Jahred (M.C.U.D.) - vocals
Chizad - guitars
Westyle - guitars
DJ Product - turntables
B.C. - drums
Mawk - bass
An insistent, nagging guitar bleep pulses, sounding like your morning alarm clock kicking you out of your safe dreamland. Two bars of thundering drums/bass/guitars later, a voice with the fury of the alienated barks out the words, "Baby, I'm a survivor!" (hed)'s second and most vicious album to date, Broke (to be released August 22, 2000), has begun, and if the band sound a little more ticked-off than usual, it's because this Orange County, California, crew feel that their time in the spotlight is none other than "right this very minute".
Front and center is the defiant voice of the towering Jahred (aka M.C.U.D.), pouring his angst, passion and soul into such rousing tracks as the lead-off "Killing Time," the rollicking "Feel Good," and the despairing "Swan Dive." There's the album's first single, "Bartender," which effortlessly rocks the party as, all the while, Jared pours out his loneliness to the first stray ear he can find. "You're going to bars, you're drinking…it's a narrative on why people try to meet other people," he explains. From unfettered lust to vein-popping rage, there's simply no hiding this man's psyche on Broke.
"The lyrics are definitely more personal on this album," says the Huntington Beach singer. On (hed)'s self-titled 1997 debut, (and the band's ‘95 indie EP, Church Of Realities) the vocalist claims that his lyrics were more like essays on his surroundings, rather than a look inward. But Broke finds the man delving deep, bringing forth his conflicted emotions in a torrent of expletive and invective. "I'm talking a lot about the rock and roll lifestyle on this one, because none of us in the band had experienced it when we wrote the first one," he reflects. "After being on the road for two years, it's become part of our reality."
(hed) was formed back in 1994, when Jahred and guitarist Westyle became friends after noticing that they were always seeing each other at the same punk rock and hip-hop shows in Orange County. The musicians were tiring of straight hardcore, and their passion for rap had begun to drive their creative energies. Soon after hooking up with four more like-minded entities, (hed) were soon packing them in at O.C. hangs as Club 369 and others.
After their full-length debut dropped, (hed)'s touring at home and abroad indeed brought about a change in this six-piece's focus. They crisscrossed the States on the Ozzfest, and shared stages with the likes of Korn, Static-X, Slipknot, Kid Rock, System of a Down, and dozens of other heavy-hitters. The band soon noticed that they had won over a legion of fans who intently watched their every move. These five Southern California personalities (plus English expatriate Mawk) had begun to jell into a crack unit of hip-hop-inflected, punk-infected musical assassins. Furthermore, reveals Westyle, it was on their last few tours that the group began to learn what not to play.
"This album is much more groove-orientated, and the last was more spastic. (This time) we didn't worry if a track didn't have as much guitar, or even had all of us playing at once, if the song didn't need it." Westyle cites "Pac Bell," the record's most trance-inducing cut, as an example of (hed)'s newfound minimalism. Over co-guitarist Chizad's Roger Troutman-like talk-box chorus, the haunting samples of DJ Product and Mawk's dubby bass lend the track its otherworldly, dark-night-of-soul atmosphere. It's that starkness that enables the song to cut to the bone, along with Jahred's twisting his voice over his doomed romance into a frenzied strangle.
Produced by Machine (Pitchshifter, The Step Kings), Broke is full of heavy beats and deep grooves. And just when you think you've got a handle on the mood of a song, look even deeper. "Feel Good," with its powerhouse back-beat (courtesy of B.C.) and rousing call-and-response chorus (listen for the guest vocals of System of a Down's Serj Tankian and Kittie's Morgan Lander), is about a society's unwillingness to care about, well, much of anything, really. Says Jahred, "The verses are talking about the end of the world, and how everybody in Western culture just wants to drive their Beemers and have a fucking good time. Nobody on this side of the world cares that anybody else is hungry or dying or whatever."
Yet (hed) have also allowed themselves to bring a newfound warmth into their sound, which manifests itself on the yearning "Jesus (Of Nazareth)," and "The Meadow"; a Seventies-styled melodic tune that lets the sun shine through the city's oppressive clouds. "This artist friend of mine from Israel had shown me this one beautiful painting of these two elephants," remembers Jahred. "She started to tell me the story behind it, and as she was speaking, I heard something special in her voice. I had to get her on tape. You can hear her on ‘The Meadow' speaking about the African legend. It was perfect for the mood of the song."
(hed)'s excitement about their work on Broke is palpable from the way they've been assaulting stages lately. They will bring Broke to the masses this summer on the nascent Tattoo The Earth festival, and will then head abroad to spread the word to parts far from their Huntington Beach cribs. But, as Jahred points out, the road has become (hed)'s new home. And, when you attend one of their shows, their house will most definitely be rocking...