Hatebreed and Shadows Fall just wrapped up their The Divinity Of Purpose tour. This week, Frank Novinec from Hatebreed and Jason Bittner from Shadows Fall close out their three-part tour diary.
Frank Novinec – Hatebreed
February 12 – Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
This was the first time back at the renowned Freebird Live (owned and operated by Judy Van Zant, the widow of Lynyrd Skynyrd founding member and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant) in nearly a decade, and it was a very good day overall. I am a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, and it was a treat to be back here for that alone, but also, the venue is right across the street from Jacksonville Beach. So Matt [Byrne, drums] and I along with two of the Shadows Fall guys took full advantage of the beautiful Florida weather (which I am very familiar with as I have been a Florida resident for five years now.) and had a great beach day. The last time the band was at Freebird Live was in 2004. I was actually playing in Terror at the time, and this was the night Hatebreed found out they were nominated for a Grammy for Best Live Metal Performance. Good memories here, for sure.
The show itself was interesting to say the least, lots of fights that night with the mixed crowd of hardcore kids, bikers, skinheads, metal heads, etc. Fortunately, we were able to get through the whole set without having to pull the plug on the show. We always say, “The best thing you can do for us at a show is break up a fight,” this will help us be able to come back and play the venue again and we certainly don't want anyone getting seriously hurt at the shows. If you wanna beat the shit out of each other in the pit and that's your thing, just make sure you're leaving with a smile on your face.
February 13 – Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans
With only a handful of shows left, ending in the Northeast, you could feel the weather going to crap as we headed North. However, we would never let that put a damper on our shows. Hooligans was the venue tonight, very small and quaint, but that was the theme of this run anyway as we we're working the B markets. We had actually just been here in the fall on our 10 Years of Perseverance tour and it was a sold-out show, so we figured we would go back since the new record had dropped. As many know, this is a huge military town with the base being there and they come out in droves for us. One thing I am most proud of is we have people in our Armed Forces who are huge supporters of Hatebreed, and I know a lot of that has to do with the positive, self-empowering lyrics we have. Any time we can give back to those who make it so we can do what we do, we jump at the chance. The show was high energy and very different from the night before, with not one fight at all. The after-show meet-and-greet was great. Having a chance to personally thank the men and women of the Armed Forces for their efforts and continued support was a real treat. Good vibes leaving North Carolina, for sure.
February 14 – Springfield, VA @ Empire
Formerly called Jaxx, the revamped Empire is still a graveyard for ‘80s hair-metal bands. Nonetheless, we have had some great shows at Jaxx, and it had been quite some time since we were here. A few much-needed changes to the venue, but nothing spectacular—and by spectacular I mean, no shower or dressing room. The staff and security, however, treated us great as usual, and we will always be delighted to come back. There is actually plenty to do around the venue as far as shopping centers and restaurants are concerned. You have to realize, we're rolling into town fairly early every day and as far as the members of the band are concerned, it's a plus when you're not out in the middle of nowhere and can occupy yourself during the day. Some of the guys took advantage of the gym, Mexican restaurant and movies being nearby.
Ian Larrabee, who was the singer for the now-disbanded Reach The Sky, graced us with his presence this evening. He and Hatebreed have a long history of touring and playing shows together, and we’re both from New England, as well. Ian loves his Budweiser as much as I do, so we commenced to tying one on and talking about the good old days.
The show was great, the kids took full advantage of the lack of a barricade in front, and were crashing down on the stage all night. I personally like being all up in the fans’ faces when performing; it just makes for a more intimate evening. We even got punk-rock and used one of the road cases as a stage prop to stand on. This was easily one of the best shows we have had in this venue that I can remember. Springfield brought it!
Jason Bittner – Shadows Fall
February 15 – Allentown PA @ Crocodile Rock
Well, yet another day that I'm up at the crack of dawn seeking a local diner for a morning bite. After my breakfast, I walked back to the club and came across an envelope on the ground. My intuition told me to pick it up for whatever reason or another, and when I did I realized it was someone's paycheck. Angel and Devil scenario? Nah, I did the right thing and went right to the post office next to the club, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail—good deed done! Next up was a little bit of yoga amid the cockroaches that were occasionally scurried by the dressing room! Namaste? I don't think so, but I powered through anyway, while some of the Hatebreed guys chuckled at my “postures.” The show was great; we always like playing here and have commanded some crazy crowds in this building, but alas, the liquor license was revoked the evening prior to our show. Unfortunately for the patrons, but fortunately for security, the show was a dry one, therefore calming the crowd just a little bit. After the show, I'm pretty sure I just did my usual ritual: shower in a sink, eat dinner, chill in back lounge, watch TV and wait for sleep. Ever since my bout with pancreatitis last year, I no longer drink alcohol, so I pretty much keep to myself and chill, while everyone else goes back into the club or another bar. However, I always find a half-hour to get back inside to catch the end of Hatebreed and meet fans at our merch table. Just because I'm not drinking doesn't mean I can't be social.
February 16 – Syracuse, NY @ Wescott Theater
I have a few close friends coming to the show as well as a potential business partner, so I know it's going to be a busy day. I spend my morning chit-chatting with my wife on the phone, have breakfast with Ed and start packing my stuff to go home in a day. After Hatebreed’s soundcheck, we place our gear onstage and Ed and I go off to dinner with our friend Tony. Upon returning, my buddy and longtime Shadows Fall pal Rob has shown up and is holding court, as usual, in our front lounge. He's a funny dude. The show goes off without a hitch, the room is sold out and everyone is having an awesome time. I'm having a ton of fun onstage making faces and fooling around with the HB crew guys (special props go out to Warren and Andy for making the tour run so smooth), and we deliver a raging set followed by some after-show pizza! Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be sticking to my “healthy” diet, but I'm back home in New York and pizza is a prerequisite! Great late-night hang with my buds Rob and Tony ends at about 3 a.m. and I head off for dreamland.
February 17 – Amityville, NY @ Revolution
My initial reaction to today's club is, “Why the heck is this tour in the room?” because it seems pretty small compared to the rest of the tour, but hey—it's sold out so it will be a rager anyway, but why do I really care since I’m going home! I know I shouldn't be so happy to go home, but I always love the last day of tour because I know I'll be home to my wife and cats soon enough. I do love being on tour, but I love being home, too, if that makes any sense. We have the last rhythm section breakfast of the tour, but this time I drag my tech Willis along to treat him to a meal for doing such a great job—it's those little things, ya know? We return to the club and change some drum heads, and then I realize I have to give a drum lesson today. After some careful consideration, I find an area in the kitchen to set up my practice pad kit, and commence to giving a lesson. About 10 minutes into it, a guy tells me, “Hey, we have a music school next door if you want to go over there to do this.” Great, now you tell me, after I spent 20 minutes setting this up! I decide just to plow through right where I am since time is limited. After the lesson, I pack the rest of my crap in order to get off the bus as quickly as possible once it finally reaches my home, which will be sometime the next morning, and get ready for the last show.
The last show goes down great, and even though I'm feeling tired and worn out from seven in a row, I give it every last drop since I know tomorrow I'll be sitting on my couch. We say our goodbyes to everyone over the course of the next three hours, Hatebreed's bus rolls out back to Connecticut. Me and Matty Byrne (HB drummer and longtime buddy) say our goodbyes and plan our summer “car cruise” once we're both free from touring, and then our bus finally heads for Massachusetts around 2 a.m. All in all, it was a great tour and we had a blast—see you out there soon. Special thanks to Hatebreed and their crew, our crew, Dying Fetus, the Contortionist, and Felipe for filling in on the last five shows for Jon [Donais, guitar].