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Left Of Centre With PAGE HAMILTON From HELMET

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Helmet are a niche kind of band in that once you discover them you can’t help but fall in love with their music.

The problem is, they are also not a band given much exposure in commercial channels, which makes the task of discovering them ultimately harder. But infinitely more rewarding.

“My approach is different. I like to do the opposite.”

Page Hamilton

Formed by Page Hamilton in 1989 – with Hamilton being the sole original member still in the band – Helmet have had a stop/start career, punctuated by a 6-year siesta from 1998 to 2004, but have consistently churned out high quality, and musically diverse albums.

While their popularity peaked with the 1992 album Meantime and 1994’s Betty, Helmet have always maintained an ever-increasing fan base, due largely to the talent and vision of their enigmatic frontman.
Their latest album Left has been a long seven years in the making, with Hamilton taking time to chat to HEAVY about the final product.

We start by asking how the album has been received.

“Everybody tells me all the positive stuff,” he smiled, “so as far as I know, positive (laughs). I don’t read reviews and I don’t pay attention. They send me emails saying you got this add and that add, and it’s number 1 metal album in Australia on Spotify, and it all means next to nothing to me. My job’s done as far as the album is concerned once it’s released. Essentially, once it’s mastered and the artworks done, and I pass it off to the label then I just have to learn the songs live and that’s my job. I can’t worry about the other stuff.”

Having an established fan base often means certain expectations when it comes to new music, with Hamilton admitting it has been an issue in the past.

“I don’t know about now, but I think early on with Helmet mark 2 everybody had expectations because the band had been gone for a while, and it wasn’t the same rhythm section,” he offered. “So, of course, we had expectations, but the first album was Size Matters in 2003 or 2004 when it came out after the hiatus – the band broke up in ’98 – and I remember Decibel Magazine reviewed the album and a few years later they re-reviewed it, and they were like ‘we were wrong about this one. It’s a really great album, it just doesn’t sound like Betty or Meantime’. You are always gonna come up against that. If you do an album that everybody holds in high esteem or a couple of albums, then people want that for the rest of their lives, I guess. Butโ€ฆ I couldn’t write the same song over and over again. It’s just not in my DNA. I had a conversationโ€ฆ I sang and played on a Linkin Park song and Mike Shinoda said ‘yeah man we made our first album and sold millions of records so we made our second album exactly the same’ and I said yeah, my approach is different. I like to do the opposite. Some people are cool with it and some people are not cool with it.”

In the full interview, Page talks more about Left, its musical direction, expectations following the success of their previous album Dead To The World in 2016 and runs through HEAVY’s review of Left and gives his opinion on what we thought.

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