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Interview: Sean Martin of Hatebreed

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Hatebreed is currently on the Stillborn Fest tour with Agnostic Front, God Forbid, Necro, At All Cost, and Thy Will Be Done.

How do you guys create the song? Who comes up with the ideas, who comes up with the lyrics, how does it all come together?

Jamey comes up with a lot of the ideas, the original song structure. Then we start rehearsing, getting into the studio and jamming out, and we construct the ideas into songs. Jamey puts it all together and formats it, sequences what fits where with different vocal ideas that he has, and it just kind of falls into place. We work really well together. We've been together for a while now, this line-up in particular.

How long now?

The band's been together for almost 12 years. I've been in the band for going on nine years, and this line-up – well, we just got Frank last year – but the four of us minus Frank have been solid for six, seven years. We work well with each other. We come up with these guys' ideas… and I take pride in being able to translate them and turn them into the riffs. So we all play our own role.

You've signed onto bigger and bigger labels and [reached a high] level [of] touring right now, and somehow you guys have maintained this integrity. What do you think explains that? How do you guys manage not to get sucked into all the bullshit?

We don't compromise. We just don't compromise our sound or our method, which is positive and we don't compromise in our songwriting and ideals when it comes to who we feel we are as a band. No matter what label we're on, you get the same product and we've proven that now for three labels. I think that has a lot to do with it, and being able to hold our integrity and being able to hold our foot in the hardcore scene. Always. No matter where we go or who we play with or what we're doing.

We haven't changed and we aren't going to change. If anything, we've been getting heavier. We did the opposite of what a lot of people thought we would do. We just hold true to what we stand for and what we want to do with the music. Hatebreed is a vehicle for heavy music. We can do other things if we want to do other things, but Hatebreed is Hatebreed. That clicks with a lot of the fans and that keeps us grounded, keeps us in the scene we come from.

Do you have any side projects?

Yeah. Me and Jamey both do. Jamey has Icepick and Kingdom of Sorrow and I have House of Blow and Exoskeleton. Jamey's two are heavy. They're definitely both heavy. My stuff is totally on the other end. Exoskeleton's electro-punk and House of Blow is like… I don’t even know what it sounds like, it's weird music. (laughs) It's really good, but it's more electronic-based music. You do other stuff outside of the realm of metal and that way Hatebreed always stays fresh and heavy and brutal, the way it's supposed to be, instead of me saying, "Let throw a keyboard part in there…" That'll never happen because I can just do it with something else.

Everything I'm doing, I'm shopping around, see what I can do with it anyway. We've recorded stuff but we haven't done anything next-step-wise, on how we're going to put it out.

Do you play out? Have you done any tours?

Yeah, we've played out. We haven't done any tours. I don’t really have a lot of time because I'm always on tour with Hatebreed, but Exoskeleton's played maybe three or four shows. House of Blow's played a show. We're still recording stuff, too. I only have a couple weeks off at a clip. Sometimes it's at the studio, sometimes it's on stage. It's cool. It's fun. It's a release. It keeps me busy, too, when I'm off the road. We're only home two weeks at a time, so it keeps me from getting stagnant.

So you're still doing that relentless kind of touring.

Yeah, we'll do that for a while, I'm sure.

Think so?

I hope so. It's better than a day job (laughs). I love it. It grinds you down, but it doesn't mean I don't want to do it.

You mentioned before about Hatebreed changing labels. What drives your choices in changing? Are you guys doing short term, like, a couple albums…?

I think it's a matter of us trying to find the right place that understands what we do with the band, how to market us. Sometimes it doesn't work out. That doesn't mean the relationships go bad, but it means that you've got to find someone who has the time and the money and the effort to understand that we're a very heavy band. It's not that we’re not as marketable, but at Universal, well, we're not a "pop" big big group so they didn't know what to do with us. They were great while we were there.

Roadrunner is a metal label, more or less. They know what to do with us, so we figured we'd give it a shot and so far it's working out great. There's no animosity or anything. We're just figuring out where we're going to settle. So far, Roadrunner's good.

I think a lot of bands are doing that nowadays, taking more control of their choices that way.

Yeah, it's not like it was ten years ago when you'd sign a ten record deal. You've got options and it's good to explore them.

So you're touring still in support of Supremacy.

Yeah.

Do you have something else coming up?

Not yet. After this, we're doing a European tour. We're doing Ozzfest. And then we're going to tour out probably until January, take a little time off, and then we'll see what's going on. We'll start writing a new record. We'll definitely be going until New Year's.

Anything else you want to add?

Just thank you to everybody that's been supporting Hatebreed and thank you for coming to the show. I hope you had a good time if you did. Go out and get Supremacy on Roadrunner Records, if you haven't gotten it already.

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