Fungus Boy: So you use to be in
Orange 9mm? We saw you guys play at Liberty Hall with Quicksand were you in
the band then?
Chris: Yeah, that was two years ago wasn’t it?
Chris: Oh, yeah with Sick Of It All also?
FB: I think so. It’s been a long time.
Chris: I think I have a video tape of that show. I’m not sure.
FB: So you weren’t on the new album but you joined right after that.
Chris: Right I joined when they were finishing the last two songs. When they were mixing it and stuff like that. The last Orange 9 record Dave Sardy did it and Dave did the new Helmet record. So me and Dave became pretty good friends. So when I quit the band, when I quit Orange 9. He said those guys were looking for a guitar player. I knew those guys were looking for a guitar player. So he said I should come down and check it out while they were finishing it. But I didn’t play on any of the record. Because on “Betty” they had a lot of stuff written and they included Rob on the record to try and like make him feel included and they thought that was a mistake and wanted to do this more like a trio. They felt like the record had to be from the three of them.
FB2: Since Page did all the guitar work do you think it changed the sound any?
Chris: Um, no because Page wrote all the songs any way. Page writes all the songs. So and even when, I guess in the early days, when the stuff was a little more open, noisier, and less riff oriented like Born Annoying and shit like that. Some stuff off Strap It On I guess Peter had a little more liberty then Rob did. Page always wrote the songs. So he always wrote the riffs. So I don’t think it’s really changed at all. I think that the song writing has gotten better in there's less like on the earlier records there's a lot of shit that maybe like considered additive or fat. And this record has like less of that stuff.
FB: Do you think a lot of people have a preconceived notion about Helmet. Something about hearing the music, like back when Strap It On came out people really didn’t know what they looked like. Then they come to a show and see these clean cut looking guys with short hair. When they hear the album it’s like something they didn’t totally expect?
Chris: Yeah I think that was an issue like a long time ago. Maybe it’s an issue again I don’t know. It’s just when they started out the big bads were like, it was the end of the ‘80’s. The big ones were like Motley Crue and Skid Row all those kinda like hair bands. Then like once Nirvana came around the quote unquote alternative thing got big. Then it wasn’t so much more an issue. Maybe it’s an issue again because bands like Marilyn Manson, and Korn are getting big. They look like they are crazy or something like that. But Helmet is like working class. Like no bullshit band. Their is no real gimmick about it you know. Some times it’s frustrating because especially to be a musician, to be playing and know how good it sounds. Like to go up there and know all our shit sounds good. Like we have a good tone, we play really tight, there’s like a real groove going on. But there are parts of songs where we are not fucking jumping around or wearing a dress and lighting are head on fire and kids are like “well they’re not like rocking”. Because like today a lot of people think—I'm convinced that most people don’t even listen to the music, they want to see like a show and it’s getting to be exactly like the end of the eighties were. Like all these slick videos, these big productions, leather and fire, and all that good stuff. MTV’s so cheesy.
FB: Do you kind of find it annoying opening up for Korn since their fans are different from the Helmet fan? A whole different mind set?
Chris: The first two shows were amazing. This show was like the weakest of the shows because I think—sometimes we can’t—we came out and played mostly new songs. That’s also like no bodies ever heard these songs before. The people that even know the band don’t know the songs. Because were going up there like, were trying no to go through the motions and not have all the same stuff. Because we want to be into it too and play the stuff we want to play. Is it frustrating? No, I mean I don’t think so. It means sometimes it’s depressing but you get over it. I know when I was a kid there were bands that I was into that I wouldn’t admit that I was. A way that I dresses or a way that I thought about music. Korn are good people they are really nice to us. They got their own thing going and it’s cool. You know? Jimmi Hendrix opened for the Monkees. There is two different kinds of things going their. Not that Korn is the Monkees but.
FB2: So why didn’t you guys headline?
Chris: Because this is their tour. We’re on their tour and we’re trying to play to people that wouldn’t necessarily come to our shows. I think that at a certain point like when a band sells a million records after that with the exception of maybe Marilyn Manson, people are just the same. Like after a band starts getting on the radio and gets real big it’s like just regular kids that go to them all. Like fourteen year old kids. It’s not a core audience. Helmet has a really solid like core audience and unless we have a hit single on the radio like “Unsung” or whatever it’s at that core audience. We played here a couple months ago. We’re just trying to play to different people you know. Those guys have been at it for nine years. Eight years actually. All these bands that are like coming up having Helmet rip off songs and being huge. Like all these bands like that Collective Soul song was a total rip off. All this shit so they just want to play to as many different kinds of people that they can. Hopefully people will get interested and pick up the new record. Because it is really a great record.
FB: That kinda movies in to my next question about the sound being copied a lot. Right after Helmet came out there was like tons of bands with like the drum sound, they tried to get that down. Is that something you think they took as a compliment or just got annoyed because so many people were unoriginal?
