A Nice Space To Visit… An Interview With Helios Creed
By: Frank Kozik and Michael La Vella
Gearhead Magazine Issue #5
Spring/Summer 1997

Twenty five years ago in the jungles of Hawaii three beams of light entered the head of a scrawny, would-be folksinger named Barry Johnson. The beams communicated a message of Love and Truth, to be explained through music. Afterwards, Barry emerged from the bush as Helios Creed and began a quarter-century long musical odyssey to spread the word. Founder of the seminal, genre-defying bands Chrome and Helios Creed, he continues to spread the space brother’s gospel as the millennium fast approaches.

ML: Sit down, H, make yourself comfortable.

HC: Are we bothering Frank here?

FK: No, I can do two things at once.

ML: He can separate the left and right sides of his brain, isn’t that right?

FK: Yeah.

HC: That’s beautiful. Are you the type of person that is inspired by the things going on around them?

FK: No, I just have to be somewhere in an hour.

ML: (chuckles) Alright, Helios, tell me how you came up with the track for the single.

HC: Well, I listened to the drum tracks all laid down, and said “that sounds like the one for the magazine, it has the right intensity.” Then I put it through my super drum effects, then had Chris lay down the bass, it just all kinda came together.

ML: You recorded it at your house?

HC: Yeah, I have a studio in my house.

ML: How many tracks?

HC: 16 and 8, (pauses) yeah I have both. As a matter of fact, sometimes we’ll be recording Helios stuff over there (points toward one side of the room) and Chrome stuff over there (points to the other side of the room)

FK: Officially, who’s in Helios Creed and who’s in Chrome?

HC: Well, Chrome is John and Hillary Haynes on drums and bass, me, and I might be hiring a new keyboard player who’s very interested, the keyboard player for Farflung. His name is Tommy Grenas, he’s also in Pressurehed.

ML: Would this guy help you to get Chrome playing live again?

HC: Oh man, (very excited) if we had Tommy in the band, with John and Hillary and me, that would be an experience! And that’s what I’m trying to put together (pauses) and I think I did. As a matter of fact, I did (laughs).

FK: Now, do you want to clarify the confusion?

HC: I have been.

FK: So why don’t you do it for the readers of Gearhead?

HC: Well, up until 1983, when we (Damon Edge and Helios) were doing Chrome it was an equal thing. Me and Damon were equally Chrome, he didn’t own it any more than I did. Then his wife said “let’s move to Europe” and I didn’t think that the band should go. It was my band too, and I thought it was a bad idea to go but Damon moved to Europe anyway and I stayed here. So that was my end with Chrome at that point. Then he did a few Chrome albums after me, but the difference between his albums and the ones that we did together was that…

ML: …they said “featuring Damon Edge.”

HC: Exactly, and they didn’t have the same sound. So what I’m trying to do is bring Chrome back to what it was originally.

FK: Cool.

HC: And that’s what a lot of people are confused about. And some people are wondering why I’m not putting the credits on the Chrome records yet, and the reason is that Damon’s sister is trying to sue me for doing the Chrome stuff. She thinks that she should be getting all the money from any previous sales, and paying back her family. When….it wasn’t my responsibility that Damon took their money and squandered it, you know. Because legally when you do a business with somebody and you’re half a contract, their half is their bill, right?

ML: I don’t know, I never had a partnership with anybody, Frank did.

FK: Sounds right.

HC: And also, now that time has gone by, it makes it even more of a mystery.

FK: Well, the reaction that I’ve had since we put out that 10” on Man’s Ruin is that people are really happy with it because it sounds like Chrome again. Because basically everybody seems to universally despise the Damon era, so I think you’ve got a good thing going.

HC: OK, that’s nice. That’s what I was hoping would happen because I felt like I put a lot of work into Chrome, and I felt like Damon took it all away from me, and I had nothing. I’ve even had dreams like that, where, like, Damon is going down the highway in this great big beautiful tour bus, and I’m standing there in the middle of the road hitchhiking with no clothes, because he kicked me out of the band or whatever had happened. And I go “Damon, you’re back! You’re back to pick me up! I knew that you needed me! The band, we need each other.” And I go “do you have any clothes?” And he goes “no, man, I can’t let you wear any of my suits, but my wife has some blouses I can let you wear.” You know? Really bizarre selfish dreams, and I knew what they meant. Then later on I had dreams of Damon coming up my steps carrying his TV with his family behind him, with like nowhere to live, you know, and me having like a nice place to live. So say to him “well, I remember when you wouldn’t even fuckin’ let me ride on your big tour bus!” It’s a totally karmic dream, that’s all I can say.

ML: Well that’s totally interesting because on the astral plane, your relationship is continuing, even after his death. To the point that your dreams have continuity over years or whatever.

HC: Well, I’ll tell you something interesting, you know that song “See Ya”?

FK: Uh huh.

HC: I had a feeling that Damon was channeling that song through me. In an offhand sort of way, I could feel his vibe.

FK: What does it take to get you inspired to compose new music?

HC: (pauses, then laughs) Feeling good.

FK: What makes you feel good?

