Interview By: Bart
Flipside Magazine
July/August 1997

Chrome was a musical venture that started in '77 and is still continuing today after some very strange days and the death of a key member, Damon Edge. I had a lot of fun talking to a very down-to-earth Helios Creed, who is among the living legends in music today. Find out the mystery and horror of the life of Chrome.

Bart: We will start with how surprised I was to see the new Chrome 10" and the new Helios Creed 7". They just seem to come out of left field.

Helios: I decided about a year ago that I would continue doing Chrome after Damon died.

Bart: So now this is the Chrome then?

Helios: Yah and unlike the old Chrome, it's not featuring anybody. (both laugh) I got John and Hillary back, but I couldn't put any credits on the Chrome record because of legal members of Mr. Edge. I don't want anyone to know who is playing on it. It's kinda cool though, 'cause it makes it more mysterious. I want to do everything in the Chrome tradition, at least from my view. There's a song for Damon on the 10", a song called "See Ya." When you have a partner so close, you rub off on each other. We were tight partners for eight years or more. We fed off each other's inspirations. After he died, I was inspired again by him.

Bart: Are there any lyrics that go with "See Ya"?

Helios: If you could understand them on the record, that's the best you're going to do and I'm not going to sit here and try to remember them. (laughs all around)

Bart: How was Man's Ruins Records chosen to release the 10" and 7"?

Helios: A friend called up and said, "Hey, we've seen your Frank Kozic poster from the cover of Lactating Purple on CNN last night." They were interviewing Frank Kozic from Man's Ruin on CNN for the entertainment section and my poster was in the back, so I called him up to say thanks for the plug and crossed my fingers hoping he would want to do a single or something. More than seeking the major label deal, I'm always seeking out a new little hep label.

Bart: Why is that?

Helios: Because me and Damon had a record label ourselves. Somehow I think it's a lot cooler to sell good on a cool label than the big major labels where it's just about money. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We've never been accessible enough to be on a major anyway.

Bart: How do you separate the Chrome from the Helios Creed projects?

Helios: There is a spirit of Chrome that is different from the spirit of Helios Creed, but then again when I did the first Helios Creed album, there was a lot of things that I was going to use in Chrome that I used for myself back in 83' when the band left me. Damon went to Europe with his wife. He was caught between loyalty to his spouse and loyalty to band members. Someone wanted to move to Europe and I wasn't into moving to Europe. Also, we were getting two different ideas about what we wanted to do. When we were in Chrome it was a 50/50 thing. It was a gentleman's agreement and it was in the contract. I think his ego started happening a little bit after he met Fabian (Damon's wife) - also I was the guitarist/vocalist and people started to notice me more. I think his wife was edging him on - "Why is he taking over your band?!" - that type of thing but I'm not sure. Something was edging him on. Then he started doing the "Chrome featuring Damon Edge" which for me, wasn't anything I wanted to do. Even now I don't want to feature anybody. I do want to have guest people involved in Chrome. I asked a few people already and I've gotten a positive response - people that have been inspired by Chrome that have made it successfully - Trent Rezner, Gibby Haynes, and Al Jorgenson, I have been told, all were Chrome fans and I'll ask them. Paul Leary, Jeff Pinkus, and Jim Therwell said they'd do it.

Bart: That would keep to the Chrome level of experimentation.

Helios: Yeah, I'm trying to keep it positive because Chrome was always meant to be positive -- before we both got into hard drugs and made messes of everything. Let that be a lesson to ya. I straightened up. I don't know the Damon Edge story because I wasn't around him for the last 10 years.

Bart: Wow, so all ties were severed until his death?

Helios: Well, I called him a couple years before he died wanting to patch up our relationship. I had a lot of anger after he did Chrome records without me, went on a lot of drunken binges, got thrown out of a lot of clubs - that was back in the punk days. It was the in thing to do. So I was having a hard time with that. Then I put together my solo band. That was rough going at first. When I called him after all those years it seemed like he was a different person. He had a hard breakup with his wife. He wasn't the together, strong person I knew. He was also very defensive. We both wanted to do a Chrome reunion record but he was against doing it in the same place. He wanted to do it through the mail 'cause he didn't want to see anybody. He turned into a recluse and was very agoraphobic - fear of the big outdoors and meeting people. I guess he always had that. It just got worse as he got older. He couldn't face me or be in the same room. The reunion never happened so I really can't tell you what happened to Damon. I did forgive him for how he fucked me over. He felt like he got fucked over by me in other ways, things I said in interviews. The Helios Creed thing was going a little better than the Damon Edge thing so I think he had some resentment.

Bart: So that was 3 years ago? Did you ever see him after that?

Helios: I moved, got a new phone number and that was it. Another thing started happening. He started calling up in the middle of the night almost every other night wanting to talk about shit. I said, "Hay man, it's just too late." Quite frankly he seemed kind of smashed or something. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. His calling so late was getting irritating and that's why I got my phone number changed. It was all very upsetting. Then he died about a year or two later.

Bart: What exactly did he die of?

Helios: Well, I heard heart failure. His sister told me that at that time the coroner didn't really have an explanation of why his heart failed. He wasn't in a healthy state, that's for sure. I heard he was overweight. I was just going to let Chrome die, then someone asked if I was going to do a Chrome reunion now. So I said if I can find John and Hillary. If they want to do it and there's any money in it, (laughs) which there is - I don't want to get a regular job. I can juggle 3 things at once. It's all work to me. It's a challenge - what should Chrome sound like 10 years later? The 10" was where it got left off ten years ago, that's where it was in my head. I wanted to do much more than that. I have been making a lot of comp tracks lately. That's what's making the indies money right now is selling these comps. I am always working on 2 or 3 albums at once. I have 2 recording studios in one room - I have 2 songs going at once sometimes.

