Former HELMET and current GANDHI guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton has teamed up with ROB ZOMBIE members Johnny Tempesta (drums) and Blasko (a.k.a. Rob Nicholson) in an as-yet-unnamed new project.
The group, which is based in Los Angeles, will not affect Hamilton's involvement with GANDHI, which played a few club dates this fall, including at the annual CMJ Music Marathon in New York.
While GANDHI's live performances and demo recordings have generally received positive reviews, the group's progress has been impeded by difficulties in finding a label to release the band's debut album. "They're more reluctant to sign someone who's 40 years old and known for this certain thing," Hamilton told Billboard. "'We think you're the greatest. We respect you so much, but how do we market this?' You go see a band and they're playing a riff I wrote 10 years ago and they have a wallet chain and a load in their pants and they'll get signed."
Hamilton — who splits his time between and New York and Los Angeles — has pondered signing to an independent label, but has not yet made a final decision as to how to officially launch his new project. "That's something that I'm discussing right now," he explained. "There are a couple of people we're talking to, but oddly enough this brings up a conversation I had with Ian MacKaye of FUGAZI 10 to 12 years ago. I had been sitting in Steve Albini's house about to record 'In the Meantime', the demo that ended up being on the record. Steve was saying, 'Don't sign to a major label. Here's the math, here's what happens.' A week later, talking to Ian, he said. 'You could be on an indie label and be treated like shit and not get paid, or be on a major label and get treated like shit and get paid.' Unfortunately there is no guarantee you won't hate the people you eventually sign with."
Ironically, Hamilton's return to the live arena was largely overshadowed by the publicity generated through his recent work with LIMP BIZKIT. MTV VJ Iann Robinson called Hamilton a sell-out on the air for working with the reigning kings of rap-metal, to which Hamilton retorted, "If he wants to pay my bills I'll hand them over to him. I'd love to sit here all day and write art rock. I work hard enough at what I do to have earned the right to not have to apologize."
"I'm acquaintances with the LIMP BIZKIT guys because they were the opening band on the tour with KORN and HELMET four or five years ago, so I got to know them," the guitarist explained. "And I have no problem with them whatsoever. I don't pay attention to any of the press details about what Fred [Durst] does or says or doesn't do. He's always been nice to me. In August, I got a call from their manager about playing on their record and I said, 'Sure, of course I would.'"
Hamilton — who was approached about joining LIMP BIZKIT as a permanent replacement for departed guitarist Wes Borland, but declined the offer in order to focus on his own project — says he recorded one song and then some "experimental noise" for another, but doesn't know if any of it will end up on the next LIMP BIZKIT record, due in April. "They have 31 pieces of music they were considering," he said. "I have no idea of what they'll use if any of it."
Although getting GANDHI's full-length debut released is a priority, the guitarist has confessed there is still some HELMET material he'd like to see the light of day. "There's a bunch of stuff, but it's so disorganized," he said. "I have a ton of live stuff. We recorded the whole tour in 1994 with ROLLINS BAND. I have a couple of cool bootlegs. I was trying to work out something to track down all the HELMET bootleg stuff to put out a bootleg release. I have four or five bootlegs just from doing the GANDHI shows and people handing me CDs. I know from the Albini sessions there were a couple of songs that came out on a bootleg 7 inch [single]. I wish I could find all that stuff. Eventually we will."