After a couple of years away, the band Hed Planet Earth (better known as Hed P.E.) are back with some brand new basics. The group has just released its latest album, aptly titled Back 2 Base X which was recorded live as a band to help capture the true rawness of their sound. Back 2 Base X also sees Hed P.E. lead singer Jared Gomes take on a new lyrical direction. Rather than his traditional party-time type lyrics, Jared focuses more on serious issues such as death and politics. Luckily enough for PGA, we were able to score an interview with Hed P.E. and asked Jared about the new album and the overall new direction that the band is going in.
I know you guys have been around for a while, but I’ve always wondered, how did you come up with the name Hed planet earth and what is the significance behind it? Jared: The name is derived from some of my early lyrics. It refers to my obsessive compulsive nature, and how everything starts in your “head.” The Planet Earth refers to my hood or my address for this lifetime.
Your music has received a wide range of classifications from rap rock to rap metal to punk metal to “G-punk.” How would you personally describe or classify Hed PE’s sound? Jared: Schizophrenic. PUNK-THRASH-SOUL-METAL-HIPHOP-ROCKANDROLL-AHHHHH!@!##!!@!
Your new album is called Back 2 Base X and you recorded it live as a band in the studio to capture more of a raw, organic sound. Why did you choose to record the album in this manner? Is this a response to all of the over produced music and bands that are out there today? Jared: Well, I was listening to classic music, like Ray Charles, The Clash, Sex Pistols, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and on and on and on.... I wanted to capture that band feel, and many of our past albums were not done this way. In the past, we took advantage of a lot of over-dubbing, and I wanted to keep this one raw.
In the past, some observers have described lead singer Jared Gomes’ lyrics as XXX-rated at times, but on Back 2 Base X, the lyrics take a more serious turn touching on issues of mortality and politics. Why did the band decide to change its focus and go in this new lyrical direction? Jared: Luckily, the band doesn’t tell me in what direction to take my lyrics. I have always enjoyed “pushing buttons” with my rhymes, and using some wit to get my points across. BACK 2 BASE X is a window into what I have been studying and reading about lately. The album before, ONLY IN AMERIKA, was definitely a reactive album. I had just left a situation where I was constantly being told what to say, and what not to say. Also, it was fuelled by the pressure the FCC was putting on Howard Stern. That whole situation inspired me to flex my Right to the First Amendment.
Besides the new lyrical direction that you’ve chosen on the new record, how do you think Back 2 Base X differs (if at all) from your previous releases? What new surprises can fans expect from the disc? Jared: BACK 2 BASE X is the most organic of all our albums. The sound is more raw, cuz I traded in two metal guitar players, for one thrash/punk kid. So the sound is more straight up punk and rock and roll. Early hedpe was kind of loop oriented, where this joint is more intense and punky-jazz-roots.
A theme evident on Back 2 Base X seems to be a search for knowledge or truth, or as it is known in ancient Greek philosophy, Sophia. How did this whole concept of truth come about for the new album? Jared: Yea, just all the stuff I been reading about, the Freemasons, Kabbalah... the alternative media, like prisonplanet.com, I think more and more people are searching for the so-called truth. Since you mentioned Sophia, that is one of my favorite joints on the new album. It really shows where we’re at right now. Ska-punk-rockabilly-metal-soul... you gotta love it!!!!
Speaking of this theme of Sophia on the new record, would you consider Back 2 Base X to be a concept album? Why or why not? Jared: There is a theme throughout the album; however, I didn’t mastermind it that way. It just turned out like that. All the lyrics were inspired by a very intense moment in time. I think the listener is in a better position than myself, to answer the question of whether this is a “concept album,” or not.
Back 2 Base X is Hed PE’s first album on the California based record label Suburban Noize Records, which has had substantial success operating almost completely outside the mainstream. Why did the band ultimately choose to sign with Suburban Noize instead of a larger, major label? Jared: Because of what you just said... success outside the mainstream. The digital revolution has empowered both indie labels and indie artists. Suburban Noize is the best label I’ve ever dealt with. I don’t have to convince these cats about what I’m doing, cuz, they are living the same life style I am. I don’t have to translate my art for them, cuz, we are all feeling the same vibes. Suburban Noize is the only label that has its own identity. Kind of like Death Row in the 90s, but without the gangsterism.
You guys of course were part of the nu-metal, rap/rock explosion along with Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Linkin Park, etc, that occurred around the turn of the century, but your band had been together and releasing music for years before then. Do you feel that maybe your band was partially responsible for starting the whole rap/rock movement in the first place? Jared: Next question....
Your band originates out of Orange County, California, one of the largest band producing capitals of the United States. What is the current music scene like in Orange County? Are there any up and coming bands out of Orange County that we should know about? Jared: I’m not familiar with the scene right now. It’s like I’m living under a rock. I’m not concerned with the current “scene” of music. Matisyahu is my favorite contemporary artist. Besides that, this Swedish band REFUSED is the shit. They broke up in 1996, but their sound is timeless. Anyways.....
Things are looking good for Hed PE with the imminent release of Back 2 Base X. What can we expect from the band for the rest of this year? Jared: We are just going to be constantly touring. We shine when we do out stuff live. That’s what we live for. We are going on tour with Kottonmouth, then we are going out with Slightly Stoopid and Pepper. Then to Australia, then to Europe, then to Japan. Taking over, till the wheels fall off, ride or die... thanx for the interview homey... L8.