Matt Byrne of Hatebreed talks touring, transitioning, and (Randy Blythe’s) trialing

We caught up with drummer, Matt Byrne, of Hatebreed on their The Divinity of Purpose Tour with Shadows Fall, Dying Fetus, and The Contortionist. Matt discussed changing labels, their buddy Randy Blythe of Lamb of God’s trial, and how the music industry has changed.

Hey, Matt, thank you so much for taking the time. So how is the tour going so far?

“Excellent! We are about at the halfway point, or maybe a little more. All the bands are great. We have known the Shadows Fall and Dying Fetus a long time. We have done tours with them in the past, and it is cool to see a new band the Contortionist rocking out every night. They are different from what I expected. Great band, a lot of great parts, they’re great players, and everyone is having a great time out here. The turnouts are great, a good number of the shows have been sold out. We are back to playing smaller clubs and stuff, more intimate settings (up close and personal) with the fans. The fans are enjoying it and so are we!”

How was it to go from your past label to your current label, Razor and Tie, and what was the decision in going that route?

“Well we were on E1. The last three projects were with E1 Music we did a Live DVD (Live Dominance), our cover album “For the Lions”, and our full-length self-titled album with them. So, our main guy over at E1 Records, kinda made the jump to another label, and we’re tight with him. He just knows his shit, man, and he loves the band and we work well together as a team, so the prospect of going over there was always talked about. Going over to Razor and Tie, they have a lot of great bands, they have a lot of great people…a good team put together working for the bands, and they just do a great job. You know, at the end of the day…doing all the talks and stuff, when it was time to do a new project, they seemed to be the best fit. And so far it has been great, the album has been out almost two weeks now, and we beat our numbers from the last album cycle, so that’s good…you always want to move forward, you know with every project you do. And it is the highest charting albums we’ve done in our career thus far being this far into our career and have something like this happen, you know, to have a milestone like that is great! Shows the talent of the team at the label, and the energy that really goes behind what they do, and working for a band like us…bringing us to that level. So yeah, it is a good fit.”

You guys are close with Randy of Lamb of God, what do you think about what is going on with him? How security is ‘lax’ at certain venues, and how this is going to change in the future?

“Well it is definitely going to change the game across the board. It is unfortunate that something like this happened. I mean, no band wants to hurt their fans, intentionally or do they want to see their fans get hurt at a show. I guess…I can be…it gets hectic at shows like this. Hatebreed shows…Lamb of God shows…heavy metal shows in general, there are circle pits, and they are stage diving…all this stuff, ya know? And I guess you run the risk of people getting hurt. Security is there to make sure things like that don’t happen, so it is just an unfortunate event. I hope he can pull out of it obviously he is innocent. Like I said, the type of guy he is, and you know…no band wants to see their fans hurt. The type of guy he is, he’s not a violent person, and he would never do something like this intentionally. It was an accident, ya know?”

“So across the board, you are gonna see tightened security at shows, you’re gonna see more security, and hopefully they won’t be dicks. And ya know, we all know too, security guards sometimes can ‘man-handle’ the younger fans.  Like “what are you doing bro?? He was just crowd surfing! He came over the barricade, chill out. ” Ya know, just walk him off to the side, there is no reason to wrench him up by the neck, the kid weighs 90lbs. You’re this big…Hulk of a dude…chill out. So, they got to keep that in mind too, but I think you will see clubs are just gonna take more preventative measures to make sure their ass isn’t on the line too.” 

What do you think of the way the Music Industry has changed, and what does that mean for newer artists?

“Man.. I couldn’t even tell you. It has changed so much in the 10 years that we’ve been going really strong, like on a “professional level”, since 2002 when Perseverance came out, up until now…it’s a different game, ya know? Think about what Best Buy looks like, anymore…you used to walk into Best Buy… half the store was a huge CD and DVD display out. They have scaled that down to less than half of what that used to be, so there ya go. Are people buying CD’s anymore, physical actual CDs? People are downloading! That’s the way things are nowadays. So, labels are constantly scrambling for the new market idea, or the new way to market or sell music to people … to get around them downloading it for free, ya know?”

“It’s an unstable environment right now, and it is tough for a band to crack into it, when…and sustain a living, and make a living, and have longevity in a career of being a musician…when it is rocky terrain. Even the labels don’t know what to do…really. So I mean, as a musician and as a player, we do it for the love of it…first and foremost. That’s where it all starts, you love playing your instrument, and you love playing your songs in front of people and that will never go away. Especially for a band like Hatebreed, we have always been a hard touring band because that is what we are all about. It’s not like we are being played on the radio all the time, ya know? We aren’t a top 40 band! Our fans our loyal! They come to the shows, and that is what we do in turn…we stay on the road, and we hit every city we can ever think of and we play to our fans. So that is really how a band like, us, sustains a living. So for a new artist coming up, I think that is what you have to do: network out, hit the road, play to as many people as you can, resource out to promoters and booking agents and what not, and really… it is all about networking and being active in your career. Cause the days of signing to a record deal and the ‘train is rolling’ and you are along for the ride, I think those days are gone. You have to be hands on…and hussle.”