Interview with drummer Matt Byrne of HATEBREED

Hatebreed is a staple in the heavy music scene. They are on the verge of releasing a new album, The Concrete Confessional on May 13, 2016, and a major US tour. Thankfully, drummer Matt Byrne took some time to answer some questions for me about the new album, its recording, the upcoming tour, and other things.

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The Concrete Confessional is your seventh album of original material. Was there any particular inspiration for this record?

I see the concept as a whole as admission, honesty, and opening yourself up through music.  Metaphorically, I look at the concrete confessional as the medium, for example “the venues” that a band performs at night after night. The fans buy the ticket and enter this concrete building to see their favorite band. They mosh, sing along to the lyrics and just generally get crazy and let it all out. It’s an honest, emotional experience. They leave everything on the floor of the venue by the time the show is over. Anger, grief, sadness, rage, happiness…. whatever the emotions. It’s an admission and a sharing of whatever thought or emotion that the music sparks in you with other people in that same medium at that time.

This is your second album with Nuclear Blast and the first time they are handling worldwide distribution for the record. How did that relationship come about?

I think NB has done good by us, and I like the relationship that we have built since our last record, “The Divinity Of Purpose.” They have a lot of huge bands on their roster, and they have a large team to offer a lot of support. We have been doing a lot of press and they have been good about beating the street and creating a buzz about our new release. Our last record was only released through NB in Europe but we are now with them worldwide.

You had a song on Supremacy titled “Spitting Venom.” I feel like this should’ve been this album’s title. How do you maintain this level of anger after this long?

I always liked the title of that song. It sounds really pissed off. There is a lot to still be pissed off about in the world, no matter where you are from. Socio-political issues, new sicknesses, the economic climate, increasing debt, and just general anxiety about where we are headed as humans. Just turn on the news channel at the end of any day and see what new, devastating issue is plaguing us and causing wide spread panic.

Speaking of the songs on The Concrete Confessional, these are the most compact songs you’ve recorded since 1997’s Satisfaction is the Death of Desire. Was this a conscious decision, or did the songs just come together that way? Do you feel you can really get your point across in 2 minutes or less?

We’ve always had shorter song structures. I think that is just how we write. We get right to the point in our music and don’t leave a lot of room for filler. I think the natural formula of our songs is enough to incite a riot.

Musically, we have fast parts, breakdowns, gang vocals, etc. Everything is played loud, fast and intense.  The level of aggression in the music is definitely set to 10!  It’s not something we set out to do on purpose, it’s just how we write and the music that comes out of us. We definitely feed off of the crowd’s energy just as much as they feed off of ours. If you get up there on stage and give an honest performance, the crowd is going to know it and love it. I think that is why we have such a loyal fan base.  Because our fans know that we give it 100% every show, they are there giving it their 100% right along with us.

Lyrically, Jamey is constantly writing and it’s natural for him to uncover a hook or a vocal anthem during that writing process that will be powerful and important enough to use as a crowd sing-a-long. That may directly inspire a riff or a drum groove or flow that will gradually unfold into a song.

We have been a band for twenty years now and have built up a pretty loyal following. Our fans know what to expect from a new Hatebreed release. You don’t fix something that isn’t broken. So, yes…I think we do a pretty good job in getting our point across in two minutes.

You recorded The Concrete Confessional with Chris “Zuess” Harris, who you’ve worked with before. Did he have any new tricks to help bring something special to this record this time around, or was it like bing, bang, boom, new record?

We have a great dynamic with Zeuss because we have been working with him for so many years. He knows our music and how we operate personally, the way we write and how the general dynamic of a Hatebreed record will unfold. He’s not afraid to tell you what sucks and what is great. I guess the correct term is “chemistry.” With another producer, we just wouldn’t have that same chemistry and work dynamic.

Each of our releases is a different experience. Whether it be the studio we record at, how the varying song ideas are exchanged or how we go about getting tones and the equipment we use. So, nothing is put together hastily or just goes down in the books as “just another Hatebreed record.”

I see you have just started your tour for the album, and you’re coming to my town (YES!). Are you going anywhere new this time around? Is there anywhere you haven’t toured, but would like to go?

We are currently on the Impericon Festival tour (April 21-May 8) with bands Emmure, Bless The Fall, Callejon and a bunch of others. It has been great so far and there are a lot of old school Hatebreed fans coming out to rage. But it’s also great because we are playing to a newer scene of younger kids too.

After this, we have four days off in the states before we begin a month long US tour with DevilDriver, Devil You Know, and Act Of Defiance. Us and DD both have albums coming out the same day (May 13!).  It’s been a couple of years since we have really focused on touring in the US and this tour will fall right within the release of the record so the timing is perfect to hit markets we haven’t been to in some time.

Following this, we will spend the rest of the summer traveling back and forth to Europe doing a lot of the festivals.

I would love to go to China. Friends of ours have gone and said that the shows are insane. India would also be an interesting place to play too. You just don’t think of that area of the world as a hot-spot for metal and hardcore but they definitely have a music scene there.

Speaking of touring, while you are out on the road, besides playing shows, is there anything else that you like to do on tour besides play? Do you even have time for anything else?

Things are actually busier at home in the down time of not touring then they are out here on the road.  There is a lot of time during the day to burn just to get to that one hour of show time at night. I bring a lot of movies, magazines and some books on the road with me every tour. At home, all of these things stack up and I don’t get a chance to relax and dig in.

In the last year, I’ve actually gotten into yoga. I have a great studio near my house that I try to hit 3-4 times a week. I’ve been trying to keep my practice up out here on the road but the size of the dressing rooms doesn’t always make it practical to spread out.

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Jamey has to be one of the busiest guys in the business, between Hatebreed, his solo stuff, and everything else he is involved in. Do you have anything you work on outside of Hatebreed, or would like to do?

I have a good amount of hobbies that keep me busy at home. I have a 1980 Camaro that I tinker around with. I wouldn’t call myself a mechanic by any means but I can do basic maintenance and tweaking, and I have a lot of friends that have more knowledge than me.

As I said, I’ve been doing yoga pretty steadily and I see a difference in my drumming because of it.

I love to cook. On this tour, I decided to go vegetarian for better health choices. I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while and did some research into it. I have a lot of friends who are vegetarian or vegan and they are a wealth of knowledge about supplements, recipe websites, etc. I thought it would be a bit harder to cut meat out of my diet but it hasn’t been an issue at all and I’m looking forward to getting home and cooking this way.

Thanks for the interview!

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Members:

Jamey Jasta – Vocals

Frank Novinec – Guitar

Chris Beattie – Bass

Wayne Lozinak – Guitar

Matt Byrne – Drums

Hatebreed online:

www.hatebreed.com

www.nuclearblast.com/hatebreed

www.facebook.com/hatebreed

Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional OUT May 13, 2016

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