Hit The Lights: (hed) pe Vocalist: 'A Lot Of Other Bands Are Easier To Describe With Words'

artist: (Hed) Pe date: 11/17/2010 category: interviews
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Hit The Lights: (hed) pe Vocalist: 'A Lot Of Other Bands Are Easier To Describe With Words'
Some groups solely favour a specific style, and largely remain faithful to that style throughout most of their careers. However, some incorporate a variety of styles into their repertoire to create a fusion type style as is the case with (hed) p.e.. That approach yields results on occasion but sometimes doesn't, so with that being said, is the equivalent of walking a tight rope. (hed) p.e. have carved themselves a decent career out of this mind, a career that's slowly coming to twenty years and spans eight studio records to date. (hed) p.e.'s eighth studio album "Truth Rising" was issued on October 26th, 2010 via Suburban Noize Records, the outfit's fourth studio album to be issued through that label (following June 2006's 'Back 2 Base X', July 2007's 'Insomnia', and January 2009's 'New World Orphans'). Shifting around 4,800 copies in its inaugural week of release in the United States, the record landed at position ninety-eight on the Billboard 200 chart. Those who pre-ordered the full-length through Suburban Noize's official website received an exclusive five-track "Skull & Bonus" bonus disc, including four songs and a thirty-minute interview with frontman Jared Gomes regarding The Truth Movement. Originally penned for June 2010 retrospective "Major Pain 2 Indee Freedom: The Best of (hed) p.e.", "No Rest For The Wicked" premiered on Noisecreep on June 21st. The song reappears on "Truth Rising", a claymation music video having been filmed for the track by Joey Nugent. Meanwhile, "Stand Up" features guest chorus vocals from Sevendust frontman Lajon Witherspoon whereas "Menina" uses English and Portuguese lyrics. North American dates in late October saw the outfit supporting Suicidal Tendencies, with dates later this November to follow. On October 8th at 21:00 GMT, Hit The Lights' Robert Gray telephoned (hed) p.e. frontman Jared Gomes to discuss "Truth Rising". Jared Gomes: Hello? UG: Hello. Can I speak to Jared please? Yeah, that's me. Who's calling? This is Robert Gray from Ultimate-Guitar.com. How are you Jared? I'm having a good day, though I just had to get my computer fixed. Taking care of my son here. Would it be alright if I began the interview? Yeah, let's do the interview. Could you talk me through how 'Truth Rising' came to fruition? From how the album process began to the realization of the finished product? We started recording 'Truth Rising''s music in January. We always take a lot of music demos with us, and we practice the music live for about ten days. Following that, we go into the studio to record all the music - the drums, bass and guitars. We took about five days to do that, and then we left for Europe for about five weeks, going all around Europe and then to Russia. Once we came back, I did the vocals and mixed the album. We then went on another tour, and then I came back and remixed 'Truth Rising', and that was it.

"We started recording 'Truth Rising''s music in January. We always take a lot of music demos with us, and we practice the music live for about ten days."

