Hatebreed

author PP date 21/09/11

The latest instalment in our series of interviews with seminal hardcore bands is with Hatebreed. They're obviously newer and fresher than Madball or Agnostic Front, but their influence and dominance of the scene is far-reaching to say the least. We had the chance to sit down with Frank Novinec, the guitarist of the band since 2005 and a long-time friend of singer Jamey Jasta, to talk about some of the controversies that have surrounded Hatebreed in the past, about their position as one of the leaders in the hardcore scene, about their covers album, and much more in a lengthy and in-depth interview. Check it out below:

RF.net: Thank you for the interview. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Frank: Frank Novinec, I play guitar for Hatebreed, I've been in the band since 2006.

RF.net: What's going on in Hatebreed at the moment, and how's the tour going?

Frank: Good. We were just here about a month ago, but now we're back doing a couple of festivals and some shows in between. It's good to be back here in Denmark, I think the last time we were through here was supporting Machine Head. We go back to the States and tour pretty much for the rest of the year, and we're looking to get into the studio at the beginning of next year, and hope to have a new record out by summertime 2012. That's the plan, but it's always changing.

RF.net: Tonight you guys are playing at a rather intimate club here in Copenhagen compared to what you guys usually do, there's no barrier. That'll really allow you to get into the faces of the crowd, I guess? What are your thoughts on that?
Frank: Well, that's where we come from, you know? One day we're playing in front of 30,000 people, which we did two nights ago, and here we are here, so I think that either way is fine with us. You're gonna get a 110% out of us. But I think that the energy in the small room is a lot different from the energy when you're playing a huge festival or something like that.

But we keep it fresh, we play a different setlist every single night. There is no setlist, Jamie just yells out a song, and we have a second to think about it and play it. We're gonna do two weeks long over here, and we're gonna have a different set every single night. So that's really special for the fans, but it also keeps it fresh for us.

RF.net: There are very few bands who do that. Isn't it difficult to remember all the songs and how to play them?

Frank: No, because when we come over here and we have to play 75 minutes long, that is a lot of songs. So if we didn't play them one night, we're gonna play them the second or the third night. So you're pretty much covering them all. I'd say there's between 55 and 60 songs, and any one of those he'll yell out. And if we're playing 75 minutes, you're getting at least 25 of those in one night. Obviously we play the songs that everybody wants to hear, "Live For This", "I Will Be Heard", "Destroy Everything", but as far as the other songs, it could be anything. We always try to keep them all in rotation, though, so we can still keep them tight.

RF.net: There's always talk on the internet about Hatebreed concerts being a bit more violent than the regular shows, so to say. Do you think there's any truth to that statement?
Frank: Well, it depends who you're talking to. If you're talking to the hardcore scene, maybe no, because that's what they're used to. You're talking about people who go see mainstream bands more, then maybe, obviously if they're coming to see a band like Hatebreed, that might be a little bit more rowdy than what they're used to hearing. I think it was a lot worse back in the day than it is now, but we just want everybody to have a good time. Beat the crap out of each other, but have a smile on your face when you leave. We don't want anybody to go to hospital or anything like that. The last thing we want is somebody's parents to get a phone call in the middle of the night saying that their kid is in the hospital for going to one of our shows. It's just not what we're about.

RF.net: So then you'd definitely say that Hatebreed does not encourage pit violence specifically?

Frank: Well, we do, but we don't encourage fighting.

RF.net: What's your thought on the whole hardcore dancing, or some people call it karate moshing, phenomenon, as opposed to regular moshing?

Frank: Umm, well whatever people wanna do out there. I was surprised that the karate thing has lasted so long...but I don't know. I just look out there and I see people doing karate moves and they're not even hitting each other, so it doesn't even make sense to me. Like I said before, we just want everybody to have a good time. I wanna see metal people out there, I wanna see punk rockers out there, and I wanna see hardcore kids out there, all together getting along, like when we were younger going to shows. I've been going to see The Exploited and Biohazard together when I was a kid, or like Venom and Metallica played together when I was a kid. Things like that, Motörhead and Slayer played together a lot...we just try to keep that spirit alive of unity amongst the scenes, whether that exists anymore or not, I think we're one of the few bands that universally crosses over to the metal, hardcore, and punk scenes, especially over here in Europe. We just want to try to keep that tradition alive.

RF.net: Here's another serious question: Another internet controversy that has been ever-ongoing with Hatebreed is the allegation of racism within the band. Now, I know there's no truth to that statement because I've read that in previous interviews, but why do you think that the allegations keep lingering about?
Frank: Maybe this is people who think that's what they want. Maybe they are racist themselves, and they think that we are, and they want us to...sometimes we have people like that come to the shows, and they think that we're like that, but we're not. Coming from the hardcore scene, that's something we're completely against. We don't discriminate against anybody at all. For the record. So I don't pay attention to the internet when it comes to things like that. I go look at the weather and my email, and that's about it. And see who's winning in football and baseball. But I guess it's out there. It's silly to think that, but if people want to believe that kind of stuff, they can, but then again, when you don't know anything about the band, and you just look at the name Hatebreed, and you see guys with shaved heads and tattoos...I guess people can get the wrong idea, but all it would take is for you to pick up one of our records, read our lyrics, and things like that, and you would see that that's not what we're about.

