2012 has been a busy year so far for 10 Years. They have a new album out, “Minus The Machine,” on their very own label after splitting with Universal records. In addition, they will be headlining a fall tour and their newest single, “Backlash,” is climbing up the hard rock charts. I had the chance to speak with lead vocalist Jesse Hasek and get the inside scoop on the new record and the upcoming tour.
KE: Hi Jesse, Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.
JH: Oh no problem at all.
KE: 10 Years has a new record out, “Minus The Machine,” the first on your own label. Can you tell us what led to the decision to part ways with Universal?
JH: It was sort of an agreement on both sides. They wanted something different out of us then we wanted to be and just kind of trying to keep up with the mainstream junk per se. Our last album was called “Feeding the Wolves” because it was the first time we really felt like that we had to compromise more than we wanted to, like it got uncomfortable. It got to a point where I just told myself I couldn’t do that anymore. Music means too much to me for me to sit and have somebody try to co-write music or try to you know have outside cooks come into the kitchen. It doesn’t work that well with the band so we couldn’t do that. And that’s what they wanted so they let us go and we agreed to disagree.
KE: The band also self-produced this album. How did these changes affect the writing and recording process? Did the freedom allow you to open things up more?
JH: Yeah, it did. It felt a lot like when we did “The Autumn Effect” because every time that we have experiences with these big name producers that cost a lot of money we just felt like they got in the way. Either they weren’t there or if they were there their opinions were so strong that they wouldn’t compromise. And this was just like with “The Autumn Effect”, the first time we had written that music before we had ever been signed so it was freedom and it was already done. That’s what this new one sort of felt like cuz we didn’t have anybody like label or A&R guys or producers telling us that it has to fit in a radio format or it has to be this or you need a hit. Well, like duh, all musicians know that the industry needs a hit. When you go into it that way with that in mind, like ok we’re gonna write a hit, then it doesn’t happen. “Wasteland” was just a song we wrote and then it turned out to be what it was after the fact.
KE: The songs on the new album seem more personal and a bit darker. Was that a natural result of having control and the freedom to create whatever you wanted?
JH: Yes, pretty much so. We’re highly influenced by all different styles and types of music from Radiohead to the Deftones to Clutch and Mudvayne. I mean we’re everywhere, we like all types of music. So the balance can teeter in between the heavy and the melodic sort to a song that’s melancholy. We just like a lot of dynamic in the music so it’s not the same thing over and over and over. For us to really care about it, we have to sort of challenge ourselves and feel like we’re doing something new instead of rehashing old stuff.
KE: There are a lot of great, heavy songs on the record like “Knives” and “Backlash” but the one song that spoke to me the most was almost the polar opposite of that, “Forever Fields (Sowing Season).” Would you share with us the inspiration or story behind that song?
JH: The funny thing about that song was it was almost a song that wasn’t. It originally, the musical part of it was originally just supposed to be an instrumental interlude into “Backlash,” the prequel to “Backlash.” And when they finished the music I was like the music is too cool, I really want to try out a vocal to it and just we’ll make it a part one and a part two. It’s sort of like the pre-“Backlash.” That’s why it’s called “Sowing Season” because “Backlash” is sort of like you reap what you sow and that’s the lyrical content is just the corruption of society and life in general and then if you live that life you’ll dwell on those things and that’s what you’ll reap. And it’s really connected almost as a two-part series to “Backlash.”
KE: 10 Years has been compared a lot to the Deftones and you mentioned them as an influence. Who were some of your other musical influences?
JH: Man, we all have ours and they’re a little bit different. I know that Brian, he plays guitar and drums, he grew up on Metallica. That’s what made him very skilled on guitar so he likes the heavy stuff but then also Radiohead. It goes that far and I remember the first thing that I ever sang to myself on my little tape recorder was Nirvana’s “Rape Me.” I did it because I was too shy to sing in front of anyone and I wondered what my voice sounded like. I mean I grew up on a lot of the early nineties music-Tool, Nirvana and then I went more obscure with the Melvin’s and Primus, stuff like that. Bands now that I’m really into are like brand new. I just like music that’s got a lot to it and develops thoughts not just cookie cutter and very interesting song to song.
