Kingdom Of Sorrow – Jamey Jasta (vocals)

KINGDOM OF SORROW formed over a decade ago when HATEBREED vocalist Jamey Jasta met CROWBAR/DOWN guitarist Kirk Windstein at a CROWBAR show. They struck up a friendship and a mutual love for metal and decided to start their own project. Jasta even booked a show with CROWBAR so the two bands could play together. But the duo’s commitments to their respective bands kept both of KINGDOM OF SORROW’s releases on the boards for nearly two years. On Behind the Blackest Tears, KINGDOM OF SORROW incorporates some new elements into its trade-mark sound.

With the New York and Boston hardcore scenes close by, Connecticut is a state stuck between two major cities. At times, it seems like being either a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan stuck in between the two states, if you can understand my analogy. Do you feel this way or not about the Connecticut hardcore scene?

It’s just one of those things, because Hatebreed is kind of globally still doing our thing. People know the Connecticut sound more, I think, now than a lot of other scenes, which is cool. People ask us all the time about 100 Demons, Death Threat, Wrench in the Works, With Honor … there’s been a lot of bands signed like Hatebreed that have done things nationally and internationally, and Connecticut is kind of its own thing now. It has kind of come into its own right. So I don’t think there’s any stuck-in-the-middle type mentality, especially because there are just so many bands now … there are bands giving me CDs, sending me MySpace links. There are a lot of new bands coming out and doing things as well to be known. We just feel like we’re just part of a global scene … a global community.

How did Kingdom of Sorrow form? What’s the story behind meeting Kirk?

I met Kirk when I booked Crowbar. I actually raised enough money to book them just so Hatebreed could open for Crowbar so we could play together. I followed Crowbar around and had been to other shows in the past. I had met Kirk and he recognized me a couple of different times as just being a die-hard fan. I drove to Providence, Albany and a bunch of different places to see them. Throughout the years, we kept in touch. We did a Hatebreed/Crowbar tour in England where we invited Crowbar to come and open for us. We partied and hung out every day and were doing press and going to the radio stations together doing interviews and somehow it came up, “Let’s do a record, let’s do a project.” When we got back (to the U.S.), people had already started reporting about it all over the world … Japan, South America … all these different Web sites all over England … Europe, the States and Canada. I started getting asked about the project. People started calling it CrowBreed. A lot of people were very doubtful that it would ever happen because of our schedules and our partying at the time. We were going to interviews drunk and people thought we were full of shit. So we decided to prove everybody wrong and make a good record and actually make it happen. It took a long time, but it came out, and now we have another record in the can. It’s going to come out in June.

Can you talk about the new Kingdom of Sorrow album and what can fans expect from it?

It definitely has the sound we achieved on the first record. But it’s got all these new dimensions. When people put it in and they hear it, they’re going to know it’s Kingdom. They’re going to hear my voice, and they’re going to hear Kingdom. They’re going to hear Kirk’s voice, and they’re going to hear that Kingdom … guitar tone. Everything’s there, but it’s got these new dimensions that I think really add to the songs being more memorable. If you put in the first record, there are songs that, if you didn’t know who the band was, you’d say, “Oh that sounds like Crowbar, or that sounds like Hatebreed.” With this, it kind of sounds like its own. It’s like the better elements from the first album are showing through on this album.

It definitely sounds like the stuff you’re doing with Kingdom of Sorrow has more melody, and your vocal style has less of the shout-vocal sound. Was this collaboration meant to be something that you would not normally present to Hatebreed or Crowbar?

Yeah, a little bit of that, definitely. We knew that our fans that we’ve built up through the years in our other bands were going to be very critical of this. We wanted to please them, but we also wanted to do stuff that was fun and memorable and creative in a way where it was fulfilling to us to write these riffs and words and jam them and get musicians to play them. We had certain things in mind, but once we got in the room and were writing together, it just became its own thing. So it wasn’t necessarily ideas that we had that we thought, “This wouldn’t fit.” Some of it was. I had a couple of acoustic parts that I wouldn’t use for Hatebreed that I ended up using for Kingdom, … but there was a lot of stuff that was done on the spot.