RF.net: You guys have long been considered to be the leaders of the hardcore, or some people call it the tough guy hardcore genre. Do you see yourselves in a position of influence over the hardcore scene in general?
Frank: I'd like to think so. Whether the rest of the hardcore scene wants to admit that or not, that's up to them. But we were just fortunate enough to come out at a time...Hatebreed was the first heavy band to be at Ozzfest or something like that. And that opened a lot of doors. It let Hatebreed go on tour with Slipknot and Slayer multiple times. I mean, that was huge for a band like Hatebreed to go do that. Not many bands have been able to break out of the hardcore scene into the mainstream and still try to keep the integrity about the band. That alone would make us a leader, or an inspiration to the hardcore scene.

Maybe some of the people from the hardcore scene have written us off for whatever reasons. "Oh they went from a small label to major label". "Oh they went and toured with Disturbed". Maybe that's not hardcore to some people, I don't know. We haven't changed as people, we still listen to the same music, we still try to be the same band that we were from day one, and we're just doing it at a bigger level now.

RF.net: What would be your advice if there was a young hardcore band who wanted to replicate the success of the Hatebreed career?

Frank: Well, it's a lot harder for bands now. I see a lot of young bands struggling really hard. There's only so much they can do, because the way that things have gone with downloading and the music industry, and the fact that there are so many bands out there now doing it, it's really tough. But the best thing you can do is to tour non-stop, and be out there. Any chance you can, try to get on a tour, or do an interview like I'm doing, or you know, make an album. Make a name for yourself, and get out there and do it. Try not to have an attitude about it, and suck it up when the things suck. You're gonna have to sleep on floors, maybe forever, who knows? Look at The Ramones, they toured in a van their entire career! That's basically it. You have to work your ass off for anything to happen. Especially nowadays. I mean, you can't have a job. You gotta be on the road as long as you possibly can.

RF.net: It's been just about two years since the release of your self-titled album Hatebreed. How do you think it compares to the rest of the records in your career?
Frank: I think it's another chapter in Hatebreed. We did a couple of things different from we did on "Supremacy", but then when you listen to "Supremacy", they were saying the same things when that came out, "oh it's a little bit different from Rise Of Brutality". At the end of the day, we want it to be Hatebreed. It's got Jamie's voice yelling, our guitars are tuned down, it's got that Hatebreed groove to it, that's what we go for. We might have shown Wayne's playing off a little bit, because now that he's back in the band, he's a great player. We could've had an album of all shredding, but that's not who we are. I think it's a little bit different from the last one, but they are all a little bit different from each one. We walk that fine line of keeping it fresh and still being Hatebreed. Being a metal band and being a hardcore band. It's really hard for us to make everybody happy, but we try.

RF.net: "The Rise Of Brutality" and "Perseverance" are considered genre classics, in my opinion at least. To what extent do you agree with that statement?
Frank: Well, I don't know. A lot of people's favorite record of ours is "Supremacy". Maybe in a couple of years the self-titled one will be their favorite. I think as time goes on it changes. Over in America, the hardcore scene loves the first record the best, that's their favorite one. You know, to each their own? I love "Perseverance" and "Rise of Brutality", the latter is probably my favorite one, but I think that changes as time goes on. You get younger kids coming up and getting into it. Maybe when they got into Hatebreed, this new record was the one that they checked out, so that'll always be their favorite, even if they go back and listen to the other ones. It changes, you know? We just hope to continue to keep being successful and making records that people like.

RF.net: You guys also released a covers album called "For The Lions", and it was mostly covers of old school bands and tracks that had been an influence for you, and the whole point was to show bands which have influenced Hatebreed, right?
Frank: Well, we wanted to pay respects to bands that paved the way for Hatebreed. The big bands, or even the hardcore bands like Madball and Agnostic Front who paved the way for us. The bands that we idolized growing up, Slayer and Metallica and stuff like that. And then we also wanted to throw in some bands there that maybe our fans have never heard of. Like the Negative Approach cover that we did, really underground hardcore stuff to kind of give them a hint of what else is out there. Maybe they'll go and check out that band's records.

RF.net: But it was mostly old school stuff. So does that mean that Hatebreed today does not listen to anything else than the old school songs? Have you given up on the modern scene? Are bands like, say, BrokenCyde too much, have you given up hope?

Frank: No, I mean....Jamie and Wayne definitely listen to a lot of newer bands that are out. But to us it would be kind of weird to cover...we already covered some bands that are still together on there, you know what I mean? But when you do a covers album, when you're doing classic bands and stuff like that, usually the bands have broken up or they don't exist anymore. I just think it would be weird to cover a band that was like...[pauses] I mean we could have done anything. We're talking about doing a second now too, within the next five years maybe. There are so many bands that we didn't get to do on the first one that we wanted to, Motörhead, of course, Venom...but that's all the music that we grew up listening to. We wanted to pay respect to those bands, and hopefully do their songs justice. I know that Kerry King heard the Slayer one and he loved it, he thought it was great, so that was cool.

