Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta Explains His ‘Lars Was Right’ Shirt
Jamey Jasta, whose band’s name was drawn from a Misfits track, would love to see the horror punks take their reunion on the road. In the singer’s heart, that tour would consist of Hatebreed, the Original Misfits and Metallica.
Jasta was interviewed on Speak N’ Destroy, the podcast about all things Metallica. (He's a big fan; Hatebreed even covered “Escape” from Ride the Lightning.) No stranger to the podcast format, the singer hosts his own The Jasta Show, where he’s welcomed guests like the Misfits' Jerry Only and Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett.
His Hatewear Clothing line offers shirts featuring Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, a “Randy Blythe is My Homeboy” design, "Robb Flynn is My Favorite Rapper" and a shirt that says simply: “Lars Was Right.”
“People send me pictures of them wearing the shirt at Metallica shows,” he said proudly.
The shirt is in reference to the Metallica drummer’s famous public fight with Napster, the file sharing behemoth that kick-started the cultural conversation about illegal music downloading. The band’s image took a significant hit. They were painted by some as greedy out of touch rock stars who were trying to fight the future.
In truth, Metallica have embraced changing technologies (they’ve long offered MP3s of their shows, for example). It wasn’t about money. It was about control, who would profit from their art, and how things would change for all creative media. In the years since, the fortunes of guys like Kim Dot Com clearly demonstrate that some would, in fact, profit from “free” music.
The "Lars Was Right" shirt? Jasta speaks from personal experience.
Sixteen years ago, Hatebreed released their second album, Perseverance, on Universal. At the time, their publicists advised them to keep quiet about illegal downloading. Jasta recalls, “We had to ride that line. 'Don't come off [like you care] about money. Because in hardcore and punk rock, if God forbid you make any money, then you’re called a ‘sellout’ and kids jump ship.”
“The album was leaked very early and we didn’t know the detriment it was going to cause to the first week [sales]. At one point there was talk that we were going to sell 50,000 in our first week, which was more than what some hardcore bands had sold in their entire discographies. People were also using [downloading] to sabotage," he adds.
“Metallica was speaking out about it so some people were being like, ‘Well, now let’s put all their stuff up there!,” he continued. “When you become successful, you don’t realize there are hundreds if not thousands of people who are angry about it. I thought people would just be happy that a bunch of kids who had nothing were now on a major label. I thought it was the American Dream! I thought people were going to be psyched! Then I found out people were saying we sold out by going to Universal and they were just going to steal the record. I was heartbroken."
“Why? We work so hard. We weren’t rich. I had an infant daughter. I was late on the rent. And we were considered a big band at that point. My girlfriend was like a saint, supporting me. Then all of these people who are my 'friends' and my fans are going online and stealing our record, months before it was out? It was heartbreaking,” says the vocalist.
Jasta said Perseverance eventually sold over 400,000 copies. But the lost sales are less about money and more about the long-term advantages of impressive numbers. As he explained, managers and agents still use first week chart positions and overall Nielsen Soundscan totals (in addition to social media and streaming) as metrics when deciding which bands to put onto bigger tours.
“It makes you think. If it wasn’t for Napster and Limewire, we probably would have had a gold or even platinum album. With those extra copies, we probably could have created a small fortune for a lot of the other bands.”
As Jasta spoke about the industry politics involved in putting together touring packages, he was asked whether or not Hatebreed will ever get to tour with Metallica. “I don’t know, man," said the singer. "I hope so. There are four or five bands with staying power in America who can do arenas. The last time we did an arena tour was a short [run] with Slipknot in 2015. The dream tour is Metallica, Original Misfits, Hatebreed.”
In the wide-ranging discussion, he also spoke about discovering hard rock, metal and hardcore in Connecticut (“the Metal Up Your Ass patch? My mom was like, ‘No way!’ When you’re a kid, that makes you want it even more!”); the Black Album; Lou Reed; the importance of constructive criticism; and the wisdom of Lars Ulrich's dad, Torben.
Check out the Speak N' Destroy podcast here.