In times of political and social chaos, people need an outlet so, what better time than now for the release of a new Hatebreed record? Last week, the metallic hardcore veterans released their new studio offering, Weight of the False Self, so we caught up with guitarist Frank Novinec to talk about the inspiration behind the record, the relationship with their fans and his thoughts on the future of America.
Hey Frank, thanks for your time, how’s it going?
Frank Novinec: “It’s going good, thanks. The response has been pretty good to the record and it’s just nice to have the record out after so long. It’s been about what four years? So yeah, if we can’t put a smile on people’s faces and help them forget about life for a while from the stage then hopefully this record will do that instead.”
It’s been three or four years since the last Hatebreed record like you said…
“Yeah, but this isn’t the ‘70s or ‘80s where bands are putting out records once a year. It’s a different time now and, you know, when things are normal, it takes probably three or four years to cover the globe hence a record every four years. When we get going it’s going to be tough because we’ll have to start to get rid of songs from the set. We haven’t even had to think about this yet but we’re going to have to add new songs in the set and certain ones are going to go. Now you’re starting to think about the hits if you will, and what’s going to fit and what’s not.”
That’s a good position to be in though surely?
“It is but most of our songs are about two minutes long so we can still get a lot of them in the set (laughs).”
I don’t think anybody’s going to complain about that. Taking things right back to the start then, you started off with the hardcore fanbase and, gradually, you moved into the more metal crowd. Does that affect the writing trying to keep both sets of fans happy?
“It even goes beyond that because you have people that like radio rock bands like Slipknot and Korn and Five Finger Death Punch who’ve said this band appeals to them now. I feel like we have a punk audience to some extent as well. When you think about a field in Europe or England with 50,000 people of all different kinds of background and they’re all going crazy, it’s amazing. We’re fortunate enough to be a band that transcends genres and subgenres. So yeah, I mean you have to consider these kind of things when you make a record, you know? You have to make people happy, but we have to make us happy as well. When we write we have to be Hatebreed more than anything. I feel like this record and the last two records are kind of similar, the songs, even the artwork but this record, it’s just very angry.”
“I mean (lead singer) Jamey (Jasta) is really yelling on this record. I know, to some people, it’s all screaming and yelling, but if you know this kind of music and you know Hatebreed he is really throwing everything into this record. It wasn’t like that was planned. He told our producer, ‘You know, I’m really going I’m really going to go balls out on this one.’ And he did.”
So that kind of leads into my next question. Going back to even your early material, it’s always the lyrics which have provided a huge release for fans. Given what’s happening in the world right now, and I know you’ve kind of talked about the record being put back, I guess the release of the album couldn’t be better timed really for fans?
“It’s true. I said that if we’re not going to be touring then let the record come out closer to the time that we are hopefully going to start touring. Say we start to tour in the middle of next year and the record came out like it was supposed to, it might have been forgotten about a little bit more than it may by coming out now. So, you know, you have to consider this and have to pull some kind of positives out of this terrible time that we’re going through in the world right now.”
Have Jamey’s lyrics been inspired by what’s going on in the world at the moment? Away from the pandemic, there’s the U.S. presidential election and the racial tensions, it’s quite a volatile time in America.
“I’m sure it has. I haven’t really dabbled into that too much, but I know that it has in the past records and I don’t see why it wouldn’t now, you know? You’re always going to have those lyrics of self-empowerment and positivity and there’s also stuff on there that’s not always positive. Lyrics that are conjured up from a dark place and whether it was rooted from what’s going on in the world or something personal, I think those overtones are a staple of any of our records.”
There are some songs that the kids really lose their minds to like “Proven” and “I Will Be Heard.” Do you get the same release when playing those songs and looking out at the crowd?
“Yeah, for sure. I mean everybody’s got their favourite songs they like to play for whatever reasons they are. A lot of people talk about ‘Destroy Everything’ and ‘I Will Be Heard’ but when you look at the downloads and the plays on ‘Looking Down The Barrel of Today’ there are millions more than any of our other catalogue. So, the fact that our last record did so well, yeah, there are songs that we need to play every night and we’re hoping that we could pull another couple out of this record.”
“I think at this point in our career 26, 27 years in, whatever it is, and eight records out and an EP and a covers record, I think the most important thing is to be able to have a couple of songs that really stand out in the records that will become staples in the set.”
You’ve talked about the download numbers on the last record. Do you think that shows that people are looking out for more aggressive music as an outlet?