HC: When I was younger and I used to just sit around in a room full of people with an acoustic guitar, for some reason if they were just talking and ignoring me, the inspiration would just come to me for some reason. Just having people in the room. Lately, it’s different, I guess it just comes from anywhere. I read a lot of prophecy magazines, I’m really into prophecy. And the millennium coming up, ’97 on, and all that kind of stuff.

ML: It freaks me out sometimes to think that we are going to live most of our lives after the year 2000.

FK: (addressing Mike) Well, welcome to the basic reason that people throughout history have built things and done things to try to make themselves immortal.

HC: We’re all going to die…

FK: (In a voice like a TV announcer, to lighten the mood) But, back to the music…

ML & HC (laugh)

FK: Tell me about outer space. Because your music is really about outer space, and you’re creating things inside of rooms about outer space. Tell me about that.

HC: Well I think that space is inside your head as well as out there, and it is possible to be both places at once. Whenever that three-dimensional space happens in your head there’s no doubt that you have achieved space. (quietly) Does that make any sense?

ML: Sure.

HC: You’re not in a two-dimensional area anymore. Some realm, some channel opened up and the music has taken on another feeling, and your heart has taken on a different feeling, then you’re in space. I guess that’s what it is about space rock to me, or 3-D music, let’s call it. Positivity has a lot to do with it, I don’t think that you always want to be hearing about the most negative crap on the planet when you’re listening to this music.

FK: Right.

HC: Which is the difference between what we do and, lets say, what Nine Inch Nails does, not putting them down…

FK: I know what you’re saying, though, because I find that negative music gets really stale and boring because after a while you get older and you should have already dealt with most of those issues.

HC: Right.

FK: But I like your music because I find that it puts me in an exalted, calm mood and it makes me want to do things, whereas something like Nine Inch Nails doesn’t make me want to do anything.

ML: Maybe if you were 16 it might.

FK: Right.

HC: Yeah, it’s a younger thing, or they feel that way. Whereas when we were young we were saying a lot of things…(trails off into thought)

ML: Umm, I read an interview with you once where you were talking about how you lived in a place with really high ceilings…

HC: (really excited) Yeah! Ceilings!

ML: And then you said that you moved into a bus with much more confined quarters and your music changed.

HC: Yeah well, when you’re laying on your back and you’re looking at the ceiling and music is playing though the speakers and you can hear the music go all the way up to there (points up) and you feel like there’s things going on up there. Your spirit is soaring.

ML: And when you’re in a smaller room?

HC: You just can’t get the same kind of thing. I think artists and musicians working out of warehouses with high ceilings have more inspiration.

FK: Yeah, I can’t deal with enclosed spaces.

HC: Yeah! Imagine you doing this (Frank is coloring an offset printed poster on the computer) in a 6 ft. high…

FK: I couldn’t do it, it would drive me insane. I’ve always had to live in houses with really high ceilings.

HC: It’s a spiritual thing, your spirit needs that much space to really work with you.

ML: Are you talking about auras?

HC: Yeah, you’re not just this (pinches his arm) you’re this (holds hand about a foot above his arm).

ML: A bunch of people wanted me to ask you about your going on tour with Hawkwind.

HC: It was an interesting experience, working with someone from the ‘60’s kind of thing, who is actually 54 years old and really set in his ways. I think people really get set in their ways the older they get, I noticed that I’ve been getting like that a little bit lately.

ML: Did you have good shows?

HC: Yeah, we had some really good shows.

ML: What material were you doing?

HC: Silver Machine, Center of the Universe, umm, you know the kind of hit songs like that. Everybody’s favorite songs.

ML: How did you get hooked up with that?

HC: Through Tommy, the guy from Farflung. We’re going on tour with them.

ML: When you saw “we” you mean…

HC: Helios Creed, the band. But then Chrome is going to go on tour after that, which I guess is a good thing.

FK: No, dude, you don’t understand. A lot of people got into Chrome after you were doing it, so for them it would be a chance to see this legend.

HC: Think I could cash in?

FK: (caught off guard) Umm…I’m not sure, I really don’t know how that works.

HC: I’m just kidding, man.

FK: Oh, ha ha. But what I’m saying is that for a lot of people it would be an opportunity to see, like, this legend, and that’s a pretty cool thing.

HC: Definitely it is.

FK: You have sort of weird status, you know. The deal is, as far as America goes, you’re considered the originator here, as far as this type of music goes. So I think people are highly excited about the Chrome stuff, in fact I know they are.

HC: Yeah I’ve been getting a buzz like never before.

FK: It’s the right time. OK, let’s talk about some other stuff.

ML: Let’s hear a weird road story.

HC: Well, every time we go on the road, we always see cars burning.

ML: Really?

HC: Yeah, we’ve seen five cars burning. Sometimes there’s an accident, sometimes there’s just a car alongside the road burning. Big old flames.

ML: Ok, that’s weird.

HC: Also, people would mistake my bass player for me. “Are you Helios Creed?” It happens all the time.

ML: Who, Mark?

HC: No, Chris. Then when I was with Hawkwind, people thought that Tommy was me, but then again people thought that I was Lemmy.

ML: Weird! Where was this? In Stuttgart or something?

