Aliens, government conspiracies and battle rap. All in a days work/study for (Hed)p.e frontman, Jahred Gomes, who took time out of his current west coast US tour to chat with Blunt about the release of the rap-rock act’s eight studio album, Truth Rising (as well as living in a bubble and the mysterious concept of ‘a path’). By Luke Monks.
Each record that you guys put out has increasingly message driven content. Where does the concept for this record come from?
Truth Rising is just like another statement into the sign of the times. You have stuff like Wikileaks and all that going on. The truth is coming out about a lot of different things, whether it’s lost human history or secret power structures and free energy, all these things.
With the music being so aggressive, do you ever think that maybe the violent nature of the music could distract from the information that you’re trying to get across to your audience?
Yeah, there is always that. But anything can be taken in multiple ways and I think that it’s good that people can come to our shows and get their frustrations out in the pit. Last night there weren’t any fights and that happens a lot of nights. No fights. We like to try to get everyone to think of a show as like being a big family – but you know, monks fight each other, too. You never know, you know, where violence is going to come from.
OK, throughout Truth Rising, there are a lot of voice samples between songs or even in songs, what was the idea behind that?
That comes from whatever I’m watching on Youtube or from the different people that I am studying. On this album, a lot of it came from Dr Steven Greer, who is big time in the truth movement, as far as extraterrestrials are concerned. He has a lot to say and I like to pass those things on to the listener.
With all of your political or social agendas, are you ever worried that someone is going to try to ‘deal with you,’ especially considering the anti-church and challenge the government vibes that you have?
(Laughter) There are always those types of people around, I get that, but I try not to take myself too seriously, so generally, everyone can respect that, especially at shows. But I guess you never really know what is going to happen.
Most artists will tell you that their latest work is their best. With such a wide array of material and styles, can you say that Truth Rising is the best (Hed)p.e album out there?
For me, audio quality wise, this is our best record, but who gives a shit about that? For me, a lot of the albums, I can’t even compare them. All of our indie albums, like Only In Amerika, quality wise, are very low fidelity, but they have a place in my heart, because of the time in my life when I wrote it. Each record says a little different thing for me and shows where I was at on my path.
The lyrics seem to have become more and more focused. Are you happier with the kind of stuff that you’re writing now than on previous records?
Yeah, I can definitely say that. At least I’m not just rebelling and saying fuck everything any more. I’m more selective, you know, that’s where I’m at on my path. It’s always a growing process and you just keep on going, because there is always going to be some way to be better in your music or as a person. You just gotta stay true to your goals.
What are your goals then, beyond this record release?
The path at moment just seems to be to keep making records and doing shows. There is no end in sight, so you just take what unfolds.
Would you find it harder to be doing all of this, exposing truths and conspiracies if the world was a more ideal place? The kind of place that you wanted it to be?
Right! (Big laughs) It would be so much harder for other people, who were used to writing negative things and always into bad news. Me? I’d just write about the good stuff, you know, all of that, it’d be great!(More big laughs).
So it would be more like the hip-hop vibes that you have? Like Takeover?
Takeover is like a battle track, just fun, garage funk. A lot of people find the hip-hop stuff and the more sexually explicit stuff to be a bit distracting from what I’m doing. Like I said though, I can’t take myself too seriously. I have to make those implications.
What about a solo hip-hop record? Any plans of that?
Yeah, I really want to do one. Like a soul, hip-hop joint, but I’m so busy with the (Hed)p.e stuff that I’ve never had a chance. Once again, you never know what the future might bring.
With such a globally influenced sound, how much of the travel aspect of being in a band affects the music that you make? Do you think that being in a band at all skews your world view?
Definitely. Definitely. I feel lucky, because the typical American who has never been out of the country but thinks that they know everything about the world is hilarious to me. I’m glad. I feel blessed. I always tell people that if they can find a way to do it, they need to travel. You need to see other cultures and expand your horizons. I get a global perspective, you know. Everywhere from Brisbane to fuckin’ Tokyo, Paris and Moscow, it’s just a way to see the connection between everyone. You can see that we’re all a global family. Everyone thinks that people and places are so different, but they’re not, it’s all the same.
So you travel the world and play music for a living, does that make you a commercial band?
No, no. That kind of thing would drive me crazy (laughs).
We’re on the underground, independent scene, living album to album and we’re just happy that we have such a strong underground following. I don’t listen to the radio or watch MTV. We just do our own brand of hardcore music. The topics are timely and the kids like the music, so we’re able to keep our lives going (laughs).
So you kind of exist in a bubble, no new music?
Well, the new thing that I’m into is dubstep. Besides that, I’m not closed off, but I’m kind of a hermit, so I’m not exposed to new music that much, so I’m just influenced by old school punk rock Suicidal Tendencies and Minor Threat or heavy metal like System Of A Down and Slayer. Then you’ve got Bob Marley and the hip-hop, so I mix it all up. I guess that everyone has a choice to make and my choice is to make music in a vacuum, where I’m not trying to emulate anything that is supposedly going on right now. I’m also not reinventing the wheel. Heavy guitar, heavy hardcore music is timeless, that’s what I’m sticking to, man!
(hed) PE are in Australia soon on tour, check the dates below
THURSDAY 27 JANUARY – CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE
Tickets available from www.cornerhotel.com
FRIDAY 28 JANUARY – HI-FI BAR, BRISBANE
Tickets available from www.thehifi.com.au
SATURDAY 29 JANUARY – MANNING BAR, SYDNEY
Tickets available from www.manningbar.com
SUNDAY 30 JANUARY – CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE
Tickets available from www.moshtix.com.au
WEDNESDAY 2 FEBRUARY – AMPLIFIER, PERTH
Tickets available from www.moshtix.com.au