Helios Creed Interviewed By Ryka Hyde
Circa late 1996/early 1997
CWLE speaks to original Chrome member Helios Creed about a newly revitalized Chrome band and their new post-Damon Edge studio album, future touring plans, as well as his own visions of the Apocalypse and other cosmic predictions.
CWLE: Do you have any tour plans to promote the new Chrome album?
Helios Creed: Well, we were going to do one in September, but it fell through because the booking agent was an asshole, and short notice and stuff. So we’re looking at spring now. And with that tour, there’ll also be another Chrome record.
CWLE: Is there any unreleased material that Damon was working on?
HC: On the new record?
HC: It was me, John and Hilary (Stench) and Tommy L. Cyborg, who is a hard-core Damon (Edge) fan, and he went and bought all Damon’s equipment and pretty much took his place. And there’s another guitar player, Nova Cain, and that adds a lot of weirdness to it, you know. So, no. There’s a lot of other people that play on it, and there’s nothing that Damon did personally, but there’s his old equipment. I do have some tapes of Damon that I’m putting on the next record, so there’ll be everybody.
CWLE: Tommy L. Cyborg, is that the same person as John Lambdin?
HC: No, he just took that name to coincide with the whole thing. Who it really is is Tommy from Farflung. Tommy Grenas from Farflung. I spilled the beans. And Pressurehed. Well anyway, that’s who’s playing keyboards and took Damon’s place.
CWLE: Have you had any contact with Gary Spain?
HC: No, I
tried to find him and I haven’t. I got a lead though. I ran into a friend of
mine who’s in a band called Chris Berry, or something like that, and I knew him
from like 20 years ago. He’s the guy who introduced me to
CWLE: Are you still doing solo recordings?
HC: Yeah I am. As a matter of fact we have a show this Friday at the Transmission Theater, and I have three new Helios records coming out.
THROUGH THE ETHER
CWLE: When are the new Helios and Chrome records coming out?
HC: Spring. Around February. I don’t know exactly. Between the 7th and the 16th, both records. The Helios record is going to be called Activated Condition and No Humans Allowed Part 2. And there’s two titles for everything on that record. The first title is “Tidal Forces, No Humans Allowed, Part 2,” and then every song has two titles all the way down the line, sort of like a Country-and-Western thing. So that’s going to be the next Chrome record.
CWLE: Are the on Cleopatra (records)?
actually one is coming out on Mans Ruin. One just came out on Dossier in
CWLE: I found the Mans Ruin ten-inch with “Third Seed From The Bud” and some other songs, Was that like-
HC: Yeah that was a hook, line and sinker to see if there was any interest to make a reunion record. And then we did the reunion record.
BEYOND THE EDGE
CWLE: This was the first Chrome record you’ve done without Damon. What was it like?
HC: It was fun. A lot of it was spontaneous, a lot of it was worked out but it definitely came together.
CWLE: Was Damon spontaneous at all or did he like to set everything out?
HC: He went through different phases. Sometimes he would be spontaneous, sometimes he would work stuff out but, basically that’s where Chrome came from, was spontaneity. A lot of the original Chrome tracks were just us setting up some mic’s and playing whatever came into our heads.
CWLE: Did you feel Damon’s presence spiritually, when you were recording?
HC: I felt him a couple of times. I don’t know where he’s at though. It’s weird, it’s bizarre. He wouldn’t approve of this whole thing. At least here he wouldn’t. I don’t know if in another dimension he might, but he wouldn’t here.
CWLE: Were there any bad feelings between you and Damon before he passed away?
HC: No. Actually we were pretty patched up. We were going to make a record anyway. Even though I was still kind of ticked at him for doing what he did, if you know anything about our history, and I told him and we got it all worked out. And I knew he had a disease or something and I said, “Well, we should make a reunion album,” and he wanted to do that but he didn’t want to do it in the same studio. He wanted to do it through the mail.
CWLE: Apart? Like, you record there and I’ll record here?
HC: Yeah, right and I said, “That’s not going to work.” I guess he gained a little weight and didn’t want anyone to see him.
CWLE: Do you have any idea what caused his death?
