'Back 2 base X' with (hed)p.e.
July 28, 2006
(hed)p.e., who have flirted
with mainstream success on more than one occasion in the past,
have been powered by the underground scene for more than a
decade. With a retooled lineup, the band has found new life
on their new label and is back on the scene with a new album, Back 2 Base X. Jason Price of Live-Metal.Net recently
caught up with frontman Jared Gomes (a.k.a. M.C.U.D.) on the
Koast II Koast tour, supporting the Kottonmouth Kings. Jared
discusses the band’s longevity and future, their new
raw sound, the struggles with their former label and moving
on to the much “greener pastures” of Suburban
Live-Metal: (hed)p.e. formed back in 1994. The lineup has changed a bit in that time, but to what do you attribute the band’s longevity?
Jared Gomes: You know what it is, it is just because the band (hed)p.e. is more than who is in the band. It is a way or life and a frame of mind. Those of us who have stuck it out have stuck it out because the music means more to us. We aren’t into this for fame or nothing, it is just in our blood. The reason we stay around for one thing is because we never hit it big. We have been trudging along working as hard as we can and I think we have earned some respect for that.
What is the biggest misconception about (hed)p.e.?
That we are a rap-rock band. [laughs] Or that people want to dismiss us as rap-rock band. It is hard because people wanna describe music with words and that in itself is a difficult task. I think that it is a misconception that we were part of some trend or whatever. We don’t look at ourselves like that. Bob Marley had 12 albums and Zeppelin. We just consider ourselves musicians, artists. We don't consider ourselves “rap-rockers” or whatever.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest milestone for the band since you started out?
The biggest milestone of the band? Hummmm, interesting question. I don’t know if I am in a position to answer that question. I think that we are just continually creating milestones every time we get on stage. Every time we sell a T-shirt it's another stone, ya know? Part of the trick of us staying in it is that we aren’t in it for short-term rewards or whatever. Playing big shows and opening up for bands or playing for big festivals or whatever—it is all great for us. So that is why we take it all in stride. Once you start creating milestones and then you are like, “Oh man, why aren't we doing that again?" So for us it is just a way of life thing, so I don’t really have one that sticks out. Maybe me buying a laptop and starting to do all producing myself. Maybe when I bought all the recording equipment and decided to do this all myself. It took the power out of the hands of the people with all the money. It took power out of money and just gave it back to our band in terms of creativity.
Do you have a typical songwriting process for (hed)p.e.?
If it’s not me just picking up a guitar and recording a song and then showing it to the band, then my guitar player will record a song and send me tapes or email me a bunch of his tracks. Or my bass player will give me some tracks and I will pick through the one that really moves me or one were I feel like the lyrics are already written for this. So it is nothing that is written in stone. It could be words first or it could be music first.
The latest album is Back 2 Base X. You recorded this album live as a band in the studio. How did you come to that decision?
I think that technology can be your best friend, but you can use it too much to your advantage. For us, we are a live band and we want capture that liveness like they used to do. You know, Ray Charles, Rick James, The Clash, the Sex Pistols. Some of those old-school bands that used to record all at once or just with a couple mics in the room. We wanted to get that raw feeling again, where some of the old (hed)p.e. albums, even the more popular ones were done with a lot of looping and stuff and computer tricks. We just wanted to get away from that.
Can we expect this approach on future releases?
What was the biggest challenge in making the record?
No challenges. Everything just went so smoothly on this record. [laughs] Everything just went so good on this record and it was a great experience.
The new album, Back 2 Base X, is has a lot of messages and underlying themes. What was the inspiration for it?
A lot of artists just write about themselves and their lifestyle, which is cool because I do that a lot, too. On this album, though, it was more about writing about topics. I was really into the alternative media and reading about secret world governments, Freemasons, Kabbalah and Illuminati shit and putting that all into my rhymes and my music.
Is there an overall message you’re trying to get across with your music?
Maybe the message is just that you can go check things out and be curious and that there are two sides to every story and more than what you may see on the news. Get online and check out other avenues of information besides the three networks and CNN or whatever.
You have left your last label for greener pastures, so to speak.
How has your experience with Suburban Noize been?
Suburban Noize is different because when you are at a record label, you have an outside manager that fights with your label to supposedly help you out in the end. At Suburban Noize, the management is the label. So it is kinda just a cool symbiotic thing where they just help each other out. It’s a family over there of normal guys who are sincerely concerned with their artists’ careers, where at the other labels it is more just cutthroat and people are just trying to make that quick buck off of you.
You released Back 2 Base X on 6.6.06, the same day your former label, Jive released The Best of (hed) Planet Earth.
Did you guys have any input whatsoever on that release?
How do you feel about that?
It is absolutely infuriating. Well, I don’t want to say infuriating, but it just shows the level of how much they are like vampires. It’s just this whole business where it supposedly has to do with art but all these suits are trying to do at Jive is make a penny anywhere. I think it is so fucking lame when someone can just put out your music without even talking to you.
I didn't even know it had come out.
Good! GOOD! There is no “greatest hits” from (hed)! We never had a hit!
You had “Bartender” and a song on Madden.
But “Bartender” wasn’t a hit. It got played a lot because the record company paid a lot for it to get played through indie radio promo. If it was a hit, that album would have went gold and it didn’t, ya know what I mean? So they tried and they gave up. Ya know, whatever!
You have already released a video for “Get Ready.” Any plans to do another video at the moment?
Well, first we are gonna go to Europe. Then the management has a couple tracks in mind, like the track “N.O.C.” (Novus Ordos Clitorus) as the second track and do a video for that.
You are currently on the Koast II Koast Tour with The Kottonmouth Kings. How is the tour going so far?
This is the best tour that we have ever been on. It is just ridiculous. You know, Kottonmouth is like a phenomena. There is only a hand full of bands that can draw these types of numbers and sell these types of units without being on MTV and radio on the constant. It is a statement against the status quo. Being part of it is the greatest thing.
So you enjoying being back out on the road?
Oh yeah, being back out on the road is great, period. But doing this tour with Suburban Noize family is just a dream come true.
For those how haven’t seen (hed)p.e. live, how would you describe it?
I would say that we always satisfy if you are inclined to be into it. You can’t please everyone, some people are just not gonna like what you are doing. If you are inclined to be into live bands, we bring it at a high level. It’s intense and we are not faking it.
When you’re out on tour with all these bands, do you get inspired by the other musicians?
Without a doubt. I am one of these people who is constantly soaking up whatever another artist is doing. Everybody from Big B to D-Loc or Richter (www.kottonmouthkings.com), any of those fools, anybody at anytime can just make me go, “"Huhhhhhhhh?!” and get inspired.
How do keep touring from becoming a grind?
I just think that touring is like sex. How do you keep sex from getting boring? It just doesn't get boring—because your fucking! That is what music is. It doesn't get boring. It is always inherently exciting and fun, as long as your head is in the right place. Which mine is because I have been doing it for such a long time. So a lot of the ego is just out the window.
After this tour, what’s next for (hed)p.e.?
We're going to Europe with OPM and then we are doing a tour with Slightly Stoopid and Pepper for Jägermeister. We’ve got a lot of radio shows coming up, not a lot but a few and that is about it in the near future.
You have contemplated some solo work in the past. Is that still in the cards?
No. Well, I would like to but I just have to find the time to do it. I would like to do more of the hip-hop thing, but I just need to get my discipline down and use my time more wisely then watching South Park for eight hours straight.
In your opinion, has the digital revolution, i.e. downloading, iPods, file trading and web streaming, affected you?
Well, I think that it effects us more than bigger bands because we are poor, so every unit really counts. The bigger bands are already rich and making money from valid record sales.
That’s all the questions I have for you. Is there anything else you want to add?
Just check us out on MySpace at myspace.com/hedpe or www.hedshop.com, www.suburbannoizerecords.com. Help us out. Buy a T-Shirt and buy the new album and just support underground music that is not so corporate and thanks!