenced by that song and we were definitely influenced by Entombed back when we were younger." What about Death Metal in general, how has that influenced Hatebreed as a band? "We listened to everything like Obituary, Carcass and Death. Plus we also listened to Metallica, Slayer and Testament and the rest of the thrash bands. We combined that with all of the hardcore bands that we listened to back in the day, like Agnostic Front, Cro Mags and Youth of Today, so we just combined all that stuff. Why play one style of music and have a one tracked mind when you can blend different styles?" Like I’ve stated earlier this is nothing new and you don’t have backtrack too long to realise that and if you go back to the early eighties it isn’t just the usual suspects of bands that will blow you away when it comes to blending punk with metal or vice versa. Is Hatebreed and other band’s within their genre just carrying the torch of those bands? "Definitely." Wayne Lozinak says this quickly, before he goes on. "Just like Agnostic Front, Cro Mags, Suicidal Tendencies and SOD. So we can play with metal bands and hardcore bands. We’re right on the line."
Metallic Hardcore or Metalcore, whatever you want to call it, swelled in popularity in the early to mid 2000s. Reading Metalhammer magazine in those days usually meant reading about some band that were heavily tattooed and were sporting hardcore t-shirts and other band parafernalia. The other thing about metalcore is that there’s not always a diversity in sound. Those days may be long gone, but how has Wayne Lozinak viewed that process. Has he seen a lot of band deaths? "Yeah. It seems like the bands that are still playing that kinda style, like Killswitch Engage or other bands that started with that style are still doing allright. There was a time though when you would see band’s get huge and play the second stage at Ozz fest one year and next year they were gone. So with that style, it’s kinda hard to stick with." Hatebreed does something that I think few band’s do. They preform shows without any setlist. How in the hell does that play out live? "It’s good for the crowd, but a little stressful for us. We only know the first song and after that we have to be ready, because then he starts calling them out and sometimes you can’t hear Jamey in the monitor and that’s when it’s like – What did he say? We’re all looking at each other and then it’s – Okay,- and then we have to start it." I start to laugh over the sheer insanity that I’m hearing and ask Mr Lozinak if he has any favorite screw ups in those regards? "I’m the one that usually starts the songs. Sometimes Jamey won’t even say the title of the songs, he’ll just say what it’s about and say something like – This is about living in the moment. We have two songs that fit that description and were I start out. The songs This is now and Live for this. So I guess it was supposed to be This is now and I started Live for this and Jamey was just looking at me like – What the hell is he doing? Well I had just started the song, so just go with it. What are you gonna do? Say something like – No, that’s not the song, but we’re gonna play it anyway. It happens sometimes, but it’s all fun though." If the Hatebreed lore I read online is true, then the final question is perhaps fitting. They started the band in 1994 with a back to basics approach to hardcore. Is that still the core element of Hatebreed? "Yep, still is basically. We have a little more variety in the sound and there’s a little more metal influences and maybe two or more guitar solos, but it’s still bascially the same band that we’ve always been since 1994."
With the talk over I shook Wayne’s hand and ventured out of the sprawling dusty backstage area to join the rest of the festival goers at Roskilde. Hatebreed is one of the biggest, if not the biggest name within it’s genre. The kids want their metal and punk in whatever package they prefer and Hatebreed is living proof of that. Maybe simplicity is the answer and maybe you shouldn’t defend your own little castle that much, but where would the fun in metal be then? Get drunk, fuck around and party hardy!