Bart: Cleopatra recently released a "Chrome Box"?

Helios: He (Brian Petiera, owner of Cleo) was interested in releasing the stuff that was before Chrome featuring Damon Edge. For me, Chrome starts up again with the 10" and the box. I figure now that he's gone it's only fair that I have a crack at it. He had a crack at for 10 years. It seemed like it became more popular after it all fell apart.

Bart: It always seems that when you're a groundbreaking band, you're viewed as a failure until the band breaks up. Then the influence and support comes too late.

Helios: It makes me happy that me and Damon inspired most of my favorite acts that have made it big. I feel glad to be a part of inspiring that. Like Hendrix inspired me and so on...

Bart: Do you have a label for the new Chrome yet?

Helios: I am shopping around right now. I also think that no indie labels want to give anyone 3 albums and all this money. I've been happy getting all these one record things. I don't know if it looks good but I think it's healthy. It's very outlawish because I'm not really committed to any of these labels.

Bart: Was it different when you and Damon were running Siren Records?

Helios: There was only a few indies back then. Now all the popular bands get bought up by the majors. Siren was started by Damon for Chrome but we both worked on it. There were other bands that wanted to be a part of it. Record companies are a lot of work. It's nice now to just do a record then just sell it and play.

Bart: How did you start with Helios Creed projects?

Helios: I didn't want to call it Helios Creed. It was when Steve Tupper of Subterranean said "Just call it Helios Creed" or he didn't want to do the deal. Now I'm stuck with it. I didn't want it to be a solo project. Solo projects usually have this stigma and don't turn out too well.

Bart: Many people say there is a completely different sound between your first 2 Helios Creed records.

Helios: I was so tired of doing all non song shit that I wanted to make a record with just songs. Get rid of the vocal effects and just see what kind of songs I could make. Then after I did that I got really bored of that and wanted to trip out a little more. Also on X-Rated Fairy Tales (Creed's first release after Chrome) I had Steve Tupper breathing down my neck, telling me I'm spending too much time on the bass drum - I didn't have that on Superior Catholic Finger (2nd album after Chrome). I can't see putting any music I do under a label, even though that's the way to sell shit. It bores me. If I'm listening to something that fits that genre so completely, I got bored. I just don't want to fit a genre. I just want Chrome to stay Chrome. I just want Helios Creed to stay Helios Creed. I'm doing this thing called Dark Matter that's billed as an "ambient" thing but I don't want that to be an "ambient" thing, it's more than that to me. It was hard to get Brian (Cleopatra Records owner) to do it and of course they had to put my name on the cover to sell it to break even, otherwise it'd just sit in the bin probably. I don't want him to put Helios Creed on the cover of the next Dark Matter. I hope people just buy it because they like Dark Matter and they don't give a fuck who makes it. Who knows how much time there is on this crazy planet. I want to get out as much as I can.

Bart: How did the home studio way up in the woods happen?

Helios: I was always unhappy with studio time - never enough time to do what I wanted to do. I thought I should find out how to record my music so the next time it's fucked up I can blame me, not someone else. I also hire myself out as an engineer and sell time in my studio. I put up a picture of me hugging James Brown. That seems to impress them.

Bart: How did you meet James Brown?

Helios: I interviewed him for Thorazine magazine. They tried to get Gibby Haynes to do it and he wouldn't. I just happened to be in Georgia playing. I just wanted to do it to meet him. He was a really cool dude. He took us all out to dinner. He had his back up singers sing for us. I felt very special and privileged. I gave him a copy of my record.

Bart: What did he think of it?

Helios: I don't know, I'll probably never know.

Bart: Do you think he'd be one of these famous people to work on Chrome?

Helios: I don't think so. (laughs all around) I'd love it though. I tried to get him to go boogey boarding with me in Hawaii. He said he'd never stick his feet in the water - "You never know what's down there!"

Bart: After the first 2 records on Subterranean were done, what happened?

Helios: Subterranean turned into more of a distributor. I went on to Am Rep which will be releasing a new album soon with Jeff and Frank Garymart from Pain Teens, who are great players. Gearhead Magazine will be putting out a Chrome split with Man Or Astroman. All of a sudden new people are getting into the new Chrome. It's like a new band now. Now I hear space rock is getting big and people think it's a new thing. But the thing is, I've been doing it for 20 odd years. I don't know much about this new certain space rock, but I've been told I can cash in on it! I don't want to be overlooked if I can help it.

Bart: I think if you start stickering your records with "space rock" in big letters, you'll be making a lot of money soon.

Helios: Space rock could be anything from Hawkwind to Chrome to Hendrix to Nine Inch Nails to The Beatles in a way because they each have aspects of being 3 dimensional. The 3 dimensional aspect makes it space rock. That's the "space." That's why I put Chrome back together. I said "Fuck this, I'm going to show people what I think space rock really is." I do want to help put together the space rock scene as I see it. I don't want people to forget about psychedelics, either. While you're doing crack cocaine and heroin, don't forget there's a whole new batch of good psychedelics out there. Be a modern man.

Bart: Like David Bowie.

Helios: Chrome never had a hit, or a big label, or ever got big. We never became mega corporate. I don't think it ever will. I want to keep it that way, but keep it alive. I can be done. I'm making a living off of this. It can be done. You don't have to sell to everyone. A lot of people have told me bands that have gone to majors want to go back to indies and their fans are happier having them back in creative control. That's what I'm doing. I can do whatever I want in my studio and on tour. We'll be going on tour with Farflung soon. We said "Why don't we go out with a band we all like that's not popular."

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