Rock and metal is a slippery slope in today's world of music. Bands come and go. Members fade in and out. Fans ebb like the tide. One consistent thing over the last ten years or so is self-fulfilling - the band 10 Years. Having started out in 1999, the band was first signed and released their major label debut in 2005. The upcoming tour marks the bands ten years as a player in the rock world. Having just finishing up a disc and readying for a tour, lead singer Jesse Hasek took some time out of his busy schedule to fill us in...
Toddstar: Jesse, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule, I know you're a busy man.
Jesse: Yeah, it's getting kind of busy now with the new album. We are working to get videos, and artwork, and it all comes in at once.
Toddstar: I bet. Let's talk about it, From Birth To Burial, what can you tell us about this new disc?
Jesse: Really, it's kind of... the title comes from we've been alive in this industry for a decade now, no pun intended, it's just... we're gonna sum up everything that we've done this far up to where we're at. You live and die by this music and that's what it's about. There are some bittersweet parts of it, with the growing pains of it, and the highs and the lows of it all. That's kinda what the first song on the record, the title track, "From Birth to Burial" is about. I think that people in this day and age, our society loves for our stars to be over the top stars, but even in our business and in the entertainment business it's kind of smoke in mirrors. We go home and we're normal people, most of us have families and stuff to pay for, instead of this over the top, gold teeth, party, Vegas, all the time type stuff is sold. It gives you more of a personal side of it.
Toddstar: Is that an idea or a thought process you guys took into it when you went into this, saying let's make this a little more personal album? Let's shed the skin, so to speak?
Jesse: It was never intended, I think that all of our albums we try to never recreate the same one twice and really challenge our self to try to come up with a new phase, or a new sound, or a new something, and it's really each record represents where we're at, at that time of our life. When I go back, all the way back, and listen to The Autumn Effect, it's like a memory book or a photo album in audio. You get to go down memory lane with how you were then, even what inspired those lyrics and those themes. It just came out naturally for what it is now, it was just every record I try to stay pretty honest and personal with it because to me it's my therapy for vocals.
Toddstar: Okay. You've been with the band almost since the inception. Looking back, you guys have constantly... you maintain a sound or feel that belongs on a 10 Years album, you guys have always seemed to grow and mature a little bit. What do you really attribute that to?
Jesse: I guess just having the guts to really just challenge yourself to do something you haven't done before. I think it's very easy in this business to become popular, or famous, or known for something, and sticking to that and not really stepping outside of that, and almost becoming a character of yourself. Sometimes that can drive you crazy, we just always had the guts to venture outside and keep pushing further and further. I go back and listen to our first independent record, Killing All That Holds You, and it makes me... it's very, to me from where I am now and where that record came from, it's like high school. It's a not premature or immature it's just a younger feeling band. Now, we've matured, and we have grown, and we've gone through different things, you can hear it in the music because we're challenging ourselves to expand the soundscape.
Toddstar: You mentioned that you guys had been at it the decade but you've actually been at it quite a bit longer than that. You've been in the band about 13 years, give or take now. You guys are actually cranking out albums, one every couple years, which is almost unheard of these days.
Jesse: It's tough; our home life suffers from it a little bit. We go on the road and we usually tour on one album cycle for close to two years. We try to get back and get right back. There's no downtime, there's no just time to hang out. I think the longest we took to do any record was we took a year to do Division, our sophomore record, because we went through a lot of the growing pains. I think when you go from being yourself to all the sudden having success sometimes the industry can make you have an identity crisis and make you question who or what you want to be when you didn't really think about any of that at all, you were just being yourself naturally. Then all the sudden they make you go, "Well this is what's popular; this is what you need to change." It makes you second guess yourself. This many years later we're very comfortable with just being ourselves, and doing what we do, and having the rest of the industry that helps us out, and works for us, and all the people that represent us to find the place where it fits. Our job is just to create from the heart, and create music that we still are passionate about.
Toddstar: You mentioned touring, are you guys getting ready to go out and just present this whole new package to the fans?
Jesse: The record doesn't actually come out until a little bit later. We're just now, as we speak, we're finishing up the mixes and the mastering. The artwork isn't even finished yet. It's going to be more like early spring, that the records expected to come out. This tour coming up we're gonna play two or three songs off the new record as just a teaser. The singles already going out, we'll be playing that one, and then we'll play a couple more. We won't hit a full tour of six songs heavy from the record yet because people don't know it. You don't want to overdo it, they still want to hear the stuff they know and they come to see. You get five records in, you gotta spread your catalog out.
Toddstar: Sure. There's a show coming to a venue that's near and dear to my heart. On Sunday March 15th, you guys will headline the world famous Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan (http://www.themachineshop.info/).
Jesse: That place, it is... it's iconic. We've been going there since 2005 in a van, touring in a van. The reason I say we've been at it ten years now because the band originally formed in '99, but we didn't get signed 'til December of 2004, we recorded our first record February of 2005. We started touring in about summertime 2005; it's been ten years of this as a career which is phenomenal, for me, because it's already gone way past all of my expectations. I'm still alive, and well, and comfortable in it.
