By: Laurel Bowman
Carbon 14 #6
In while digging through the bins at the used record shop
you should happen upon an album by Chrome, you may safely assume that its
previous owner died. Chrome albums are hoarded like dirty secrets. Created in
1976 and disbanded in the early ‘80’s, Chrome was part of the influential
troika of industrial trip bands which also included Neu and Can. Overlooked and
largely forgotten, the distorted psychedelic wash of Chrome has become part of
the source DNA of bands like Spiritualized, Flying Saucer Attack, Stereolab and
the Dandy Warhols- a legacy that has evolved into an instinctual urge to reach
for effects. There are many bands today that sound just like Chrome but even
ex-members of the group will be the first to note that the homage is likely
unintentional. There just aren’t that many people who can actually remember
hearing a Chrome album. But chances are, they did. Somewhere. Out in front of
Chrome was guitarist Helios Creed. Droning. Layering. Phasing Out. Everyone
thought he was a freak. But in a good way. Chrome went away, (some members more
than others.) Helios went on with his Helios Creed solo project; continuing the
experiment on albums like Superior Catholic Finger, Boxing The Clown, Kiss To
The Brain, The Last Laugh, and Planet X. His new effort, Cosmic Assault (on
Cleopatra Records) is the latest, and he expects a new disc with members of the
Butthole Surfers and Ministry out on Amphetamine Reptile in Spring of ’96. I
called up Helios in
Carbon 14: Why are you living in
Helios Creed: Three years ago we moved from
C14: A lot of folks think you’re from Mars and shit…
HC: No! I grew up here so moving back was not something I
did out of the blue, I knew what I was getting myself into. Now it’s kinda
getting commercialized. Where I live, on the
C14: They would like you in
HC: We kept connecting with alternative labels in
C14: Is it true you took up surfing?
HC: Yeah, well, I surfed a little when I was a kid but I was never really that good, so I started doing it again about a couple of years ago, and it’s really happened for me. It’s like a drug, except you don’t really have to get burned out, just tired. I surfed yesterday at this place where it was just me. I was alone thinking, ‘hey this is the place where a guy got eaten by a shark a few years ago,’ and it was kind of creepy but then some people showed up and I go, ‘oh here are some more targets,’ so then I felt better. I like the whole scene. There’s this guy living down here on the beach who is a big surfer from the 60’s he has a lot of stories. He’s a beachcomber and occasional drunk living in a bus- kinda like me when we first started touring. Musically speaking though, surfing has not influenced me in a corny surfing way. I like the ancient Hawaiian music though, before the ukulele. I’m probably going to incorporate some of the ancient percussive stuff on a future project, filtering it though some effects.
C14: What were you listening to growing up?
HC: Jimi Hendrix. Noisy guitar players, Jeff Beck. As I got older it was Robert Fripp, Snakefinger. By age eighteen I had a case of island fever, so I moved to San Francisco thinking there would be all these cool bands and when I got there all I could find was old hippie blues bands and jazz.
C14: When did you become interested in making noise yourself?
HC: I’ve played guitar since I was 12. The Ventures inspired me.
C14: So you were influenced by corny surf music after all?
HC: Maybe mind surfing! You know, The Ventures were one of the first bands to use effects. I had a lot of Snakefinger records too, weird shit. I miss records terribly. You have the record spinning on the turntable, and you’d have the record cover in your hand, with its beautiful artwork shaping your imagination and now I can’t stand it. But we can sit here and talk about how bad kids have it today but we were just as big assholes. Did we know all the cool music and stuff that was going on in the ‘30’s, the ‘40’s the ‘50’s? It just goes on.
C14: Did your move to a more isolated environment have much impact on your music?
HC: Well, it was strange because I didn’t really have a
C14: What is your creative day or week like, given that your studio is right in your home now?
HC: It’s weird. Whenever I get bored I just sort of go in there and start messing around, sometimes I don’t think I’m gonna do anything, and things start to happen and the next thing I know I’ve got a whole song almost finished. I’ve done it a lot of different ways.
C14: You recorded Cosmic Assault yourself between July and October of 1994?
HC: I finished that right before we went on last year’s tour
of the States and
C14: And you already have a new project in the works..
HC: I’m looking forward to working with Jeff (Pinkus, bass
player with The Butthole Surfers) and Rey (Washam, drummer from Ministry and
Scratch Acid.) Rey used to play in my old band. You can hear him on Boxing The
Clown. He’s been my drummer for a while. We’re going to record the new project
C14: A few years ago you released an album under the name Helios Meat. What was that all about?
HC: It was a record company fuck up. The album name is Kiss To The Brain and they credited us as Helios Meat. We thought it was funny so we left it like that. Helios Meat. On the cover it actually says Helios Creed, but on the side, it says Helios Meat. Then some radio stations put labels on it and called it Helios Meat and it got filed that way. It’s pretty funny.
C14: Do you look back fondly on the Chrome days? Or is it something you’d rather forget?
HC: Well, let’s see… I look back both ways. There are some bitter memories and some really good things. They were pretty stoney days.
C14: But you don’t have any contact with Damon Edge (co-founder of Chrome)?
HC: No, not anymore. We almost did a project a few years ago but he didn’t want to work in the studio, actually he didn’t want to work in the same studio. He didn’t want me to see him. He wanted me in my studio and he wanted to work in his studio and he wanted us to mail stuff back and forth. He’s got agoraphobia. He doesn’t want to go out. I understand that it’s a condition that usually develops in people in their later years.
C14: Was Damon’s agoraphobia something you noticed back in the Chrome days?
HC: He probably had it back then. Yeah, afraid of wide open spaces.
C14: You can have a band like Stereolab that is a direct descendant of Can or Neu or Chrome and folks think that it’s this brilliant new music.
HC: I guess that’s just what happens… on the other side of
that, I’m not listening to anyone now. I don’t think there’s any band or artist
that’s doing anything very cool so… but I’m living out on
C14: Not many people care to note that the new music they’re listening to isn’t very new at all…
HC: There was this guy who was reviewing one of our shows recently. For the first half of the show he thought we were ripping off the Butthole Surfers. Then somebody told him what they were listening to when they were kids. He had a realization.