(hed) P.E is a legndary rapcore band from California. They started making noise in 1994 and have been a true inspiration to many people from the scene since then. They never stopped exploring new sounds, which is why you can hear many different genres in their music. There is metal, punk, reggae and rap influences to it. The band were heavily influenced by Los Angeles gangsta rap artists, and they decided to blend some g-rap into their sounds. That characteristic mixture is called g-punk. On February 15, they visited Wrocław, Poland, to play a show at the Firlej Club. We also went to that concert, not only to enjoy the music, but also to meet their drummer extraordinare, Jeremiah “Trauma” Stratton and talk to him about what is the most important thing in life, i. e. drums.
Jeremiah “Trauma” Stratton – Interview for BeatIt
“Oh, man! The tour with (hed) P.E is coming along great. It’s been very steady all across the board so we’re very happy. As far as Poland is concerned, I always say that every place is the same, it’s the people that make a place something special. So far, it’s been great in Poland. People have been great, everyone’s been really nice and it’s been a great time so far. The tour’s been awesome. We’ve got two other bands, too. They’re called Double Experience and Conveyor. Double Experience is from Canada and Conveyor is from America.
The Polish Woodstock festival is huge! Over 750,000 people. My experience was very unique that time because that was in July. The 29th or something. My little brother committed suicide July 18. For me, it was an odd experience. First of all, it was the biggest show I’d ever played. It was to over 750,000 people, soi t was a great moment of triumph for me personally. But it was also one of the greatest moments of despair I’d ever had in my life. My little brother, who I’m now wearing on my chest, had just committed suicide two weeks before I played that show. That was the first show I played after that happened, so the experience was very intense all across the board. If you look at the performance, we dedicated the show to my brother Jacob. It was very intense, both amazing and so sad at the same time. You know, my brother couldn’t see me achieve this. That was my experience. A little different. Rad and sad, all at the same time.
Drums is my way. It starts from my family. I come from a family of musicians. My mother is a Singer. She sings in the third generation of The Platters, which is a Motown style of music. They have a very famous song „Only You” and a bunch of others that I can’t name from the top of my head. She’s been singing with them forever. My uncle is a funk artist, he plays all the instruments. Jerrah Harris – he’s amazing! My uncle James Harris, Jefferson – they’re all musicians. When Jordin Sparks won American Idol, my uncle Jerrah was her musical director. He did that for a while, tours with Steve Salas, his band is called Slapback. It’s a funk band out of Orange County, California. It’s always been my family. My dad got me a drum kit for Christmas. I didn’t ever say I wanted to play drums, it just showed up. I got behind the kit, it felt natural and I just kept playing from there. I used to be in the linding/lending business, real estate, banking, that kind of stuff. Just miserable everyday. After doing that for years, I realised that’s not what I was put here to do. I was put here to play music. It’s in my blood, I got it honest. That’s how I got into music, it was through my family.
It’s a funny story how I got connected with (hed) P.E. Ten years ago, I had just started getting back into music. I had left the bank I was working at, sold everything, was living in my car. Just me, my drums and my clothes in Orange County. San Clemente – that’s my hometown. I was just pretty much beach bum, dude! Just chill at the beach, smoke up all the herbs, wake up and hit the waves and then play some music. That’s what I was doing. My cousin made the wrong phone number and he accidentally called his friend who worked at a studio across the alleyway where (hed) P.E were auditioning drummers all week ’cause the last drummer quit. He was coming to see my show, I had a metal band called Blodbath And Beyond. They just started talking: “I’m gonna see my cousin play drums”. That whole thing happens. Jared from (hed) P.E ran into the studio after auditioning drummers all week. He wasn’t happy with anybody. He just went into the studio and said: “Does anyone know a drummer?”. The guy who was in the front said: “Just talked to my friend and his cousin plays drums, I guess”. “Yes, please! We need a drummer!”. We got connected, I talked to Jared that night and I hadn’t heard (hed) P.E atthis time. I wasn’t familiar with any of their music. He emailed me six songs and I went out the next day and auditioned. All these other drummers were there, too. I partied all night, I got wasted, man! Did my own show. Didn’t sleep at all. I borrowed a friend’s car to go to the audition because I didn’t trust my car to go this far. I had to travel 45 minutes away. I got there and auditioned first. From the second I got behind the kit and we started playing these songs, there was magic. You could tell it and I was impressed. These were some of the highest caliber musicians that I ever shared the stage with and that was back when Mark Young and Jaxon Benge were in the band. It was just magical. I finished auditioning, got my stuff and went back out to the car to take a little drink because I was just shaking. All the drummers started leaving and I didn’t know why. I got out of the car and they said: “Are you Jeremiah?”. “Yeah, I’m Jeremiah.” “Congratulations!” “What do you mean? I haven’t even talked to anyone yet! Do I really wanna do this anyway? What’s going on?” That’s how I got connected with (hed) P.E ten years ago. Ten years later, here I am in Poland, still traveling. Jared and I have been doing this shit together for ten years and it’s been a hell of a ride.
Being a drummer in the professional music world can be a struggle big time if you don’t really have a plan. You have to have a plan, some sort of course of action. That way, you can keep yourself afloat while doing what you love to do.
I’ve always used Soultone cymbals on all of the records ’cause they sound wonderful but I haven’t been on a contract with them for a few years, so I have different sets of cymbals when I go out on tour and stuff. In the studio, the sound of Soultone cymbals is just great. I love their Custom Brilliant series because it has a lot of explosion but it’s not offensive. Some drummers like to just ride the crash cymbal. I always call it shushing the crowd with your crash. Where’s the groove in that?! I mean, once in a while, it’s ok. What I love about Soultones is they’re not offensive. They’re bright without offending your ear, so I really enjoy their cymbals.
With Pearl, that was a dream come true because I’ve been a fan of Pearl’s products since my childhood. By far, they have the most efficient hardware and the best sounding drums out there, in my opinion. You get into their kick pedals… It’s all a great product. I’ve been with Pearl now for seven years and I don’t plan on going anywhere else. That was one shot, one kill, that’s it!
Scorpion Stix Percussion is a great American drums sticks company out of Chicago. American weapon, great hickory. By far, the easiest sticks for me to perform with. You will see tonight, with Hed PE it isn’t just one style. We’re doing reggae, punk, metal, funk, hip hop. Just having a 5B stick the whole time doesn’t work for me. I need a stick that I can be nice and heavy with, but then show the finesse of the reggae and keep things smooth. There’s a lot of dynamics in my drumming, I don’t use any triggers or nothing like that. Scorpion Stix was able to come out with my custom signature series that you can all check out at scorpionstixpercussion.com. If you look at my signature series, they’re perfect. A little bit longer and a little bit thinner than a 5A, but with the treatment process, they’re very durable. I bearly break any sticks with them. I use a barrel tip, which most companies don’t even give you the option to use. That gives an extra bit of attack and power without having to have a big 5B stick. I’m very happy with their products as well. Those are my three endorsers and I’m very happy with them. I swear by it!”