We here at Legendary Rock Interviews had the privilege of sitting down to talk with Matt Byrne, the drummer of Hatebreed, before their sold out show at the world famous MACHINE SHOP in Flint, MI. Hatebreed is an iconic metalcore band and they are just setting out on tour in support of their new album Divinity of Purpose.
Legendary Rock Interviews: First off, thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. I wanted to see how you felt setting off on the road this time? This is the kick off show for the Divinity of Purpose tour if I’m not mistaken.
Matt Byrne: Yeah, this is the first show tonight here in Flint, MI. We just got back from Europe about a week ago.
LRI: You guys were on the Persistence tour out there?
MB: Yep, that was about two weeks. We actually were playing three new songs. We’d switch ‘em out accordingly, each night or whatever, basically just rehearsing them. They went over really well with the European crowds, so we’ll probably be playing the same three on this tour. This tour is three weeks long and we might work one or two more in depending on, ya know, different ones we rehearse and stuff like that. But really, we’re excited man. Like any band you’re excited to play the new stuff. (We’ve) been playing the old stuff for years and years and years.
LRI: Getting some new material out there is fun, and of course getting to see how the fans like the new stuff you’ve been working on.
MB: Yeah, playing fresh. Especially in a place like this where it’s already sold out to see how the fans are going to react to it.
LRI: Oh yeah, it’s got to feel good to have the first show sold out when you’re kicking off a tour.
MB: Yeah for the first show, the kickoff show, to be sold out in advance is pretty awesome.
LRI: Absolutely man. So the new record comes out on the 29th (of January) right?
MB: Yeah it’s already out in Europe as of yesterday. So it comes out in the states on January 29th.
LRI: How did you guys feel writing the new record?
MB: You know, it was kind of an odd process because a lot of bands, when they’re going to write new material, or start rehearsing new material or whatever they really get off the road. They start to live that separate, sequestered studio life. Just start writing songs and get in that headspace and whatnot. But when we were doing it we were actually on tour. It was last summer and we had shows booked in Europe a couple weeks here and a couple weeks there. So we’d go over to Europe for like two weeks and then we’d come home for two weeks and we’d be in the studio. Then we’d go back to Europe. So really it was like you’re shifting gears the whole time. Like okay I’ve got to get back into tour mode and then you’re in the live setting and doing that whole thing. Then when you got home its like I need that concentrated studio mode ya know? Writing mode. So then you’d switch back, so that was kind of unorthodox.
LRI: Did you find that more difficult than just sitting down in a studio for like, six months, and just trying to get things done?
MB: I wouldn’t say difficult, no. I think I would do it again in a heartbeat because it keeps everything fresh ya know? If you can jockey back and forth and switch gears like that, going between each mode, then you’re not going stir crazy in the studio when you’re locked up for six months. You’re not getting bored; you’re not getting writer’s block. I mean all the things that can happen in a studio setting. I thought it was pretty cool and I’d do it again. It was weird. When you do things outside of the box usually something good will come out of it and I feel that the record shows that.
LRI: Different experiences are definitely fun. So for this record did you have a theme you were trying to hit as a band? I’ve been a Hatebreed fan for a long while and I’ve noticed that the band hits on themes like honor, standing up for what you believe in and strength. Does this record have a theme that goes along those lines, or did you do something a little bit different this time?
MB: Yeah, I think it’s definitely in line with that. Ya know, what Hatebreed has sung about, the universal themes that we touched on in every record. I just think it’s angrier.
LRI: Angrier? (laughs)
MB: Yeah I think it’s angrier. It’s more pissed off if there can be such a thing. (laughs)
LRI: Oh yeah, a more pissed off Hatebreed!
MB: Yeah we’re already pissed off and aggressive, but I think it takes it to that next level.
LRI: For sure man. Going back to talking about Europe, what do you think the difference is between playing for an audience in a place like Berlin for example versus the crowd tonight in Flint?