Now that the record is done, did it turn out as you expected it to while writing and recording it?

Because it was done piecemeal, at different times and different recordings … it actually turned out better because we had time to live with it. When Kirk and I got together this past December, there were so many ideas that were already done, so we said, “Let’s work with this stuff.” We wanted to come back to the riffs and melodies and lyrics that we really felt good hearing over and over again. And I think that just made for a more diverse record. Every song has its own identity, every song is very different from the one prior to it. I think it came out way better than the first album, and we didn’t make it as dense of a record or as heavy as a record, but this has more breathing room, and the songs are just completely different from the first record.

Lyrically, how does Kingdom of Sorrow differ from Hatebreed? Or does the different style of music dictate the lyrics?

I’ve always said it’s like a different place. Kingdom of Sorrow is like a place that would be an alter-ego in a way, where this is a place that you visit but you don’t always want to go there … but you need balance. You are always going to face things that are sad or things that are difficult to deal with. When we were putting the lyrics together for this record, we wanted to make sure that it was expressing stuff that we wouldn’t do in our other bands. It had to be specifically for Kingdom … so that it remained its own thing. The way that the songs came together … we were able to have songs that were different from the first album. There were all these new and interesting things to sing about for this. It wasn’t hard to come up with different topics, more in an organic way. With the first record, we were more critical of ourselves, we wanted some songs that weren’t too negative, but this record deals with all different topics.

Relapse Records has a varied roster of great metal subgenres. Where do you fit into their label, and how have they been treating you as far as promotion?

They’re treating us amazing. Even though we’re a side project, the first record did really well. It sold almost 40,000 copies, which is one of their bigger releases. And we felt great about that because we thought it was great to have an indie … an incredible, cool, artist-friendly label that is willing to treat this like a real release and not like a side project. Same thing with the second record … really wanting to do it right, everybody at the label was saying, “Let’s set this up right, let’s make this a priority and get this in all the stores and all the ads in the magazines you want to get in and get the press and publicity out there.” They really put a lot of time and effort into it. So it feels really good because we worked our asses off on this, and it’s nice to have this two-way street. And as far as where we fit in … I feel like we don’t fit in. That’s why it’s kind of a cool trade-off because we’re not like any of their other bands, and it makes us stand out a little more.

Can you explain how you got the gig to be the host of MTV2’s Headbangers Ball? Because you pretty much resurrected the show.

I’m working on a book that will tell the whole story of everything, from the audition to all the interviews from everybody, from Metallica to Bruce Dickinson to Slash to even wrestlers like Stacy Keibler. We had on Jada Pinkett Smith. We had all different types of people on the show. Hopefully the book will come out early next year, barring no more holdups or issues. The story is pretty simple … I heard they were resurrecting the show and I went in and I took an interview and then they said, “Send us a tape.” So I sent them a tape and then they said, “Come in.” I interviewed a lot of people on my own before I sent in the tape. One of them was Vanilla Ice, and there’s a whole chapter in the book about it. I wanted to stand out and make sure they knew when I went for the interview that I wanted to do the right thing and be diplomatic. I wanted to cover all subgenres of heavy, aggressive music. I talk about all that in the book.

Was there a strict format as to what you had to play, or could you offer your own suggestions?

I always offered my own suggestions, and I was a little bit pesky about it, too. But I wanted to make sure that the right thing would be done and be very diplomatic. Some people wanted to see Hammerfall and Manowar … power metal. Other people wanted to see Madball and Sick Of It All. Other people wanted to see Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse and Carcass. And other people wanted to see Linkin Park, Godsmack and Metallica. You had to be diplomatic and make sure everything was covered. For me, I was more in the corner of getting the Napalms and Sick Of It Alls on, which we did. We even had Converge videos played. The really underground bands were able to get their videos on there. So everybody got their chance of getting their videos seen, and that’s all that matters.

By Kelley Simms

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