HC: Not exactly. I’ve heard a little bit of everything. Liver failure, cancer. I heard syrrosis of the liver or something like that. That’s what I was told. His sister told me at the time I talked to her that it was unconfirmed at the time of the autopsy, and she really didn’t know. That’s what she told me.
OTHER COSMIC REALMS
CWLE: Do you have a Helios record out titled Dark Matter?
HC: It’s not a Helios record, it’s another project I do called Dark Matter. The album is called Seeing Strange Lights.
CWLE: Is it an ambient record?
HC: Yeah, it’s kind of an ambient thing with no vocals or anything. We’re making another one. Actually, we finished another one and I’m sending it to Dossier records.
CWLE: Planet X was released on Amrep between two Cleopatra releases. Did you…
HC: Yeah, I guess I’m kind of a label hopper.
CWLE: Was there any period of time that you didn’t have a record contract?
HC: It’s weird because I’ve never really done the big record thing and the small labels are always changing. There used to be a time where you would get this record contract and you’d stick with it and make the guy three records. But now the music industry seems so wishy-washy. They just want to do one record at a time. So what I do is I’ll just do one record for somebody and do a record for somebody else and go back and maybe do a record for this person again, if they want one. And it doesn’t seem to bother the other record company that I made a record for the last one. It almost seems to help, you know what I mean? The big companies think that if a person does that, they must not be very “happening” because they’re not dealing with one label but, fuck that, you know. I just sell whoever wants to buy what I make. I’m basically an artist, more or less.
CWLE: Have you ever thought about getting out of the business and doing it on your own?
HC: Yeah, but it’s too much work. We’ve done that before with Chrome.
MEET YOU….IN THE SUBWAY
CWLE: Are there any Chrome videos.
HC: I’ve been trying to get a hold of whoever has access to those videos, but all we could find is old Target videos with their emblem on it.
CWLE: Is there
any video footage of the
HC: Yeah, there was, but it didn’t come out that good for some reason. It’s too dark or something.
CWLE: So it’s floating around somewhere?
HC: Yeah, I just remember it not coming out too good. But there is one somewhere and it’s definitely not very accessible. You couldn’t go like, “Wow, that’s a band playing.” All you could see are people’s feet shuffling around. I don’t know what happened to this guy, Joe Target. He was there filming it, I don’t know what happened to his trip. He was there filming us and Bauhas or something.
MARCH OF THE CHROME POLICE
CWLE: Was the song “March of The Chrome Police” inspired by the film THX 1138?
HC: I think so. That was one of Damon’s songs. I think he might have mentioned something about that. Of course it was quite a long time ago.
EYES IN THE CENTER
CWLE: Are there any bands right now that you’re really into? Anything that really catches your attention?
HC: No, not right now. But that could change in a day or two. I’ve been so busy with our own projects. I haven’t really had time to do much of listening to other things, which is a drag. There’s a few things I listen to actually. I listen to some friends’ bands. I listen to Farflung. Really, my collection is endless, I can listen to anything at anytime. But, I’m pretty bored with everything lately.
CWLE: Do you think Chrome paved the way for bands like Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails?
HC: You can hear certain bands and go, “Wow, that sounds like something we did 10 or 15 years ago.” Yeah I can say it sounds like they were listening to us at one time. One time Paul Leary, the guitar player for the Butthole Surfers, goes “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be who I am today!” And I go, “Wow that’s good. Maybe you could split half your royalty check with me!”
CWLE: Do you think Chrome could ever see the same type of commercial success as the Butthole Surfers?
HC: Those guys did a lot of work. They toured for years. They got the big record deal. Then on top of that they got a hit song. I don’t know if I want that. Everybody that I seem to know that had that seemed to be in some turmoil nightmare or some weird shit. I mean, I think I’d be able to handle a certain amount of success if it was realistic. To appeal to the masses? I don’t think it would ever happen for us. We’re too weird. We don’t really want to appeal to the masses ‘cuz they’re a bunch of assholes.
CWLE: Didn’t you play a guitar on a few songs for the Butthole Surfers?
HC: Yeah. “Clean It Up Bitch,” I think they call it “Clean It Up,” and the “Annoying Song” on Independent Worm Saloon.
CWLE: If all the Chrome albums were to disappear, is there one that you would choose to leave behind?
