To promote the new project by Kirk Windstein (Down, Crowbar) and Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Icepick), Relapse Records got Jamey over to Europe to do some press promotion. Kingdom Of Sorrow is the name of the project, as well as the album. I of course couldn’t resist a chance to talk to this influential person, so I ventured down to the promotions office and asked him a couple of questions.
To get it out of the way, could you give us a brief introduction to what Kingdom Of Sorrow is and how it came to be?
‘Sure yeah, it’s a pretty basic story. I’ve known Kirk since I was a kid, I always went to Crowbar shows and he always treated me very nice, he was a very down to earth guy. We became friends, toured together in 2002, Down and Hatebreed co-headlined the second stage at Ozzfest. We’ve known each other for years, it was actually in March of 2005 that Hatebreed took Crowbar as main support for a tour in the UK. We were doing all our press together in the UK, radio shows, so we were like we should do a project together. Do something cool that we’d never do with our other bands. So when we got back from that tour, you know we were saying that in all our interviews that we should do something together, people started to speculate. Like Hatebar, Crowbreed, like what’s happening, when are the songs coming out, well, here we are! Almost three years later.’
Was the record recorded at that time as well?
‘Well we started with what we thought was gonna be the real record in May of 2005, I flew Kirk up and he gave like a good amount of songs. And after Katrina hit New Orleans, he called me up and said get me out of here and let’s try to finish the record. So he came back up, and that’s when we got the real studio going, we got Derrick on the drums, Zeuss produced it. Zeuss made a big sacrifice for letting us go in there for like a month, he really gave us the time and space, it was great.’
You guys signed to Relapse Records; what is your vision on the image that this label has?
‘They’re open to everything, but attached to nothing. You know what I mean. It sounds like that’s deep man, haha. But that’s what we’re trying to do with Kingdom Of Sorrow, it’s supposed to be a place, that’s the whole concept of the record and the band. So it needed like a label to carry this concept. Like where Hatebreed is kind of like masochist, this is more like a place you can go as a listener. So we knew we had to sign to a metal kind of label, but one where we knew we were gonna be a priority and not be lumped into a roster.’
So do you think Kingdom Of Sorrow fits the Relapse roster?
‘No, and I don’t even care about that. That’s not my problem. My main concern is that the priority is there. Like I’ve been never been flown to Europe before, so there you go, right there, we’re already of to a great start. Getting the information out there, like you taking the time to interview me, we appreciate that, you’re helping us get the information out there. But Relapse is the vehicle. Kingdom Of Sorrow is like this new band, with guys from other popular bands, little bit of a different sound, and a different emotion to me. I needed to put this in a vehicle and make it go, and Relapse is that vehicle.’
So did working with Kirk make you wanna grow a beard?
‘Haha, no, it made me wanna quit drinking, made me wanna have my liver sliced in half and tested. No but the whole time was great. You gotta understand I went into this as a fan. Now he’s one of my best friends, we talk like three times a day, my phone is glued to my ear sometimes. It’s great, we really put a lot of work into this, it really was a labour of love. Now that we have a finished copy I’m proud you know, like a proud parent. But no, he had a lot of influence on me, his vocal sound and everything, I tried to emulate what he would do on a lot of parts, a lot of riffs that I came up with, people are gonna think it’s him. That’s a huge compliment.’
I saw that you guys already have some shows planned in the US, are there plans to take Kingdom Of Sorrow out here on the road too?
‘Yeah, we just gotta figure out the rest of everybody’s schedule. It would be great if we could be out here by June or something, do some festivals like Download, Hellfest, Graspop, we’ll see. If it’s not in June then it might be in July or August, we’ll figure it out.’
Was it a natural choice to work with producer Zeuss for this record again?
‘Yeah, like the friendship and the sacrifice he made for this record, I’m really grateful. He could have booked other clients, we didn’t have a deal and I was funding it myself, he really helped me out so it was the right thing to do. Originally we thought he was just gonna produce it and we were gonna get it mixed by someone else. And then the mixes that we got, it was like man, thunderous! I kept telling him Kingdom Of Sorrow, you gotta think dark and thunderous, and a lot of low end. He did a good job, I’m really happy with it. Especially when I played it against other records and on different sound systems’
If you had to name one country on earth as Kingdom Of Sorrow, which one would you pick?
‘Pfff I don’t know, there’s a lot of places out there where it’s pretty scary. Since I’m here I’ve been doing my press stuff during the day and at night I do a lot of stuff online and watching movies. Like I told you before this interview yesterday I watched Cloverfield, but I also watched Rambo, and I was very surprised that they addressed the situation in Birma.’
What Rambo? The new one?
‘Yeah the new Rambo. It really made me realize how lucky we all are living here. There are a lot of places where it’s horrible and with no respect for humanity.’
Do you know that in Rambo III he helps the Taliban get rid of the Russians? That must have made them scratch their heads a couple of years later!
‘Yes, hahaha indeed. You know he brought back Rocky and it was so successful, I was so glad when he decided to bring back Rambo as well’
All right then, this next question is about him, I ask this to all the bands I interview. In movies who do you prefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone?
‘Always Stallone. Just think about it, Stallone just came back, he’s 65, he's so old but he’s Rambo again, great! And Schwarzenegger, he’s a politician now, so who can you really look to now? Van Damme, when was the last movie he made? Steven Seagal? No way.’
You got Vin Diesel running around nowadays...
‘Yeah well he’s doing like kiddie movies. So yeah, there you go, Stallone, still relevant.’
But if you put Rambo versus the Terminator, you still say Rambo?
‘Yeah, yeah… that would be a good idea there, you’re onto something! Like Freddy vs. Jason and Alien vs. Predator. That would work. I prefer the yeti, I think they need to come up with a good yeti, like a snowbeast…’
Accompanied by a High On Fire soundtrack?
‘Yes! And Mastodon can have a yeti being on Blood Mountain. And then Rambo can come and fight them of.’
Sounds like a great movie haha! Next question then. Since the material was recorded about three years ago already, has there been work on new material yet, and are there plans to release another KoS record in the future?
‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna do another record for Relapse. Yeah I’m always in the studio, right now I’m working on my solo album, but I don’t have a deal for that or anything yet. I’m going to Florida when I go home to work on some Kingdom Of Sorrow stuff, right after seeing Down who are playing three shows right near my house. And then in March we have the Kingdom Of Sorrow shows in the U.S. and after that, Kirk goes to Europe with Down. During that whole time I will probably be working on the new Kingdom Of Sorrow record so I’ll have some stuff ready when he comes back. Until that I will be working on Hatebreed stuff, Chris from Hatebreed has so many great ideas right now, he’s been really inspired and writing, which makes me feel good to write. I haven’t really sorted out any demos in the studio yet just because I have all this other music to get out of me still, but working on the DVD and the covers album has been really cool, those two Hatebreed releases will come out soon, it’ll be great. On the covers album I think we’re gonna do a short tour, add a bunch of the covers into the set, so some small clubs. And I love the Napalm Death covers album Leaders Not Followers, I think that’s really cool, it’s a good thing to pay tribute, we’re not like we’ve invented something new, we just emulated it with this band. We’re lucky to be able to do what we do and wanna just pay tribute. It’s only gonna be eleven songs, we’re gonna decide when I go back and track the rest of the vocals. I might even do it with a mobile rig, just travel and track it wherever I want. Record it in different places.’
Okay, sort of like Mike Patton's first solo album?
‘Well yeah, although I’m doing something completely different than he is doing haha.’
So what's the concept of your solo record then?
‘Every song is gonna be completely different. I was thinking what the concept was gonna be, I’m thinking of spirituality, but it’s not the word I’m looking for. I think that whatever makes the sun come up and makes the wind blow and makes electricity work and any of that stuff, even though we don’t understand it, we know it’s gonna happen. We know it, and we rely on it. So I think the same force compels me to make music. I kind of want to tie that into the album. Like I’ve been reading about quantum physics lately and I want to see some speakers, it’s just interesting to me. I wanna somehow apply it to music, but in a way that it can help people in their everyday lives. But in a way I want the music to be not pushed into one corner, I can do that with Hatebreed. And people need that and people love that. I don’t wanna change the message, but I can do that with a solo album. I can try little things. I’ll do like an oi song, a punk song, a death metal song, a grind song, a power metal song, I’ll do whatever I want.'
A power metal song?
You can get that out of your mouth?
‘Yeah, well no I wont sing like that but the music will be power metal, it will be hard you know. It will just be what I want it to be. There’s no riffs to show anybody, there’s no need to get approval from anybody. This is just what I wanna do, and have fun.’
Must be fun to be able to do that.
‘Yeah, and I can put it out myself or I can shop it or whatever. The cool thing about my solo project is that, I just gave my first show in Delaware. Played with some great bands that I normally don’t get to play with. I got a great backing band, these guys from Connecticut called Phantoms. The cool thing is that as soon as I announced the solo show, I got a hundred offers for solo shows. Come here, come to Maines, come to Michigan, come to Tennessee, come to Atlanta , I was really blown away by the demand. I mean I don’t even have a record. It’s because people wanna see me perform Hatebreed and Icepick songs in these tiny little clubs and halls and bars where we haven’t been for years. And we can’t really do it with Hatebreed, there’s always insurance policies, security and barricades. So if I can fit it into my schedule to do shows at a 200 capacity bar on this tiny little stage, be able to see everybody’s face, and it’s fun. I’ll play some originals too. But I don’t just wanna be a cover band, I wanna play some of my own songs too. I don’t think it’s gonna take away from what we’re doing with Hatebreed, because Hatebreed is just way bigger than any one of us. It’s really just a total movement you know. Doing a little solo show is fun, especially in these places where there is no real stage, just small places with just a vocal PA, no room for a cabinet, just call it Jasta or whatever.’
Back to the underground, sort of.
‘Yeah, a little bit yeah. A lot of these show offers that I got are from little tiny cities, and I’ll go do it for fun you know. And at that Delaware show, there were maybe 350 to 400 people there, but the people were so happy. In Delaware they don’t get a lot of tours that visit their town, so I was glad that people were so enthusiastic. I was just hanging out, I brought a bunch of stuff from my label to sell and people were checking out new music. So Phantoms, they are my buddies so I got them on the bill and they opened up the show. Strength For A Reason who I’ve known for like ten years,a great hardcore band which is hard to get on a bigger show. And there’s some other bands that I wanna play with that I can’t bring with me on a Hatebreed tour.’
So it's obvious you're still a big supporter of the scene?
‘Oh yeah, you gotta understand that in the beginning when there was no money to be made and there was no clubs to even play in a lot of these places, you still get the same feeling. And it really is about that. So I love it when I see the bands that are still out there doing it, because they’re still doing it for the right reasons, the same reasons. A lot of these guys are older, they’re married, have kids, but they’ll still do it in the weekends. For me it’s a way to reconnect, especially when I’m on the road for 300 days a year. We had two months of last year, but this year were close to eight months, but it’s probably gonna be around six. There’s already talk of doing some more festivals around Wacken. It’ll end up like alright we’re booking another tour, here we go.’
Isn't it hard to combine your business life with your family life?
‘Oh yeah, it always is. That’s the head of the snake, Hatebreed is my number one priority, it defines a better part of the last decade for me. Even though I get a lot more notoriety and fame from being on TV for four year, it is still who I am. And as much as you wanna be home with your family, it’s just like a guy who works for IVM, or Mac, or travels some truck you know. Of course you wanna be with your family, but you have a house to pay, a car, my daughter is nine, I gotta go out and do the work. In the long run I’ve provided so many things for my kid that I never had. It’s good because, you know they say distance makes the heart grow stronger, I think it does. It puts things in perspective.
Okay, this is my last question. Have you personally witnessed the Carnival over here?
‘I’ve only witnessed a little bit, I’ve been really focusing on getting work done online, working on all my sites, I own like a hundred domains or so, I’m constantly working. And I’ve been reading a lot, so I can get some new lyrical inspiration. So when they said it was gonna be crazy, noisy, loud, I said okay put me in a hotel somewhere outside the city. But the first time we had to go catch a cab we had to walk through it. I was actually surprised to see that it’s really just about fun. It’s nice to see, there’s nobody fighting, there’s nobody causing trouble, there’s like families, really young children dressed up, it’s very peaceful.’
Okay that was it then. Do you have anything to add to this interview?
‘Just check out all the sites, hatebreed.com, kingdomofsorrow.com, jameyjasta.com, that’s about it. Let us know what cities you want us to come to. I’m doing more online, like for my solo show I let the people pick the songs they wanted me to play. It’s just been fun, get it more interactive, show the people that we are listening, I have a great team of web people helping me. I’ve been urging everybody to contact us. I already got people asking to bring Kingdom Of Sorrow to Graspop, With Full Force, Fields Of Rock, so we’ll see what happens.’
That was it then, thank you very much for your time.
‘Alright, thank you too!’