What's the meaning behind 'Truth Rising', the album's title? What's the "truth" that's coming to the fore? 'Truth Rising' refers to a movement that we're dealing with called the Truth movement where we're finding out a lot of truths about organized religion, extraterrestrials and lost human history which is all coming to the surface - a lot of things that we weren't taught in public school or at church as well. A lot of knowledge seems to be coming to the surface right now. Is 'Truth Rising''s title also a reference to government cover-ups, and incidents of that nature? Definitely. Everything's connected, so it has to do with secret government and how that connects to organized religion, and how that connects to extraterrestrial reality. What specific types of social commentary feature on 'Truth Rising''s tracks? 'Truth Rising' is a concept album, so everything relates back to the theme of truth rising. We've been dealing with these types of messages for the last four albums really, so it's all just a progression. On this album, instead of concentrating on what the bureaucracy or the secret government is doing, we've moreso started to concentrate on what we as people should be doing to get more power over our lives. Why has (hed) p.e. decided to lyrically tackle such topics in more recent years? It wasn't the band. It's me because I'm the one who decides what the albums are going to be about; I write all the lyrics, and I'm responsible for all the messages that come from this band. I'd say around 2005 was when I started getting into that in my own personal life, studying all these types of secret wisdom and so on. After I started getting into it in my personal life, I decided that I would use (hed) p.e. as a vehicle to get all this information out. Are there certain groups you relate to in writing about such topics? I don't know. I think originally, you had bands like Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down doing it, but we do it in a different way. I have my own approach to it. Is there a balance you strike where you attempt to spread such messages, but not become too preachy? Yeah, yeah, and that's the tricky thing because it's not that easy to create the art form, but - like you're saying - not get too preachy. Definitely, that's the trick of doing music and lyrics, and not have it be like going to school, or a lecture, or whatever. The track "Menina" has English and Portuguese lyrics. Why did you decide to incorporate Portuguese lyrics into the composition? Because my parents were both born in Brazil and I'm first generation American, I'm very in touch with my Brazilian roots and I enjoy Brazilian music. I really appreciate Brazil's culture, so I had always wanted to put some Portuguese lyrics in my music. I finally got to do it. 'Truth Rising''s title track has been described as "theatrical", which is possibly a new side to (hed) p.e.. Theatrical side? Well, (hed) p.e. has always been that type of a live band. As long as I can remember, I've always either worn something silly or donned some kind of tribal makeup or whatever. For the last few years though, we've been consistently painting our faces and so on. We've always had that theatrical, visual side to the band ever since it started. "The Love You Show", meanwhile, boasts a jazz type influence. (hed) p.e. is definitely not purist, so we always enjoy combining different styles like hardcore punk rock, heavy metal, jazz, hip hop or reggae influences. You can definitely hear them in the band, because that's just something we've always been about, which is blending together different styles. Would you say that (hed) p.e.'s musical style is difficult to identify? I think a lot of other bands are easier to describe with words. Music is always generally hard to describe with words, just like any art form. For example, a painting is something that you appreciate with your eyes. To use words to describe a painting can be difficult; you can describe the same painting to ten different people and ask them to draw it, and they're gonna draw ten different things (laughs). It's the same thing with music. It's for your ears, so to describe music with your mouth and with words is always difficult, but especially difficult for (hed) p.e. because our music is not purely heavy metal or punk rock or anything. We touch on different styles. In the music industry, they prefer you to all play one type of music, but we don't care about that.

"'Truth Rising' refers to a movement that we're dealing with called the Truth movement where we're finding out a lot of truths about organized religion and lost human history."