HC: I guess the most magical, unexpected phenomenal record, was Half Machine Lip Moves (1979). Because we didn’t really expect it to do anything but we did like making it. Damon taught me all his tricks and I taught him all my tricks on that record. So I guess that’s a pretty special record. It seems to be the one that most people talk about. Like, did these bands get inspired by such a record? If there was a record, it was probably that one. I’m pretty happy with it even though it was recorded on a 4-track. I’m happy with the honesty and the rawness of Half Machine Lip Moves.
CWLE: What kind of recording equipment do you use now?
HC: I have a home recording studio. I have a Tascam 38 and a Fostec 16-track, both half-inch. I have a Mackie 1604 and this other outdated 16-track board that I used for the Fostec that I’m going to replace. We’re also open for business and I record other bands. Produce them if they need it.
CWLE: Where are you living?
HC: I’m living in Monte Rio, California.
CWLE: Do you
still spend time in
HC: I love
CWLE: Do you do any drugs before you record?
HC: Well, I’ve
always been a lover of good psychedelics! I guess that’s from from growing up
CWLE: Did that contribute to Damon’s downfall?
HC: Damon…um, well…geez. Chrome was doing really good when he did what he did. And if he didn’t do what he did, we would have all benefitted financially from where Chrome was at in those days. So, in a way I think Damon’s sin would have been stealing the livelihoods from John, Hilary and I. And if there’s any debt to be paid in any way, I don’t know if that was his debt or not, but he lost it and I got it back. And John and Hilary got it back. So I don’t know what to say. He abused it. I did a lot of thinking whether I should regroup the band or not, and I called up John and Hilary and asked them if they wanted to do another Chrome album and they wanted to do it. That’s what made me go, “Yeah it should happen.” I think Chrome wasn’t just Damon Edge. Me, John and Hilary were Chrome as well. I wanted to get what I worked for. Chrome isn’t anything it was in those days. Trying to rebuild it and make it run again is pretty difficult. Trying to get the guys from their families and their other bands to record, and build the interest again. Rekindle these oldsters that are probably not even buying records anymore and saying, “Hey look we’re back! You want to buy our records again?” And turn the young kids onto us and whatnot. It’s like making a new band all over again. I put a lot of work into the Helios solo project. I mean too much work, really. I burned myself out. Touring for like 8 years solid, putting out a record once or twice a year, doing everything I could to get it going. I think it still falls short of what I would want it to be. Then, I caught a disease and I couldn’t tour for a couple of years. And I wonder what came of all that work that I did for those eight years with Helios Creed. Whereas with Chrome, it just seemed to take off by itself without any touring or any promotion. It was just the timing or whatnot.
At this point in the interview, Helios tells us how he spoke to a psychic counselor who advised him that it was the name “Helios Creed” that was holding him back. However, she told him that if he wrote a book under the name “Helios Creed” it would enjoy great success.
VISIONS OF THE APOCALYPSE
CWLE: So are you going to write this book?
HC: I’ve been working on one now for about 6 months. Trying to make it as interesting as I can.
CWLE: What is it going to be about?
HC: Well, it’s about my spiritual experiences and things that have happened to me since I was a kid, and what led me to make the music I’m making. A lot of people, because of the music I make, think I might know what’s going to happen in the future. Or maybe they want to know what I think the future holds for us. So, also in my book, I have predictions and stuff. I have had so many fan letters from people who were asking me what I felt the future held. So, I put together my own predictions from studying many prophecies and predictions for like twenty years now, and I’ve come to certain conclusions.
CWLE: What kind of things do you see?
