Grammy-nominated tough-guys, Hatebreed, have been stalwarts of the metalcore scene since the mid ‘90s. Their outspoken singer, Jamey Jasta, hosted MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball from 2003-2007. The group’s enduring career has earned them deserved credit and accolades from both fans and musical peers. I first met the band, almost twenty years ago, at a show in South Carolina—shortly prior to the release of their debut album, Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire. We didn’t exactly hit it off.
Now, before relaying the details of the time Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta threatened to “smash shit in my face and break everything I own,” I’ll offer this reflection: people are capable of all sorts of growth and change over the course of two decades. I’m sure Mr. Jasta is not the same person he was back then, as I know I’m not the same person I was. Is there any good reason to dredge this up, now, after all these years? Nope, not really. Except for the fact that the answering machine message is still pretty fucking funny.
Let’s flash back to the mid ‘90s. People involved in punk music loved to subject other people involved in punk music to their idiotic whimsies and pathetic best-left-in-the-journal introspection. They would sandwich it between some record reviews and photocopied pleas for the pardon of Mumia Abu Jamal and call them “zines”. Being no different than any other self-involved, would-be punk rock publisher; I too, have produced in my lifetime a few such wastes of photocopy. One of my efforts was called SNIP. Like most other “zines,” it was utterly self-serving and pointless. The best thing that SNIP had going for it was the cover which featured ‘80s TV breakdancer and star of Silver Spoons, Alfonso Ribero.
The “SNIP” logo was the “SPIN” logo cut up and rearranged. Not as clever as I thought at the time.
I managed to Kinko’s-scam about 60 copies of SNIP, which were taken along on one of my old band’s North American tours. I sold/gave away about 40 copies on that tour. I had thrown SNIP together in a few hours as a means of getting some pocket-money for tour snacks. It served its purpose, as I had all the RC cola and Nip-chee I required on that trip around the US and Canada.
After returning home, I wanted to get rid of the remaining copies of SNIP, so I set up a table at a local hardcore show. On the bill was an area band named Stretch Armstrong—friends of mine—and some other chugga-chugga type acts. One of the bands on the bill was a newer group that I’d never heard of, Hatebreed. I didn’t actually care much about who was on the bill, as I never was a fan of gymkata-practicing, short-haired-jocks-in-basketball-tank-tops-core. I was just there to unload my remaining zines on some punk kids at a VFW Hall.
Hatebreed: “Are you the little faggot that wrote this shit?”
After about 20 minutes, and having sold only 4 or 5 copies of SNIP, I hear a booming, belligerent voice: “Where’s the little faggot that wrote this shit!? Are you the little faggot that wrote this shit!?” A thick-necked ogre from the band Hatebreed lumbered towards me. “Are you the little faggot that wrote this shit?!”
“I suppose I am that faggot, yes,” I replied.
I was then surrounded and bombarded with threats of a severe ass-kicking at my apparent “dissing” of the band’s record label: Victory Records. I was repeatedly called a “faggot” for having written an article that poked fun at the business practices of a minor league label trying to run with the big boys. By this time a group of about 30 attendees were surrounding me. The entire band gathered in. Half of the band members tried to argue, somewhat-less-than rationally, about the perspective of my article (which essentially reprinted the hilariously corporate-minded promotional “one-sheets” sent to record stores to “shift units” for Victory Records—with my own probably-unfunny, smart-ass comments written into the margins). The other half of the band continued to puff their chests and threaten me with severe pummellings. The singer of Stretch Armstrong physically stepped in between to prevent one of the Hatebreeders from physically breaking me in half.
Being an out-manned, skinny, five foot six punk, I tried my best to casually slouch back in my chair behind my Jackie Onassis black sunglasses and put on a “I swear I’m not shitting my pants right now” grin. I held my ground, asserting that Victory Records was trying to sell false ideals of hardcore being a “lifestyle” and a “movement”, when their big-business-style press releases employed tactics no different than the major labels. Is hardcore really a “youth movement” when a record label promises “sniping campaigns in key markets to promote product awareness”? For that matter, what the hell is a “sniping campaign”? When a one-sheet goes out to a record store stating that “violence at shows promotes controversy, and controversy sells records”, I felt no less than obligated to speak my mind—because, though it might be true, fuck that and fuck you for trying to capitalize on it.
