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Hatebreed - 'Sometimes simple is more powerful'

It was a nice but cold Tuesday in the middle of October. Tobbe and I (BoEk) went to De Melkweg in Amsterdam, because we had the great opportunity to interview Hatebreed drummer Matt Byrne. The tape in my recorder got pretty f*cked up only 2 minutes before we had to start the interview and I could kill myself at that moment. Fortunately the luck was with us and everything went the right way. We went upstairs and there we met a great guy, Matt Byrne!

1. Hey, how are you doing?

I'm good! The tour is almost over; this is the last night of our tour that lasted for about 3 weeks. I'm looking forward to go home, I had a great time in Europe but I just gotta get home, I've got some shit to take care of.

2. What sports/hobbies were you into when you were young? Or did you spend all your time behind the drum kit?

Well, drums was something I got into when I was around 13. I tried the guitar first but I just couldn't do it, I don't have the right finger-eye-coordination I guess. I also like to read biographies and some scary shit. And I'm a baseball fan; I played baseball when I was younger. I was a pitcher at first base. Baseball has always been in the family and I really like the Yankees. I also like to be outside; I'm a real summer person, going to the beach and stuff. Not that I live near to any beaches, I gotta go to Massachusetts for that and I live in New York.

3. Can you name some bands that you listened to and that inspired you when you were growing up?

Ok ehm... Led Zeppelin, obviously John Bonham, he's a great drummer. Heavy metal wise I think everything from the Bay area trash scene at the time, the 80's, mid 80's and late 80's. Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Exodus, Slayer, just all those trash bands from that area. Those were the major influences. Sepultura too, but also some Jazz stuff, like David Garibaldi, he was and still is a great jazz drummer. Tower of Power, Dennis Chambers and Carter Beaufort, a great drummer from the Dave Matthews Band.

4. What is in your opinion the crappiest band on earth at the moment?

The crappiest band on earth? That's hard to say. There's so many of them. I don't think it's really a crappy band but a crappy genre: the whole boyband, bubblegum pop genre. I mean, a lot of people can't live without it, it's always gonna be there. Some of the guys can sing, some of them can dance but to me it's just so fake and plastic. Dressed up in those glittering suits, doing their movements. It's just stupid I think. It's the music, there's no heart to the music. I'm not saying they're not talented: they can dance, like those chicks, Britney Spears and stuff but it's jut fake! The song writing and everything sucks!

So, no real metal bands you hate?

No, not really. I'm sure there is. I mean, everybody hates something right? But no, nothing I can think of. It's just what I just said that pisses me of.

5. The 'Unholy Alliance' tour has just finished for you. What was it like to share the stage with big bands like Slayer and Slipknot?

Oh, it's great! I mean, obviously we're playing huge arenas in Europe and the US. And the biggest thing we've done is playing the festivals in June. And then you come back and play in front of five thousand, six thousand people and sharing the stage with those bands. They're real supportive to us to take us on a tour like this. Of course we did shows with Slayer in the States sometimes before. They're just friends, great band, great guys, love it! Same with Slipknot, we started to tour with them and they're just nice, they gave us a break when we needed it and they're just really great guys to hang out with and I enjoy their music. So I respect both bands highly for giving us an opportunity to play with them at the big places we did.

6. What's your most memorable moment of the 'Unholy Alliance' tour?

Of that tour? I think there's a bunch. Just the last two shows, we played the Hammersmith Apollo in London, and that's just a legendary place, the place is on the map. So to play there with those two bands, is probably the most memorable moment ever. It was like: wow! We're actually gonna get a chance to play there. So, thanks to those bands for bringing us out and letting us play there.

7. What's your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Well, I think I've had a couple of them. Anytime anything breaks, falls over or falls apart on my drum set, that's embarrassing. Then it looks like you don't know what you're doing and you're playing with crappy equipment. So yeah, I've had like a simple stand fall over and other things fall over, when I hit them. That's pretty stupid, you feel really stupid about it. I also had my snare drums fall over on my lap and I still tried to play them. But those things just happen. You laugh about it later but you still feel stupid at the time.

8. What does it feel like to see people in the crowd beating the shit out of each other on the rhythm of your music?

Yeah, that's great! You just play your music and you see the crowd go wild. It's inspiring and it's just high to know that they're going out there, that they're going nuts for you or what you're doing. That's a good feeling.

9. Your previous album has got an interesting booklet with the flames and stuff but the inside is a bit dull, it's all black. What was the reason for that?

I think we just wanted to keep it simple, that being our first album out on a major label. And the music is so much stripped down I guess, it's fast music with the breakdowns, you know, the hardcore ethics. So, I think we are just trying to keep it simple. Sometimes simple is more powerful. You know, black with the flames, and the logo and stuff, and the lyrics in there. It just came across. That being our first album on a major label it just represented what we were all about.

10. What was the reason to change from a label with such a wide range of bands to a real metal label like Roadrunner Records?