MB: I think the scale of it is a little different. It’s two different worlds. I enjoy playing Europe because in the summers you’ll do the open air festivals and there’s thousands and thousands of people there. You’ve got this huge stage and you’re kind of able to play with your light show a little more. You’re playing through a huge sound system. You see thousands of people jumping up and down, circle pitting in front of you. That’s a crazy experience.
LRI: Great feeling I’m sure.
MB: It’s a great feeling. It’s massive. You know, but Hatebreed’s always been a club band too. So to come back to a place like Flint, the Machine Shop, we’ve been playing here for years and we always will.
LRI: Sticking to the roots.
MB: Exactly, stick to the roots. But you know in some respects playing the huge shows like that, it’s a great thing to be able to headline a festival with 50,000 people or something. But to be able to switch gears and come back to your roots, and still have a big turnout. Where there isn’t a barricade that’s thirty feet from the stage. Ya know, the crowd is like right in your face. It’s a more intimate setting. It’s super-hot and everyone’s dying, the energy is there. People are jumping over each other ya know? Not that it doesn’t happen outside in the big open air setting but in the club there’s just this different energy altogether.
LRI: I definitely agree with that.
MB: I mean, I really like them both. I like playing the big stages and the huge festivals. But I love going back to the club atmosphere too. That’s where we started, and that’s what we know. There’s nothing like it.
LRI: Agreed. I’ve seen you guys perform in a big festival setting and then in smaller venues like the Machine Shop. Having the privilege of seeing you guys headlining a second stage at Ozzfest for example and getting to see you in a club were completely different worlds like you were saying. Playing in a festival does seem much different from a fan perspective when compared to getting to see the band at an intimate venue. The crowd interaction just seems wilder sometimes.
MB: Oh yeah, it’s wild. It’s turned up a notch. We get to play a headlining set that could be an hour, hour and fifteen minutes. Whereas some of the festivals like on Ozzfest you’re limited to 35, 40 minutes. So you have to be choosier with your songs. Yeah, it’s two different kinds of sets. I like them both. We’ve come up doing both but it’s cool to get back into smaller clubs too.
LRI: The LRI readers and fellow Hatebreed fans were excited when I found out I was going to get to come and talk to you about the new tour and record. A lot of them made mention to me about how when they go see a Hatebreed concert, that it’s a lot of fun because it’s kind of like therapy.
MB: Oh that’s cool!
LRI: You hang out in the pit, you let out some aggressions. How do you feel that your fans feel that way? When you know that they enjoy getting to come to the Hatebreed show, sing along with the songs and get out there and mosh.
MB: I think it’s great. It’s real flattering that they can draw therapy, I guess if you want to use that word, from the lyrics, because we do touch on universal subject matter that a lot of people can relate to in their everyday lives. With their struggles and troubles or whatever they’re going through. So couple that, couple a positive, uplifting lyrical song with hard, heavy breakdowns. You’re gonna be able to punch some holes through the wall and let your aggressions out. For me it’s like therapy too because like, they’re beating the shit out of each other and I’m beating the shit out of my drums. So we’re kind of one, ya know? It’s cool.
LRI: It’s great man. With the new record, so far I’ve gotten to check out “Put it to the Torch” and “Honor Never Dies.” I pre-ordered a copy off of iTunes yesterday.
MB: Thanks a lot for doing that man!
LRI: It sounds really good so far. I haven’t heard the whole album just yet, but the first two songs were great. The lyric video for “Honor Never Dies” that you have on the Hatebreed website was very cool. But I want to talk about the “Put it to the Torch” video. This was an interesting music video and was different for Hatebreed. Did you guys as a band have a lot of input in the direction of the new video?
MB: Yeah, well, we had a director that was kind of thinking the same things that we were. We wanted to do something just a little bit different from Hatebreed and kind of think outside the box. We didn’t want to be in the video so we wanted a storyline with characters. That type of thing. When I saw the finished product I was kind of like wow, it kind of reminds me of like this voodoo kind of thing. Almost like this show that was on HBO awhile back called Carnivàle. Like this circus kind of thing. That’s what it reminded me of. Lots of fire breathing and you know painted with the weird make-up and everything. And as far as Hatebreed goes, that’s completely different from everything we’ve ever done. We’ve done the live video setting from the live show. We’ve done some cutaway shots with us playing in a studio setting mixed with live stuff. So this was more like, I don’t want to say a concept video or story, but it was kind of like that. It was different for us altogether.