HC: No, in Atlanta!

ML: Even weirder!

HC: But I just went along with it. “Hey, are you Lemmy?” (makes drunken rock and rollish growling noises) “Grrr….grrr”

ML & FK (laugh)

FK: Ok, for a long time, a big theme in your music has been, like, aliens. Weird paranormal shit like that. Now it’s become kinda like this huge mainstream trip.

HC: Yep.

FK: How do you feel about that?

HC: Well, I always suspected that it would be, that’s why I got into it years ago.

FK: Do you think anything’s going to happen on the millennium?

HC: I sure as hell do.

FK: Like what?

HC: Well, I believe that aliens are going to be here to stay and we’re going to be in communication with them. Everybody is finally going to know about them, they’re here to save the planet. Either that or take it over. We’re either going to fuck it up and they’re going to take it from us, or they’re going to help save us. Those are my two thoughts, I don’t know which way it will go.

ML: (running with the idea) Why do you think they came in the first place?

HC: I think that there are a lot of different types, good ones as well as bad ones.

FK: Did you ever have an encounter yourself?

HC: (Pauses) The only encounter I ever had happened a while ago in Hawaii.

FK: So tell us about it.

HC: (As if releasing something pent up for years) Alright! All you read about in the paper, what the government wants us to think, is that the aliens are negative. But (getting very excited) do you know what I think? I think it’s all a bunch of fucking government bullshit! I think the aliens are positive, they want to help us, because during my experience there was no negative bullshit going on. They were hovering overhead, everything they vibed me was all beautiful, wonderful shit, they told me that we had a good future if we just stuck by them and that was it. Now how negative was that?

ML: (somewhat stunned) Not at all.

HC: Not at all to me either. The guy next to me was a witness to the whole thing.

ML: So was this more of a feeling, or…

HC: It was a hovercraft! I don’t know whose it was, but they had technologies far beyond ours, because they could do things that we couldn’t do. I’ve never seen anything that we could do that could hover above me, have three beautiful bright lights that just seemed to pierce into my brain and tell me things that I didn’t know.

ML: You say this was in Hawaii?

HC: Yes, in Hawaii. I was 18 years old when it happened, now I’m 43. And I remember it like it was yesterday.

FK: Would you say that this was a pivotal experience that altered your music?

HC: Yes! It had everything to do with my music. They told me to do this music. They said “your job is to do this music.” I said “what kind of music?” They said “don’t worry about it. You’ll know what to do when you do it.” They told me that humans are like that. I mean, you’ll know what you’re doing when you’re doing it, right?

ML: Sure, I know what you mean but it took me years to figure out what to do.

HC: Well, yeah but that’s what they told me. And how is that negative? Tell me that sounds like aliens that are trying to take over our planet?

ML: Sounds pretty good to me.

HC: Yeah, but then all you read about is all this negative shit. I don’t know why.

FK: Fear of the unknown.

HC: Because I think that the government wants us to be afraid of the aliens, because they don’t want us to think that there is a higher power than them.

ML: I always thought just the opposite. I figured that when the time came to let us in on it, they would try to make sure that we were not afraid, so people wouldn’t panic.

HC: But that’s just it, we’re not stupid, nobody is going to panic. They just don’t want us to know that there’s a higher power that cares about us. They want us to think that they are all there is. Man, they won’t even communicate with the government anymore. They’ll communicate with you or me, if they think we’re cool.

ML: (Quietly) Wow. So what kind of music were you playing before that happened?

HC: Folk music (laughs).

ML: Really?

HC: I was really into that stuff, but I got turned around that day.

FK: What else influences your music? You have a pretty big reputation for drug use.

HC: That’s what they say.

FK: What kind of effect do you think that’s had on your music?

HC: Positive. Maybe some negative, but mostly positive.

FK: What’s your favorite?

HC: LSD, I probably should have stuck with that.

FK: Could you play while you were high?

HC: Oh yeah, when I was young. When you get older it changes.

FK: Right.

HC: I don’t do drugs anymore. When I play, I think about drugs…kinda thing. I mean, I imagine that I’m on drugs more than I do drugs.

FK: I’ve seen Helios Creed play live a few times, and one thing that has always interested me is that you put on a very visual show, with a lot of dancers and everything. Tell me about that.

HC: Well that just sort of evolved, just people wanting to have a good time. Helios Creed is a thing where people are allowed to let themselves go and not feel uptight. We don’t want to be, like, a  band that’s so trendy you gotta stand there and feel uncomfortable. We want to be “footloose and fancy free” without being goofy (laughs). We want to have something to celebrate, but not in a hippie way, you know, but in a modern, positive, powerful way.

FK: About 15,000 people are going to read this interview. Is there anything that you want to tell them?

HC: I would like them to know that I’m concerned about the planet, I’m concerned about the people, and I think we should be getting together and trying to figure out what we’re going to do about our asses. I don’t believe in all this survival bullshit, I think the solution has got to be more psychic than that. I believe that there is a way out of this confusing mess. I’ll tell you this, the year 2000 is really going to be something, and I feel privileged that we’re all here to have front row seats.

Images appearing in this interview: