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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview: Matt Byrne of Hatebreed

So, how has Ozzfest been?
Ozzfest was great, it’s our 4th time doing it; first time on main stage. So we’ve stepped up our stage show a little bit. We’re playing to the seats and everything but everyone’s really receptive to our music. It wasn’t really an obstacle for us; it was a really good time.

Did you feel any disconnect with the audience going from playing smaller venues to amphitheaters?
No, not really. I mean, like I said it’s our 4th time doing it so we’re kinda used to it. We’ve played the second stage, which is obviously smaller, but you’re still playing to a huge crowd and there is barricades and things like that so it isn’t anything really new to us. It’s more just jumping from a smaller stage to a larger stage, which allows us to step up our production. You know we had some risers on the stage, a bigger backdrop, um a bigger back line all together; we just increased our stage show all around.

Who was your favorite band on the tour? Or ever?
My favorite band ever is Slayer. Definitely. We’ve toured with them a bunch so that was a treat for me you know getting to see Lombardo every night just hearing those songs. On this tour I mean there was a lot of them. A lot of the second stage bands are bands we’ve played with in the past or are friends with that we’ve come up in the scene with so you know we’re no strangers to them. Then you got guys like Disturbed and System of a Down who are huge bands but are actually really, really cool down to earth guys and it’s fun hanging with them and fun watching them jam every night. Both bands put on a hell of a show.

You mentioned the “scene.” What do you think of some of the people in the scene that say Hatebreed sold out because of your success?
Yeah well, people… we’ve catched a little bit of flak since 2002 when we did our first album for Universal Records everyone thought “oh ok, they’ve gone to a major label. They’re going to change their music and try to sell a million records and change their image and everything. Obviously that didn’t happen you know. From a business standpoint we’re out there doing the same things we do all the frikkin time we’ve been doing for 11 years you know. We play all the same clubs we did back in the day just being on a major label is opportunity. You have a bigger budget behind you and it allows you to get your music out to more people because they have that mass production where you ah, you record an album and it is in every store in every city. Whereas in a lot of indie labels don’t have a budget like that for distribution and a lot of people who are starving for your music can’t get it cause the label can’t get it to them. So you know being on the label at Universal I think was a big push for us. It let us take our music and our message and our formula that has always been Hatebreed and through a bigger medium we were exposed to more people.

So why the switch to Roadrunner?
Uh, well we did two albums for Universal and uh, right after we recorded the second album our team, our staff at Universal that was handling us at the label, well you know Universal cleaned house and everyone got fired. So we kinda got lost in the shuffle you know and anything we got on the album we got on our own, we got off of touring and any buzz we generated on that album we got on our own.

And you guys tour incessantly…
Oh yeah, yeah we do. Its not uncommon for us to do 300 shows in a year, you know we hit the road and we go. So Universal, we just kind of got lost in the shuffle. Roadrunner expressed some interest. And obviously we’re a metal band and them being a metal label so they understand us a little more and can handle us a little better. Whereas Universal is such a huge label not really a metal oriented, you know they got Nelly and Elton john and things like that, I mean Hatebreed doesn’t really take priority to a label like Universal. Whereas Roadrunner, look at the stuff they put out, they’re like the metal church as it goes. So yeah, it just made sense. They expressed some interest and we were definitely interested in going over to them and after the all the red tape well here we are.

Do you remember your first show you played with Hatebreed?

What was it like? Where was it?
It was at Toad’s Place in Newhaven back in ’98, yeah ’98 I think. We were opening up for Gwar and the Misfits. And uh, I practiced with the band, actually I just tried out, played a couple songs and that was it, they were like “yeah you’re in the band we got a show next weekend.” Bam. Never practiced in between. Kinda got up there, no set list or anything, Jamey just yelled out the songs and we played them, did a half hour set. Got off the stage and it felt like we’d been a band forever you know? It was pretty wild.

Who is your biggest musical influence? You already said Slayer is your favorite band.
Oh yeah, they’re definitely a big influence, you know playing the drums, Dave Lombardo’s my favorite drummer. I think I’m most influenced by metal. I was exposed to metal first, you know, before hardcore. Hardcore came later for me. So metal bands; Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth. Anything that came out of the Bay Area scene in the early ‘80’s, mid-80’s. That stuff is the biggest influence. Testament, Sepultura. Well, they’re from Brazil but they’re from the same era.

What are your expectations for the Monsters of Mayhem Tour?
I think it’s going to be great man. Like I said I’m a big Exodus fan, so to be able to tour with them uh, is just like a fans dream come true, you know. And then Napalm Death, we’ve done some stuff with them overseas but never in the States so to get to tour with those guys again you know in our homeland I guess. I love watching them every night man, they just rip it up. And then the other bands, we’ve done some stuff with them here and there, so we’ve crossed paths, so I’m looking forward to getting on a full-scale tour with them.

August 29th is when Supremacy comes out. What can your fans expect from that? Will it be more brutal and hardcore than your previous albums?
I think Supremacy encompasses what we did both on Perseverance and Rise of Brutality. It has elements from both albums. It’s a faster album; we’ve stepped up our playing a little bit. I don’t want to say we’ve matured, cause I hate that word. But we’ve progressed as musicians and tried a couple things that we hadn’t tried musically on our past records. Production wise I’d say the production value is that of Rise of Brutality with, everything is up front and in your face.

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