Kingdom Of Sorrow: Jamey Jasta
Hatebreed Mastermind Returns To The Kingdom
Interviewed by Shawn Jam Hill
A foot soldier leading the infantry of hardcore, Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta has been belting out sing-along anthems of rage and alienation with his Connecticut based crew for over 15 years. Touring relentlessly, Hatebreed have played all over the world, delivering their patented brand of breakdown-inflected metalcore to the masses and influencing countless minions along the way. One would think Jasta, a self-confessed “workaholic”, would have his platter loaded to the brim with metallic duties concerning the ‘Breed. One would be wrong.
After cranking out a few jams with old pal Kirk Windstein, the uber-burly Guitar God of Crowbar/Down infamy, the boys decided to make a go of the newly christened supergroup Kingdom Of Sorrow back in 2005. The self-titled release (Relapse, 2008) moved some units and got the guys out on the road for some select dates in between their more pressing rock n’ roll duties. Fast forward to 2010 and Kingdom Of Sorrow have come slashing out of the gates with their latest bombtastic slab, "Behind The Blackest Tears" (Relapse), a moody record piled sky high with monster riffology and Jamey Jasta’s signature howl sounding more focused and more stadium ready than ever before.
Metal-Rules.com caught up with Jasta via a tenuous Skype connection from Germany where Hatebreed have been crushing skulls prior to destroying the summer festival circuit both at home and abroad to discuss the new record, life in two very different rock juggernauts and what it takes to stay in the game. Turns out, being a really frikkin’ nice guy is Jasta’s most pleasantly surprising trait, one not so common while dodging (as G N’ R famously quoted in the liner notes for Use Your Illusion II) “the perils of rock n’ roll decadence”.
With you guys being so busy with your “day jobs”, how did The Blackest Tears come about?
Well, we figured we might as well do a second record, I had a bunch of stuff written [for KoS], Kirk had some stuff written. The first record went over really good. It was surprising because it’s just a side project, y’know, and we didn’t really do a lot of touring or anything and we didn’t really expect it to do as well as it did. Now the second one came out and debuted on the Billboard Top 200, so it’s cool.
Do you feel, with Hatebreed, you would have to work a lot harder to get on that Billboard chart?
With Hatebreed, you’re talking about a name and a reputation that’s been built over 15 years so it’s much different; KoS is just a side project that is cool that it has had some success and that it’s getting some recognition. My main focus is always Hatebreed.
Musically, do you have a different avenue you want to explore with KoS?
Yeah, that’s why we named it kinda after a fictitious place, y’know, just cause we could go to a different place, creatively, artistically, musically, lyrically we can do something that’s different. You throw all pre-conceived notions out the window, you just rock out.
Is that how KoS lays it down in rehearsal?
Yeah. This time, we didn’t really rehearse. We just started trading ideas back and forth on the Internet or if I saw Kirk, I’d give him a disc of songs and then, when we got into the studio, we really just let the songs kind of arrange themselves, just whatever felt natural.
The new record has a different feel to it while the first record was a straight-up rock record. With The Blackest Tears, was there darkness, were there dark issues going on?
Yes and no. There are some personal songs that delve into that stuff but that is also the beauty of it- there are songs that aren’t about either of us. Musically, The Blackest Tears sounds more like a rock record, we weren’t in as dark of a place so it wasn’t as heavy, we didn’t need to purvey such a heavy sound. We wanted to make more rocking, more memorable songs.
Your vocals on The Blackest Tears are a big step forward with a lot of your cleaner delivery. Is that something you’ve been working on?
The only thing I do is, I just do what I think is memorable. If it’s real and it’s genuine and it comes out and it sounds good, I use it. If I try to force something or if it’s not memorable, I won’t use it. I’m not gonna change a scream into a subtle vocal just for the hell of it. The part has to call for it and that’s why this record was really cool to make because all the times we ventured into new vocal territory, it all just came very naturally and it was what instantly came out. Everything was like the first take.
Being a musician for as long as you have been, and I don’t want this to sound bad, with advancing age, are you mellowing out a little bit?
No it’s not that. When you are doing something creatively that’s different from what you are used to doing for many years, you just end up having fun with it, you’re not as pressured to deliver. KoS doesn’t have that many fans, we have a small fanbase. It’s not like Hatebreed where every record we have to deliver these huge songs that are gonna make the whole world sing and we’ve been very lucky we’ve been able to do that. With KoS, there’s not that type of pressure, it’s like do what we want to do and have fun with it.
How did Relapse get involved when you first started? It seems like an odd label to pick up a band that isn’t touring that much.
We just lucked out getting a deal with Relapse, we just really lucked out because they wanted to treat it like a real release and not like a side project and that was a really great thing. I think that was most of the reason why the first record sold so well is because they really treated it like a front-line release. They work as a passionate underground label that is used to dealing with what I call the elitist underground, a lot of bands that are press darlings, don’t sell records, they’re not very big bands but they have their names in the press and they’re more like thinking man’s metal. It’s cool that a band like KoS can go in there cause we’re more influenced by the Sabbath and Pantera, bigger and more mainstream-metal type of bands. They gave us more exposure like more press-friendly type of bands, which is cool.
You seem to be a press-friendly kinda guy. You’re always out there promoting yourself.
Yeah, but that’s because I am a workaholic. I don’t get the same sort of respect in the press like a band like Baroness. What I lack in talent, I make up for with ambition and drive.
And, obviously, modesty because I’ve seen you play before. I wouldn’t say that is a lack of talent on display. Have you had any backlash from the hardcore community? Do fans wonder what you are doing with some stoner rock band?
A little bit, here and there, nothing too crazy. I think people now are way more relaxed about the bands they like doing other projects and stuff. Every band has a project nowadays. As I Lay Dying, they have Austrian Death Machine, Lamb Of God has Halo Of Locusts, Converge has Doomriders: they’ve all got their own little offshoot and I think people are more willing to check that stuff out.
Does music help you channel all this energy you have?
Oh yeah, without a doubt. Music is my sanity drug to go to the studio or to just riff out or write lyrics or whatever, definitely it’s something that is the best way to use my time.
I’m up here in Ottawa, Canada. When’s KoS coming back to Canada?
We want to! I just saw High On Fire in the airport in Denmark and they asked us about a bunch of touring so it would be cool to hook up with them. We’re trying- there’s just not enough days in the year!