I cared about silly shit like that twenty years ago. Maybe enough to get my ass beat over it? I figured I was about to find out. A lot of us operated under the impression that our music scene was something more than a demographic. This was a battle between hardcore and BIG HARDCORE.
A photo of your humble narrator from the same era. Easily pummelled.
The members of HATEBREED didn’t like the Victory article, nor did they like the “fan fiction” written about the band Warzone (which actually was rather loving and respectful, if I may say so). The singer of Hatebreed, Jamey, was the “thinker” of the bunch and actually listened to my points and offered his own rebuttals. The rest of the band just wanted to turn me into a bloodstain.
Eventually the band backed off because it was their time to play. Every copy of SNIP sold after the fracas, and I smiled to look around the room and see a bunch of kids reading my zine instead of watching Hatebreed’s set.
Several months later, Hatebreed returned to Columbia. I wasn’t even aware that they were playing in town until I stopped by the record store I owned at the time, New Clear Days Records, after-hours, to pick up a movie to watch. There was a message on the answering machine from Jamey Jasta.
“I happen to be the most unforgiving and intolerant member of the band. I also happen to be a homophobe.”
The answering machine message went like this:
Hello, this message is for Chris, this is Jamie from the band Hatebreed. I happen to be the most unforgiving and intolerant member of the band. I also happen to be a homophobe... and I was just calling to try to straighten out this little matter that we have here. Apparently you are distributing some sort of flyer or pamphlet trying to slander us, just like you tried to slander Victory and our friend Raybeez in the last little fanzine that you had. Well, we are gonna give you one chance to apologize and straighten this out because we are somewhat, ya know, cool people. You don’t know us… You think you know us… you’ve tried to slander us in this little pamphlet that you put out… All I can say is the other guys in the band don’t even wanna talk this out… we don’t wanna go to jail while we’re in Columbia, but we’d just as soon go to your store and SMASH SHIT IN YOUR FACE AND BREAK EVERYTHING YOU OWN, which we WILL DO if we HAVE TO. I don’t know how you handle things around here, but we don’t let people go around and spread lies about us and just let them get away with it. Now I’m not saying you made these flyers or whatever, but I don’t know who would… and you being the prominent member of the South Carolina scene that you are, we figured that you are probably behind it. So if you’d like to straighten this matter out give us a call at Chris from Stretch Armstrong’s house… and if you would not like to straighten this out then I hope you don’t have any plans on touring, and THIS IS A THREAT, because we don’t appreciate this, OK? Thanks.
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, a third party had printed up flyers chronicling the events of the previous show, and had handed them out at that evening’s Hatebreed gig. Basically the flyer accused the band of being homophobic thugs among other not-so-nice things. (In the original argument that had taken place between myself and the band, in response to the member that repeatedly called me a “faggot,” I suggested that Hatebreed might have a problem with homophobia. One of the other members of the band’s insightful reply was “oh he isn’t afraid of faggots… he just fucking hates them.”)
This flyer, created by persons unknown, sent the band Hatebreed into a rage of wanting to “smash shit in people’s faces.”
So I called this guy at the house where they were staying, and talked to him for an hour about what was on the flyer. At some point I eventually convinced him that I had absolutely nothing to do with the flyer, and that it would not be a good idea for anyone to “smash shit in my face and break everything I own.” He told me that the band’s reaction was “survival”-based, as a flyer like that could damage their “career”.
Jasta’s career has been just fine for twenty years - undamaged by someone’s accusatory flyer at a show in South Carolina. I still haven’t had anyone smash shit in my face or break everything I own. So, I guess we both came out of this all pretty good.
Prettay, prettay, prettay good.
The answering machine message tape was dubbed off, had the Village People’s “Macho Man” mixed in behind it, and was used as an opening tape for a number of my own band’s gigs in the ‘90s.
Here it is, today, as it lives on at You Tube: