FEATURE INTERVIEW: HATEBREED – “Motörhead were the ultimate crossover band!.” FRANK NOVINEC

Posted on by Oran

Twenty Six years into their career and Hatebreed are not slowing down for anybody! Their new studio opus, ‘Weight of the Fall Self’ finally saw its global release today [Friday, November 27th] and mark the occasion, guitarist, Frank Novinec called from his home in Florida to talk about the album, his new record store and much more…

Originally scheduled for a May release, Hatebreed have been sitting on their new album, ‘Weight of the Fall Self’ for far too long, which has to have been beyond frustrating, to say the least.

Today, the band can exhale with relief as their eighth studio album finally got to spread its wings and cast an imposing shadow of the heavy music kingdom.

Heavier than a concrete whale, ‘Weight of the Fall Self’ sees Hatebreed crafting one of the most ferocious releases of 2020 despite knowing the global shit-show that would unfold as the months rolled by.

Guitarist [and recent record store co-owner], Frank Novinec kicks back and talks about the new album, his new record store in the Sunshine State, the current state of the music industry and much more…

OD – This new album is just crushing from start-to-finish. We know that there was an original date of Spring for the release but then the world went to shit. Was it touch and go with regards to deciding on an official release date or were you just waiting to see what was gonna happen?

FRANK – I’m terrible with timeframes [laughing], but the people at the label were very concerned about what was happening with everything and decided to put a pin in it and hope for the best with a November release.

It’s now been 6 months since the original proposed release date, so in my mind, it puts us closer the timeframe of when we can hopefully be able to tour again [whenever that is gonna be].

I’d rather have it closer to that time than longer because the way I see it, people these days have a very short attention span and the closer we release this album to when things might be back together, the better. It’s not like we’ve got any confirmed tour dates at the moment but releasing the album now, as opposed to back in May is a better approach, considering what’s happening in the entertainment world right now.

We just don’t know the logistics involved, but I’m just trying to think of the positives here and with that being said, it’s been four years since our last album and we’re just happy to have new music coming out sooner to things being normal than not

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OD – From opening track ‘Instinctive’ to last track ‘Invoking Dominance’ there is no question that this is a fucking face-smashing album. Was there anything different about this albums background/production that was a little out of the ordinary, or was it just business as usual?

FRANK – For me, I know this is going to sound ridiculous [laughing], but when we were in the studio, I was insisting that the guitars had to sound heavier than ever before! We really did capture that. We mixed the Marshall’s that we normally use [JCM 2000 TSL 100’S with EVH 5150 heads] and we got this absolutely crushing tone. Also, Jamie [Jasta – Vocals] was that extra bit pissed on this album. As a matter of fact, he [Jamie] specifically requested that he really wanted to go over the top and scream his head off on this album as loud as he can and Zeus [producer] was like: “Really? You want to put in an Overdrive more than you usually do?

I know that we’ve crossed over into so many genres and we connect with so many different people that are into loads of different flavours of music and we are mindful that there’s not really a lot more we can do with the genre but we want to make it as intense as we can. I’m just grateful that we’re not in the ’60s and ’70s where bands were putting out 2/3 albums a year! [Laughing]

OD – I believe that during the time when the release was on pause, you guys decided to change the tracklisting by adding ‘Cling To Life’, and Jamie threw down some extra vocals, was there anything else that was different about the original version to the existing one now?

FRANK – No, the whole album was locked down. We put that track in there because we wanted to break up the monotony of the intensity. Sometimes we all just need to take a breathe and that’s what this is, Hatebreed style! It’s not 100% screaming and super fast. There are four relentless tracks on the opening of that album and we figured that it was a little bit different than the other tracks and it really works.

OD – “When the Blade Drops” was a standalone release back in February when nobody expected what was about to happen. How come that track was not included on the album?

FRANK – Umm…. to be honest with you. I wanted that track on the album. It’s one of my favourite songs and it’s kind of tough for me that it’s not on there.

The idea as to just release a stand-alone track and I really would like to have picked another one as I enjoy playing it. It is what it is. It’s not like that song is not out there. It’s not like we live in the CD era, where it would be lost but kids can access it on Spotify, or whatever.

