Gold Coast’s HELM are a band hard to define. Part prog, part post-rock, with strong metal tones, it’s all about hard work. With a new album (‘Panthalassa’) out and a run of shows coming up in September, Killyourstereo.com sits down with vocalist/guitarist Lucas Stone.
Hey, Lucas. Thanks for doing the interview today. The new album has just come out, how is the feeling in the band at the moment?
G’day Kane, thanks for having us. Very positive in the HELM realm at the moment dude. Album appears to be getting a great response, which is always better than not, (laughs).
For yourself personally, what’s the mood like when a new full-length drops? Is it overwhelming excitement? Nerves about how it will be received? Maybe both?
I can’t speak on behalf of the other boys but for me personally, I’m a workaholic by nature. I think I tend to miss out on the buzz a little because I go into instant, ‘gotta get everything done yesterday’ mode.
There’s always too much to do. I don’t think it kind of hits me until a bit later. I know that the lads seem pretty stoked though and I think that on a practical level, my excitement levels are in the right place when they need to be.
What is the pressure like for a local band to get a new studio album out quite quickly these days? Bands like Mastodon for example could probably take their time because a reputation built up over time allows this. However, when you’re an emerging local band you almost have to keep things ticking over.
I think we were prolific enough in the first three years to kind of have afforded ourselves a breather leading up to this one. We over-played, over-recorded, over-everythinged. Timing feels ok for us now [which is good].
I hear you’re playing the new record in its entirety on this upcoming tour. How are preparations going?
Yes we are. It’s a haul of an album but it appears to be coming together pretty sweet I think. Fingers crossed.
Karnivool & Dead Letter Circus just dropped their new albums. What are your thoughts on the local alternative, progressive rock scene?
Oh mate, Australia is on fire at the moment. Loving what our locals are bringing now, and have been over the last couple years. Not just ‘Vool and Dead Letter Circus, but Twelve Foot, Breaking Orbit, Aversions Crown, Widow the Sea, Hammers, Gay Paris, The Matador, Rome, Dumbsaint and so many others. The list goes on and on.
I must say, in recent communications with industry peeps overseas, Australia actually has quite a lot of focus towards its musicians from around the globe right now. It’s a good time to be making music down here.
You’ve had some impressive musicians lend their hand to the band previously. Lucius Borich on the ‘Bullets’ session and Troy Wright, whose Meshuggah and Animals As Leaders YouTube covers are incredible. Talk us through the playing dynamic of Helm in 2013.
Yeah, we’ve had some great mates and players help us get through the changeover period. We were such a personal band to begin with – very ‘mates first.’ You can’t just stick new guys in the fold. It’s got to be the right people. HELM for 2013 is exactly where it needs to be for now and the future.
How hard is it to stay sufficient as a band in an era where making money from this type of music is unfortunately easier said than done?
We all work full time dude. Being in a band these days, sends you broke. Seriously, if you didn’t love it so much, you’d never even consider doing it. But hey, we do. There ain’t money yet and there may never be. Who knows? I can say this though, we have set ourselves up so if and when it comes, we own us, no one else. By default.
What has been the best tour story so far in HELM’s career?
We have way too many man… Honestly. I think we played around 200 shows in our first two or so years as a band. There were some serious fucking shenanigans in that time and thereafter. Now it’s all early nights and a shit tonne of water. Bor-ing (laughs).
Just some easy ones to finish off with:
Favourite albums of 2013?
Fuck. It has been a great year so far. Can’t choose…
Cult of Luna – ‘Vertikal’
The Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘One of us is the Killer’
The Ocean – ‘Pelagial’
Who knows? That’s only a couple.
Best musical discovery of 2013?
Worst current trend in heavy music?
Favourite song to blare in the tour van?
Every Time I Die- ‘The New Black’. Never gets old.
Perfect choice! Every Time I Die will never get old. Thanks for the chat Lucas.
HELM tour nationally in September and October with special guests Dumbsaint (except Perth):
Fri Sep 6 @ Bald Faced Stag, Sydney NSW
Sat Sep 7 @ Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Fri Sep 13 @ Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
Sat Sep 14 @ Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
Sat Oct 5 @ Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast QLD