Shifting fights and battle cries: an interview with Jackson Benge of (Hed)p.e.

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We hold no qualms about showing our passion for the sound and releases of (Hed)p.e. so it was a thrill and pleasure to be able to grab some of the time of guitarist Jackson Benge to talk about the recently released album Evolution. The ninth studio provocation from the band, it is their most diverse and imposing release yet, driving their distinctive band sound into new avenues with an array of spicily flavoursome and gripping twists. With every aspect of the songwriting and sound seemingly finding a new incitement to their enterprise, Evolution is an encounter ready to grab a broader audience without alienating its core fans. Settling down to look at the album, Jackson allowed us a close insight into its creation, intent, and the band’s evolving sound…

Hi Jackson and welcome to the site. Thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

You have just released your ninth album, Evolution; is the excitement, anticipation, and ‘fears’ around each release pretty much as it was with the earlier propositions for the band?

The release of a new album is always exciting for us. There is no shortage of unknowns when it comes to putting out new material, but I try not to get too caught up in the fear of what may or may not happen as far as reception is concerned. I can only be grateful to be part of something like this and to have the opportunity to express myself through the music.

As we have come to expect, there is another twist and growth to the sound of the new album; its title purposefully reflects that as much as the theme to its narrative?

I believe so. Whether you analyze the vocals, lyrics, riffs, or drumming, it’s evident that the direction we took on this release showcases a certain growth and willingness to try new things. It’s not that we haven’t been willing to do this in the past. But, this album branches out into different styles we’ve yet to do on previous releases.

bwThere also seems to be a rediscovery or look back at the band’s early sound in the release, the self-titled debut sparking to mind at times, to go with its fresh ingenuity and creative adventures. That feel of your musical roots to the album is something you sense too and if so was this an intentional exploration for Evolution?

The intention for me was to come up with riffs and ideas that were reminiscent of classic metal bands that I really enjoy. I didn’t want to imitate, but I wanted to pay homage. So, the formula was one that has worked for decades, but coming up with the riffs for this record was just as experimental for me as any other record.

It equally has that heavier breath and feel to the metal side of its presence as you just suggested, which enhances what is the recognisable (Hed)p.e. presence. What sparked this aspect in the album and its songs?

We discussed moving in a direction that showcases more of a classic metal and rock feel. But, the heaviness was equally important. Once we began playing some of the riffs together, it was obvious to us that we should continue with this concept because we all thought it sounded so good.

Evolution is the band’s most eclectic release sound wise too, has that been deliberate or an organic emergence as songs came together?

I think it was a bit of both. Moving in that direction was deliberate, but the writing of the actual material was organic.

How did you approach Evolution, from songwriting through to its recording in the studio?

After discussing the sound we wanted to go for, I had already written a song that I had frequently jammed with Trauma during soundcheck. One day, we all showed up to soundcheck and played some of the riffs from that song. That was the point we knew to move forward with this style. I went home and wrote about 12 tracks that exhibited that same overall mood and submitted them to Jared and the rest of the guys. Eight of the tracks made it to the record and the other tracks were written by Jared. When it came time to record, we each tracked our parts over the demos that Jared and I wrote. The demos served as a template for tempo and arrangement.

Was there a marked difference in its creation to say the last couple of releases, New World Orphans and Truth Rising?

Usually, we all do the recording together in the studio at the same time, with drums being the priority. This time, we recorded our respective parts in different places at different times. Drums were recorded in Ohio, guitars were recorded in Michigan, vocals were recorded in Idaho, and bass was recorded while on the road. The process was a lot different than in the past.

In the screwed up world that we live in, there must be an inexhaustible supply of kindling to fire up the passion and the lyrical incitement of songs; have there been specific inspirations and seeds to the tracks on Evolution?HedPE_Evolution_Cover

Since, I do not write the lyrics, I cannot comment on that too much. What I can say is Jared has an endless supply of kindling and his passion and inspiration are just as evident now as they always have been.

I sensed a stronger intimacy to the lyrical side of songs also on Evolution, is there a more personal element to the tracks than maybe on some of the previous records?

Again, I cannot comment on what specifically spawned the lyrics. But, I get the same feeling that you describe and would guess there are more personal subjects evident on this record.

It is your first release with Pavement Entertainment; how did the link up come about and has that brought a different experience for the band compared to other releases?

We linked up with Pavement through Tim King, who is not only the bass player for Soil, but works the A&R department at Pavement. Everyone at Pavement has been so great and we couldn’t ask for a better team than the one we have now. There is definitely a good vibe here and I feel now more than ever a sense of inclusiveness.

Has making Evolution been harder in any way than previous releases considering the state of, and less opportunities within music now for bands, new and established?

Every album process presents its own unique set of challenges. Evolution is no exception, but we rose to the occasion as we always do. The only real challenge was finding the right team to help us put out the best record possible. That explains why this was the longest we’ve ever gone without putting out a record.

Do you feel there is some responsibility from bands with experience and decent success in music to help emerging bands in a music industry which seemingly has no interest in these artists itself, even if it is just giving them exposure by inviting them to play as a support band on their shows?

Absolutely. That’s really how the whole thing works. Local bands are usually put on the bill by local promoters, so we really don’t have much to do with that. But, if it helps them, we are glad to at least be a part of it in some way. If a band can benefit by getting in front of our fans, that’s an amazing thing.

What ignites the passions positively and negatively about the music scene right now for you?

I am always open to new music. I try my best to see the good in anything, because it’s fuel for creativity. But, even if I can’t find the good, it still takes on some form of inspiration. The music scene now is no exception. There are a lot of great bands out there and I’m so fascinated with how the cycle continues on, generation after generation.

hepe2slightcolorrevOctober sees the band hitting up Europe with a healthy number of shows in the UK. Can you give us some details of who you have alongside you and what the fans can expect from (Hed)p.e.

Soil will be headlining that run with American Head Charge as main support. We have a few shows on our own after that. We’ve toured with both bands in the past and we are really looking forward to seeing our road brothers again.

Once again thank so much for sharing your timer. Any last words you would like to leave us with?

Thanks to the fans for everything. We are nothing without you. And thank you for inviting me here.

And finally, if the world/things start imposing destructively on emotions and life etc. personally slapping on a track like Renegade steels the spirit and ignites the fight within. Is there a song which does the same for you, either of the band or from elsewhere?

Motley Crue, “Live Wire,” comes to mind. That song is a battle cry to me and really gets the adrenaline going. I love it.

http://www.hedperocks.com

Read our review of Evolution @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/hedp-e-evolution/

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 18/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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