Yeah, it would have been cool to have it on the album but at least it’s easy to find, thanks to the internet.

OD – Of course, the album was recorded before the global lock-down but since then, have you been working on new music or ideas?

FRANK – Not so much as Jamie and Chris [Beattie – Bass] handles most of the songwriting. We’re kind of spread out at the moment. I’m currently down in Florida and enjoy the hot weather and being at home. I enjoy the beach and being outside etc. During the lockdown, I became the co-owner of a Record Store here in Florida!

OD – How did that come about?

FRANK – Well, there wasn’t any plans for this to happen. The opportunity just presented itself to me and I ran with it. The store is called ‘Gruffs Vinyl‘ and it’s been awesome as I’m a record collector. I love all kinds of music, so I’m really enjoying being involved with it. Will I get sick of it?

Probably, but right now, I’m just loving it. It needed a lot of T&C and care so in some ways it’s been a kind of money pit but things are looking good now.

Of course, there’s a lot going on with Hatebreed also, there’s Hatebreed Larger “Live for This Larger” which has been going really well and I have my own Hot Sauce also [Hella Hot Sauce], so, I guess we’ve been trying to make the most of this downtime as best we can.

I have to keep myself above water as anyone in the music industry will know only too well. I’ve had to explain to my family and neighbours about what I do as we [touring artists] were the first to shut down and we’re gonna be the last to come back!

They just look at me and say; “Live performances will be coming back soon!” and I have to explain: “My line of work is not live shows where everybody is sitting down, it’s more like people climbing on top of each other, bleeding and sweating on each other!” [Laughing]

OD – As soon as things resume to order, is the plan to tour your asses off this album or will it run into other scheduled things because of the time out?

FRANK – You know what? Easier said than done. We just don’t know what’s gonna happen. How many venues will survive this? Also, what insurance policies will be in place in two years time? It’s all relevant to the logistics in making this work for us and so many other bands’ out there. We have to just sit tight and hope for the best. It’s crazy that we’re living through this and nobody saw it coming.

We closed down our operation last October but had we known what was going to happen we would have toured right up to March if we could have.

OD – Is the Parkway Drive European tour still on the table?

FRANK – We had a whole world tour for this year so as far as I know, it’s all scheduled for next year. Right now, our next scheduled show in Europe in late March and to be honest, none of us knows what is going to happen.

ODHatebreed has been a staple band in the hardcore scene for some time now, but the lines between genres is beginning to [thankfully] blur with more than ever before with bands becoming less intimidated by cross-pollinating styles and genres. Do you see a change happening with these younger bands, like Code Orange, Turnstile, Knocked Loose, Jesus Piece, etc who are all taking influence from you guys, SOD, Carnivore, Suicidal etc?

FRANK – When I was in my younger years and was going to see bands like Venom, Agnostic Front, Celtic Frost, Possessed etc, there was still a huge underground movement with the tape trading etc which made it more ‘exclusive‘ if you know what I mean. Nowadays, kids can just access anything they want at the touch of a button. There is so much Hip-Hop influence in everything today, it can be heard in most music across so many genres.

It all makes sense why bands are influenced by so many different styles today, as it’s just so easy to access it and then, of course, certain styles of music are used in all forms of popular culture, TV commercials, movies and games etc. I can understand when someone listens to bands like Agnostic Front or Youth of Today and view it as being very removed from everything else. I think that some young kids that are going to see Parkway Drive and catch us opening up the show, they might view us as being a bunch of old guys with guitars and I totally get that. [Laughing]

That’s just the evolution of music. Look at when Black Sabbath came out back in the late ’60s/early ’70s. It was so groundbreaking and then in no time, Punk arrived and then a decade later, you had the Trash Metal explosion in the early/mid-’80s. That a huge jump in music evolution over such a short period of time. To me, it all goes back to Black Sabbath

The ’80s was the last era where we consistently had good music.

OD – Do you think that a certain romanticism between band and fan has been fractured because of the evolution in e-commerce?

