Feeding wolves, chasing ghosts and making hit records
Jesse Hasek is one of the most creative and intellectual people you will ever meet. Though his name may not ring an instant bell, his voice and work does the job. The Knoxville, Tennessee native is the vocalist for Universal Republic recording artist 10 Years that have released several singles including “Through the Iris,” “Beautiful,” “So Long, Good-Bye,” “Actions & Motives” and “Wasteland,” which reached atop of the alternative rock chart.
Hasek’s unique voice backed by the blend of a tight-knit band gives 10 Years the separation from the rest of the field.Aside from his on-stage abilities, Hasek is a sharp, well spoken and has plenty of opinions.
He also has an inquiring mind and once did some ghost hunting. Years ago, he and a friend traveled to the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, which is an old hospital that opened in 1910 and closed some 50 years later. The facility has become a very popular location and has been featured on network shows such as Ghost Hunters.According to a 2008 interview with The Examiner, Hasek said he really didn’t believe in the paranormal until experiencing it for himself.
“I was in a room and one of those old triangle door wedges wizzed by my head (with no one in the room) and you could hear it on camera. It was unexplainable,” he said. “It turned me into a believer.”
The band has released three national albums and their latest, Feeding the Wolves, was released last summer and produced by Howard Benson, a two-time Grammy nominated producer who has worked with the likes of Seether, Papa Roach, Three Days Grace, Relient K, Hoobastank and Flyleaf.
Enjoying time off before hitting the road with Saving Abel, Hassek spoke about a variety of subjects including Feeding the Wolves.
I last saw you perform on the Carnival of Madness Tour last summer. You had a message written on you chest that read ‘I have swallowed the poison feed me.’ Any hidden meaning behind that?
I’ve written several different messages on my chest throughout different shows. Usually I take them from musicians and artists that I admire. I take one-liners that I have put my own personal meaning to. There is always a battle whether you are an artist or musician — a battle with integrity and your job or your profession and making something commercially viable. Sometimes it can discourage you and other times it can be inspirational. I used to write on my chest ‘what I am to you is not real.’ It’s cool to keep people guessing and be mysterious. Going out on stage with one bold statement will get people’s attention. With that tour, we were on so early and with so many bands playing, I wanted to make a statement.
Playing a tour like that in large amphitheaters to playing and headlining smaller venues. What changes or preparations are made to adjust?
The big festival or arena shows, the goal is usually try to win over those who have never heard of you or those that may have heard of you but never seen you perform live. The headlining shows are the ones where people are coming to see you and you get to experiment with the live shows and add much more to it like playing remixes or different versions of songs to shed new light on old stuff.
The new album ‘Feeding the Wolves’ is brilliant. It’s a little heavier with more aggression. Was that a specific goal heading into this project?
Honestly it was just natural. When we first started as a band, we were these kids who had these huge dreams and goals. Once you reach them, you realize once you get on the other side, you can’t look at them through innocent eyes anymore. By the time we got through the success with our first record, we hit the classic sophomore slump with our second. On our second record, I think what happens to a lot of bands, the success you get on that first album you get it on your own for the most part. After success happens, people naturally try to change what you do and tell you what is supposed to be successful. The thing I don’t understand is, you get where you get by being you. We got signed and became successful with that first record that we did entirely on our own. The second record we had all these cooks in the kitchen. This record we kind of closed the doors a little more. It’s a little bi-polar and there are some very heavy songs and heavy attitude we’ve never done but then once the aggression is out, there is some lighter stuff.
I read somewhere that you guys actually rehearsed next door to Rage Against the Machine. That true?
Yes and that might be some of the reason why there is more aggression on this album. There are all kinds of things that go into a record including the environment.
Heading into the creative process of making a record, do you create songs that please the band or maybe what will please rock radio?
I can sugarcoat it or lie about it and say everything is done for yourself but when you step back and realize this is a business and know this pays your mortgages, you start to look at things differently. Going into it, we didn’t want to over think it and do what comes natural but there are a handful of songs on the record that sound like singles that were created for radio.
There appears to be songs that deal with addiction. Is that something that you have dealt with personally?
Thankfully, I have never been addicted to anything chemically or emotionally where it consumed me but unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of friends and family fall from it and I was able to learn from it and what not to do. I feel like I have to tell their story especially the ones that lost their lives to that battle.
‘Fix Me’ is the second single off the album, which follows the more aggressive ‘Shoot It Out.’
The song has a good message. It’s not as aggressive as ‘Shoot It Out.’ We came right out of the gate with ‘Shoot It Out’ to get people’s attention. With ‘Fix Me’ coming out next, it does show the diversity of the record.There are plenty of Internet rumors about new material.
There’s no real time table. When it becomes drudgery or a job and repetition, it’s really hard to fake authenticity and inspiration so more than anything you have to find and keep inspiration. It keeps us going as a band and keeps us as a unit.