LRI: Very cool. It was definitely a good video and the way it matched with the song was on point. It’s always cool for the fans to get those videos for the new songs. It gets everyone all hyped up for the new record and of course the new tour. This tour that is kicking off tonight has a killer line-up. You’ve got Shadow’s Fall supporting you and Dying Fetus. You’ve toured with so many bands, but is there anyone that Hatebreed hasn’t toured with yet that you’d really like to? Any dream tours that you’ve been mulling over in the back of your head?
MB: Well, I guess Metallica. That’s a big one. I think every metal band wants to tour with Metallica. They’re the kings. Hopefully, I’d like to think that they’d give us an opportunity, it’s hard to say. They’re definitely the top of the list.
LRI: That’d be killer.
MB: I like, and I think it’s cool to tour with up and coming bands like the Contortionist. We toured with White Chapel and we toured with All Shall Perish. So you know I kind of like touring with newer up and coming stuff as well. So a little mix of old and the new.
LRI: It probably keeps the band hungry to be out there with bands that are still getting their name out there and trying to reach their apex.
MB: Oh yeah, definitely.
LRI: It’s been three years since you guys recorded the last album. The self-titled came out in 2009 and of course there was the covers record For the Lions. I was curious what your thought process was with the cover album. Did you just have a bunch of songs that as a group you wanted to pay homage to?
MB: Yeah, basically. The cover album was actually done in like ’06 or ’07 and it was just something we started doing when we were recording Supremacy. We hit a writer’s block or something where we just started messing around in the studio. Actually we recorded a song for a Sick of it All tribute record to them. Then we just kept going. We were like, “oh man that was fun! Let’s do this song, and let’s do this song!” Then we just kind of all threw names of songs in a hat. Next thing you know the record was done and we didn’t know what we were going to do with it, we just did it for fun. So we shelved it and then ’09 came around and we were on a new label. We put out the self-titled and everything. We just thought that the public has to hear this since it’s really cool. We wanted to turn the public on to some older bands that we were into when we were learning how to play our instruments and everything. Some of the bands may be kind of forgotten nowadays so it was kind of turning the newer, younger guys on to some older stuff through us. So it was a fun thing that we originally just did for fun. Never had any thoughts of putting it out.
LRI: Just decided that the fans would appreciate it?
LRI: It was really unique and it wasn’t something I expected out of Hatebreed. But I really wound up enjoying For the Lions and it did turn me on to a few bands. I thought the covers with the Hatebreed style really fit well.
MB: That’s cool, thanks man. You know some of the bands on that record were older. We covered a demo song from Negative Approach and I think that was from 1981 or something, and the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles is around the same time. These bands are still going here and there. They’re touring and stuff but those specific songs I mean you might not have heard being a younger guy getting into the newer stuff or whatever. So I think it’s kind of like we’re a medium for the younger guys to get into that older stuff. We can kind of show people what we were into when we were coming up and learning to play our instruments. And just as fans of music.
LRI: That’s great. It’s always good to share what you’re passionate about for sure. Is there anything else you would like to let the Legendary Rock Interviews readers know about the upcoming album, or any future plans that Hatebreed has?
MB: I’m really proud of it (Divinity of Purpose) personally and I’m enjoying playing the new stuff like we talked about before. You know how Hatebreed rolls. We just tour, tour, tour. So there will be a lot of that coming in support of the new record. So everyone go pick it up January 29th.
LRI: I already pre-ordered my copy and hopefully everyone else will too. The Divinity of Purpose is coming out January 29th, it’s going to be a killer record so everyone be ready to support it. Thanks very much for taking the time with us man.
MB: No problem man.
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