FRANK – Absolutely! Like anything, if you invest time in it, you’re gonna be more respectful of whatever that may be. With music, people had to wait for things to come out, go to your record store to buy the music. Now it can be accessed almost immediately.

It’s so important for Hatebreed to be able to appeal to as many people as we can and these days we need to tour as much as we can and the more obscure the more chances that we’ll appeal to a wider audience. Hatebreed has been around for 26-years!! Just looking at the band’s history, even long before I was in the band, they toured with Slayer, Type O Negative, Dropkick Murphys, Napalm Death etc! It’s been amazing to have had that opportunity to mix with so many different genres.

OD – Your career has seen you in Ringworm, Integrity, Pitboss 2000, Terror and now Hatebreed. So, you’ve got a good perspective on how things have changed over the years. In your opinion, do you see it becoming much more difficult for underground, hardcore, crossover music to survive as venues are closing and radio stations are damn-near extinct? Do you think it will have a profound effect on the integrity of the genre’s future, as it’s kind of a rite of passage to tour certain circuits?

FRANK – In some ways, but you’re looking at it from a “for us” perspective. Who’s to say that there are kids out there that have found their version of ‘The Age of Quarrel‘ [Cro-Mags] with some of these younger bands albums. That’s the magic of music. Kids will [hopefully] always keep some kind of a scene happening and they will find an album that really does it for them. It’s just the way the whole thing works. As I said, it’s the magic of music. Whatever that album is, may not be what we consider to be ‘Victim of Pain‘ [Agnostic Front], or ‘Reign in Blood‘ [Slayer] or whatever but they [the younger generation] have their version of that and that’s just the way it is.

At the end of the day, it’s all one thing. I’ve gotta say, the ultimate cross-over band that set the bar to the highest level was Motörhead. We were fortunate to be able to play the Motörboat show [2015]and I got to meet Lemmy and show him my hand tatt’s of Snaggletooth [Motörhead mascot] and it was the greatest moment in my life.

OD -Let’s talk about live gigs for a moment, specifically the Bloodstock Festival, which you’ve performed at numerous times over the last few years.

But that year [2012] was a defining moment for the festival as there was raised eyebrows about the prospect of a Metalcore/Hardcore band playing at a ‘METAL’ festival, do you remember the moment when the audience succumb and you had them in the palm of your hands and also, that must be a fucking epic feeling?

FRANK – We’ve done Warped Tour, Download etc so, we are used to different environments. People always ask me: “What do you prefer playing? Huge festivals with 50k people, or smaller ones?” I just love the fact that we can perform at both. To be honest, I’d be unhappy if we couldn’t do either of those sized festivals, but for me, especially at this point in my career, I personally enjoy the shows where we need to go out there and prove ourselves. We still need to pump fresh air into this balloon that is Hatebreed.

I don’t care what kind of band you are, if you go out there and make everybody feel good and put 100% into what you’re doing, chances are you can win them over. When we played at Bloodstock for the first time, it was exactly that. We just made everybody feel welcome and threw down as best we could and it worked. Just knowing that we changed some minds and opinions that day, is a good feeling.

That is the main reason why I joined Hatebreed. We want to be a band that unifies people and is more of a universal scene rather than sticking to performing in the sweaty basements of America.

OD – What albums come to mind that are particularly important to you?

FRANK – Ummmm… These are just a few that come to mind. KISS, ‘Destroyer‘, just about any Blue Oyster Cult album [they are my favourite group], SlayerShow No Mercy‘, because that was my introduction into the band, hmm, The Rolling Stones, ‘Goat Head Soup‘! I could be here all day. I just love great music and there is so much of it out there.

I have to say, I’m really loving the buzz of the new AC/DC album ‘Power UP‘. It’s great to see that people are enjoying it.

I’m a Bon Scott guy [no offence to Brian Johnson] and still have all the respect and love for them but was not really following their stuff over the last few decades but in the same breathe, I would stand behind the argument that they are one of the all-time greatest Rock bands out there.

But there’s just something about this album, the current line up, and the timing of its release that’s really connected with people. As I said, it’s the magic of music.

HatebreedWeight of The Fall Self‘ is out now via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy here.

Oran O’Beirne

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