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The Sound

Inside Jahred’s Hed

11/13/2013

Hed PE plays Wooly’s on Tuesday, Nov 19.

Hed PE plays Wooly’s on Tuesday, Nov 19.

Nobody knows quite what to do with Hed PE. That’s partly because of the band’s sound, which redefines the word “eclectic.”

“When people come to a Hed PE show, they know they’re going to get four things,” said front man Jahred Gomes in an interview from his Anaheim, Calif., home. “They’re going to get punk, metal, rap and reggae. That diversity is what people love about us.”

Perhaps that’s true. But having no single and clearly embraced sound to call its own (the band’s sound is commonly referred to as “G-punk,” whatever that is) causes a lot of people to throw their hands in the air.

Yet the band was signed, initially to Jive Records, a move that Gomes now calls “the worst thing that could have happened.”

“Yeah, Jive was a mistake,” he said. “We had Warner Brothers and other labels who were interested, but we’d signed with Jive. That was my manager’s mistake, signing us to a label that didn’t even have a rock department,” which only exacerbated the problem. Jive relied on acts like R. Kelly and the Backstreet Boys to generate a series of radio-ready tracks — something that’s never really been Gomes’ bailiwick.

“I try to talk about the things that are important to me,” he explained. “I’m not good at sitting down and writing a song that might be a hit.”

But still, the band’s early naïveté and outside distractions kept anyone from seeing the problems.

“There were no initial misgivings,” Gomes admitted. “I thought, ‘Hey, Britany Spears’ label. Cool!’ I knew nothing about the record business. I was partying my ass off, totally toxic, doing all kinds of drugs. No one was looking out for me, and I wasn’t looking out for myself.”

Eventually the two parties went their separate ways, which for Gomes meant blowing things up.

“The band broke up after we left Jive,” he said. “I wasn’t big into the Internet at the time, but I was in contact with this guy who was running this Hed PE fan site, and he was like, ‘People really want you to continue.’ So I put together a totally different band.”

The first — and arguably most vital — new piece of the puzzle came in the form of guitarist Jaxon Benge. Jaxon’s speed metal influences, combined with a renewed sense of post-Jive freedom, transformed the band’s sound and opened it up creatively.

“The (band’s) punk rock feel definitely (came from) me,” said Gomes. “But all the metalcore, or whatever you want to call it, was Jaxon.

“Jaxon is influenced by a more Slayer/System of a Down thing. He brought me demos of his that ended up being on our first album together.”

Now the band is back in the studio cleaning up the tracks for its next album, though the release date is still undetermined, pending studio involvement. Whenever the album is released, the only thing certain is that it won’t be on Suburban Noize, which was home of the band’s last five albums.

“Nah, man,” Gomes said, keeping relatively coy. “The Kottonmouth Kings left Suburban Noize, and one of the partners left, so for me it wasn’t the same label anymore. But that’s all I’ll say about that.”

But for now, Gomes is excited with the product that’s coming together.

“I’m totally stoked on the new album, dude. I told Jaxon that for this album I wanted to do metal that was seriously in the pocket, but dark, almost like doomcore. Kind of this retro-metal Sabbath feel but updated. I also have three amazing reggae tracks that are on the album.” CV

Jokers