Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
In the 90’s California was the pinnacle for some of the greatest alternative bands that would go on to have formidable careers as well as a lasting impact on music culture.
The scene was defying genres and started commercial trends in popular music such as nu-metal and EDM. (hed)p.e was in and amongst a thriving alternative movement and were inspired by a diverse range of artist such as Bad Brains, Led Zeppelin, KRS-ONE and Bob Marley and seamlessly fused all these styles together. On the imminent return to Australia for their Worldwide Unity tour Hysteria Mag caught up with front man and founder Jahred Gomes.
Hysteria: So (hed)p.e is heading back to Australia. Are you guys excited to be coming back here?
Jared: I think it’s great. We’ve always been treated well when we came down to Australia. I feel blessed after 25 years in the music business that I can still go to Australia and play some clubs and be able to rock out.
In the band’s two and a half decades there’s been quite a few line up changes. As the only permanent member of (hed)p.e, how in your view has the band evolved and progressed over the years?
Well I’d say there’s been a real sense of reggae and punk rock added into the heavy metal of our earlier albums. I would say that’s been one of the changes for sure.
You’re known for lyrics that bring awareness to social and political issues. What’s your take on the current political climate in the your home country?
Well, the thing about politics is you’ve got to look at it with an open mind and you can’t define yourself through your politics. I think that’s where the mistake comes and you get a lot of fascism, xenophobia and nationalist ideas. Whether it’s Trump or whoever I’m not going to take it too fucking seriously because Trump is going to be gone but I do find him to be a bit of a villain socially and I don’t really agree with him on much of anything. I think the interesting part is whether Russia is actually the country that got him elected and how American law enforcement is already putting a lot of the people he’s associated with in jail and that there are guilty pleads. The Unity Tour is a direct response to the divisiveness of the Trump caricature that lives in American politics. I think it’s important for people to remember that we as the middle class and working class have to stick together and I think he’s really good at dividing the working class.
The Unity Tour is a direct response to the divisiveness of the Trump caricature that lives in American politics.
[ Jared Gomes ]
The philosophy of the band’s name is also quite intriguing. Could you expand on what it means for people who may not know?
Well, (hed) planet evolutionary is (hed) p.e; when I came up with that name in the 90’s it was derived from this book that was talking about how the planet is alive, that planet itself isn’t just a rock but it has some life to it and then it evolved and we evolve with the planet. So as the planet evolves we follow her and it’s a very slow curve but that’s what it’s really about, some hippie stuff like that. I changed it once to (hed) planet earth but then I realised that the music I was making at the time wasn’t going to be that deep so I changed it back to planet evolutionary.
Critics and fans have also given you guys your own music genre known as G-Punk. As a band that was making music during the nu-metal era and has been influenced by so many styles of music from hip-hop, punk, metal and reggae, do you feel that the idea of music genres is becoming less and less relevant?
I think it’s always been that way; you’ll always have your more purist music. You’ll have heavy metal that’s really heavy metal like Meshuggah or bands that combine their styles like Twenty One Pilots. Back when we started, Rage Against The Machine was huge and that was a rapper with a hard rock band. So bands are always blending styles together and I think there’s just more of it.
You guys are now 10 records deep into your career. Has the band collectively started writing new music for the 11th studio album?
We’ve started writing, we were just in Europe for 7 weeks and we were listening to beats and coming up with a plan of how to approach the next record. We want it to come out by the end of the year and for it to be done by the end of our summer.
What can fans expect from new (hed) p.e material?
Well, the last album was based on dance hall Calypso rhythms but the new album is going to be based of trap beats. Trap music is what I’m really into right now and ever since I got my new MacBook I’ve been getting into new E.D.M and dubstep music and I want to put those styles into my own music.
What’s your take on releasing albums in the age of streaming music?
Well, it’s a whole new world compared to when my first record came out on cassette. There wasn’t even file sharing when the first (hed) p.e record came out. It’s just an unrecognisable musical landscape at this point so before there were not many ways to skin the cat now there’s like a million ways to release your music and get it out there. It’s exciting for an artist I believe, as long as you’re able to adapt and do it properly. It all comes back to whether your music is good or it sucks, if it’s good people will want to hear it, they will respond, then we will be able to play the show and people will show up, if not then we’re going to have a hard time.
You guys have always had a following since the 90’s so your core audiences are always at your live shows.
Because we’ve been around for so long a lot of it is the changing of the guard and the new generation of people are coming out mixed with some of our older fans who are all grown up now but still come to the shows. If you saw us at the beginning when you were just a teenager and now you’re past 40 or you’re a part of the brand new crop. I talk to people at the show that were like 4 years old when we got signed or when Bartender came out so it’s a blessing to have them as well.
With recent new band members joining the group, how are you guys finding the band’s current line up dynamics and the chemistry between each other?
I got my new guitarist Daniel Blacker (DJ Black) and he is a great addition to the band because he’s also really into trap music. He makes beats on his own and produces trap music, he’s from northern Cali, the Bay Area so I’m really excited about him being on the next record. The band’s got a great chemistry right now and that is important when you spend so much time on the road.
And finally I wanted to come back to your lyrics because I’m curious to know if you think there’s a song in your catalogue that is relevant to what’s going on in 2018?
That’s a good question. War on the Middle Class would be one song that is certainly very relevant today and some of the new world order tracks which look at the ruling elites dominating and controlling everything would also be applicable.