Since 1994 (Hed)p.e’s unique and eclectic blend of rap, punk and metal otherwise known as G-punk has attracted a devout following in the alternative music world. With their next Australian tour kicking off in late January, frontman Jared Gomes kindly chatted to us about everything music from Jamaican dancehall to Slayer.
Hey man, please start out by telling us your name, what you do in (Hed)p.e. and who in your opinion is the greatest rapper of all time.
My name is Jared. I sing for (Hed)p.e.. I also mix and produce the albums. I am torn between JayZ and Tech9. They are very different and offer different aspects of rap, so it is hard for me to make a decision. Tech 9 is very technically amazing, while JayZ really gets me with his poetry. I can’t decide which one to choose.
When you dudes started out what were your major influences, musical or otherwise?
Well, when I started this band in the 90s, I was mostly influenced by Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, The Beastie Boys and Dr. Dre. I was heavily influenced by the gangster rap in the 90s. That was the original (Hed)p.e., but in 2002, we broke up, and by popular demand, reformed with new members, and this was a kind of Hed version 2.0. When the new Hed was formed, I was more influenced by old school and hardcore punk. Bands like Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies and Rancid became more of my influence. Even bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols were important to me. My writing partner Jaxon, who plays guitar in (Hed)p.e. brought a new hardcore sound to the band. He was influenced by Slayer and System of a Down. So, our new sound is a bit more straight forward and hardcore now.
Have these influences remained important to the band?
Oh, yes, the hardcore punk is very important to (Hed)p.e.. Also, we have embraced reggae and ska as well, although in a subtle way. (Hed)p.e. has a foundation of heavy metal and hardcore punk, and then we through flavors of hip hop and soul in. We are not purists. We play whatever feels right to us. I realise that the music business likes bands that sound similar from track to track, but we don’t care about that. I have to stay true to my love for all kinds of music, so many different styles find their way into our albums.
The band released your eighth full-length “Truth Rising” in October, how has the response from critics and fans been so far?
The response for Truth Rising has been overwhelmingly positive. One thing is for sure that people respect the honesty of the album. (Hed)p.e. in the 90s was mostly about partying, heart break shit, and a bit of social commentary, but the (Hed)p.e. of the new millennium is more lifestyle oriented, and what I mean by that is it reflects what I have been into for the past 7 years, which is what we call the Truth Movement. I seek to use the music as a vehicle to put out messages to the youth. Messages of self empowerment. This includes exposing the truth about organised religion, the secret governments of the world and the Extraterrestrial reality, to name but a few.
How did the writing and recording for the new record differ from previous releases?
Well, the album before Truth Rising, which was entitled New World Orphans, was our most successful indie album to date. Because of that, we had more money to invest into the production of this album, and so, for sure it has a better sound quality. Although I find sometimes the youth could care less about so-called production. Nevertheless, I was happy to be able to get the sound I wanted, and invested more money into my home studio.
Has the band’s creative process evolved significantly over the course of its history?
(Hed)p.e. has always been the type of band that does their homework. What I mean by that is the writers will produce their own demos at home. My partner Jaxon will provide me with like 20 tracks that he records at home, and then I will choose the ones that I want to pursue. I will add my own tracks, and then we go into the studio, to practice the songs live. We want to get the music sounding good as a band before we go into the recording process. It is important for me, in this digital age, to preserve the feeling of a live band.
As socially aware musicians, what are your thoughts on the current political climate in the US?
Well, I feel like things are getting better. Obviously, Obama is a huge improvement over Bush. Unless you’re a conservative Republican, which obviously I am not! I believe that people are waking up, but you still have a lot of old grumpy white folks who want things to go back to the way they were in the 50s. Which is funny, cause the 50s sucked for a lot of people!
(Hed)p.e. were last in Australia in 2009, how has your experience of touring here been so far?
In 2009 I was totally excited to see how much love we had. I mean the shows we played were really fun. The Australian people are cool as hell. I love the beaches and I really can’t wait to get back. I look forward to another successful hardcore tour.
What are you expecting from the shows this time around?
I expect a big party. Massive pit and a lot of love in the air. This time, we are headlining, so we will be able to play all fucking night. We have a ton of material, 8 albums, and we like to play tracks from each album, so…I hope everyone is ready to sweat.
You guys also did an almost three month long tour with Insane Clown Posse at the end of last year. Considering that they are devoutly Christian and (Hed)p.e. seem to be heavily critical of religion, was there ever any tension on matters of spirituality or lifestyle?
Well, that Christian thing seems to be maybe a rumor or a conspiracy. I know I’ve heard that about them, but ICP is just as hardcore as we are! There was absolutely no tension between us. It was like one big happy family. I would love to go on tour with ICP any time, any day. It was probably my favorite tour ever.
What’s been your greatest memory thus far as a member of (Hed)p.e.?
I couldn’t choose one. There have been the most intense club shows. Like that one we did last time we were in Australia, but I can’t remember the club or the city. The club was packed. From front to back, but honestly, I doubt it held more than 500 people, but that shit doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is the level of intensity. On our last album, we had a single called Renegade, that did quite well for us in the
States, so we were invited to play quite a few radio festivals. I mean, we were playing at baseball stadiums and shit. So, that was one of the most memorable shows as well, cause the youth are like stunned when we get on stage, cause we are surrounded by corporate rock bands, and (Hed)p.e. doesn’t fuck around. So much love we get on the road, so I could never pick just one night or one show.
And the worst thing that’s ever happened to the band?
I’m racking my brain right now. I have a nice way of forgetting the bad shit in my life. It’s a gift. I missed my plane one time, and missed out on a huge festival. That really sucked, cause no one believed that it wasn’t my fault. I had arrived to the airport on time, but they could not find my ticket. Anyway, live and learn!
What music does the band tend to rock in the bus while on the road?
We rock Jamaican dance hall, or roots reggae. Hip hop. We definitely don’t listen to heavy music on the bus, cause we play it every night. Except my drummer who listens to heavy metal on his headphones every chance he gets.
Other than the fast-approaching Australian tour in January, what does the future hold for (Hed)p.e.?
Well with Truth Rising just coming out, we will have a lot of touring in 2011, and a lot of festivals in the states. We have to wage war on the ones who wage wars. We plan to take our message of love, peace and truth out to the masses of planet earth! We cant be stopped.
Any last shout out or comments?
Let everyone know we really couldn’t do this without them. This is an indie band, and each person really counts for us. Find us on the facebook, and please keep in touch. I offer links on the facebook and articles that are useful. Thanks for your time my brothers and sisters.