Skwerl of Antiquiet recently conducted an interview with HELMET mainman Page Hamilton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Antiquiet: Do you ever feel pressure to keep it heavy, as you're known for?
Page: No, I don't. I don't feel any pressure. A lot of people have been commenting that this album covers so much ground musically, and I think you kind of get to the point where… I know we're not a household name, and I'm not catering to anyone, I'm just trying to make music that I like. It was important in New York in the '80s, I think, for all the bands, to kind of be unique. It was a thing. That's where our indie scene was very strong, and we had all these bands, from SONIC YOUTH… to, you know, HELMET and UNSANE and SURGERY and HONEYMOON KILLERS and FOETUS was there, such a wide variety of music at the time, and it was important to sound unique, rather than try to regurgitate what had been done, and that's still… I always feel fortunate to be able to do what I love, and I know it's not for everyone, but I think the people that love HELMET love everything about it…
Antiquiet: You told Noisecreep that you had some regrets about "Monochrome". You called the process a nightmare, and talked about re-recording it. Is that still fresh, or are you kind of over it?
Page: I feel so happy with this album that I'm not going to dwell on it. But Chris Traynor [guitar] and I feel the same way, and he wants to do it as well. I just can't afford it right now. I've been paying for things myself, and it just doesn't make sense for me financially. I like the album, you know… The process was just more work than it had ever been, dealing with the record company and breaking in a brand new drummer, and going to New York, where I'm only in part-time now… I got a cold while I was doing it… The record company was pressuring me to watch video directors while I was in the studio… Like, "Are you fucking kidding me? What does this have to do with anything?" Like I could give two flying fucks about a video, you know? I want to make a great album. And oh, by the way, I'm the singer, lead guitar player, producer and writer of the songs, so if I'm not working, nobody's working. There were all these things that came into play and made it kind of a difficult album to make and it's the last time I'll make an album like that, I'm done. We have control, I own this 100%, I will not have somebody steal my money from me again… Except for the kids that download it for free, and that's going to happen regardless. So I hope I make the money back so I can make a record, and that's all…
Antiquiet: Is that your outlook on downloading and all that? They're going to do it, and you just have to work around it?
Page: I think people should pay for music. You know, everybody's had this discussion; I pay for medical service, I pay for restaurant service, I pay for movies… We make music, and the only way you can continue to make music is if you get paid for it… I'm not an artist like METALLICA or SYSTEM OF A DOWN that made millions of dollars. I'm still an underground artist essentially, going hand to mouth. I can't afford to make recordings if I don't make the money back. So I'll see how this brave new system we have works out over the next couple of years. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to be able to make records. I really love doing it. This was just the best album experience I've ever had. It was just so much fun.
Antiquiet: How do you feel about being in Guitar Hero?
Page: Oh, it's great. When they first approached me, I was just like, yeah sure, whatever, I don't know. And they handed me the plastic guitar, and I'm like, "What the hell is this?" I don't get video games. But I said "Well, I trust you, [if you say] it'll be cool," and next thing I know, it's this huge phenomenon.
Antiquiet: Does it help you break into new audiences?
Page: I think it has, yeah. I think we have a lot of younger kids now that listen to us. The vice president of ESP's son saw me at a Christmas party, and José [the VP] introduced me, said, "This is Page," and his son was like "Page Hamilton?" José was like, "How the hell do you know Page Hamilton?" He said, "Guitar Hero, dad!" He was fourteen. I thought that was pretty cool.
Read the entire interview from Antiquiet.