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Helmet
Helmet The Hifi Bar, Melbourne May 2008
Helmet The Hifi Bar, Melbourne May 2008
Background information
Origin New York, New York, USA
Genres Alternative metal
Post-hardcore
Noise rock
Years active 1989–1998, 2004–present
Labels Amphetamine Reptile, Interscope, Warcon
Website helmetmusic.com
Members
Page Hamilton
Dan Beeman
Kyle Stevenson
Jon Fuller
Former members
Peter Mengede
Rob Echeverria
Chris Traynor
Henry Bogdan
John Stanier
Frank Bello
John Tempesta
Chris Traynor
Mike Jost
Jeremy Chatelain
Jimmy Thompson

Helmet is an American alternative metal[1]/post-hardcore band from New York formed in 1989. Founded by vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton, Helmet has had numerous lineup changes, and Hamilton has been the only constant member.

Helmet has released six studio albums and two compilations. The band found mainstream success with their 1992 major label debut Meantime, which debuted at number 68 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the hits "Unsung" and "In the Meantime". After releasing two more albums, Helmet broke up in 1998, but reformed in 2004. The band released their first post-reunion album, Size Matters, later that year and it was their last release on their longtime label Interscope Records. They were briefly signed with Warcon Records, who released their latest album, Monochrome, on July 18, 2006. Currently, Helmet are not signed to any label.

HistoryEdit

Early years (1989-1991)Edit

Helmet appeared on the New York underground scene in 1989 after Hamilton had left Band of Susans. They were spotted by Tom Hazelmyer and signed to his Amphetamine Reptile Records label, releasing their debut 7 inch single, "Born Annoying" later that year. AmRep released their first album, Strap It On, in 1990.

Helmet was acclaimed as a "Thinking person's heavy metal band." Eschewing the traditional heavy metal image of long hair and black clothing, the band stood out with their preference for simple t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, along with short haircuts. Their music is characterized by repetitive, syncopated, staccato guitar riffs, often in odd time signatures, and almost always in a minor key with drop-D or drop-C tuning. The guitar sound is heavily distorted and dissonant, with choruses that often involve guitar feedback waves.

Before Hamilton had settled on a name for the group, Peter Mengede's then-girlfriend suggested the name "Helmut". Opting for the Anglicized spelling, Hamilton thought Helmet "sounded like a cool name for a band."[citation needed]. Other names considered were "Cry Ruth" and "Poly Orchids", along with the more esoteric "Tuna Lorenzo" and "Froth Albumen".

Mainstream success (1992-1998)Edit

The group rose to international stardom in 1992 after signing to Interscope Records. With the record industry hot to pick up burgeoning metal acts, Helmet was courted by a number of major labels. It is rumored that the members received in excess of $1 million at signing, along with an unprecedented amount of control over their work. Their first Interscope release, 1992's Meantime, was produced entirely by the band and was certified gold in the U.S. by 1994. The album has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and remains Helmet's top-selling album.

Helmet toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia relentlessly, generally with other AmRep recording artists. Internal tensions rose high at times. In early 1993, guitarist Peter Mengede left on bad terms and was replaced by Rob Echeverria. His debut with the band, Betty, was released in 1994. Despite managing the band's highest-ever chart position on the Billboard 200 at number 45, the album failed to sell as much as Meantime. Total U.S. sales of Betty are just over 275,000 as of April 2006.[citation needed] After recording and touring in support of Betty, Echeverria left to join Biohazard; however, his departure was much more amicable than Mengede's.

The band elected to push on and record 1997's Aftertaste as a three-piece. After recording was complete, guitarist Chris Traynor (formerly of Orange 9mm) was recruited for the supporting tour. Although the song Exactly What You Wanted became a moderate radio hit, the album spent only a few weeks on the Billboard 200 and has sold 135,000 copies as of April 2006.[citation needed] The Aftertaste Tour in 1997–98 would prove to be the band's last. Amid long-standing private disputes, the members decided to call it quits. Asked about the break up, Hamilton replied, "9 years, 1600 shows, 5 albums, and we found it hard to look at each other anymore"[2]

Aftermath and subsequent projects (1999-2003)Edit

After the dissolution of Helmet, the members went on to numerous different projects.

Hamilton relocated from New York to Los Angeles, California and became involved in many different projects, from playing guitar for David Bowie to doing sessions for film scores. He periodically returned to New York to work with his band Gandhi, which is where several of the songs appearing on Size Matters began.

Bogdan formed the Moonlighters, for which he played steel guitar, in New York with Bliss Blood, before returning home to Oregon to play for the Midnight Serenaders. Stanier took a break from drumming for over a year, but returned to play drums for Tomahawk, The Mark of Cain and Battles.

Reunion (2004-present)Edit

After moving to Los Angeles, Hamilton began working with drummer John Tempesta (formerly of Testament and White Zombie) on a new project. After searching for a record label and a name for the project, Hamilton was urged by Jimmy Iovine of Interscope to release the new project under the established Helmet moniker, to which Interscope held the rights. Hamilton had resisted for some time due to his relationships with Stanier and Bogdan had not improved since 1998, and previous offers of his to reunite were rebuffed and/or ignored, so decided he was to move on and put more music out as Helmet without them.

