Frank Novinec is the guitarist of seminal metalcore band Hatebreed. Hiding out in the air-conditioned pressroom from the beating sunlight, we had a conversation about the band tackling its first Warped Tour in 17 years, being a legacy band and staying relevant in the industry for a long time.
It’s been a rainy few on the tour over the last few weeks. How’s that been affecting y’all?
The shows have still been going off without a hitch, but, you know, it makes a little gloomy out here for the people working especially and also the people attending.
Playing outside is so different than playing a smaller club or cozy venue, so what’s the biggest challenge about doing an open air tour like this? Alternately, what’s the best part about playing outside?
The band’s been around 22 years, so any time we can go to Europe and play to 70, 80, [or] sometimes 10,000 people ... you’re obviously not headlining, so not everybody is there to see you. You’re breathing fresh air into the balloon at that point, and extending your career. I just live for that moment, it’s what I dreamed of as a kid. It’s like opening a cage and letting the bull out.
But we’ll go do something like that, and the next night we’ll be in some basement of some club playing for 250 people, because that’s where we come from and we’ll always be connected to that. Obviously the energy is special, when you’re all sweating it out and becoming one with the audience, there’s not a 20 foot space between you and the crowd.
But to complain about any of it would be absurd. We’re very lucky to be where we’re at and be successful for so long. But if I had to pick, it would be those festivals, but we take and enjoy them both and are so grateful for them.
Very few bands get to enjoy the kind of longevity that Hatebreed has, and one of my favorite things about seeing Hatebreed live is seeing so many parents in the crowd with their kids. How does it feel to be a band that people pass down to their children?
I think we’re very fortunate, and without trying to talk down on any of the other bands on this festival, on this tour it’s very black and white. The young kids love what they love, and I feel like kids don’t really open up to different music until they get older. I think the fact that when we play we still have a massive crowd over there is because their bands that they love like Hatebreed, and they recognize the name, and they want to find out about it.
We ask the crowd who has seen Hatebreed before, and it’s about two-thirds, but that means one-third are young kids who have never watched us before. And that’s our number one reason for being here, to reach those kids. It’s so important to keep yourself current, and that’s why we never go away for a long period of time.
It’s flattering, but it’s also tough to keep the ship afloat. You have to make smart decisions. [Vocalist] Jamey [Jasta] is very in the industry, super hands-on. He micromanages the band’s work, manages other bands, has his podcast. We know, as a band, we’ve learned from other band’s mistakes, and we’re just trying to be smart.
What’s your favorite part about this particular Warped Tour?
I get to watch the Street Dogs and Adolescents and Municipal Waste every day, and really, to be honest with you, for somebody like me that’s older and I knew there was going to be a lot of bands out here that I didn’t know, but we have a lot of friends out here like GWAR, The Acacia Strain and Stick To Your Guns. [It’s nice] especially since you only have a half hour of playing every day, so you have a lot of free time to fill up.
It’s also cool because my son works in the industry, and he does production for the Full Sail stage, so he’s out here all summer long with me too. He’s usually busting his butt and I don’t get to see him a whole lot, but it’s cool to have him out here.
Do you think your job as a musician influenced your son into working in the industry as an adult?
Somebody, a dear friend of mine, works with the Counting Crows. He got Adam [Novinec's son]
to come out with him when [Adam] was completely green, and it got his foot in the door. My son can play very well, he can probably play better than me at this point. Eventually maybe he’ll end up in a band, but he really enjoys what he’s doing. I always joked with him that if you want to make money in the business, you’ll go work for the bands, don’t be in the bands! [Laughs]
I’m originally from Cleveland before I moved to Florida, and we have that date coming up. He and I will see all of our family still up there, so there’s a lot of cool things going on for me on this tour.
How did you craft the set list for this tour? Is it a mix of new and old?
We don’t use a set list, Jamey’s got a list on the riser with forty or fifty songs that we can play at the drop of a dime, so I never have any idea what the next songs going to be. It’s whatever he feels like yelling out. He usually seems to gauge what the crowd wants to hear or if they want to do Hatebreed by request, if that needs to be accommodated.
When you only have thirty minutes, we end up playing mostly hits, for lack of a better term [laughs]. It’s fun, and it’s cool because we never play the same set every night. I know the Adolescents are doing that every night too. I wish all my favorite bands would do that.
How do you prepare for that kind of spontaneity? Do you practice a lot or have you been playing some of these songs for so long it’s second nature?
We tour so much, so the only time that we rehearse is if we’ve had a super long break in between tours or when we have a new record come out. For the most part, I think [Jamey] does a good job of mixing in the songs all the time so we don’t get rusty. When we’re playing a normal tour and we have time to soundcheck, sometimes we’ll peek at the list and play some of the ones we haven’t played in a while so if he does call one of those out we won’t look like jackasses.
Any final words?
We’re just happy to be out here and happy we’ve been able to do this for so long. We haven’t been on Warped Tour for 17 years. We’re more of an Ozzfest, Mayhem festival type band, but we’re universal like that, so we’re so appreciative for everyone having an open mind, and grateful to the people who’ve been supporting us for so long so we’re able to do this and lead such awesome lives.