Chris: Imitation is a serious form of flattery but. Yeah I think they are complimented and annoyed. At some times it’s a compliment but compliments don’t pay the rent. When some band is making money off of something that you did. I never hear them complain about it and I certainly don’t complain abut it. Because I haven’t been in the band long enough to complain about it. It’s like that with everything. I mean there are lots of bands that sound like Nirvana. It’s like the third generation of that a lot of bands that sound like Rage Against The Machine, it’s with everything.
FB2: Why isn’t the new albums vinyl version on AmRep anymore?
Chris: Um, I think because AmRep couldn’t handle the amount of records that they were doing and that um... (Page knocks at the bus door and enters)Chris to Page: The record, the vinyl is not on AmRep because AmRep couldn’t put out as many as you wanted? Or why is it not on AmRep?
Page: Because he is not doing vinyl anymore.
FB: Oh really?
Page: Yep, he said there is no money it in for him.
FB: I saw their new stuff came out in Germany only like import? All the AmRep vinyl that came out lately was imported from Germany.
Page: He’s not going to deal with anybody here.
FB2: So Epitaph released the vinyl?
FB2: Yeah I just bought it yesterday.
Page: You got the vinyl cool. It sounds really fucking rad.
FB2: Who decided to release “Betty” as a double 10”?
Chris: Who decided to do that? I don’t know that question either. (to Page again) Who decided to release “Betty” as a double 10”?
Page: Haze, AmRep, he suggested it and we loved the idea.
FB: When “Strap It On” came out your sound was totally unique to what else was out at that time what elements played a role in that?
Page: What elements played a role in that? I’m a fucking guineas. I don’t know. Their was just a lot of shitty music around at the time, just like their is now. I like heavy music and I also like sort of noisy music and I wanted to do something that just mixed that. All that fake heavy music was big at the time.
FB: Yeah like I had a question earlier for him, people might have a preconceived notion of what you guys might look like, because of your sound. Then they come to your show and there like is this the same band.
Page: Their a bunch of dorks. We talked about this if we had a different image kinda thing going. We’d probably sell more records. I think in the long run it’s just too much effort. (Page can’t figure out how to work the microwave in the bus).
FB2: What was it like working with Dave Sardy in the studio?
Page: He’s a prick.
Chris: I worked with Dave so I can tell you. Not on this record but. Dave is one of the coolest producer I have ever worked with. He’s totally like a great musician he gots a great band. He’s totally like no frills recording, he’s got a lot of good ideas. A lot of producer have to come down two weeks before or spend a month with the band to try to get a vibe where as Dvae knows the vibe. He’s a friend so he gets it. A lot of the times we think the same things. Were as if you want to get something and you don’t know who to communicate it because your not an engineer he’ll know how to do it. With out you having to know the technical terminology.
FB2: Do you think Barkmarket was a big influence on a lot of New York bands?
Chris: I don’t think so. I think that Barkmarket, people are finding out about them now. You know I think that um, Barkmarket is the kind of band that with in a small group of people every body knows who they are. But outside of that nobody does. So I guess it’s an influence now. Not that we are going to start writing Barkmarket songs, but it’s a great band. It’s a great band that no one knows. To know those guys and to see all the shit that they have done and the effort that they put into their work and they way that they believe in it is real cool.
FB: Actually I interviewed there drummer Rock a couple years ago. I asked him how the hell does Dave remember all those words because all the songs have like hundreds of words.
FB: What was the reason for the delay of the release of the new album?
Chris: They wanted time to listen to it. First they were gonna add a song, and change the vocal on “Pure”, and added a part to “Like I Care”. So that pushed back the record. Then a record can’t come out in December because that’s when Miriah Carey and Michael Jackson and Barney Christmas albums come out. So the record company said we couldn’t put it out then. Then we decided to remix it after that. Because they wanted the record to be more three dimensional. They felt it was lacking something. Dave’s mixes were good mixes but it needed to be a little more three dimensional. So they remixed it. That’s why it took so long.
FB: The original release date was what September?
Chris: Yeah, September.
Page: Where are you guys from?
FB: Ottawa, it likes twenty miles south of Lawrence.
FB2: Yeah we saw you at the Outhouse three times?
FB: At the Outhouse three times and the Bottleneck once.
FB2: How come in your early videos they always have you playing in like factories and big warehouses?
Page: People are retarded, like nobody has an imagination. I don’t really give a shit about videos so. I don’t spend much time thinking about it. It’s like industrial angry young men.
FB2: To portray the heavy sound.
Page: Yeah. I guess.
FB: Is it something where they try to market you. Because I know with Unsane they tried to market them as metal.
Page: That’s the key right there. Image is really difficult for some people for some reason to digest, with only the musical merits. The image that people expect to see with that music or something that they are familiar with. You know you can go to the mall and buy your fish next nylons, mascara, vinyl pants or what ever, jump suit what ever your into.
FB2: What’s your opinion of the Jerky Boys movie?
Page: That was uh, fun. I never saw the movie though. I read the script and it was a piece of shit. But we were gonna get to meet Ozzy. Were like ok the script sucks but we get to meet Ozzy and they are gonna give us $100,000, ok will do it.
