Demons Are The Reason For (hed) pe's 'Blackout'

Excerpted from the magazine for

When (hed) Planet Earth released "Broke" in the summer of 2000, it was part of a wave of rock/rap groups. The set pulled the band ahead of the pack, led by the strength of the top-30 rock track "Bartender." After the wane of rap/rock during the past three years, (hed) Planet Earth ?- known as (hed) pe to fans ?- decided it was important to change with the times for its latest set, "Blackout," released March 18 via Jive.

Drummer BC says one of the biggest shifts is that vocalist Jahred "got back to singing melodies. It's a lot less rap." Jive marketing VP Kim Kaiman agrees: "The band has evolved. Jahred's vocals are exemplary; he's one of today's great rock vocalists. His style is so unique. When you hear him, you know it's (hed) pe."

Jahred's lyrics on "Blackout" reflect a dark time after the success of "Broke" when he battled severe depression. "The last album was more of a party," BC observes. "This album is about bad experiences and how [Jahred's] overcome them."

BC says the band chased its demons in time to support the new set. "It's typical rock'n'roll. The last couple years have been hard. Everyone's looking forward to getting back on the road. It's when you're home that you get into trouble."

On March 6, the band began a 30-date tour with Saliva. Concert-goers are seeing a new face in guitarist Sonny Mayo, an underground music veteran replacing Chad Benekos, who left the band shortly after recording the album. "It's hardly affected us at all," BC says. "Sonny stepped right in. It was a blessing that he was available."

Gamers may recognize (hed) pe's latest music through a a few Electronic Arts titles. Tracks from "Blackout" appear on EA games: the title track is included on "MVP Baseball 2003" (which was released the same day as the album), while "Madden NFL 2003" features "Suck It Up," and "Getaway" can be heard in "NASCAR Thunder 2003."

The title track is is No. 23 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 33 on the Modern Rock Tracks tally. According to Kaiman, the cut has been downloaded more than 50,000 times from the band's Web site.

Despite the positive initial response, BC remains cautious: "It's a scary business. You're not really building a retirement. But you hang on because it's a dream."

Excerpted from the April 5, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

To order a single copy of the issue, visit The Billboard Store.