“Well, it’s all more accessible, very different to when I was growing up in the mid-‘80s and going to see Celtic Frost, Agnostic Front, and Possessed and bands like that. We were sending cassette tapes through the mail and reading black and white Xerox fanzines. There was no internet. This was a very secret thing. It truly was an underground but, nowadays, the stuff is so accessible with the internet and shows and things like that. It’s a different time. I think it’s easier to find this kind of stuff and it’s easier as a young person to find their way into this music scene and I think that has a lot to do with it.
I think it was a little more fun going back to those days. It was a lot more fun discovering bands and hanging out at gigs. So yeah, I mean, I hate to be the old dude like it was so much better in my day but, you know, it was definitely a different time. It was exciting but, without those times, I wouldn’t be where I am now and I will always have those memories. I still put a record on my turntable and stare at the record cover for an hour and read everything on it.”
What sort of thing gets a regular spin out on your turntable?
“Oh man. I listen to everything. I listened to ‘50s pop music. I listen to country music. I listen to classic rock. I listen to punk rock. I mean, you know, my favourite bands are the Rolling Stones and Kiss and I also love Agnostic Front, Samhain and Suicidal Tendencies. I love Devo, the Buzzcocks, that stuff as well. It’s funny, during this time off, I had a record store fall into my lap. So I’m now like a half-owner of a record store here down in Florida. And you know, it’s really allowed me to continue to learn and continue to just be a fan of music and be involved in the music scene. You know, it’s given me something to do while I’m home, and I’ve really taken an interest in it. Will I get sick of it? I don’t know? That depends on how soon we’re back to tour. But now you cannot get sick of it.”
Ok, just on that note and, you’ve touched on it already. Twenty-seven years in, what does Hatebreed mean to you in 2020?
“More than anything being something that people really hold close. When people show up to the meet and greets or we see people out on the street and they have our lyrics tattooed on them and they tell us that the music saved their life. I’ll never get tired of hearing something like that. And that’s what makes it so much more than just headbanging and moshing to me. The fact that people have used this as sort of like a compass to guide them through life whatever it throws at them. That is really it in a nutshell. That’s what it is for me.”
Does it surprise you that your fans are not just metal and hardcore fans but that you crossover and appeal to someone who might work in a bank as well as someone that’s in the army?
“Yeah, it’s crazy. People find out what I do, especially around here in Florida where I’m away from the rest of the band who are all up in the Northeast, and a lot of people don’t expect it. Once I start getting into the conversation about what I do for a living and I tell them I play in this band then, when it turns out they’re a fan of the band or that’s what they listened to in the gym all day or that it is what this guy in the military and all the troops listen to, that’s amazing to hear. Like I said, more than anything, it’s how people have taken our music and gone through their life using it as a tool to better themselves or to get them through hardships.
When I see people hate on the band and then I just think about that and I’m like, you pricks you hate on this? The thing about Hatebreed is, when you cross over into different genres, you got a lot of purists that don’t want anything mixed with their music and things like that. So, we do have a lot of haters and that’s fine.”
Ok, going forward to 2021, what are your plans for the band?
“It is all up in the air at the moment. We have a whole world tour with Parkway Drive (planned). It’s Europe, Australia, UK, and America, three different legs. So, that was all supposed to happen this year and now it’s all supposed to happen next year but, you know, we don’t know still. It’s not looking so good right now, but we’re trying to be optimistic.”
Just to finish off now, the last four years have been a bit of a rollercoaster for America. What are your hopes for the future now that obviously there’s a new president?
“I think it’s a country divided now more than ever and I think that it’s going to remain that way. I really do. I think that but I also think that people have to be levelheaded. At some point when do you stop and coexist with each other? You know what I mean? That’s the only solution. All this tension that’s going on over here at some point you have to be smart and use common sense and realize that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. No matter who’s in office, as people it’s our duty to come together and stop the stuff that’s going on. It’s not stuff that just goes on here either, it goes on all over the world, you know, and we have to, as a society over here, do what’s right. I hate to sound cliché or generic but I mean realistically, I mean that that’s the only way that things are going to improve definitely.”
Thanks for your time Frank and good luck with the new record. What are your hopes for 2021?
“I know that it’s a terrible time all over the world for everybody but one of my favourite things about being in this band is being on stage and helping people forget about life for a while and once we can do this with our new record we will come to see everybody. Before that though, it’s important that everybody does certain things and I’m not opening up a debate on this thing, but if everybody does the things that they need to do to stay safe and healthy, it can’t come soon enough.”