FB: That was the best thing in the whole movie when Ozzy starts freaking out and things are blowing up.
Page: You should have seen him on the first take of that. Going over it over and over again. (In a near perfect Ozzy impression) “Ok fucking monkees, wait what do I say after that?, I’m the manager fucking Monkees”. He was doing that over and over again. He comes up to me and goes “Who’s the singer?”, I was like “Me Mr. Osborne”. “You did your fucking home work” it was really funny “I was driving in my car in LA and I heard a song on the radio and I was I don’t fucking remember recording that”. He was totally cool.
FB: It seems to me on your new album you do things a little bit different because. I heard a song on the radio just yesterday and it took me a little while to recognize that it was you guys. Where as on some of your other stuff you can tell right off that it’s a Helmet song.
Page: Are you saying all the stuff sounds the same?
FB: I’m saying some of your songs have a certain trade mark.
Chris: I get confused. They hum the songs to me.
Page: You know there are pitfalls to like a single mindedness. In the long run I think its more exciting and have a better body of crap to stand behind, you know what I mean. Like U2 all right were gonna be like Berlin ‘81 this time and were gonna be disco, and drum and bass or were gonna be. Those guys need to reinvent themselves because they suck. At one time they were kinda doing something cool and they started this completely cynical like music machine. Up to this point we felt like we get a lot of millage out of what we do. It’s like will just stick with it and stay on it.
FB: Give me your impression of each of your albums. Things you like about them or dislike about them. or your over all impression.
Page: I listened to “Betty” for the first time in a while, a couple days ago and I really like it. I forgot because enough people tell you they don’t like it because it’s no like “Meantime”. You start to believe that it’s true. It’s just a fuckin’ good album I like it. I’m glad we did it now. We play stuff off there, a lot more different odd tunings and fucking around then we did on any other album. That bummed some people out because they want you to do the same thing. In retrospect I fell very happy we did that. I hear it and go wow we did that. Some of the songs are too hard for us to play now.
FB: I think I read a quote in a interview you did that said on “Meantime” you tried to sing instead of just scream.
Page: Right, I sing on “Strap It On” too. I use to not scream as much before I did “Strap It On” a lot more yelling then screaming. I found out that I can scream pretty good to. Yelling instead of screaming it’s fun to do but is so cliche, in like heavy metal music. The whole sorta subgenre of guys.
FB: So how do you think the band has evolved since it’s inception?
Chris: I think it’s just trimmed. Like there was a lot of fat. The song writing is getting better, now like on this record. The vocals, the lyrics are as equal, equally as meaningful as the riffs. More complete songs. more of a song rather then pieces of things put together. That’s what I think. I could be wrong, ask Page.
Page: Good answer Chris. (Page goes in the other room to do another interview)
FB2: So have you guys shoot a new video yet?
Chris: We did one for “Exactly What You Wanted”, but it’s getting redone.
Henry: We had a couple problems with it. It didn’t come out exactly how we wanted.
Chris: We had a couple ideas to do some stuff and it cost way too much money. We don’t want to spend a lot of money on video any way because MTV just wants to use these slick videos from like rock star people. So I doubt they’ll play it. So were not gonna spend a lot of money on something that is gonna get played four times.
FB: I see your point there. I think I saw the video for “In The Meantime” like four times.
Chris: Yeah, it’s gotta be trendy, it’s gotta be hip.
FB: So how did you feel coming into the band. Where you a big fan of the music before?
Chris: Yeah, I was a fan of there music definitely. Actually when they kicked Peter out, when I first moved to New York I wanted to try out for the band. But they never took a meeting with me. Henry is a big stuck up guy. The kids got long hair, I had long hair actually back then. So that’s probably why. It’s fine, it’s really like being in a cover band some times. Which is a little weird, it kinda dispels a lot of the when you sit and listen there’s this mystery or magic it takes the magic away. (Laughter)
Henry: A slap of reality.
FB: Yeah there's been bands I liked then I met them and they are total assholes.
Chris: Yeah like I’m an asshole.
FB2: Yeah, your at the top of the list. (a some what joke)
FB2: Was it hard to learn the old song or did you already know most of them?
Chris: I do this thing when I'm playing where I'm humming five seconds a head of where you actually are. So if I can hear the part in my head I can play it. So sometimes I get confused. It’s been fun I know the songs pretty well.
FB: Heres a question I should have asked at the first when you guys first started out how did you get involved with AmRep?
Henry: We did a four song demo and sent some out to every label we could think of. We printed up like 150. AmRep was one of the labels that gave a response back. So we did a single the “Born Annoying” single. We opened up for the Cows. On a week long Cow tour once. Tom finally heard us and said lets do a record. That was it. Pretty lucky really.
FB: Were Surgery signed to the label at the time?
Henry: Yeah I think so. I think they had put out a couple singles.
Helmet broke up, the guys are still involved in musical projects. Be on the look out for new bands.