20YearView: Hatebreed's Chris Beattie looks back on two decades of pummel and Perseverance
2022 is a big year for Hatebreed. Not only does this mark the 20th anniversary of their album, Perseverance, but it has also been 25 years since the release of their debut full-length, Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire. Perseverance is recognized worldwide as a landmark album for both Hatebreed and metal as a whole. The album skyrocketed the band to the forefront of the genre.
Released on March 26, 2002, Perseverance was the band's second full-length studio album and paved the way for hardcore and metal to enter the mainsteam music discussion with songs such as "I Will Be Heard", "A Call For Blood" and the album's title track, "Perseverance". Perseverance debuted within the top 50 of The Billboard 200 and has inspired both fans and bands alike. The fusion of hardcore and metal has been emulated and evolved relentlessly, but has never been duplicated with the same originality that Hatebreed accomplished two decades ago.
I had the pleasure of talking with Chris Beattie about all of these accomplishments over the past 20 years, what he looks back on, what has stood out to him the most, and what he hopes to see going forward. Chris, throughout all of the band’s success, remains a friendly and humble person, and still retains so much of the passion that has always set Hatebreed apart.
“I had no idea it would have this longevity and now we’re here 20 years later. It's just cool to have that always in your life. You can go back to something that you did 20 years ago and be like ‘WOW! People still like that?” It’s hard enough to get people to like one of your albums, let alone something that is held in such high regard.” Chris stated, reflecting on the longevity of the album.
This album has inspired, now 2-3 generations of metallic lineage, reaching new fans and bridging gaps between the genres, which, when put into perspective, kind of surprised Chris, “You don’t ever really put that into perspective. You get so busy doing shows and playing and you don’t have time to really reflect on what you’re doing and the culture you’re giving back. And it's become part of metal history now and it's really cool to be considered that, because that was never the plan. We just wanted to make heavy records and see people go crazy at shows!”
Despite pressure from the label to make the album more mainstream and “clean”, Hatebreed stuck to their guns and made the record they wanted to make. Just like with bands in the past, Type O Negative being an example, that attitude and authenticity definitely contributed to the longevity of the album. When it comes to doing what’s popular versus living your passion, Chris states “The truth is more important. You just have to be authentic and that always pays off. No matter what it is. You can look back and say ‘We did that how we wanted to do it and stuck to our guns.’ It was a major label for us, we had not been in that world at that time. We came from Victory Records, so it was a big step, but at the same time we were like ‘We’re still going to do our thing.’”
“People like to talk to us, and we take their criticism and stuff like that. We listen to people. But at the end of the day, when we get in the room and start laying stuff down, it’s our decision. I’m glad we just did what we had to do.”
And this is a step all bands can take toward their own success. Throughout the music world, there are plenty of examples of how authenticity paid off over allowing yourself to fall into the trap of short term popularity. “You see it time and time again, and I’ve been doing this a long time, you see a band get a little popular, and then ‘Oh they’re going to make the radio hit’, and then that ‘Oh that radio hit didn’t work, we have to go softer next time,’ and then they try to go back to their roots 2 or 3 albums later and their fans are like ‘Fuck this. These guys sold out.’ As long as you maintain who you are, people can’t really deny it. There’s so many bands that have stuck to their guns and they’re still around. That right there says everything.”
“There’s not another you out there. You have to be original to stand out… And of course people have great criticisms, and record labels want to sell more records, that’s obvious, but longevity is being yourself and sticking to your guns.”
There is no argument that Hatebreed and Perseverance have inspired countless acts and paved the way for more cross genre experimentation. Perseverance has achieved almost legendary status in the industry, but even through that, the impact is not lost on Chris. “You realize at some point it's bigger than you and you take yourself out of it. It’s like, ‘Man, we had a lot to do with the way this dude sees his life and the way he does things.’ Influencing someone’s mind, there’s no greater honor than that.”
The one thing I have always loved about Hatebreed, is they’re “deceptive positivity”. The albums, while aggressive in sound, are uplifting when you take a step back and really soak up what you’re listening to. Which has inspired people in a whole other way. “We hear stories of people who almost killed themselves and heard a song or something like that, and it changed their life. They’re like, ‘I was in such a dark place and I heard Perseverance and it changed everything for me.’ And that is so uplifting for us that you can’t even really put words on that…
There are a lot of stereotypes about heavy metal. People will ask ‘What kind of music do you play?’ Heavy metal. “Oh I can’t listen to that.” So you have to have an open mind and actually listen to our music, and listen to the lyrics and take it all in. I think a lot of people at first are like ‘Oh it's just another metal band,’ but then when you listen and it sinks in and you listen to the words and you listen to the music, it brings you to another place. That’s where the change happens with a lot of people.”
It is also no secret that Hatebreed are fans of supporting new acts. For the next 20 years, Chris wants to see more bands and more artists continue to flourish and grow. “There’s so much good music out there, but it's not given a chance because it doesn’t sound like what’s popular, but the stuff that’s not popular today is the stuff that’s popular 2-3 years from now. So you’ve got to give it a chance and let it find its place in the scene organically instead of trying to force it to sound like something it's not.”
New and young bands in this day and age can distribute their music like never before, but the grind will always be there. When it comes to success, there really is only one way. “Just like the album title: Perseverance. We stuck our nose to the ground and kept grinding, and kept grinding, and kept grinding. For years we did it and nothing was happening. One day though, you’ll have been doing it for so long and getting better at your craft and playing live shows, just stick it out. It’s not for everyone, it’s not easy to do, but perseverance and having the grit and being ok with not being so comfortable. You have to take your lumps before you get anywhere.
“You’re exposing your most vulnerable shit out there. And you’re going to face rejection, there’s going to be people that hate what you do and talk shit, but you have to believe so much in what you’re doing and the greater cause of it down the line that none of that matters.”
Fans hoping for a 20 Years Tour should keep their eyes on the horizon! “We’re talking about something like that. haha! We’re trying to sort everything out with logistics. This pandemic is a logistical nightmare, so we’re trying to sort it out. And, hopefully it will happen. We love playing, so hopefully that will happen!”
“But we are going to try to put something together that is really cool for our fans… Nothing grabs you like playing live music, there’s no experience like that.”
And, as is tradition, an aggressive band has an aggressive favorite dinosaur, at least Chris does! “It’s gotta be a T-Rex. He’s just mean and crazy and has short little arms, but he’ll tear your face off.”
Before parting ways with Chris he did hint at even more exciting news on the horizon: “Everybody should come check us out when live shows return. Hopefully we’ll have a new album in the works as well.”
Here is hoping for TWO big announcements in 2022!