Well, we're still on Universal in the US but here in Europe, Roadrunner handles the more agressive bands. 'Perseverance' was on Universal here and a lot of people were coming to us saying: 'I can't find your album anywhere; it's not in any stores.' So, putting it in the hands of Roadrunner who is an experienced label in metal acts, the next thing you know is: CD's everywhere! We get to go to these places and play for people who had before no idea who we were. Roadrunner knows what they're doing. They know how to handle us and Universal just didn't.

11. 'Another Day, Another Vendetta' has got one of the most brutal riffs ever and I can listen to this song forever, the song however is dedicated to Sick of it All, why is that?

Because we use their lyrics in the first part of the song. We took their lyrics from 'Just Look Around' and plugged it in there. It basically sums up how we feel too. The song was done back in 1989/1990 and everything they said in the song at that time still holds true today. So putting their lyrics in our song was kind of a tribute to them, because they really know what they're talking about. Besides this, Sick of it All is just a great band and we're all fans of them.

12. Can we look forward to a longer album next time or is it going to be such a short and powerful one like 'The Rise of Brutality' again?

I don't know. You have to wait and see. We've got some tricks up our sleeves so...

13. If you had to choose one vocalist to guest on your new album, who would it be and why him/her?

Hmm, vocalist huh? Probably my drum tech Mikey B. He's not famous, he's not a singer in a band but he's got the most brutal voice ever. Yeah, I would love to hear his voice on record. You probably hear it tonight if you guys are hanging out for the show. He checks the microphone you know: 'Check, check, check' and he'll growl it a couple of times and you let me know later what you think of his voice. (Note: Matt was defnitely right, Mikey has got an awesome 'check-voice', that's for sure!)

14. Vocalist Jamey Jasta does a lot of things besides performing with Hatebreed. I mean things like hosting the MTV 'Headbangers Ball'. In what way does Hatebreed takes advantage of these things?

Well, 'Headbangers Ball' obviously is a huge form, you know, it's a major network like MTV and it's represented as 'Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed' so people hear our name more and more. It's not so much taking advantage of it, that's just how it is. We've been on the show a couple of times and had the chance to be interviewed and say what we had to say, advertise our album and stuff like that. So, just to have that form to go to is just another way to get your message and name out to the masses.

15. Hatebreed had build up a pretty big fan base over the past years. Like every band you must be happy with this. What do you guys do to keep the fans satisfied besides making good music?

We pretty much play anywhere and everywhere we can. We play basements of houses, basements of clubs, we play midsize clubs, we play huge arenas, backyard parties. We play everywhere. So that keeps everyone happy and we're just damn nice people! HAHAHA!

16. Ok some short questions now:

USA or Europe?

USA, just where I'm from, born and raised, love it!

New York or Amsterdam?

New York.

Festival or small venue?


Slipknot or Slayer?

I love Slipknot but I gotta say Slayer, they're my all-time favorite band.

Dave Lombardo or Joey Jordison?

Dave Lombardo

'Reign in Blood' or 'The Rise of Brutality'?

'The Rise of Brutality'! HAHAHA! I'm just saying that because I'm on it, but 'Reign in Blood' is the best album ever!

Music without a hardcore scene or a world with peace?

Hmm... that's weird, I don't know! The world would be lost without hardcore or the hardcore ethics but it would be nice to see a world with peace. But that's never gonna happen. So, who knows, I'm kinda broken on that one, I don't know which one to choose 'cause both of them seem imposibble.

Bush or Kerry?

Not sure yet. I don't have any opinion on them.

So you're not gonna vote?

Oh no! I'm gonna vote! I'm just still finding out who I'm gonna go for, so who knows.

17. What can we expect in the future from Hatebreed?

A lot of touring as usual, probably a new album in 2005. We're gonna start working on that in January I think. Putting some stuff together. We're gonna go back to Australia, New Zealand, do the whole Pacific Rim. We were there in 2002 so we're gonna go back there. And we might do a UK-tour. No not a UK-tour! I think we're just coming back to Europe. That will be around February, March hopefully. So hopefully we will tour with the great bands like Slipknot and Slayer again whether it's in the US or Europe again. Or anywhere else! So yeah, we're gonna get busy.

18. Any last words to the readers of Metal Rage?

Just keep coming to our shows, keep enjoying our music. We just hope that we're all that you want us to be and eh... I don't know what the hell to say. Keep doing your thing! I'm sure we'll keep coming around wherever you are.

Ok thank you very much and good luck with the show tonight!

Ok, thanks a lot man!

After this very nice interview we took some pics of us with Matt together and we walked out of De Melkweg again. On our way to the McDonalds for a big, well-deserved meal. Later that day we went to see Hatebreed performing a great show together with the German Metalcore band Heaven Shall Burn. This day would be printed in our minds for a long, long time.

Interview by: Tobbe and BoEk
Questions by: Tobbe, Buzzin Hornet and BoEk

A big thanks goes out to Roadrunner Records for giving us this opportunity.