But you know, Jamie and Wayne especially, they keep their ear to the street and listen to new stuff. Obviously Jamie has a label, and constantly listens to newer bands. And we're also on tour with newer bands all the time. We just didn't really want to cover any new-new bands, we wanted to keep it at bands that have influenced us.

RF.net: Speaking of Jamie, he's a hardcore icon. He owns Stillborn Records, he produces albums, he's a member of Kingdom of Sorrow, he's got that Icepick project, he used to host Headbanger's Ball, and all that stuff. And now he's even got a solo album, so how on earth does he have time for Hatebreed aside from all that?
Frank: Because he dedicates all of his time to all of his projects. It doesn't seem like he ever gets the chance to go home or do anything. He's always jumping from one thing to the next. One thing that we always try to do is to make smart decisions with Hatebreed over the years. A big, big part of why Hatebreed has been so successful has been making smart decisions about things. Knowing what to do and what not to do. It works out great for us that Jamie hosts Headbanger's Ball, that Jamie used to book shows, that Jamie has a record label...all those things play out into the decision-making of our own band, because we know what's right and what's wrong.

But yeah, he's constantly busy, he's on the computer all day, talking and dealing with all kinds of business stuff. But obviously we make it work, though.

RF.net: Is there ever any kind of concern in the rest of the band about Jamie being too busy with other things than Hatebreed?

Frank: No, I mean we tour so much. Kingdom of Sorrow, Jasta, and Icepick, with all due respect, they don't tour a whole lot. Kingdom of Sorrow just toured this whole summer, but that's the most he's toured in forever. So even though he does those bands, they're not full-time bands like Hatebreed is a full-time band. He'll do a couple of tours here and there, and he hasn't done anything with Icepick in a long time. I know he hasn't really done any shows with the solo band or anything like that. So Hatebreed is the main thing, and it obviously keeps us the most busy. So it doesn't give any problems. If anything, it's more time off at home [laughs] all right, you know? I don't mind. I like to go home and do nothing. He doesn't.

RF.net: Did you guys ever used to watch Headbanger's Ball on MTV when he used to be the show host? What do you think of it back then versus what you think of it today, when he's not really involved in the project anymore?

Frank: Yeah, even I did! But it was cool because he had a little bit of a say of getting all of our friends' bands played on there. Bands that we toured with, bands that we're friends with, wow look, he got their video played. And he tried to get a classic video played. We grew up watching Headbanger's Ball when it first started in the 80s. It was cool to see it, I thought he did a really good job, and he has a great personality for that. I think that it was really awesome, but for whatever reasons, they don't have him do that anymore. I don't think they even have a host, right?

But no, it was cool. It was a great opportunity to have one of our own up in that part of the music business. A face from the hardcore scene hosting Headbanger's Ball, that's crazy. And getting to interview all the bands and stuff, it was really cool, and fun to watch. As someone who has been one of my best friends for 15 years at least, it was cool to watch.

RF.net: So you guys have been on a major label almost the entirety of your career in one way or another, I mean Roadrunner is owned by, or at least distributed by a major label, I don't know how the details work. What do you think it is about Hatebreed that makes you guys so successful in the major label business versus other hardcore bands that don't really ever get up to that level?
Frank: I think it's because we already have our foot in the door. We're already an established name, we've already been going for so long that you know what you're gonna get with us. You know we're gonna put on a great show, an energetic live show. You know we're gonna tour all year, all over the world. I think that's a desirable thing for a label. To sort of know that they're getting behind something that's already a monster, that's already going. It's a lot less risk for them to take a band like us than it would be to take a smaller hardcore band. Like I said, you know what you're gonna get out of us. It's gonna be a lot of hard work....and I think a label's number one thing when they wanna sign a band, they obviously want to see the band on tour as much as possible. And sometimes we tour 300 shows a year. I think that has a lot to do with it.

RF.net: To finish things off I have a few questions submitted by our readers and fans. First of all, do you ever manage to destroy everything? As in, everything?
Frank: Umm...we're kind of past that point of trashing dressing rooms and beating up other bands, that's all stuff that's behind us. Maybe that's why we continue to be successful because we've stopped doing stuff like that. I don't know. We definitely try to destroy the stage every night, and hope that the crowd destroys each other, but nobody has to go to the hospital when it's all said and done.

RF.net: The next one is: do you hate breeding?

Frank: [laughs] I mean that's a silly question. No, if there wasn't breeding, I wouldn't be here, so. There'd be no Hatebreed without breeding, right? [laughs]

RF.net: Finally, what are your views upon riverdance?

Frank: I'm not too familiar with what that is. I've heard about it. I think maybe I was asked to go do it by my ex. I don't know. That's a really random question, that's cool though. Maybe somebody else in the band could give a better answer. I'm sorry on that one!

RF.net: Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything else to add?

Frank: We appreciate the support. It's always great to come back here. Sit tight, we will have a new record out for you, I know it's been a while, but we won't disappoint, and you know we'll always be back, so thanks for the interview, and I wanna say hello to all the fans out there.

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