HC: Do I see? Well, it’s hard to say because I don’t want to come off as religious or anything like that. Something’s coming up. My predictions are very short. Here I am doing like all this music, right? And I’ve been doing it in a certain kind of frame of mind. I had something happen to me when I was young and I tried to put it together. I guess I contacted my spirit guide and they showed my something. Before that, basically, I wasn’t into anything except getting high. It took me twenty years to put together what I think they tried to show me. I was going to be a train engineer, that’s what I really wanted to be. I was also into playing guitar. One day my spirit guide came to me and told me to keep playing music. I figured I’d run into all kinds of success, but it’s been hell. I probably would have been happier being a train engineer. Anyway, I can to this prediction, finally, after twenty years. It sounds sort of biblical, but as far as I’m concerned, after reading the bible two times, my opinion is that it looks to me like a history book. From the past, all the way into the future, not unlike the kind of stuff Nostradamos writes about. Well, anyway, studying even Buddhism myself, I came to the conclusion what I think is in store, which is pretty bleak actually. The good thing about predictions though is that it seems like because this is an intelligent universe, intelligence will find a way. Anyway, here it is. Here’s my prediction:
‘There is now forming a great separation between people. There will be a great exodus as was in Noah and Moses’ time. Like in those times, a great mountain will play a key role. A dormant volcano, thousands of feet high, will protect the elect from huge tidal waves which will wash over land masses and kill millions. This will happen with seismic activity and other disasters, man-made and otherwise. The face of the Earth shall change. A war will escalate. Death and war shall prevail until silence. Then, the healing of the Earth and peace for quite a while.’
CWLE: Do you think the situation in the
HC: Well, it absolutely could be. Sure is. I think that guy is playing a key role. I don’t make any predictions unless I’m pretty damn sure I feel it’s accurate. It took me twenty years to make that small little paragraph, and try not to make it sound religious but, you know. I saw what I saw. I don’t really care too much about any church. I’m more of a skeptic. And all of the things that I’ve been shown in my life led me to believe these things. I just don’t want to be thrust into any bullshit. And there’s a lot of bullshit out there. You know, Christianity, who knows how that got all fucking fucked around. Then, all the yuppies wanting to become Buddhists. I’m not saying the originators didn’t have something going on, it’s just the followers that annoy me. What I tell my friends when they want to know my feelings is that when I look out and I pretend that there are no human beings around, I see a perfect universe, basically. I see a lot of intelligence. It just seems to me like this place is put together really nice. The only thing that seems to screw it up are these people. I have a feeling that we’re an experiment gone wrong. Or maybe it’s time for a change. The dinosaurs had their day.
CWLE: Do you think we could ever inhabit another planet? Like maybe Mars.
HC: I have a theory about that face. I think that was our face, and I think that we might have fucked Mars up and we came here. Well, that’s one theory I heard before.
CWLE: Do you think life will cycle through?
HC: That would be nice. I’d like to see the population go down. I think there’s too many people on the planet. Like if you had a bad virus- a little virus can’t be bad for you- but if you get too much virus in your body, it could run you ragged. I think the planet is a little bit ragged right now with the people on it. Intelligently, it will do something about it. Just like a dog scratches its fleas. Except I think the planet is probably a lot more intelligent than a dog. A dog would need its master to put flea powder on it. The intelligent factor is what I’m seeing. I see a lot of intelligence here. Not with humanity per se. But it seems like the planet takes care of itself. The universe for that matter. It seems very coincidental that right when they got the Hubble up there and installed certain missiles and other telescopes to look for meteorites that possibly could hit the planet, they find two meteorites that are heading right towards us and are expected to hit us in a year or two. So that could be a coincidence, or that could be another theory. A higher life form has the power to direct meteorites in our direction and wipe us out or wipe out any lifeform here out and start over again.
CWLE: So, do you think they will wipe us out?
HC: I think there’s a final destruction on this planet, and it’s prophecised the bible and by Nostradomas, I think it’s a meteorite. I think that’s pretty much what’s going to set everything off. It’s going to make people shit bricks. Something is going to happen that we’ve never come across before, and it’s going to change the way we are. That’s what I’m looking at.
CWLE: Pretty bleak outlook.
HC: No. Pretty exciting actually! Death and destruction, to me, are always exciting. It’s anything but boring. Bleak for the masses. Hopefully, there’s intelligent people out there that could see the intelligence. They could maybe find a way out of the maze and into the haven of safety which I feel is a 10,000 foot dormant volcano!
CWLE: Do you think you’ll just sit back and make music through all this?
HC: I think music is a pretty good thing to be doing, if I could get away with doing it. I’d like to make music and have people relate to it.
MEMORY CHORDS OVER THE BAY
CWLE: Can you live comfortably making music? Did you ever have to take any odd jobs to try and make ends meet?
HC: Well, when I was touring and selling records I think we were barely squeaking by, you know what I mean? If we got any smaller we might as well give up and get jobs, you know? But I was finding out that’s probably a cool place to be. I mean, if you sell too many records and get to that Butthole Surfers level, where you get all those, you know, I don’t know. I don’t want to put anybody down, but those people are into your music because it’s on MTV that month or whatever. I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable at that place, even if I was getting loads of money. After the novelty of the money wore off, I don’t know where I’d be.
CWLE: Are you happy just scraping by?
HC: No, I’m not happy just scraping by either. I would like to be somewhere in the middle you might say. I’d like to be in a real place where you just play to people that really like you and continue to like you, and you give them what they want. You don’t get much bigger, but if you do, it’s because there’s more cool people that are into you and you don’t try to sell out. I think there’s a reality there that people could find that without having to be on a big label. Or if they are on a big label, the big label is cool to them, and they don’t treat them like a commodity. Just something to be bought and sold, and if you don’t sell, see-ya.
CWLE: Do you have total artistic freedom?
That’s what I need. I could never have a producer telling me what to do. Unless
I totally respected the guy and wanted to work with him. Like, if some record
company wanted to sign me, and give me a bunch of money, naturally it’d be hard
to turn down money. I could say “Yeah, I’d keep my scruples and stick with my
poverty,” No, it would be a very hard choice to make. I’m almost glad it’s
never happened to us. It’s happened to Chrome and it’s happened to Creed, but
we’ve never popped through that big time thing. After seeing what happened to
some of my friends and people that did make it super huge, I’m almost glad it
didn’t happen to me, you know. It was starting to happen when we did that
CWLE: When you went off and started Helios Creed, did you try and push as far past Chrome as possible?
HC: Well, my feelings was I did all this work in Chrome. Well, at that point I feel like my music was a contribution to the culture. I did this work and it wasn’t the money. I felt good that people were getting off on what me and Damon created. So, after the band was no more available to me to express myself I tried to get a record deal. And the only record deal I could get was with Subterranean Records. He said he wouldn’t give me a record deal unless I used the name Helios Creed and I said I didn’t want to use the name Helios Creed because I don’t think it would attract people to buy the record. I think it’s an OK name to use in a band like Chrome or in a band, but not to sell a record. And he said I think that name will sell the record because of being in Chrome. I don’t think it’s my name that sells Chrome records. As a matter of fact, I felt the same way as the psychic felt, that the name would probably hurt the record sales. You know, people go like, Helios Creed, it must be some hippie peace band or something like that. It’s totally not representing what Helios Creed is, which some people think is cool. I always felt like I wanted to come up with something more hard-core for my solo project, but I was forced by the only deal I could get by calling it Helios Creed. And I said, “I did all that work to make Helios Creed something, and I’m really happy with what we achieved with it, and the fans that we got are loyal and always come to the shows.” They appreciate the music and make us feel good, and that’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s 100 or 100,000 people, it’s all the same. Size doesn’t matter. There used to be a time when I’d get really mad when nobody would come up at my show. I was drinking in those days- I don’t drink anymore- and I’d cop an attitude. Drinking would either make me put on a great show, or totally drive people out of the room. And if nobody would show up, I would take it out on the five people who were there. You know, I’d be like, “You motherfuckers, I’m going to crank it all the way up and hurt your ears and drive you out!” You know, here I am in a drunk dither, all pissed off, with some stupid attitude, and my drummer goes, “Hey man, you’re taking it out on the people who did come to see you.” And he told me, “1 was 100.” And that stuck in my head. Whether you’re playing to 1 person or 100, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. As a matter of fact, in the early days when Helios Creed started, we played to empty houses. People would just trickle in, like one, two or three people. We eventually got up to 500. Our biggest show was 1000 people, big deal. Anyway, I would play like the place was filled up. I would just pretend like there was somebody there. I’d have to, for my psyche, or I’d get depressed. So I’d put on until I just copped an attitude after three years and said, “Fuck this,” you know, “I’ve been working my ass off making the best music I can and nobody wants it.” We did develop something but we never did fit under any trendy thing. Which now I think is good. All of it is good. I’m glad none of it ever happened. I really am. Chrome did. Chrome fell under some trendy things and that helped it. It was a phenomenal thing. It’s weird doing it again because we’ve been getting more interest lately.
CWLE: So when you tour in the spring, it will be billed as a Chrome tour?
HC: Yeah, it’s going to be Chrome. Chrome is totally separate from Helios Creed. I want to make that perfectly clear. They’re two entirely different bands. The members are totally different. My part in Chrome is different than my part in Helios Creed. There’s even another singer and another guitar player in Chrome. Although I sing and play guitar in Chrome, there’s another guitar player and the keyboard player sings. Whereas in Helios Creed, there’s just me, Paul, Chris and Z (Sylver). I do try and keep the sounds a little different too. That’s going to happen, naturally, with different people.
CWLE: The last Helios record, NUGG The Transport had a bit of the Chrome sound.
HC: yeah. Let’s face it, I did a lot of work in Chrome. I was 50% of the work there, and Damon was a lot of the work. Things changed, you know. I’ll always feel like the original Chrome band was 50/50, me and Damon. And John and Hilary came in, and Gary Spain. And those will always be, to me, the original Chromes.
CWLE: It would
be cool to get
HC: Yeah, I’d
like to get
THIS IS THE NEW AGE
CWLE: Any other projects you’re working on?
HC: I’m going to be doing a project with Andrew and John Weiss. Andrew is the ex-bass player for Henry Rollins. I’m doing a project with him and his brother that’s going to come under a whole other name that we’re going to create. It aint going to be Chrome or Helios Creed or nothing. We’re going to create this whole new thing. Those guys play awesome together, and for some reason, they like playing with me. We do a lot of spontaneous laying down too. So, I have that project coming up. Just trying to keep busy with the whole music thing.
CWLE: Do you have any idea when your book will be out?
HC: I would like it to be out in ’98. I want to interview other people. I had all these people I wanted to interview, but it’s very hard to interview these people. They’re so busy. I’d like to interview some of my heroes. Some of them are dead. Some of them are still alive. Some of them are unknown. I want to interview some of the people that are big now. Get everybody’s opinion. I still have some of these people I’ve interviewed waiting to go in the book. I’ve actually interviewed James Brown! Of course, Paul Leary and Gibby will give me interviews because they’re my buddies. And I wanted to interview other people, like those bands that you asked if they sound like they were inspired by Chrome. And known fans who have made it. People that I know who were fans that made it big. Like, to mention a few, I head that Al Jorgensen (Ministry) was into Chrome for a while. He made it, though they’re not doing anything right now because the record company didn’t like their last record or something. That’s the kind of crap I think I just couldn’t handle. All that work just to have them drop you because you make a record that sold a million.
CWLE: Who are the people at the record label to judge what’s good or what’s bad?
HC: It’s definitely a industry thing. I guess that’s what bugs me about the whole thing. One of my biggest heroes is Jimi Hendrix. He’s dead. I can’t interview him. And he signed his record deal for one dollar! That was his statement. And the Sex Pistols. Their statement was to throw up on the desk of the record company. But I do appreciate where I’m at and what I’ve created all these years, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
CWLE: That’s the most important thing. That you’re happy.
HC: Yeah, I’m happy with where we’re at and where we’re going. And all the things that I’ve learned. If my music or my predictions, or anything can help a person. Like one time this girl said something to me. We were having a tough tour. It was the second Helios tour for The Last Laugh (1989). We were struggling, and I was beginning to wonder if all this was worth it. And this girl goes, “you know, if it wasn’t for that album The Last Laugh, I wouldn’t have made it through college!” That was kinda cool. It made me feel good. Music does help people. Music like this can help somebody. So, that made me feel like “Well it’s not the money now. I’m going to keep my job.”
CWLE: Well, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
HC: Your welcome. One last thing I’d like to say. If there are fans out there who want to see Chrome play, let us know. Because it’s your interest, and the whole band is wanting to do it, and we’ve got the booking agent. Everybody showing their interest now will make it happen. Because Chrome has never toured the states before. What we would play is the whole 3rd From The Sun (1982) album, just like it was those years ago. We would just do all the things that people wanted us to do back then, plus the new stuff. So, it would be an awesome show. Done traditionally, in the Chrome way.
CWLE: Sounds great.