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Interview with Hed pe



An interview with Jahred and Gregzilla

By:  Nina McCarthy




On May 27th, I sat down with Jahred and Gregzilla from Hed PE in Providence, RI at Fete.  A huge thanks to Barbara from RSN Entertainment and Jonny Frates, Tour Manager for making this interview possible.



BRR:    Even though I know, but for the readers, can you explain the band name?


J:  The band name is Hed Planetary Evolution and sometimes we’ve called it Hed Planet Earth.  In it’s original conception, the band was named Hed when we were in Huntington Beach.  When we did our record deal the Legal Department was like, “You can’t be Hed, there’s already a Hed.”


BRR:  Spelled the same way?


J:  I have no idea to be honest.  They just said we couldn't be Hed.  They tried to get us the name and we couldn’t get it.  We just added PE to it, from some book I was reading at the time that had to do with planetary evolution.  That’s the history of the scientific book name, formula of a name.


BRR:  I was watching videos today and “Bartender” was under Hed Planet Earth and I was trying to figure out why.


J:  What happened was, the first album was Planetary Evolution, the second one I thought I’d make it more palatable for the masses and changed the name.  Hed Planet Earth is just easier for people.


BRR:  You blend Metal, Reggae, Hip Hop, Punk...a little bit of everything.  Do you think your unique combo had been what drew label attention initially?


J:  Well, I think what was going on was Korn had just gotten signed out of Huntington Beach and they left.  After they left, we were selling out the clubs all in that area too.  So, I think that hotbed of music going on there in Cali at the time, between the Deftones and Korn and even like Sugar Ray and all those bands, got set before us.  I think record companies were looking around there.  That’s what I think.


BRR:  I interviewed Nonpoint and they say the same thing.  When they were in Florida, they were selling out venues, thousands of people when they were just the locals at the time.


J:  Right.  That was us before we got signed.  We were selling out the clubs in Los Angeles and Orange County.


BRR:  That’s amazing!  The band formed in 1994.  What do you think has contributed to your longevity?


J:  Wow!  You know, I don’t know.  Part of it is me refusing to do anything else.  Once I got my foot in the door and entered that major label deal for seven years, then after the majors I did the indie thing, it’s been me refusing to not NOT have to have this as a job.  Beyond that, from a stylistic point of view, I think because the band has kind of morphed and done different styles.  We leaned towards more Punk Rock for a few years and then back to strict Metal for a few years and we toured with Reggae.  It gives us new fans and it also keeps old ones interested, I think.  


BRR:  Exactly.  It doesn’t get stale because you have the variety.


J:  On the other hand, it’s not like we went platinum on a certain sound.  It’s always been... here’s Hed PE, here’s a Metal song, here’s Hip Hop blah, blah blah.  But I think down the years it has become more focused, like on this last album that Greg and I wrote together, with the riffs he brought his own flavor.  That’s another thing too, different artists coming through the band they’ve given us different things.  Greg is a high level guitar player and with his new riff sounds I was able to record over it with progression.  I think my people are going to again be like, “Whoa, this is new and we love it!”


BRR:  Nice.  You played at Lupo’s way back in the 90’s right?  That was my first time seeing you there.  I’m as old as you, believe me. (laughing)


J:  Oh yeah, sure.  We played a ton at Lupo’s.  I can’t count how many times.  It was great.


BRR:  Along those same lines, how has your music evolved since the early years?


J:  In the 90’s it was just scatterbrained in terms of musical approach.  It was what they were calling Trip Hop, where it was really not anything particular.  After those days though, when I kind of started a new band with the same name, then I decided I wanted to be more straight Hed.  Because my vocal sounds are already out of left field, I wanted the music to be more Metal, Straight and Rock.  So, it has evolved in that way to where the songs are written better and arranged better.  In the 90s I feel like we didn’t have real songs.  Part of it was me as a writer, evolving and learning so now that 20 years later I am a better lyricist and better at arranging the tunes, kind of the push and pull of songwriting.


G:  Yes, the arrangements are really good on the new record.


BRR:  Have the themes changed?  I know a lot of your songs were about sex, drugs, and 17 yo girlfriends.


