Helios Creed Interview
Fear And Loathing - Vol. 19
well, next day and good ol' Charlie (Nice grin, mellow vibes) has come
up trumps on the Helios Creed front. He's tracked down the man himself,
hotel-bound in Europe just 24 hours prior to his flight back to
America. So, midday, I'm on the phone, and after one or two minor
problems, the conversation is finally underway! Well, since I've never
seen any interviews with the man before, despite his considerable cult
status, I decided to ask first of all why he has remained such an
obscure, even mysterious, figure over the years?
'Well it just sorta happened.... like being
better known, I would if I could, but especially back in the states
after I separated from Chrome, there wasn't a whole lot of interest, ya
know, and it was hard to get another band and get back into the flow.
Even when I put out records, it seemed hard to get people interested...
I mean, I did a ton of interviews but I guess they were mainly with
smaller magazines that probably never got outta the states.'
Over the years
though, there have been numerous bands that have cited your
guitar-style, both as part of Chrome and since then, as being very
influential... how do you feel about this particularly when some of
those bands have achieved much wider recognition than yourself?
'Sometimes I feel kinda strange about it, but, you
know, what can you say? I guess I'm a kind of guitar players guitar
player, you know I'm cursed or maybe I'm blessed, I don't know! Maybe
the other people who have been influenced by my ideas don't get as
weird as I get, they just use some of it, which keeps their thing more
straight. I think maybe we're just too strange, too much noise or
something... like I always wanted to be the first band to have
interplanetary distribution, so we make music that aliens might like,
you know what I mean? So the next distributor who might be flying by
our planet, maybe he'd like to swoop down and pick up a few cd's! I'm
always saying that, so maybe one day they'll pick it up... ya know gold
& silver must be worth something on other planets too... maybe
it'll happen, I'm putting out the energy, Haha! That could help my
popularity here on this planet!'
Actually, the two
recurring phrases that reviewers use to describe you tend to be either
'space rock' or 'acid rock' - do you get fed up with that?
'That's ok, I don't mind, they're only trying to
find a label to describe us.... like back in the early days of bands
like Devo and Pere Ubu, they tried to figure out what to call those
bands, and they decided to call it acid-punk, & you know I don't
mind that, cos like acid rock tended to make people think of the 60's,
so it was kind of a new tone.. but labels don't really describe what we
do, Even space rock is limited, cos it's been around for so many years
for stuff like Hawkwind, and particularly now, there seems to be a
resurgence of interest in that music again, even in the states...'
Your guitar-style seems to be that you play the actual effects as much as you do the guitar itself...
'I don't know if that's my style, I just sorta got
into it, and everytime I hear someone else do something, it'll make me
want to do it more, whether they're just screwing around or whatever. I
just like things like that, I think they're really neat, being able to
control your guitar from the pedal. And, like, when I do a lot of live
shows I get a lot of practice, and even now I'm discovering things that
I like better than what I was doing a week ago, you know? So, I'm doing
things now that I didn't do on the record, I'm just hoping I remember
all the stuff! But, like, we made a live record a few nights ago in
Eindhoven, it's the same songs on the records, but it'll sound more
strange because we do a lot more effects now, & it's more raw,
live... Some ways, I like that better. Also, it's not so expensive..
with records, there's all kinds of tensions because you'll have an
expensive engineer trying to make things perfect as he sees it... so
when you get the record it'll be good, but it won't be like a live
record.... I noticed in Europe a lot more people seemed to be into live
recordings, and that's exciting to me, cos I've always been into live
Who would you say were your major influences?
'When I was very young, 14 or 15, I remember my
first noise-guitar record was an early Blue Cheer album, and their
original guitarist, I forget his name, but he was like the noisiest
guitar player at that time, I think even too noisy for that time, but I
was really into it, his guitar sound. But when Blue Cheer changed &
I didn't like that at all, so I started listening to Jimi Hendrix, he
was my big idol for a long time... that was sort of the alternative at
that time to middle of the road, which was Motown at that time. But I
was getting into all these strange guitarists that I thought were
really good, they were inspiring to me. But I was living in Hawaii,
where it was really difficult to find any alternative music. I didn't
get to know about any really weird music until I got back to the
mainland... then I started getting into Iggy Pop, raunchy music, then
the Sex Pistols came out, I really like punk, the idea of that... I
went through a lot of changes along with the people that were making
the music, but I always found the mainstream boring, although some of
the stuff I listened to then now is mainstream. Those people became so
square, but you can still go back to some of the old records and
they'll still sound kinda cool... Now, I like a lot of the Butthole
Surfers stuff, Ministry, some smaller bands, like, a band I met in
Scotland called Forkeye, they opened for us and they were really cool.
I was really into Flipper, me and Ted, their guitar player, used to
hang out a lot together, we were sorta living in the same
I wanted to ask a
few questions about your time with Chrome, because, again, there's not
much actual information about that period that got over here...
firstly, most obviously, why did you split from that band?
'I don't know, it was just weird with Damon, because
he never wanted to play live, and we weren't making any money, we were
just making those records but never playing the material. There wasn't
any money coming in, so everything seemed to be developing into very
stagnant energy. So I decided it wasn't any good, so I formed my own
band... but nobody seemed to be interested, you know, it took people
years to become interested in Helios Creed. I don't know why, cos,
like, I wrote most of the music in Chrome anyway, or me and Damon wrote
it together, but people just seemed to stay strung out on the name
'Chrome,' but I really wanted to play live, so Helios Creed now is a
different band and a different sound...'
There has been
quite a few records released under the 'Chrome' title consisting of
music recorded by Damon since you split - how do you feel about him
still using the name?
'I was pretty bitter about it, like there were even
records where he missed my credits and stuff. So, yeah, I was pretty
bitter about it, and I don't even get any money from like, those
European reissues, but on the mainland - oh sorry I mean America - like
I call it the mainland cos I live out on an island! I guess you guys
must do that too, like Europe being the mainland compared to the UK...
Sorry, anyway in the U.S., like, Touch & Go, they did a deal,
but also went through me so that I could get my fair share of the
money. But in Europe, I didn't see any money from the Dossier reissues,
so I don't know, like, Dossiers said they had to pay all this money to
Beggars Banquet in England for publishing or something like that, so...
all I know is that I never see any money, and I can't figure out what
the deal is. So, like I said, I'll just keep doing Helios Creed until
maybe something happens with it.'
So, what plans have you actually got at the moment for the band?
'Well we're gonna go back to America, do a U.S.
tour, make another record, then do an early U.S. tour for that, then
come straight back here, hopefully to do a whole lot more dates just in
England... we really want to play everywhere, we'll try to do it. And
another thing we're kinda interested in is your festivals, that could
be good. Like, one time Chrome played a festival in Bologna, that was
there you have it - a very amiable chap indeed, it had been a pleasure
to speak to him, especially after all the hassles! There's plans afoot
for much Helios Creed activity in the near-ish future - I strongly
advise you to check it out. This man is one of the true Greats, however
generally unknown he may or may not remain. Ignore him, truly, at your
Images appearing in this interview: