Helios Creed Interview
Maximum Rock & Roll #83
Helios Creed burst on to the Bay Area
alternative music scene in the late 70’s as one of the members of the legendary
band CHROME. After the band’s demise, he went on to form his own music project/band
named-what else- HELIOS CREED. Now with a new album out on Subterranean
Records. Helios Creed proves once again that it’s more than possible to make a
new record without it sounding like the albums before or the same way twice on
a record. Interview conducted at the legendary Hell Hole in
MRR: So is there anything that you would like to say to start out this interview?
Helios: Let’s see…. always listen to your uncle.
MRR: Some people when your name is mentioned, usually say “Oh, he’s an acid casualty” or “He’s burned himself out on acid and isn’t as good as he used to be.”
Helios: I don’t know why, I really haven’t done that much.
MRR: You haven’t?
Helios: No, I think that’s just because people think my music is reminiscent of the acid days. It’s not my main inspiration of my music. If anything, I’ve probably smoked too much pot and drank too much beer, but I don’t use too much acid too much like that, like the average Deadhead. I don’t believe in it as a weekly recreational drug. It’s a sacrament.
MRR: Out of all your recordings, including your work with Chrome, the music seems to be unique. Going from song to song, no two are alike. Is this done intentionally?
Helios: I like to think so. I like to think that the music is uncharacteristic. It can’t be categorized, that each song is different. A different entity almost.
MRR: So you try to make them sound individual and unique?
MRR: Where do you draw your inspiration for music?
Helios: From just about everything I’ve ever heard, from 60’s psychedelia, 70’s rock, punk rock, to 80’s music. I listen to just about everything, including classical. The stuff I used to listen to was stuff like Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, early Fleetwood Mac, blues, and stuff like that when I was a kid.
MRR: What has happened to the other members of Chrome?
Helios: Well, as far as Chrome there’s really only a partner, Damon Edge, and he’s still making Chrome records.
MRR: He is?
Helios: Yeah, or a solo record maybe. I don’t know when the last time he made one.
MRR: Is he still in the Bay Area? I’ve heard he’s on the East Coast somewhere.
Helios: He’s in LA last I heard.
MRR: Recently, a few long broke up bands like Crime, No Alternative, MX-80 and others have reformed and are playing again; what do you think of this?
Helios: I think it’s great. I wish the great bands would never break up. I’m not too enthused about the Doobie Brothers getting back together though. I think it would be great if early Pink Floyd, or maybe if some really early bands that were really stupid got back together; I’d be thrilled.
MRR: In the underground culture and underground music as it exists here and now as of 1989, what do you find that you like about it the most and/or the least?
Helios: It’s interesting, it’s reaching ahead. It’s a synthesis in music that I think is happening, whereas I think the pendulum of things went through the stupid hippy love thing, then the punk hate trip, then heavy metal. People grow with the flow of this thing. As far as now, I think it’s maybe reaching a synthesis.
MRR: Kind of everything from every generation in a mix?
Helios: Yeah, the knowledge of all generations.
MRR: Let’s discuss god.
MRR: What are your theories as far as any kind of deity or is there a deity?
Helios: I believe that we’re all god, in a sense; we’re all the same being. I believe that when you’re talking to me or someone else that you’re talking to yourself in a different way. We all have individual personalities. I believe that everything is just a division of one thing, one life form, one intelligence. I don’t know the rules, or if there are any, maybe that’s just an illusion of man. As far as the bible goes, I think that’s all man’s trip. I think there’s some truth in that, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just the things that are obviously true, like quit hurting each other, money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, stuff like that, the 10 Commandments, that’s basic stuff.
MRR: What kind of books do you read?
Helios: I used to read a lot of science fiction books, now I like watching movies.
MRR: What would you say are your favorite books and movies?
Helios: I’d have to say… “The Impersonal Life” & Dr. Seuss.
MRR: Would you say that books and movies are channels of inspiration as far as your music goes?
Helios: Oh yeah. Sure. Because to me, the music has a visual-movie-thing and you don’t have to do drugs to pick up on that. It’s the 3-D quality of the music that goes on in your head when some certain music is playing.
MRR: What do you think of technology and the electronics revolution that we’re right in the midsts of?
Helios: It’s awesome. I think it’s pretty amazing to think about all the branches of our intelligence. It’s pretty amazing all the things we can do with our minds.
MRR: With the way technology is improving, do you see it as a threat to the individual?
Helios: Most likely, most probably. We’ll all probably get killed by it, but that’s part of life too.
MRR: How do you view life, death and the whole process of dying on this plane anyways?
Helios: I see it as an initiation, and I see it as good. What’s a drag about it is that we can’t have a healthy war. We now have to be uptight about everyone else. If we were to have a war now, they’d use the bomb and blow up the world. I’m not into war, but we have enough animal in us to want to fight, and a lot of us need to get it out of our system. And we can’t do that, so frustration is mounting. That’s one of the reasons punk happened, because people needed a way to let out their aggressions.
MRR: Do you see it as healthy to dwell on either life or death?
Helios: Oh no.
MRR: On to your music. Your newest record seems to have a metal tinge to it.
Helios: I grew up listening to Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and all that stuff kinda inspired me. I like fuzztones.
MRR: But at the same token, it doesn’t seem to be either formula fast chords or playing the same type of solo every song that you hear by many, if not a majority, of heavy metal bands.
Helios: Oh no, I could never get off on that stuff, the “we’re faster than you, hotter than you” kind of attitude.
MRR: So you try to avoid playing any kind of formula in your music?
Helios: I say there is, but I try to keep it straight. I like to keep a standard rhythm section to the point where it’s interesting. That’s my theory.
MRR: What do you think of these guitarists who latch onto a certain formulation that they find is commercially acceptable and stick to playing that until they die or retire. Like say, Eddie Van Halen, Jo Satriani…
Helios: I don’t understand that. The thing was, when I was a kid, was that I wanted to be the best guitarist in the whole world. Which is kinda of a stupid thing if you think about it. So I learned all these different styles, I thought that was what you had to do. Then I went through a phase where I rebelled against all that, where I wanted to be the most accidental. I got into tones more than technique. That’s what me and Damon were into with Chrome, how neat tones were and how they affected you. Distortion is addicting, very addictive.
MRR: From when I heard my first Chrome record up until now, the music differs extraordinarily from when it’s done live. Lots of tape experimentation.
Helios: Yeah, I like to use a lot of backwards effects. One time we took a lighter and burned the tape so it would sound different. I’m into experimenting. As a matter of fact, my next album is going to be totally experimental. I want to experiment even beyond what everyone else has done.
MRR: You live deviant from the way most people live, no apartment, no house, no property. Does this help in your creativity?
Helios: I don’t own any property, I have a bus. I was never too happy living with roommates.
MRR: So it does help with your creativity?
Helios: Sometimes. I need a phone. When I get a phone, I think it will add. And a generator. A phone and a generator.
MRR: When I
was living on the side of a mountain in
Helios: When I was living in this warehouse this one time, it had a high ceiling. It gave me a lot of inspiration for some reason. I was able to expand my thoughts more. That’s when I wrote the last Chrome stuff. When I lived there. It was all mine and my girlfriend’s; we had the whole space to ourselves. I’m very claustrophobic, so in the bus I had to get over that.
MRR: In the paper a while ago, a lot of people said that they couldn’t live without their phones, microwaves, power, their cars.
Helios: It’s not that I don’t want those things. If I was given a choice between living in an apartment and living on a bus, I’d take the bus. I’d rather live in a house somewhere really cool, but I’m not rich yet. Maybe I’ll never be rich.
MRR: I’ve never heard any political or social song done by you or Chrome.
Helios: “Blood Red” is. But not like Jello, but it is. It was my first and only political song.
