10 Years10 Years, On the Road
By Dave Schwartz

I donít mind telling you that I was a bit apprehensive about interviewing the band 10 Years. The challenge should be obvious to most: Theyíve been touring virtually nonstop since May of 2005, their smash debut album, "The Autumn Effect," has been out for about a year and success has found them all over the radio and in every magazine. I wonder to myself, how long will it be before I ask the same old boring questions and they expound the same well-rehearsed answers? Just exactly what more can be learned?

And then the phone rings. "Hello, this is Jesse from the Band 10 Years. Iím told we have an interview today."

He sounds normal enough. I introduce myself, "Yeah, Hi. My name is Dave and Iím with DaBelly.com. How are you doing today?"

"Iím doing all right. Sorry Iím a little late. I went to catering and got something to eat," He responds.

Now wait a minute. Heís apologizing to me? Hasek canít be more than a couple minutes from climbing off the stage in Atlanta, Georgia. Iím surprised he didnít want to towel down and relax for a while, but instead heís dialing my number...? Thereís something funny going on here.

"Wait a minute. Youíre not allowed to eat!" I tease.

"No, youíre right, I shouldnít. I should just be doing cocaine and hookers!" he replies with a laugh.

I donít know what to think! One minute Iím apprehensive and the next thing you know Jesse Hasek, vocalist from the band 10 Years is a living, breathing normal human being. Does his volume go to 11? No, Not really. Does he name drop or let slip the list of super models heís been diddling? Sorry, isnít happening. Make no mistakes, Hasek and his bandmates certainly are living a rock starís dream. Their debut record has sold a bazillion copies and shows little signs of slowing down and every night they run across a stage filled with lights and witness the crush of humanity in the worldís largest DNA swap, but for all the perks and for being surrounded by pretension, Hasek presents himself as a well-rounded, dare I say, grounded individual.

Hasek and crew were calling in from the second show of the "Family Values" tour. His excitement was palpable as I asked how that night's show had gone. The venue in Atlanta was one that he had frequented to watch some of his favorite bands and now, years later, he had the opportunity to play there.

10 YearsI asked Hasek about the "Family Values" tour and some of the bands they get to play with.

"Itís cool because we played with the Deftones in Europe and Stone Sour in Europe. And we played with KORN for like three months all over the world. It really is 'Family Values'! Weíve got the comradery thing going on and a lot of the guys have tents and barbecue grills. Itís like a big block party," Hasek bubbled.

As I have already alluded, life on the road and a successful record go hand in hand. 10 Years has been out for what must seem like an eternity and I wouldnít be surprised if the band was starting to get a little crispy. I asked Hasek if they were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and were planning some well-deserved time off.

"We started touring May of last year," Hasek acknowledged. "Of course the album didnít come out until August. So weíre already out over a year. We will probably tour through the end of October. And then weíre thinking that weíll do pre-production in November and December and go into the studio in January."

New record? That sounded interesting. Most bands find it difficult to write on the road due to all the distractions and obligations placed upon them-- I mean, you never know when some journalist in Phoenix will be expecting a call.

"We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle but we havenít put it together yet." Hasek laughed as he continued, "Sometimes the last thing we want to do is play or hear music! As far as singing, on our days off I donít even want to talk!"

One of the trademarks of 10 Years' brand of music is lyrical commentary; Hasek tends to write about the world around him. It occurred to me that the band has been around the world a couple times since writing "The Autumn Effect" and I wondered if Hasek planned to continue his commentary and perhaps reflect on how much their lives had suddenly changed.

"Definitely," Hasek replied. "Iím a firm believer in writing about experiences that Iíve had. Even my perception of others' lives. Since weíve seen more of the world and how other people live and, honestly, just how lazy and spoiled we are as a country, itís going to be good, really good."

Hasek explained that 10 Years writes as a band. I asked if there was a formula.

"Itís a lot of different opinions and point of views and you have to have common ground and a real strong thread of respect. Climbing on the bus made us grow stronger which obviously is a good thing. I think the next record will be significantly different because in the past we had a couple of guys that were the main writers. And now everybody is coming to the table."

Hasek continued, "The way we look at it and embrace the music is that itís an emotion. Itís an outlet and if youíre trying to reincarnate something thatís already there and was successful, then youíre selling yourself short. You are too scared to take that leap. Youíll never evolve. And most of the career bands evolve. Look at the Chili Peppers, how many times have they changed?"

10 YearsIn doing research for this interview I ran across Matt Wantlandís blog. He made an interesting comment about the disconnect of being on the road. You know, itís like feeling a bit misplaced. Itís common after not being home for such an extended period of time to sort of feel like no where is home. I asked Hasek where he found comfort these days.

He paused for a moment to consider his reply, "You know, honestly, itís with the five of us as a band. Back home we all did our 9 to 5. We were weekend warriors and then we got signed. The five of us suddenly had to live in close quarters. We had to turn into family or kill each other! Itís funny because when you go back home, I lived in this one house for about five years, itís sort of dťjŗ vu, you feel like youíve been there before but somethingís just not right.

