Today, Hatebreed’s “Mark My Words” is my favorite song.
And I’ll begin with this. Jamey Shanahan is a genius. You can argue that, but you’re wrong and I’ll explain why.
Jamey Shanahan is the singer, writer, promoter, and pretty much everything of Hatebreed. Before he was in Hatebreed, Jamey sang for the band Jasta 14, which was a popular CT Hardcore band in the early 1990s.
I remember the first time I saw Jasta 14. It was maybe 1993 or 1994. They opened up for Shelter at Katina’s in South Hadley, MA. I had heard them, but I hadn’t seen them yet, as I mostly went to shows in Massachusetts. As soon as they started playing, the packed club exploded with people doing karate shit and pretty much mosh-destroying each other.
Woah. And their singer was this kid I knew as Jamey Jasta, because in hardcore/punk it’s cool to make the name of your band your last name. And, yeah, that is pretty cool. And yeah, Jamey was still a kid at the time. My friend Tim grew up in the New Haven hardcore scene with Jamey and used to tell me stories about them walking around tagging buildings and stuff.I thought it was cool that my friend knew Jamey.
Somewhere along the line, Jasta 14 kicked Jamey out. So dumb. I can’t remember the exact reason, but dumbness was definitely involved.
Jamey didn’t like this and started a new band called Hatebreed. My friend Leo played bass for the very first incarnation and played us a practice recording of a proto-Hatrebreed song. It’s not recorded anywhere officially, and my summation of the lryics is basically Jamey being pretty angry talking about kicking someone’s ass or something to that effect.
I loved it.
Leo also screen-printed all the first Hatebreed shirts and I remember Leo had turned the lounge of his college dorm into a Hatebreed t-shirt factory. I regret not having him print one of those designs onto a sweatshirt for me.
Anyway, very quickly Hatebreed began playing out, and I went to every Hatebreed show I could. I drove all over CT to angry mosh with some of the toughest guys I’d ever met in my life. And I have to say they were pretty nice to me.
Which brings me to one of the reasons I say Jamey is a genius. I went to a lot of CT hardcore shows. And at some point I was introduced to Jamey. I’m not saying he remembered my name or anything, but anywhere I saw him he said hi to me. I wasn’t anybody. Just some guy who went to hardcore shows. He didn’t have to, but he did. It made me feel liked I belonged. And that’s how he was with everyone: Building brand loyalty.
And that was fucking smart. Jamey was/is good at networking and building a brand, which he did. Very successfully.
Which brings me to “Mark My Words”.
From what I’ve pieced together, “Mark My Words” is a very simple, very angry declaration of war against the people in Jasta 14 who kicked him out. The message of the song: I will bury you. I will build an empire and crush you into the sand beneath this castle.
And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. This song is Babe Ruth calling his shot. Jamey built it and we came. To mosh.
The other aspect of Jamey’s genius is minimalism. He’s the Philip Glass of hardcore music. Listen to this song. It’s so easy to listen to. When Hatebreed was in the studio recording this album, Jamey told their drummer, who I vaguely knew at the time, NOT to do any fills and don’t do any fancy Buddy Rich nonsense, unless expressly approved by Jamey himself. Listen to the song. For the first minute of the song, the most exciting thing the drummer does is play on the floor tom for a little bit instead of the hi hat. There’s also a quick double snare hit that happens twice in each chorus, but that’s IT. Such flare!
At 0:58 seconds, there’s a break and Jamey yells out, “For the rest of your fucking life… You will… Mark My Words!” There’s so much reverb on his vocals there he sounds like a demon casting a curse. Then the stomp begins at 1:17. For the rest of the song, I pretty much imagine Jamey as a giant stomping on the corpses of the members of Jasta 14.
As far as I know all those dudes made up. They even did a Jasta 14 reunion show later on. Who knows. The point is that I remember hearing this song and thinking, “Damn, son,” and it was interesting to watch Hatebreed’s rise to prominence, especially in the context of this song.
Here’s the original recording of the song from an old comp 7″ record:
Bonus nonsense: I remember being at the Worcester Palladium while this video was being filmed in like 2001. I was sitting in the upper balcony watching with some friends. Jamey explained that Hatebreed was going to basically lipsync to the recorded version of the song. The audience revolted and booed. Poor Jamey had to explain several times that Hatebreed had to play with the recorded album track or it wouldn’t sync up with the song for the video. The audience didn’t like that, but eventually Jamey convinced them this was all above board. Sitting in the balcony, my friends and I were cracking up at the situation.
It’s impossible to have one single favorite song, but there are some songs that move me above and beyond most others. This Is My Favorite Song is a series where I explore the songs that, at least for that moment when I listen to them make me think “THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG!”.