MRR: What made Chrome attractive to me, as well as your latest work, was there wasn’t any “Reagan Sux” or “The Government Sux and here’s why” songs.
Helios: I don’t think it’s necessary to be saying the same stuff over and over again. Everybody knows it, it was good back then because people needed to hear other people say it in a big way like that, but now we got to go on.
MRR: You played a lot of places that are now gone, like the Mab, and the On Broadway and others; do you miss them?
Helios: Oh yeah, I used to love playing at the On Broadway, the way it was. I used to love playing there.
MRR: Now it’s a discoteque.
Helios: Yeah it looks like a gym. We shot some videos there, but I don’t know how to get a hold of them.
MRR: Target Video had Chrome on video. I’ve only seen a copy of the video at Captain video once.
Helios: That’s a drag. I don’t know the full story behind it, but Damon sued Joe Target. Evidently he had copies of the videos from this guy; he just copied them and released them without anyone’s permission. So Damon sued him.
MRR: Is that why there aren’t any copies in rental stores?
Helios: I think so.
MRR: Is there any Chrome material that’s still in print?
Helios: I don’t know. I think there’s going to be a re-release. But I don’t really know because that’s Damon’s trip. Right now I’m pretty much making new stuff.
MRR: Would you like to see Chrome records being released?
Helios: Oh yeah, I’d like to see all of that stuff be re-released so that people could hear it.
MRR: In the future, will you ever put your music to video?
Helios: Oh yeah! I want to, I really want to. Actually we did do some video shooting at one of the last SF church shows. I haven’t seen it yet. That was a while ago.
MRR: Do you think that your video will be played on MTV?
Helios: I don’t really think about that, I know the type they want. I don’t think they would ever. I don’t like the type of videos they make and play. They probably wouldn’t accept it.
MRR: When MTV first came on the air, it was extremely experimental, even the really terrible bands had at least a good video. Now it’s the other way around. All the videos suck. Even when a good band comes on, the video will more than likely suck.
Helios: I know, I can’t even watch it anymore. We call it emty-v or empty-tv.
MRR: As far as television goes, there used to be a lot of shows covering underground and alternative music. A good example was New Wave theater, hosted by Peter Ivors. They would put bands on National TV, like Fear, Suburban Lawns,, Dead Kennedys, you name them. Do you think that any other show or coverage of alternative music will ever happen again?
Helios: Oh sure, I think they’ll have to show things like that on TV when people’s demand for music becomes more diverse.
MRR: Do you see the diversity starting to happen?
Helios: It will.
MRR: Earlier I spoke of mainstream performers who follow formulas. A lot of alternative bands, successful and otherwise, do the same. They’re trying to sound like other bands and in some cases look like the members of the band that they’re copying.
Helios: Yeah, things like that come, and most go.
MRR: What bands would you say are the creative, most diverse bands that you’ve heard or listened to?
Helios: I guess the Butthole Surfers are making it, but that might be because we play in a similar genre. Big Black, I like Steve Albini’s stuff to. He has dimension.
MRR: When you put music together, do you see it that there must be a heavy involvement in intelligence and thinking things through?
Helios: Not necessarily. I mean you can, but one thing I learned is mistakes sometimes turn out better than what I tried to do. So I’d leave them. There is some kind of intelligence in accidents. People think, “Wow, how did you do that, that’s genius.” No genius about it, it was an accident. A perfect sploch.
MRR: Any closing comments?
Helios: Yeah, my records aren’t influenced, necessarily, by chemicals or drugs, but at the same time drugs have always been here and man has always used them as a spiritual sacrament. I think drugs are highly abused now and highly misunderstood. We have drugs that need to be experimented on a level that it would help people, not hurt them. Instead of condemning them.
my reading, they did an experiment in
Helios: Yeah it could be.
MRR: Any other closing comments?
Helios: Yeah, my hobby is trains.
MRR: So send train parts?
Helios: Yeah, send your N-gauge trains to me or bring them to the show. I’ll take them.
Images appearing in this interview: