Kingdom of Sorrow, featuring Crowbar/Down guitarist Kirk Windstein and Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta have just released their crushing second album, Behind the Blackest Tears. Loud got Jasta on the phone in the early hours of the morning (his time) for a chat about the record, fitting the project around his Hatebreed activities, the album’s artwork, touring plans and more.
Q: Hey Jamey, what’s the latest in your world?
Jamey Jasta: I just got actually back from a tour, the last show was with Kiss. That was badass! Played with Kiss, got off the plane and back to work.
Q: (Laughs) Now, you perhaps had some more time to write and record this album than you did with your debut. Was it a more organic, natural process this time around?
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, it was just when I was inspired, I just kept pumping out the riffs and writing lyrics and sending them back to Kirk. You know, he put his input in there on a couple of tunes, and it just happened really naturally. And here it is; I can’t believe it’s out. I’m actually looking at it right now; it’s pretty crazy.
Q: You’re looking at right now – can you tell us about the artwork concept for this album?
Jamey Jasta: Well, there’s two different covers and they both kind of go with the theme of the first record. On the first record we had this like dark kind of knight figure and… we just wanted a really metal, dark, evil kind of looking guy to represent this fictional place that we’re visiting, the kingdom of sorrow. That’s what we mean that dark place, ’cause it’s kind of like a fictional, alter-ego kind of creative thing. Musically, it’s more melodic, it’s more raw, it’s more metal, it’s more… it’s just different for us, different type of lyrics, everything. So the art needed to be like that and kinda stays with the theme of the first record as well.
Q: There seems to be more variety on this record as well. Was this a conscious thing?
Jamey Jasta: Well, I think we were just listening to different stuff. When you do a side project it’s kind of like emulating the bands that you look up to and that you love. We were both I guess listening to more Sabbath, Pentagram, Trouble and just some different influences (ended up) on there, whereas on the first record I just think we were trying to maybe please Down and Crowbar and Hatebreed fans too much. This time we didn’t have to worry about the please the fans (that way).
Q: That said, I still think a lot of the people who liked your debut will still like this album. Were you pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out?
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, it’s like we have our own sound now. It’s definitely, I’m definitely having people tell me like, “I liked the heaviness of the first record better” and then I’ll have people who are like, “I love this record, I didn’t like the first record”. So it’s nice to get different feedback on it. You can’t please everyone; you have to try to do whatever is genuinely inspired. Like, the only thing was if it gave us chills or it gave us a charge or it gave us a good feeling, we were only interested if it was inspired and genuine. So it’s nice to kinda step outside your comfort zone and say, “man, this is not what I would do (normally), but this is cool.”
Q: Where did you derive your lyrical inspiration from for this album?
Jamey Jasta: Well, it’s kind of split down the middle of stuff that’s personal and then stuff that’s just not even about me. So that’s cool, ’cause it’s nice to step away from yourself and just sing about other people or sing about situations that don’t involve you. But then there’s songs that are really personal, like ‘Salvation Denied’ and ‘From Heroes To Dust’. That’s important to have in there, but at least in this band, there’s no kind of like set subject matter, so there’s all different topics on here. There’s everything from forgiveness and taking a different look at yourself, but then there’s also songs about violence and corruption, witch-hunting and those kinds of things. They’re also often things I can’t sing about in my other bands.
Q: Is that a release, to have that creative outlet, whereas with Hatebreed you are surely restricted in what you can and can’t write about?
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, totally. With Kingdom, the first record there were like songs about relationships and both of our daughters, there’s songs about drug abuse, there’s songs that are really personal, kind of introspective ones. So with this record, we wanted to have that, because people have that connection, but then we also didn’t want to… we wanted to do some other stuff. I mean, there’s a song called ‘Envision the Divide’, which is basically about the effect that music has once a person who created it has passed away, and kind of like influences a lot of other musicians from beyond the grave. We were talking about that, that whole like, we wouldn’t have this on a Crowbar or a Hatebreed record, it just wouldn’t fit within the themes of our records. That was cool, just to do go outside of that.
Q: Indeed. Now, with regard to touring for Kingdom of Sorrow, how do you manage to fit it around your Hatebreed schedule?
Jamey Jasta: Well, after the first record, Hatebreed was about to take about nine months off, but Down wasn’t, they were about to take off. Kirk said, “You know, just tour without me”. So I just started doing those shows and feeling it out and people were really into it and the response was great when touring with Kingdom. But then when Hatebreed got back on the working horse, there was no stopping us. We had three releases in a year’s time – we had a #1 DVD, then a covers album, we had a studio album. Hatebreed is definitely my number one priority; it’s a band where there’s always new places we can go to and there’s always new touring opportunities popping up. So I’m booked like until the end of the year, but when the opportunity arises for Kingdom to do something, I want to do it. Hopefully Kirk will be able to do it, because I really don’t want to tour without Kirk, but I just did because he gave me the blessing. Luckily, the fans were really still into it. But hopefully after the Ozzfest, we’ll see what’s out there. I saw High on Fire at the airport in Denmark and they’re like, “We want to take Kingdom of Sorrow on tour”. So there’s a lot of cool opportunities out there. There’s nothing set in stone yet. Hatebreed’s doing Mayhem with Rob Zombie, Korn and Lamb of God and then we’re doing like a tonne of stuff until the end of the year. So I just don’t know. And so is Crowbar, they’ve got the new album coming out at the end of the year. So it might be hard to do some more Kingdom dates, but we’ll see.
Q: Have you heard much of the material that Kirk is working on for the new Crowbar album?
Jamey Jasta: Oh yeah, it’s great. I helped him produce two demos and I helped him do the record deal here in the States. I think the stuff’s great. It’s been five years since Lifesblood for the Downtrodden came out, so it’s really… As a Crowbar fan, it’s like, “come on man, let’s get this record out” (laughs). I wanted to get that record out before the Kingdom one came out, but it just wasn’t possible. But yeah, I’m definitely stoked about this record.
Q: Great to hear. On a more personal note, any new releases you’ve been enjoying lately?
Jamey Jasta: Yeah, I love the Alice In Chains Black Gives Way To Blue album. I know it’s getting a little old now, it’s probably been out for about a year, but I love the record. I really like Deftones’ Diamond Eyes and we just played with Deftones, Hatebreed just played with Deftones and it was great. They were great and that record’s really cool. I also like the new Danko Jones record; it’s really good.
Q: I’ll have to agree with you on all three counts there (laughs).
Jamey Jasta: (Laughs) Yeah.
Q: Final question – any famous last words?
Jamey Jasta: Just thank you to everybody in Australia for supporting my music. I love Australia, it’s one of the greatest places on Earth and I hope to come there with both bands sometime in the near future. Also, thank you for the interview.