In a January 2012 interview, Hamilton stated about his musical upbringing: "I'm 51 years old and I've been playing for 35 years. I got a guitar when I was 17, and fell in love with it in hindsight. I knew that when I went to college that I wanted to be a musician. I went to a community college and learned how to read music, and then I started studying classical guitar, jazz guitar right away. Then, I auditioned at the University of Oregon. I finished out my degree, then I moved to New York, and got my master's degree in jazz guitar, and formed HELMET in 1989."
While non-aficionados may not hear the jazz aspect in the band's latest album, 2010's "Seeing Eye Dog", Hamilton said it's there.
"What people make the mistake of is saying, ‘Well, I don't hear jazz.' I'm not playing jazz," he said. "It's not jazz. But I can hear the jazz influences. Name me one other band on the planet that's using a major-7 sharp 11 chord with a 13 in the chorus. None. This is my tuning. None. I guarantee it."
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