By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I resolve not to resist getting my groove on the next time I hear Shaine verbally assault his ex onstage.
The guys acknowledge another, bigger problem: they're in debt. To their record company. For all of their fuck-her rants, Hed(pe) say they're really getting screwed by the record industry.
"We got into the industry when we didn't know anything about signing a record deal," explains Shaine, echoing the tired lament of so many who have seen the reality behind the rock-star dream. "We had these romantic visions of the music industry, and we thought it would be cool to be a punk band on a rap label. So we fulfilled that dream, but it was also probably the worst thing that could have happened. The rap game vs. the rock game—it's totally different. In hindsight, we kind of think we should have held off."
Because of the terms of the contract they signed and the lower-than-expected sales of their records, Hed(pe) have been unable to repay the cash advances that Jive Records gave the band. And that limits the band's options for changing its situation.
"We've had offers from Sony and others that we can't take because we owe Jive so much money," says Shaine. "I'm really disillusioned because a lot of people don't know what goes on behind-the-scenes. To them, if you didn't sell a ton of records, it's because you're not as good as whoever did sell."
"We would rather start fresh," says Geer, "but we have a commitment with Jive. The label still likes us so much, and they're 100 percent behind us. We used to print fliers for our own shows and do all the promotion ourselves, but now it's turned into this big cumbersome ball covered with B.S. and red tape every step we take."
"We've literally slaved ourselves out to our record company," says Shaine. "We've come back after two years of touring without much of anything to show for it, except an increased fan base. Before, we all had jobs where we were making good money and had job security. Then we signed this record deal. We received a nice sum of signing money, which made us feel kind of secure, as compared to right now, when we don't feel any security. I'm making one-quarter of what I was making at my previous job."
(Calls by OC Weekly to Jive Records remain unanswered, except for one record-label representative who accidentally answered her line instead of letting her voice mail pick up. When asked whether Hed(pe) is in debt to the label, she said her receiver was going dead and she could no longer hear. She said she would call back but did not by press time.)
Even angry G-Punks want the white picket fence and sparkly SUV. And the guys were already close to picking up the keys through their multiple careers, ranging from a transcriber to a computer programmer to an EMT. They chose to gamble with their future for a shot at big-time rock success. "When we put out our first album, I had huge expectations of having a career—and a car and a house," says Shaine. "Things just didn't turn out like that. So now it's more of a despair thing while writing the second album. Now I'm more disillusioned with the industry."
And it shows on the new record, which isn't nearly as Hed or as (pe) as the first. "Where we were coming from on our first album is definitely different from where we're about to come from on this one," says Shaine of their still-untitled release, scheduled for February. "The first album was more analytical about big things. I think this one is more about personal depression and personal doubts. It's more about how I'm overcoming problems."
Not that Hed(pe) expects sympathy from guys punching the clock at the local machine shop. "We're stoked to be getting to do music," says Geer. "But the problems can sometimes get in the way of doing all you can, music-wise. And worse albums than ours have gone huge."
Amid all the economic insecurity and threats to their egos, the members of Hed(pe) say they cling to what brought them to the music in the first place: their need to create it. "When we don't rehearse for a while, I feel like I'm going to explode," explains Shaine. "We get back in the studio, and it's a huge sense of relief. This is the only thing I can do with my life that makes me happy."
"We've gotten to a point where we can play clubs and people come to see us," says Geer. "And there's also the support we get from fellow bands, the kind of admiration that makes us feel we should keep on doing it. When we play onstage, that's when we go, 'Yeah, this is why we're here.'"
Still, it's impossible not to be affected by the hard lessons they've learned. And sometimes they consider the alternatives. "All of us feel we could make money doing whatever else, but we all want to make a living at what we like to do," says Shaine. "We're being pulled between knowing that if we keep doing this, we have a chance to make a career at it and throw in the towel and say fuck it."