Interview: Jamey Jasta of Kingdom of Sorrow
Mon, 11 Feb 2008 09:22:24
Kingdom of Sorrow pairs together two heavy music luminaries in one of the most explosive collaborations that the genre has ever seen. The two cohorts, Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and Crowbar's Kirk Windstein, couldn't come from worlds further apart. Jasta, a Connecticut native, remains a fixture in mainstream metal. He hosted MTV2's "Headbangers' Ball" for four years, and he's led Hatebreed from the underground to the OZZfest main stage. Windstein hails from the Deep South—New Orleans to be exact. With Crowbar, he developed a precise style of groove-laden Southern sludge metal that has inspired countless imitators to pick up a de-tuned Gibson. He also slings axe for metal supergroup Down (also featuring members of Pantera and Corrosion of Conformity). Though their backgrounds differ, both share a need to riff out great metal. When Jasta and Windstein got together and started laying down guitars and vocals for this project, there were no outside pressures—just drinks on the table and riffs cranking from the stereo. The resulting album is 11 tracks of pure, bludgeoning and passionate heavy music from two of the genre's legends. Jasta and ARTISTdirect discussed this kingdom and much more.
This seems like a very inspired record. What was making it with Kirk like?
I've never done a record where it was fully funded by us, and there was no outside pressure. It had been done strictly for the love of the music and the friendship that we have stacked up with each other. We just set each other off, bouncing ideas back and forth, and we had such a good time. We just threw any doubt, or worry, out the window, and made a record. It was totally creative and fulfilling, the way that we needed it to be.
It definitely feels like an evolution for you. It's definitely a different style from Icepick and Hatebreed.
Yeah, totally, I had to do something different. I had to step out and try something new. I want to just keep moving, changing and challenging myself, and that’s why I think this is so fun.
That's great. The one thing that really struck me about the record was that it has a really cohesive flow. It feels almost like a full journey.
Thank you. That's great. I'm glad you feel that way, because that's why we sequenced it like that. We dropped two songs that were too fast, Motorhead-type songs that we felt didn't fit with the concept of everything else. Now that I heard the last sequence, got the master and read the lyrics along with the record, I just really feel proud that it came together. It doesn't just feel like Hatebreed, Crowbar and Down mashed together.
You guys have created your own band. It stands out from all those bands. At the same time, more than anything, it reminded me of an old school Sabbath record, where you can really just sit down and listen to everything. It feels lately in heavy music there haven't been too many records that you just wanted to sit down and totally delve into, that it wasn't just background music. Other than this and the Down record, those are the two records that I felt that way about personally.
Well great. We needed the Down and the Hatebreed records to come out before this. Even though we sat on this, and we wanted it to come out a long time ago. It was good that those came out, and the fans received both of them so well. So this was a good time to drop this.
Do you guys go back and forth between New Orleans and Connecticut to record?
Yeah, I flew Kirk up in May of '05. When we got back from the UK tour, I just made it a point. We had toured for over five days. I said, "Let's not make this a drunken conversation that goes nowhere." I said to Kirk, "I will fly you out, I will get a studio, we can jam, I'll get musicians. Let's really make it happen." I got home and got held up with the label and the clothing line, and I was still doing Headbanger's Ball at the time. And he called me and said, "Yo, I'm ready. Let's do it." I was like, "Alright, let me fly you up." I flew him up, and we put a mobile Pro Tools rig in my friend Ryan's garage and started recording there. We just started rocking it.
Was it more than one session or just that session?
It was a lot of sessions. It lasted two or three weeks. We would riff out all day and jam all day. Our original drummer was Dave Russo, the original Hatebreed drummer. He was coming after work and would lay down beats. I would bring riffs that I had on my hard drive. I had a lot of stuff that was tuned to A and B that was very Crowbar inspired. I would just go to my local studio and riff out for a couple of hours, and I would keep it all for the archives in this hard drive. Kirk brought a lot of ideas to the table. We just started picking the riffs and parts that we felt had their own identity. We took a break, and he went home. I worked on all the vocals and stuff. Then Katrina happened, and Crowbar was going to be out of the mix for a while. Their jam room was flooded. So I flew him back up, and that’s when we decided to scrap the recordings that we had done above the garage. We just went full force like it was a big budget record then.
It seems like it still happened really quickly, given how much time you spent on it.
Yeah, I mean the majority of the delay was caused by the label and by our schedules. Because it had been so long, I finished the record a year later in September. I keep forgetting the timeline, because there was a good portion of the year that the record was done, and we were just waiting to release it. Then we went back and changed a lot of stuff last minute too. I'm glad I had that opportunity to do that. I went to New Orleans, and I sort of engrossed myself in a different place. No phones, no computers. I drove around and looked at all the devastation. Even a year-and-a-half to two years after, there were still places that were totally demolished, and people were still displaced. It was good to kind of get a different outlook.
It must've helped to take in that vibe.
And when I got to the studios, they just have a great vibe. It was just good going there. You always hear about artists, actors and writers going to different places to get inspired. I guess I never really understood that until I did this and went to New Orleans.
It's interesting too, because it feels like you're coming from a different place lyrically on the record. Do you feel like that trip was a big impact?
Yeah, that trip kind of inspired me to change two songs. The rest of the lyrics I did prior to that. I was a little critical of myself in the beginning. But then I decided that I wasn't going to try to overanalyze this—the same way I am with Hatebreed. I wasn't trying to re-invert the wheel and be more artsy. I just wanted to have the same approach, but try new topics that I was little weary of pursuing in Hatebreed.
That's cool because it gives you a different outlet as an artist. You can do pretty much anything in this project. I can even see you guys doing more acoustic stuff at some point too. It feels like it's completely open ended as a new band.
Yeah, I mean, that was talked about. Originally we were doing it more acoustic and doomier. I wrote a riff years ago on my Ibanez guitar. I had it on the clean setting and I thought, "This is such a killer, clean, melodic riff. Too bad I could never use it." And then when we started up, Kirk came up with a part, and I went into my hard drive to show him that riff. He loved it and said, "We've got to use it." He wrote the chorus riff. Stuff like that was great to get it out of our system.
Was it really fun bouncing riffs and vocals back forth with Kirk?
It was so much fun. It was probably the most fun I've ever had in the studio. If I look back on the scenarios, you know, like on Hatebreed's Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire, we had nine days to do everything. Our drummer was arrested at one point. We were freaking out. We had no budget. We had no hotels. It was not fun. Then on Perseverance, we knew Lou was going to quit the band. He was showing up late, he didn't come to practice. He never even recorded on that record. And there was turmoil in the studio. It was a huge budget record, and we were with a big producer. We had to follow up this huge record. We had to prove we were going to still come up as hard as hell and make a great sounding record. There was pressure there on The Rise of Brutality. And then on Supremacy, there was just so much pressure. With this, I would drink beer with Kirk. He would come up with a riff, and I'd come back with something, there was no stress. It was just fun and creative from start to finish.
I think that comes through on the record. This is natural, and it's honest. A record label or any outside source hasn't tampered it with.
Yeah, there were no meetings as to which song is going to be the single. There was nothing. We knew this is going to be brutal, and this is going to be heavy. We never wrote a song for our kids before, but on this we wrote a song for our daughters. That was just weird for me. I'm always writing something uplifting. We try to write songs for Hatebreed that were easy to sing along to. But with this, we weren't so much worried with singing along, as we were just complimenting the riffs.
What I think is really cool is that you're able to have this project, Hatebreed and Icepick too. You're firmly planted in metal and hardcore. I even dug your Hip Hop mixtape.
I just like music.
Your appreciation as a fan comes through with each project.
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