Jamey Jasta is possibly the busiest rock star around right now. When he’s not on the road with genre titans Hatebreed, he’s almost certainly tied up with one of his numerous ventures and projects; most notably as the face of MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Prior to the final date of the bands” sold out UK tour at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, the tireless mouth piece found a spare minute or two to converse with CITC’s Metal advisor Ryan Bird about just how tough it can get being Jamey Jasta.
This is the first time in a long time that you’ve done such an extensive UK tour. How’ve things been for you so far?
Just about every show has been sold out so far. Only one or two haven’t and even then they’ve been down to the last dozen or so tickets. The fans have been absolutely amazing and really appreciative, so I guess we couldn’t really have asked for a lot more.
It’s good to see that you’ve hit Ireland this time around. A lot of bands overlook it nowadays. How important is it for you to reach fans in countries that usually get the short end of the stick?
We”d been and played in Ireland before and promised them that we”d come back, so I don’t think we really had a choice to be honest. They came out and supported us the first time around, and even though the shows were really small we knew we”d have a great time doing it. It’s really important for us to reach as many of our fans as possible, regardless of location. I get letters all the time from people in Israel, South America, Iceland.
Iceland seems to be developing an awesome scene as of late.
Yeah! I”d love to go there and check it out. I”d love to go to all these places we haven’t been to before. I guess I”ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Your fans are a pretty mixed bunch. You have a lot of hardcore followers, but also a lot of metal kids are into you as well. What do you think makes Hatebreed appeal to both sides?
I think we just have music and lyrics that don’t alienate people. We’ve only ever tried to put across the way that we’re feeling, while at the same time emulating the bands that we ourselves love. On the one hand we’re into hardcore bands like Madball and Agnostic Front, but we also love bands like Slayer, Obituary, Sepultura.
Has such a diverse audience ever caused any incidents or confrontations at shows?
Maybe in certain places there’s been the odd fight or two break out, but I think nowadays everybody for the most part just gets along. We’re a crossover band after all so people have just learnt to respect each other and realise that people from all walks of life are there for the same reason.
Since the horrible tragedy involving Dimebag, is there occasionally a part of you that gets a little edgy or nervous when you meet a psychotic fan or see a particularly violent individual in the pit?
I feel that whole situation was just one horrible, isolated incident. It was just a terrible example of gross injustice.
As well as Hatebreed you have a number of side-projects ” including the band Icepick and of course hosting Headbangers Ball. How difficult can it sometimes get for you to hold down so many things at once?
I”ll be honest, it’s been really hard. I’ve been spread a little thin at times. Hatebreed has some time off after this tour is over so I”ll be able to take a little breather and progress with some other things that I’ve previously had to push to the side somewhat.
Is there ever a time when you’re NOT doing something?
I”m pretty much always doing something to be honest. There’s no rest for the wicked! Someone is always trying to get a hold of me which is why I’ve gotten myself a world phone, and even right now I”m sat in front of a laptop checking emails and stuff like that.
What about when you do find that odd hour here and there? What do you do to unwind?
I just enjoy my house and my home life to be honest. I recently purchased one of those digital video recorders which enables me to watch all my favourite shows that I usually wouldn’t get the chance to see from being so busy on the road and such like. There’s nothing better for me than just having that odd couple of hours to veg out on the couch.
Let’s talk about Headbangers Ball again for a moment. How did that come about?
Basically it started about two years ago when they first decided to bring back the show. About 400 people or so came and tried out and they didn’t really find anyone that they felt had that X factor. So, at this point I met with the producers and told them my vision and what I”d like to do with the show and stuff like that. Everything definitely had to be on my terms. Anyway, they invited me over for a test screening which didn’t actually go too well. However, they gave me a second shot which was basically a homework assignment where I had to go away and interview bands and come back to them etc. I did interviews with Candiria, Ill Nino, and bizarrely; Vanilla Ice of all people. Anyway, they called me up and said that they loved it. Now, 100 episodes later we’ve had everybody from Metallica, Velvet Revolver and Iron Maiden to Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage come on and talk some shit.
Did you ever have any fears about tempting to host such a prestige show?
The thing is, I come from a scene which is full of these loudmouth complainers that have nothing else to do than put people down, so I wasn’t really too concerned about that. I’ve been putting up with their crap for years now. Luckily I”m not one of those people myself so I basically said “You know what; I”m not one of those people. I”m going to go in there and make a positive change“. It’s great for the smaller bands like Lamb of God and co because since they’ve been thrown at a more mainstream audience they’re selling two or three times as many albums as they were previously.
Aside from the previously mentioned ventures ” what does the remainder of 2005 hold for both Jamey Jasta the person, but also Jamey Jasta the front man?
On the Hatebreed front it’s simply to continue trying to get to as many places to perform as possible. As I said earlier I”m desperate to get over to Iceland some time and rip it up. We hope to have a new record out at the end of the year as well. On a personal level, I”m right about to re-launch JameyJasta.com so people can see what I”m up to 24/7. I”m also hoping to push on with my clothing company and get some stuff out there. We’re just negotiating with some distribution companies and such right now.
So there’s no chance of some kind of salsa or tango orientated project?
The Rise of Brutality is available in stores now through Roadrunner Records UK.