How would you describe "Takeover", which has some garage funk? We're like garage-y thrash. Any time we do a style, whether it's metal or punk or reggae or funk, it always has a garage quality to it because it's not that refined. You can hear what style we're expressing, but when we play funk it isn't like Funkadelic. When we play reggae, it isn't like the Wailers, and when we play heavy metal, it isn't like Slipknot. It's always more thrash, and it's more garage-esque. How did Sevendust vocalist Lajon Witherspoon come to guest on "Stand Up"? I've known Lajon since the nineties, and we recently played a show together in Florida. We were talking about doing a song together, so when "Stand Up" came up I immediately thought Lajon would be perfect for its chorus. I then just reached out to him, and he recorded the chorus in Atlanta, Georgia. He sent the chorus to me through email, and I just put it in the song. I think it came out great. How would you describe "Stand Up"'s chorus, and how do you feel that chorus benefits the track itself? The Lajon chorus? It's a rock chorus, just a big rock chorus; very melodic, and very positive with positive lyrics. (hed) p.e. always do songs about never giving up, and always getting back up and trying to win again. Did you produce 'Truth Rising' as you have several other (hed) p.e. albums? Yeah. I pretty much produce all the albums, but ever since we went to the indie labels I've really just produced the albums and created them in my home studio. For one thing, that's been to save money, and I'm just a guy who's always got all the ideas of how to bring albums together as one piece of art. How would you describe your experiences with outside producers? My experiences with outside producers are generally they could never do it without me being there a hundred percent of the time, so that's why I thought "Why are they getting paid all this money when I have to be there anyway?". It's the same thing with mixing; every time we've paid a mixer to mix an album, they'd always make me be in the room because I know where everything has to go. I think in some bands, there's no guys in the band that are like that. In this band though, it's always been me who's been asked to be in the room. I'm self-taught and I still have a lot to learn, but at least I take out the middleman and just do it myself. In producing 'Truth Rising', is there anything specific you learnt? Not really. So much goes into it that I don't really know where to start. I always go for the really heavy kick drum, because I'm into that due to my Slipknot influence. It's just having everything being in the right relationship with each other, but again, I'm working out of my home studio so I don't have thousands of dollars in hardware. I'm always trying to just create the tricks using a computer which make it sound like it's a high-tech production, but generally though, what I do when I'm producing any of our albums is try to make it sound like a whole album and not just songs. I'm more interested in creating an album's worth of material that creates a big picture, rather than just "Here's a song... Here's a song... Here's a song". Has (hed) p.e. filmed a music video for "No Rest For The Wicked"? We had them do a clay animation video for "No Rest For The Wicked", which has just got different scenarios of me beating the shit out of George Bush (laughs), just crazy stuff like that. It came out pretty cool. By not physically appearing in the music video for "No Rest For The Wicked", do you feel that helps people concentrate on the song's message as opposed to the personalities within (hed) p.e.? Yeah, yeah. I think that's cool. If we had money, we'd probably do a lot more clay animation. That's why we don't put pictures of the band in the album booklets, because even though I say we're a visual band or whatever, sometimes I just urge people to just focus on the music rather than the guys' visual presentation in the band. How would you describe your vocals on 'Truth Rising'? Is there anything new you tried this time around? I used a more hardcore vocal tone, but kept a lot of hip hop rhythms in the vocals, so that is one thing you can really hear. I always do that, but on 'Truth Rising', I think it's in a different place. As opposed to using a rap vocal tone, I really just consistently used a really heavy vocal tone, but with really obvious hip hop rhythms.

"'Truth Rising' is a concept album, so everything relates back to the theme of truth rising."

Does that mean 'Truth Rising' is a heavier album for (hed) p.e.? Yeah. I think consistently, there's more heavy tracks. With a lot of albums we've done, it's been "Here's a heavy track... Here's a hip hop track... Here's a punk track". 'Truth Rising''s more like heavy, heavy, heavy; you can hear the punk and the hip hop influences, but it's more in a place that's always heavy. 'Truth Rising' is the fourth (hed) p.e. album to be released through Suburban Noize. Why do you feel the group's relationship with Suburban Noize has been successful enough to warrant the issue of four albums through that record label? We've really grown like a family - we're a bunch of brothers. We've done... Let me think... 'Only In Amerika' (2004), 'Back 2 Base X' (2006), 'Insomnia' (2007), 'New World Orphans' (2009)... This is our fifth independent album, and we only released three on the major labels. We've tipped the scales to where we've really proven ourselves in the indie scene. We have a whole new following, and a really young following that's really into what we're doing, especially on the indie side. I really enjoy it more than the old major label days because it has nothing to do with radio singles. It's all just about the hardcore underground scene. What are (hed) p.e.'s touring plans? We're going on tour with Suicidal Tendencies in a couple of weeks here, which we're really excited about. We're also going on tour with this guy Boondox from Insane Clown Posse's label Psychopathic Records and then next year, we're going to Japan and Australia in January, so we're totally excited. Do you have a message for the fans of (hed) p.e.? Oh man... Mostly just thank you for keeping us alive and keeping the message going, and for taking an interest in serious music that has a positive message and that isn't just about girls and boys, and partying and stuff (laughs). It's nice to know there's fans out there that are philosophers, and think about things that are deep. Most of the music industry's really surface-level music that's all just about pointless rebellion and romance. Superficial music, yeah. Thanks for the interview Jared, which is really appreciated. Hey brother - thank you so much man. I appreciate your time. Thanks. I wish you the best of success with 'Truth Rising'. Thanks. Where are you calling from? Wales. Oh yeah, man. I love it out there dude. I can't wait to get back. That's great; hopefully I'll catch you when you come back. Yeah, definitely. Especially our UK fans are some of our best fans dude, so let them know that I love them and I'll talk to them soon. Ok. All the best. Later. Bye. Interview by Robert Gray Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010
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