Hatebreed graduates to Ozzfest main stage


Fourth time’s a charm for veteran hardcore band

Ozzfest 2006 featuring System of a Down, Disturbed, Hatebreed, Zakk Wylde, others

Sunday, July 23, 10 a.m.

Verizon Wireless Music Center

Tickets: $40.50-$76.50, 317-239-5151

More info: www.ozzfest.com

Fans of hardcore and heavy metal have come to associate the name Hatebreed with uncompromising, true-to-the-roots music. For nearly 13 years, the band has played hundreds of shows, released one consistent album after another — and has still maintained its credibility with its fans.

After three previous stints playing the second stage at Ozzfest, Hatebreed has graduated to the main stage, alongside headliners Zakk Wylde, System of a Down and Disturbed.

Chris Beattie, who co-founded Hatebreed with singer Jamey Jasta in 1994, has been there for the band’s entire ride, from its humble beginnings into its present-day stardom.

Moving from the anything-goes atmosphere of the second stage to the main stage has been a challenge for Hatebreed, says Beattie, who chatted with NUVO from the road last week.

“It’s a different kind of thing,” he says, “because on the main stage, you don’t have the mosh pit going like it is on the second stage. We were comfortable on the second stage and now we have something else to work with. We’ve adjusted to it and we’re taking every day as a new challenge.”

He adds, “Obviously, we’re not selling the number of records as the other bands on the main stage and so we just want to go out and smash music into everyone’s faces. We’ve got it down now. We’ve gotten a warm welcome.”

Being veterans of Ozzfest, the band has good relations not only with their fellow performers but with the huge production crew as well. “We hang out with everybody,” Beattie says. “We hang out with System and Disturbed and then we go hang out with our buddies on the second stage, because that’s where we come from. We’re just regular guys. We just go to wherever the party is.”

Hardcore fans are notoriously quick to call out successful bands as “sell-outs” or even traitors to the music, but despite their successes, Hatebreed hasn’t had to deal with the same amount of shit-talking that has plagued other bands of the genre.

“We haven’t changed at all as people and I think that’s where a lot of [the negative talk] comes from,” Beattie says. “Some bands get to a certain point and become different people. We never forgot where we came from, so as long as you put your heart into your playing, I don’t see how the perception of the band can change.”

Still, Beattie responds to loudmouths on the Web this way: “That’s just Internet talk, and if you want to talk shit, come up to our faces and say it. You’re not really a man if you hide behind a computer screen in the comfort of your home. The real people out here who come to the shows are having fun, and that’s what counts.”

The band was founded in 1994 in New Haven, Conn., and found fame with their 1997 album on Victory Records, Satisfaction is the Death of Desire, considered one of the best hardcore discs of the 1990s. Their 2003 album, The Rise of Brutality, made them a mainstream success as well.

Relentless touring with acts such as Slipknot and Slayer, along with their Ozzfest performances, brought the band to prominence in the hardcore genre, helped along by Jasta’s hosting roles on MTV2’s Headbanger’s Ball.

Hatebreed’s newest album, Supremacy, to be released on Roadrunner Records next month, is the culmination of a dozen years playing heavy music. The excessive instrumentation has been stripped away and what’s left is a sound that’s much closer to their original sound than recent albums have been.

The album took four months to write and record, longer than previous efforts. “There’s little things you’ll notice on the record that are a little bit out of the box, but nothing that will make you say, ‘What the hell?’ The new things we’re doing add to the music.”

He says, “It’s not over-produced or anything, but it’s more thought out. Everybody was laughing and having a good time while we were recording. We wanted to take our music to a new level and I think we’ve accomplished that.”

Beattie says that Hatebreed’s goal as a band has never changed.

“When we started, we wanted to be the heaviest band in the world and we still have that in our minds to this day,” Beattie says. “Still, we’ve matured as players and with the lineup we’ve had for the last three albums, we’ve all locked in and can feel each other’s vibe. We all get along really well and there’s never any problems. If there are issues to be addressed, we do it at the moment and then it’s done with.”

Life on the Ozzfest tour bus is unlike any other tour, Beattie says. “I get up every morning and have some coffee and just take things in. Our crew members are up really early busting their ass. It’s really organized, as compared to our club shows, where it’s more like ‘throw and go.’ We do a couple signings a day at the FYE tent and the Jager tent, and then 90 minutes later, we’re on stage. We really appreciate the people who wait in line for the signings, but the show is our main focus.

“After we do our set, we do whatever we want to do. We’re still trying to get a keg on the bus, but that hasn’t worked out as of yet.”

One thing which touches Beattie during the signings is the sheer number of kids wearing Hatebreed T-shirts and telling him how much their music has meant to them. “It’s awesome,” he says. “We’ve been lucky enough to have an 11-year career, which we never expected. Being an inspiration is not something we sought out to do, but it makes you feel really good.”

While he says he would never have stood in line for an autograph at a show, Beattie’s own youth was spent seeing influential bands like Carcass, Napalm Death, Entombed and Sick of It All. “I did meet Nikki Sixx once, which was great,” he says. “He knew the band.”

He admits that the band’s longevity has been surprising. “When we started, we just wanted to be a big hardcore band and play shows and have people go nuts. Now, we’re still playing shows, and people are still going nuts, but now there’s 20,000 people doing it. It’s an honor, really. We never set our goals that high. We were just hoping to play shows at VFW halls and we still stay true to that idea. We’ll still play a VFW hall.”

Always the hard-working band, Hatebreed will play out the Ozzfest tour, take a few days off and then begin an all-star club tour featuring Napalm Death and many others.

“All of that will take us through November,” he says, laughing, “and then we begin again.”