Toddstar: What can you tell us about the Machine Shop? What is it about the Machine Shop that keeps 10 Years coming back year after year?
Jesse: It really has one of the coolest... visually the nostalgia that's on the walls and the history in that place. The staffing, and the crew, and then the crowds, it's just such an energy that comes from that little area, right there, that's absolutely one of a kind. It's not even like we played the Whiskey on Sunset Strip, we've played several places. We played CBGB's before it closed; to me The Machine Shop is just as nostalgic as any of those places. It will be many, many, years from now. It has that type of vibe.
Toddstar: Talking about touring, you've got this tour coming up here. When you're getting ready to climb in a van, or get on a bus, whatever you're going to do travel to a specific tour, what are the few things that you think to yourself you can't leave home without?
Jesse: I do a lot of artwork, now in the long run, this many years later, it's kind of paid off. I'll take old drum heads from when the drummer switches his drum heads out, and I'll do one of a kind pieces on them. I'll do at least one or two a day. They're first come, first serve, order up. When they're gone, they're gone. They've become a very sought after item that we have on the road. It gives me a little extra income, but it also keeps my hands moving, and keeps me fresh on art. For a while I didn't do anything, I'd gotten out of it. I have a tackle box full of sharpies; I probably have 300 sharpies, or something crazy. I've learned how to just master the art of sharpie painting, if you'd call it that. That's the main thing. The next thing, just for my own fun, I always bring a skateboard with me to try to keep my youthful ambition alive, but I'm getting older and it's starting to hurt.
Toddstar: Going through the 10 years catalog, and talking about live shows, what are the one or two songs that you think will always be part of a 10 Years show?
Jesse: Definitely the one that sort of exposed us to the world was "Wasteland." It was not at all, ever, intended to be this big hit single, or this and that. It was just us being us and writing music. It turned into this thing that was way bigger than we ever anticipated. That one will live and die with us for sure. Another anthem, that is a great crowd pleaser that comes off with great energy, is "Shoot it Out." Thosetwo will always be there. There are some of those that definitely are frequent ones on the set list but we try to switch stuff out and try to play everything a little bit here and there and keep it interesting. Those songs are always on our set lists.
Toddstar: If you left your iPad, iPhone, iWhatever you use, behind at a venue and a fan went through, what would be the one or two songs on there that they might think, "He listens to this?"
Jesse: I don't know, I'm pretty vocal about all the stuff I listen to. I get into stuff like Bjork, and Radiohead, all the way to Ol' Dirty Bastard. It just depends on what it is that I just alike and has a really authentic, original, sound and style, to it. Most of the time, with the music I listen to, it's emotional music. I listen to heavy music here and there. When I do a lot of artwork I like to vibe out on spacey music like Radiohead, and Bjork, and Flaming Lips are cool. When it comes to heavy stuff I... there's a band called Glass Jaw, and Brand New. There are a lot of bands that don't exist anymore that I love like Vox and Far Less. I don't know, I'm all over the place; it really depends on what I'm in the mood for. Never in the mood for what's popular, MTV, pop music, I don't listen to any of that stuff.
Toddstar: So you're not tuning into The Voice or American Idol any time soon?
Jesse: Could give a flying crap about any of that. I really couldn't.
Toddstar: I know you're busy, so I've got one more for ya. With everything going on, you've got ten years in. Everything's looking up, this new album coming out, doing the videos, doing the artwork, hitting the road, everything's looking up. For you, Jesse, at this point in your career and in your life, what is the meaning of life?
Jesse: One word: happiness, or the pursuit of happiness. I think that everybody searches for that in their life, they can search for it through success, and being famous, or money, or love, or creation, whatever it is, whatever inspires you that keeps your drive for life going. I think that that's... It sucks because there's the thing about stability, with going to school, going to college, and getting the papers to get you a degree in something that'll be more stable, and set you up for retirement, and blah, blah, blah, but then you catch yourself sitting behind a desk for eight or nine hours a day for 30 years of your life doing nothing but the same, exact, routine, going to the same Starbucks, the same Walmart, McDonalds. I think that people get numb from that, that's why when they have their little vacations they go crazy. Even if you do fit in that routine life, you need to find something in that routine that's not routine, whether it's art, or music, or a sport, or some passion in some way, to break up the monotony of life. I think that's what makes you happy, that's what keeps you going, is the pursuit of that.
Toddstar: Cool. Again, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for us. I, for one, cannot wait to see you guys once again tear apart the Machine Shop on Sunday March 15th.
Jesse: It's never ever let us down. We've never, even at our worst... I've fallen off that stage before and it still wasn't a bad show.
Toddstar: Well hopefully you'll stay on stage this time and we'll make sure we come by and say hi.
Jesse: All right, thanks man.
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