While the world seems more insistent on black and white rather than every shade of grey in between, music isn't like that. “It's not like math,” comments Jared Gomes, (hed)p.e. vocalist, “it has shades of different colors all at the same time, and that's why it's so powerful.” It's along the same rationale that Albert Einstein used to think in both imagery and music. And it's the same shades of colors in between that help make it virtually impossible to describe (hed)p.e. as anything short of “psychotic.” They are not a sound bite.
To that end (hed)p.e.'s newest release, Insomnia , is an exhibition in fusion between punk rock, hip hop, jazz, reggae, heavy metal, and thrash. Insomnia can't be labeled and it can't be described in words, in fact, to accurately write about Insomnia and its influences would take more than a page, with each bar of music containing a potpourri of genres. And that's not to say (hed)p.e. has stopped pushing the musical envelope, straying further into the musical taboo than the mainstream. “There's other times when we try and make it obvious,” notes Jared on (hed)p.e.'s lack of complacency fitting into a scene. “It's more of a bipolar thing where we're going straight from pure punk into pure hip hop.” That may not be standard, but they do it anyway.
Touring on Back 2 Base X , (hed)p.e. recalls seeing a new jolt of enthusiasm in their fans, likening what they saw to the electrified punk pits of the seventies. (hed) wanted to keep the elements of punk found in Base X , but they also set out for a darker and heavier record, continuing where they left off not only musically but thematically as well. “We've been going through this evolution for like two and half years when myself and Jackson were embracing seventies punk like the Sex Pistols and Clash . That's why Back 2 Base X seemed like such a departure, because of the punk influence. On this album Jackson combined that with a Slayer , thrash influence and came up with a whole new thing. I love this.”
Insomnia is (hed)p.e.'s heaviest record in nearly a decade, and structurally it follows a narrative arc that takes listeners on a journey of self realization and discovery of the social situation on the planet. Opening with the thrash infused “Madhouse,” Insomnia ventures into the realm of war through the eyes of generals and politicians that enjoy leading others into pain and death by telling the story of the darker elements of the Illuminati family that thrive on war and death.
The heavy continues into “Walk On By,” delivering the message that not everybody has to buy into the same things, but if you don't, don't judge and simply “walk on by.” Departing from the heavier songs, there is a more rip hop (a Brad X coined term to describe the transition from hardcore to hip hop) element to “Game Over,” and more personal themes to songs such as “C2GU” and “RTO,” while “Habeus” attacks the corruption in government responsible for “sending our brothers and neighbors off to war.” The first single, “Suffa,” is about the joy found in those who “suffer every time I refuse to give up,” insists Jared, speaking of people's ability to persevere and triumph when others try and keep them down. “Mirrorballin” begins the four strongest consecutive tracks on Insomnia , and is followed up by the catchy “Tienanman Squared,” “Children,” which contains a sample of Buffalo Springfield's “For What It's Worth,” and ending with the album closer “Atlantis A.D.,” catapulting listeners to 2025 and forcing them to see the need to empower themselves and take control of their lives.
Much of Jared's free time has been spent producing the newest record and researching the Illuminati and the Secret Societies of Man, and thematically Insomnia delves further in a more narrative sense, but (hed)p.e. is not meant to be viewed as a musical classroom. “It's hard to disseminate knowledge, which is what I want to do the youth, without making it like it's a class. I just try and be subtle with it. At times I attack things, but I want kids to hear something and then go Wikipedia that shit.” To this end, Insomnia poses more questions than it provides answers.
As successful as (hed)p.e. has been in the past, they feel fate has brought them out of the purgatory called Koch Records, and into their new heavenly place, truly experiencing a rebirth since they signed with Suburban Noize Records prior to the release of Back 2 Base X . Spouting bands like Kottonmouth Kings , Tech N9ne , Rancid , and Insane Clown Posse as the level of cult status (hed)p.e. would like to eventually obtain by becoming club bangers and selling out night after night, they recognize Suburban Noize as the perfect fit to make it reality. Although Suburban's overall success is an anomaly among independent labels (along with Psychopathic Records and Strange Music), the fact that Suburban Noize works so far from the mainstream only benefits (hed)p.e.
“Suburban Noize treats each of their bands like it is its own little business, creating a structure where bands are their own bosses. Although they give you the required tools,” explains Jared, “you could make it work or you could fuck up. When I was with the so called majors they kept you so stupid and did things for you. There's no more hand holding. I love it. After you man up and organize your game it's great.”