"I am fortunate enough to have someone," Hasek continued. "I guess you could call her a high school sweetheart. I took her to prom when I was 17 or 18. I got into a serious relationship with her right before going on the road. She has kept me grounded and that is my link to home and immediate family. Thatís really helped. Because now when we go home buildings have been blown up, bridges have been blown up and the city has changed so much that it almost feels unfamiliar. So I think our most familiar and comforting place is the bus. When we pull out of a city and weíre on the Interstate and itís just the people on the bus, thatís our world, thatís our home. Thatís all weíve known for the past two years."

I wanted to talk to Hasek about the many changes the band has gone through. Most everyone who has played music understands the hardships of putting a band together and trying to get people to your show, but for most of us it ends there. Along the way, 10 Years figured out how to be successful. It all started with renting a hall, building a stage and promoting their own show with the hope that somebody, make that anybody would show up. A relatively short time later Hasek is calling in from Atlanta where they're on the "Family Values" tour playing in front of tens of thousands and heís stopping by catering to grab dinner before climbing on the bus to call me.

Hasek laughs, "Youíre right, life is good, Iím not going to complain. I think the biggest difference is like, all of these bands we listened to as children. I mean KORN has been doing this for 12 - 15 years, so have the Deftones. These are the people that we grew up on. And you hold them up almost as deities and then you get out here and play with them and you realize that they are just people doing the same thing that your are. Itís very strange. I donít think that I ever expected to be here but itís definitely cool!"

I think Hasek will tell you that being in a band is just a job, albeit a really cool job!

I asked Hasek if he had any road stories. Every band has at least one but rarely do they feel comfortable enough to open up and share. I reminded him of something that happened ever so recently when guitarist Ryan Johnson dislocated a finger.

10 Years"That was hilarious," Hasek gushed. "We saw a small light at the end of that tunnel. We were about to get two and a half weeks off and all we had was one more show and an hour before that show we were passing a football and Tater [Ryan Johnson] snapped his finger completely backwards. We had the paramedics yank it back into the socket, tape it up and go."

Hasek continued, "Weíve been through a lot. One time I woke up so sick that one side of my face was blown up like a balloon. I had a bee sting or something. One of my eyes was swollen shut and I had absolutely no voice. But we still got up and played at a festival where Staind headlined."

The road stories are always interesting because not everyone appreciates that itís not just glamour and doing cocaine off a hooker's ass. Being on the road can be a significant challenge and the fans are the ones who are disappointed when they canít see their favorite band play. But trust me, most bands understand that all the fan wants is for you to get on stage and play a great show.

"A lot of people donít understand that, when you come to someoneís town they have been looking forward to that event for a month or two. Thereís been promotion and everyone knows that itís coming. For us, itís just another day in our week, but we understand that we canít treat people like that. We canít just get up there and try to act like itís just another show. We try to make every show in every city individual regardless of being sick or hurt. Weíve been out since May and weíve only had to cancel one show," Hasek said with pride.

I found it refreshing to hear that all the members of 10 Years try to treat every fan with respect. Some years back, many bands saw themselves as prima donnas and thought that fans were only there to worship them. It doesnít take long for the fan to catch on and revolt from that situation. Itís nice to see bands come to the edge of the stage and talk to people or maybe sign an autograph.

Hasek agreed, "It just blows my mind when you see bands or really any entertainer just get larger than life. They are still human. They still put their pants on the same way. Itís amazing. I think one of the reasons the '80s came crashing down so hard was because many bands believed they were super-human."

I hope that the casual fan will understand what Hasek is saying. There are many levels to the evolution of music. Not all of it is what you get when you buy a CD. The perception of endless groupies and mountains of cocaine is little more than an illusion, thatís not to suggest that it still doesnít happen, but what you should understand is that most are interested in long careers. Life on the road can be grueling enough without the sorted distractions and lack of sleep.

"Itís funny. Sometimes we invite fans back to see our world and people are amazed that weíre not the Ďbig rock stars.í We hang around, watch TV and eat rather than sit in strip clubs and, like you said, do cocaine off a stripper's ass," Hasek admitted.

10 YearsI asked Hasek about his expectations for the future.

"Hopefully the fans and the media will continue to embraces us, but you should know that we plan to write music first and foremost for ourselves and to continue pouring our hearts and emotions into it. Hopefully the world will continue to relate to it," he said.

Once again it was refreshing to hear that not all success is measured by units sold or the new toys a person was able to buy.

Hasek thought about my compliment for a moment and replied, "If you place that mentality on everything youíre placing too much of a business angle on everything. It take the emotion and balance out of it. There is a fine line between the two. You have to make a product that people like but if youíre true and honest youíll produce a product that has more longevity because it has more substance."

I asked Hasek if he had any final comments.

"Honestly, this has been a great interview. Usually we get these very stock questions like who slept with who and you know, you get the craziest things. A lot of people donít dig into the substance part of it and when they do itís the cliche questions like ĎWhat does the band name mean?í Certain things we donít let go, those are things we value and hold personal, but I love discussing and talking about what we stand for as a group and a band. I think the biggest thing to talk about is how we are amazed and in awe and so proud to be where we are at."

OK, so now Iím a little embarrassed, but not so much that I wonít include his compliment in the interview! I want to thank Jesse Hasek for allowing us a peek into the world of a "Rock Star." As I alluded in the opening paragraphs, it can be a real challenge to find something new in an old story-- I was fortunate that Hasek was willing to share the more private side of his life with his fans.

Donít forget to check out 10 Years' Web site!   http://www.10yearsmusic.com/

Return to DaBelly