Chris Traynor, still on good terms with Hamilton, soon came on board to cover bass and guitar parts. With Tempesta on drums and Hamilton covering vocals and guitar, the three recorded Size Matters in early 2004. Frank Bello was later recruited to play bass on the supporting tour; however, he left before its conclusion to reunite with his original band, Anthrax. Jeremy Chatelain replaced Bello for the duration of the tour. John Tempesta left in early 2006 to join The Cult.

In late 2005, Helmet parted ways with Interscope. Helmet then signed with Warcon Enterprises and announced that a new album was in the works. Helmet performed at the 2006 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, with a temporary lineup consisting of Charlie Walker on drums, Chris Traynor on bass, and Anthony Truglio (formerly of Gandhi) on guitar. The new album, Monochrome, was recorded and co-produced by Wharton Tiers, who recorded Helmet's first two albums, Strap It On and Meantime. For the album, Hamilton and Traynor returned to the studio with newly recruited drummer, Mike Jost (formerly of Adair). Helmet headlined the 2006 Warped Tour in support of Monochrome, with Jeremy Chatelain reprising his role from the 2005 Size Matters tour.

In September 2006, Chris Traynor announced that he had left the band after nearly a decade of working with Page Hamilton. A few days later, Mike Jost also left the band to attend to his duties as a new father. Jeremy Chatelain also made other commitments. Hamilton announced in early October 2006 that the new drummer and bassist was Kyle Stevenson and Jon Fuller, respectively, both from Milwaukee. Due to line-up changes, Hamilton was forced to cancel many shows scheduled for late 2006 in the the U.S. and Europe. Helmet opened up for Guns N' Roses for the remaining dates of their tour in December 2006. The band toured Australia in April and May 2008, playing shows throughout the eastern and southern coasts.

When asked in an interview if there has been any progress when it comes to putting down ideas for the next Helmet album, Hamilton replied: "No. I've been busy working on jazz tunes. I've written four songs since the last tour ended but they're for this movie I'm working on. It has been nice though as I like to clear out the old palette and do other things. Helmet put two albums out in 18 months, Size Matters and Monochrome, so I think the next album has got to wait. I'm planning to sit down and write a couple songs in March but that is assuming I can get on a roll before we head out to Australia. But we probably won't get an album out until the end of the year."[3] In that interview, Hamilton was hoping that he could "do two more albums and that there is also interest on the touring front. But as long as we can go play shows and people come out to them and I feel good about what we're doing, then we'll do it. Realistically, I'm thinking of two more albums after Monochrome as in two years I'll be fifty years old. So I'm thinking will I be capable? It is very physically demanding and people kind of under estimate the energy you have to put out to play this music. And I don't to go out and do a half-assed job. So as long as I can maintain that high level and still feel great, I'll think about doing it."

In 2007, the band recorded the song called "Revenge Destroys Everything" for the upcoming movie soundtrack, TATUA. Based from the comic book of the same name by Paul Jenkins. A music video was made for the song. Helmet did another music video on "Money Shot" from their album, Monochrome, for another movie soundtrack, The Dreamless.

In recent interviews, Page Hamilton promises to have an album out in 2009[citation needed].

Helmet in popular cultureEdit

Helmet's "Ironhead" appeared in the 1992 film Guncrazy.

In 1993, Helmet recorded "Just Another Victim" with hip-hop group House of Pain for the soundtrack to the film Judgment Night.

In early 1994, before Betty was released, an alternate version of "Milquetoast" (named "Milktoast") appeared on the motion picture soundtrack of The Crow.

In 1995, they contributed a cover version of the Gigantor theme to the tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.[4]

Helmet appeared in the 1995 film The Jerky Boys performing a cover of Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe".

The song "Complete" appeared in the soundtrack to the 1995 movie Johnny Mnemonic.

In 2004, "Unsung" appeared on the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soundtrack, playing on fictional alternative radio station Radio X.

"Crashing Foreign Cars" appeared in 2004 on the Need For Speed: Underground 2 soundtrack.

In 2005, "Unsung" was used in the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero" along with True Crime: New York City.

In 2006 the song "Monochrome" was featured in the soundtrack of the movie Saw III

In 2008, "Unsung" appeared on the game Saints Row 2, on the in-game radio station Krunch 106.66.

The videos for "Unsung" and "Wilma's Rainbow" have been featured on the 1990s MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. The instrumental version was played on MTV as well on the premiere of Nitro Circus when Travis Pastrana jumps out of a plane without a parachute on.

In 2004, Soulfly covered the song "In the Meantime" for their 2004 album Prophecy.

In 2009, "Unsung" appeared on the game "Madden 10"

DiscographyEdit

Main article: Helmet discography
  • "Just Another Victim" with House of Pain for the soundtrack to Judgment Night (1993)
  • "Custard Pie" (Led Zeppelin song) with David Yow of Jesus Lizard, on the album "Encomium: A Tribute To Led Zeppelin".
  • Helmet recorded a cover of Björk's "Army of Me," which was released on a "Music for Our Mother Ocean" benefit compilation.
  • Two Black Sabbath songs: "Lord Of This World" (on the compilation album "Volume Eleven: Reading Special") and "Symptom Of The Universe" on the Jerky Boys movie soundtrack.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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