KE: You were out on the road this summer. How did that tour go?
JH: It was a great way to start back up. We were able to bring out a band that we really enjoy and think is an incredible band, Fair to Midland and those guys were awesome to watch every night. And another band called, Kyng. Those were bands that we really were fans of. It’s fun whenever you’re on a bill and you really genuinely like their music and you watch their stuff every day and support each other. It’s a great camaraderie when that happens.
KE: The tour will continue this fall with 10 Years headlining some club shows?
JH: Right now we’re still working out the rest of the year. This next run it goes about 6 weeks all the way pretty much into November. We opted to do more of club headlining stuff. We have more time to play and we can sort of control the mood and the environment that we set. Now, I mean this is our fourth album and we have a lot of material to cover. We’re trying to get to the point where our live show is sort of like a journey or a co-experience with people . We really enjoy that and whenever you’re doing support for a band and you’re given a 30 or 40 minute slot, it’s very difficult to do that. That’s why we chose to do this and we just really love the club environment.
KE: What has the fan reaction been to the new record?
JH: They are really embracing it. I think that our fans are very, very loyal and they almost take pride and ownership of us. And when there are things that come about that they don’t care for, they could see at certain times when we were having to bend and give to the corporate mainstream. And fans they’re not dumb and they can see through that. When I’m out at the merch booth signing autographs, they’ll ask us about it. And I’ll say listen, we had to do this song and that song for them to approve the budget to do the album. It’s not really my cup of tea but that’s what we had to do. Now that we don’t have to do that and the fans get to really hear us be us 100% I think they are really pleased with it.
KE: Your live shows are pretty intense. On this upcoming leg of the tour, can the fans expect the same kind of craziness and intensity?
JH: I mean we’ve always had in a sense a punk rock mentality. It’s not that we play a show and the guitar or vocals are absolutely CD quality perfect. It’s more of an energy and a journey, and we come from the days of like Nirvana and stuff where you see things and say, “Wow that guy just climbed up into the rafters and jumped out.” It was high intensity but what we’re also trying to do with this headlining stuff is have lows and highs. Like very high energy and heavier songs that we’ve played plenty of times before but sprinkle in some more somber, slow stuff “Forever Fields” where we can set the mood down darker so there’s ups and downs to it.
KE: Will you have any downtime on the tour and if so what do you like to do when you’re not working and performing?
JH: I mean there’s a lot of time in the day to burn whenever you’re doing club shows because the earliest we ever play is 9:30 or 10. You have all day long pretty much to just hang out and I personally like to get out and just walk around wherever I can in the city where we’re at, just to see it. I still love being able to travel and having a job where I can experience a lot of different things and different cultures. I try to get out as much as I can off the bus and roam around. I also like to do some skateboarding so I’ll try to find skate parks.
KE: Looking a little bit further down the road what do you see next for 10 Years?
JH: I mean this is such a new leaf turned over. It’s sort of a sigh of relief that we have all this freedom. So just to everything to come from 10 Years, people will know that it’s exactly what we want it to be and exactly what we want it to sound like. It’s gonna be a lot experimental and creativity. We don’t ever want to create the same record twice. I don’t think we have and sometimes that’s dangerous waters to tread on. But we always have to be able to challenge ourselves as musicians just to grow and progress and try anything in a sense. I think that we’ll be able to do that without as much trouble now.
KE: I’m looking forward to catching you out on tour and thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.
JH: We definitely appreciate it. Any exposure we get we love to embrace. We’re just so thankful to be doing this with the climate of music today. It’s harder and harder everyday because the power of the internet and kids nowadays just buying singles. People that support us and you guys even caring enough to interview us, it means a lot and it’s no problem to take the time out to say what’s up.
KE: Thanks again Jesse.
JH: You bet.
We would like to thank Carise Yatter from hired Gun Media for setting up the interview with Jesse. For more information on 10 Years and their new disc “Minus the Machine,” please go to: 10 Years .