Chris Beattie of Hatebreed

I don’t want to be overly aggressive, but I like to have a clean tone so you can hear every note, like defined individually, but I like to dirty it up so it’s in the mix where it’s almost like a guitar but it has a lot of bottom to it. I like balls, and the definition. Those are my key things.
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Interview conducted and edited by Bryan Beller
Interview original transcription by Katie Garibaldi

Photo by Alison Webster

You guys are from Connecticut?

Yeah.

How old are you?

34.

Did you ever go to school for music or anything like that or are you just self-taught?

No, I’m self-taught.

Do you play any other instruments besides bass?

Yeah, I write music on the guitar.

How would you describe yourself from a genre standpoint?

We’re a hardcore band but we kind of evolved into like a metal band. So I’d say a crossover band—somewhere in that middle playing field I guess.

How much hardcore punk influence do you think there is to metal generally today?

If there was no hardcore punk, there’d probably be no metal at all. It kind of evolved into like one giant beast at this point. In metal riffs you’ll hear hardcore influence. Everyone is kind of into everything now. It’s not separate like it used to be.

Has what you do bass-wise changed over the years, as there’s been more metal creeping into the hardcore?

Yeah, definitely. I’ve been totally influenced by metal bands. Metal bands first got me to pick up the bass so that’s always been close to my heart. In this band, I don’t want to say we matured as musicians – a lot more metal crept in – but we still have the hardcore influence.

Who were some of the earlier bands that made you pick up the bass?

Sick Of It All, early Biohazard, Cro-Mags. On the metal side is Entombed, Carcass, and things along that line.

What’s the mission of the bass in Hatebreed?

Just to keep the rhythm section tight and always keep that groove kicking you in the balls.

You may have answered my next question already, but I’ll ask it anyway. What do you want the audience to be left with after a show?

Their jaw dropped and they’re like, “What the fuck just happened here?” [Laughs].

Bass-wise, what are you favorite tunes from the last record? Anything new and interesting come up during the tracking of it, or was it just straight down the middle for you?

Yeah, we had a couple. We actually tuned to D for some of the songs, which I thought was kind of cool for us. “Everyone Bleeds Now,” that’s an awesome track. It’s great treadmill running music. It’s strong all the way through and it’s really good. It’s got a great groove. “Every Lasting Scar” is amazing. “In Ashes [They Shall Reap]” is a great song. It’s a little bit different than what we normally do but it’s really cool. It’s a nice, driving song.

That song has got a couple of exposed moments where the bass is exposed, and you can hear the edge and the dirt and the tone. Same thing with “Through the Thorns”—you can hear what’s going on there. What are you after tone-wise?

I don’t want to be overly aggressive, but I like to have a clean tone so you can hear every note, like defined individually, but I like to dirty it up so it’s in the mix where it’s almost like a guitar but it has a lot of bottom to it. I like balls, and the definition. Those are my key things.

As far as gear is concerned, are you getting that distortion from the amp or are you getting it from pedals?

SansAmp.

Is it a Bass Driver?

Yeah. It’s the small pedal. I’ve tried all their stuff but I keep going back to the pedal because it’s my favorite.

What’s the rig on stage?

Depending on the venue, I usually have 2 to 4 SVT cabs, and I use the SVT-2 Pro [heads]. That’s basically been my gear for the past ten years.

What’s your main axe?

I have my own signature series—the Jackson.

The signature model, is it a 4 or a 5?

It’s a 4-string.

Is it tuned down?

I have one tuned to C and one tuned to D.

So when you say C and D, you mean standard all the way across, right?

Yeah. All across the board.

Real quick about the Metallica cover, “Escape,” the bonus track, how did that come about? Is Cliff a factor for you?

Yeah. I think Cliff pretty much influenced every bass player out there today. If they said he didn’t, they’re lying. He was a major factor. The way that came about was actually before we recorded Supremacy, we would demo and stuff and all that in the studio, and we were screwing around playing songs, and then we were like, “Why don’t we just record this?” Before we knew it, we had an album [For The Lions, 2009, Koch], which was kind of cool. It gives people a little taste of what influenced us and paved the path for us.

What do you make of the huge commercial success of not just Hatebreed, but some of these other more extreme metal acts? Just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for some of these acts to have top ten records and Grammy nominations and stuff like that.

I embrace it. I think it’s great because everyone that’s been getting the Grammy nominations, ourselves included, everyone’s been out there working really hard. Like Lamb of God – those guys deserve it. They’ve been doing it for years. It took a while but the door got kicked open and everyone’s enjoying the success. On the other hand, some of these bands don’t have to work as hard. They don’t have to pay their dues like traveling and doing tours in bands and all that. But it gets the music to more people and that was the whole point of our journey. We wanted to play to as many people as possible and we get the chance to do that. I think that’s really cool.

It’s funny, the ten bands that are on here, a lot of the breakthrough albums happened in the last 4 or 5 years, but almost all of them have been around for 12 to 15 years.

Oh yeah.

It’s funny how that works, right?

That’s definitely true. You just got to keep pushing. Some of the bands like Converge, those dudes have been doing it way before we did and Nate [Newton]’s a good friend of ours and all those guys are so cool. We’ve done tours with them. It’s cool that everybody’s getting their due now. We’ve been working a lot harder than anyone else. We didn’t have all those stepping stones and stuff, so we had to push and push and push, and finally it broke for everyone and everyone’s reaping the benefits, and that’s kind of cool.

Who’s the one guy that every bassist who’s into Hatebreed should check out?

Lemmy Kilmister. If you don’t know Lemmy, man, don’t even talk to me. A lot of these kids, they don’t know nowadays. You have to give him credit where credit’s due. He’s one of the best dudes ever and a major influence on me.

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