J:  That’s changed, dramatically because I have a son and wife now.  Let’s just say that I finally came to the realization that if I was going to keep my family together for my son’s sake, than I would kind of have to abandon all those dirty old man pig lyrics.  For awhile I didn’t even play them live because my therapist was like, “You shouldn’t do that.”  After a while, I played them live when I felt more secure with being a good husband and father, then I kind of filled the ground with... a) It’s okay to do the songs that are about 17 year old girls and; b)  It's also okay for me to talk about sex in the context of what my wife and I might do or whatever.  For me, I see so many rock guys act like they are perpetually single, right?  For me, I had to embrace this new sort of character which was the real me.


BRR:  It’s really hard for musicians with that whole lifestyle.


J:  People are resonating with it.  They appreciate the honesty and of course other family people think it’s cool that this guy has put that ahead of the other stuff.  But, I’m older. I’ve done every fucking thing that I can get out of the way, I did.  That’s why I always tell young people to take their time. (laughing)  By young, I mean 30, 33.  Take your time!


BRR:  I definitely respect the honesty and couldn’t agree with you more.  I got married at 21.  Big mistake!  You are in the middle of an extensive tour.  How do you keep your energy up on the road?  Whole Foods? (My interview was delayed due to a trip to Whole Foods.)


J:  We are like Health PE.  We go to the gym like every day.


BRR:  Yes, you went to Planet Fitness and Whole Foods today.


G:  Yes, that’s what we did.


J:  You did your homework.


BRR:  I know because I was waiting on you guys because you had to do all that.  I’m here all night anyway for the show.


J:  We appreciate your patience.  That’s what is great about this lineup and this group of guys.  We’re firing off on all four cylinders.  We all go to the gym together, write together, vibe out together, which is something in the past I have not had.  Before every guy was kind of his own island.  The only time we would see each other is onstage.  I’ve had that most of my career in this band.  This feels cool and actually makes me feel like we have momentum and something magical can happen.  When you’re getting into a band and you’ve never been signed and you get together after work at night every night, it’s quite a commitment, right?  You’re paying for your own gas and your own practice space out of your forty hour a week job you fucking hate, all with this dream of maybe getting a record deal.  Guess what?  99 out of 100 guys who do that, or probably even more statistically, never get a record deal.  So, I’m feeling so blessed.


BRR:  You have to be like family.  That’s what keeps bands together.


J:  When you’re doing it and you’re doing it after your job, you have that dream in your head and that vision.  But what happens though, after you’re in a band that’s been signed and you have that radio hit, then all of a sudden you don’t have a radio hit and you’re not getting 9G’s a night anymore.  You’re getting 4 or 3 or 2 and the glamor of it is gone.  At that point, where is the magic then?  So that was the problem I had in the past members.


G:  It’s like life in general.  If you are a pessimist, how far are you going to get with that attitude.  You’re not going to get very far.  It’s the law of attraction.


BRR:  True.  You have to reach for the stars and keep that focus.  So, what has been your favorite country to play?


J:  I don’t think I could pick a favorite one.  But we played the Polish Woodstock this year.  That was a night like I will never, ever forget.  I’ll also never forget tons of small shows I’ve played like Orangevale, CA and wherever.  We’ve played for quarter of a million or half of million and it was an experience.  Let’s just leave it at that.  I’m not going to say it is better or worse than playing for 10 people, but it sure was an experience.  I’ve got to tell you, there was another magical show we had in Columbus, Ohio.  It was so fucking packed.


BRR:  Where did you play in Columbus?


J:  El Rosa, where Dimebag passed.  It’s a magical place for me  It was so fucking packed and so high energy.


G:  Oh yeah, that was cool!  It sounded amazing.


J:  It was just one of these nights where as an artist you feel, not vindicated, but fulfilled.


BRR:  I’ve found with talking with other bands I’ve interviewed that Europe really has more support.  They appreciate the music more or something.


G:  I liked that Sitar in the Netherlands.  Well, that was a day off.  It was supertight.  That was in Volt.  The castle and shit was there, all the cobblestones.  This was that indoor club where they made us dinner.


J:  In Europe you get that European catering, which is a big step up from any American.  There is a little more pride in whatever food they are bringing out.  But then again, it’s because of the tier Hed PE is on.  I’m sure if you tour around the US and you’re fucking Soulja Boy, then yeah, you’re catering is the bomb.


BRR:  It also depends where you play?  Have you ever played at Toad’s in New Haven?


J:  No.


BRR:  They have a hot tub in the Green Room and everything.  That’s definitely a place to think about playing when you tour.  Outside of music, what do you do that contributes to your musicality-something that rejuvenates your creativity?


J:  Being a father is great.  Working out is definitely a huge component to my life, it’s my extension to my music, staying in shape.  My focus on my family and all that helps me to stay grounded.


BRR:  What about you Gregzilla?


G:  Working out and I like skateboarding and shit. That’s pretty fun.


BRR:  Did Jonny teach you to skate?


G:  Yes, Jonny is the man.  Johnny and Kurt.  I kind of just play music all the time though.  We were just playing Jazz standards up here a little bit ago.  It’s kind of what we do in our spare time too, is still jam.  I’m kind of boring I guess.  I’m always just jamming.


BRR:  Jahred, I read that when you are relaxing that you listen to a lot of Dancehall and Reggae?


J:  Yes, I do.  I’m kind of obsessed with world music. My parents are from Brazil, so I’ll look up on YouTube what is going on in Brazil, not so much Punk music, but Extreme music and obviously Jamaican music, Reggae, and the new Dancehall is just a huge thing.  It’s huge for me.


BRR:  I love it too because my dad loved Reggae, especially Bob Marley, so I was kind of raised on that.


J:  There you go.  That’s undeniable for me.  You’ll see tonight.  We have a lot of fun blending Metal with Reggae and it works.


G:  We improvise it too which is fun.  We just kind of make it up wherever he is going vocally; we just go there with it.


BRR:  One of the opening bands, Fear The Masses, did a reggae song earlier.  Did you see it?


J:  I wish.  I think we were still gone at Whole Foods.  Fear The Masses, I like that name, it’s cool.


BRR:  If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?


J:  I’d want to be a teacher.  I’d like to teach anything to kids in Middle School or younger.


BRR:  That’s interesting.


G:  I’d be a professional goalie probably.


BRR:  Hockey?  I love hockey.  Bruins! Oh, sorry!  I love all Boston teams, although the Canadians are really good.


G:  Oh man, Bruins! Yuck.  I’m a Devils fan.


BRR:  We’ll change that subject.  What are 3 things you can’t live without?


J:  Music, my wife, and my son.


G:  There you go.  That was easy.  Definitely music, my family, and chicks.


J:  That’s a good list!


BRR:  Your new album is coming out July 22nd, called Forever.  Tell me what to expect.


J:  Again,like I said, it’s very good music. It’s an amazing virtuosity of the instruments.  Vocal styles are a nice balance between Hip Hop, Rock and Reggae. Where on the last album there wasn’t much Hip Hop and all style vocals, this one has a fair amount.


G:  Yeah, it’s got to be my favorite vocals, a lot of good melodies.  There’s one song on there that the lyrics really resonate with me too.


J:  It’s my favorite one and I don’t say that lightly.  It’s very melodic.


BRR:  I can’t wait to hear it!  And there’s a limited bonus CD that comes with it?


J:  Yeah.  What I did was get different artists from all over the world.  Some of the tracks are really bomb.  Some may not be that great, but sometimes I fell in love with the story and the guy who was recording songs with his cell phone, so I would include it anyway.  At first I would listen to them and think this does not sound right, how did you record it?  “Oh, with my cell phone.”

“Oh geez, no wonder!”  But I get impressed by people that just do music by any means necessary.  If they don’t have instruments, beat boxing, if they don’t have a studio, cell phone.  So we have that and real rappers on there.  Some of the tracks are tracks I collabed on with people around the world that also got thrown on there.


BRR:   I’ll have to make sure I get the pre-order so I get that!  Speaking of the pre-orders, can you share the story of the Hed PE Rec Center?

(To get the  (Hed) p.e. "Forever!" Pre-Order Bundle - Signed New Album, Shirt and Exclusive Bonus Family CD, go to their FB Page under and look under “Fan Deal”)


J:  I’m pretty sure the video tells the whole story.


BRR:  It does, so everyone has to go watch the video on your Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/hedpe/videos/10154184551229104/


J:  It’s a place for kids to go to find direction and inspiration.  The Mayor is going to close it down if we can’t find sufficient support and keep the doors open.  Those kids are going to end up back on the street, doing drugs, drinking, gun running, all of that stuff.


G:  We need to keep them in the Youth Center, keep them locked up in there.   (all laughing)


BRR:  Anyway….what does the future hold for Hed PE?


J:  It’s Hed PE Forever!  Hed PE is like a living organism, it adapts in order to survive.  That’s what it has done for 20 fucking years and that’s what it is going to continue to do.  You adapt, you change with your environment or you die.  If you chose to survive, then you find ways and that’s like Hed PE, it has a life of its own.  We are working on some other stuff, some Gypsy Reggae stuff and my heart is there too.  But it’s not this OR that.  It’s this AND that.  It’s Hed PE and the other stuff we want to do, so it’s very exciting.


BRR:  I think that’s what keeps you guys so interesting.  You never know what you’re going to come out with.


G:  We can sit down and jam and he’s like, “Yeah, that sounds cool.  That sounds good, let’s sit down and record that.”  He did a lot of that when I first met him.  We’d be sitting in the van or the bus and he’d have his cell phone out and I’d have an acoustic in the back and he’s like, “Record that...yeah, yeah!”


J:  He’s kind of the Rain Man of guitar.  He knows a million songs and a billion chord progressions.  That’s great for me because he gets my mind going and my mind never stops working when it comes to music, lyrics, and melody.  If I hear something that inspires me, I am like, “What is that? Write it down!”


BRR:  How do you sleep at night?


J:  I sleep good.  I’m a heavy sleeper.


BRR:  I work with mostly local bands so I always like to ask, what advice would you give to these aspiring musicians?


J:  My advice to local bands is, it all starts with your demo.  You have got to have a demo that you can play for your friends that you can put in and hit play without making any excuses.  Not, “It was recorded in a bad studio”; “Oh, it’s not done.”  That’s what I always hear from people with demos.  Until you have a demo that you can just put in and be proud of that your friends enjoy, then you don’t have anything.


BRR:  It’s not the same like it used to be where your demo goes to the record executive…


J:  Well, my point is this...if you don’t have good songs that are good without you being onstage acting them out, then you don’t have anything.  So, if you don’t songs that sound good to people in a setting where there is no live music, then you haven’t reached that first place you need to be.  You don’t have anything to offer people.  The record industry is a shadow of what it was when I got signed but they are still making deals.  They are still signing artists.  They’re still making fucking squillions of dollars.  Without that tool of music to pass onto people, what are you going to do?  Even if it’s not through a major, even if it’s through an idie, you’re going still going to need that.  


BRR:  You’re self managed now, right?


J:  Yeah.  I have a guy that’s that helping me because sometimes it gets really busy.  It’s not managed like when we started with management, lawyers, tour managers, like your insulated.  When I first started, I didn’t know anything about the business.


BRR:  I manage local bands but it’s not like I tell them what to do, it’s more that I’m doing the booking and promotion so they can concentrate on the music.  I’m doing the business aspect.


J:  We have an agent that does all the booking.  I handle the day to day management of the band though because it’s a lot of money that they want to do that.


BRR:  I know.  I said to Jonny, “You’re not the typical tour manager!”  when I met him and he was like, “No I’m not.”  


J:  He’s a good worker.  He’s rising to the occasion.


G:  He is making it happen.  This is his first tour with us.  He works really hard.  We have a good group of guys actually.  The driver is killing it too.  He came out on very short notice.


BRR:   That’s great.  That’s all the questions I have.  Do you have any further comments for your fans?  


J:  Thank you sweetie.  Just go to hedpeforever.com. That site is coming up live when the album comes out.  That’s where all the lyrics will be because the package does not have the lyrics because we are trying to start our own mailing list because Facebook is fucking mute.  They don’t even let you contact all your people unless you pay $500 or some shit.  Hedpeforever.com and obviously Hed PE on Facebook and that’s about it.


BRR:  Well, thank you guys.  I think the Veer Union is about to hit the stage.  I want to catch them.  





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