HELMET's PAGE HAMILTON Names The Album That Made Him Want To Pick Up A Guitar

April 2, 2024

In a new interview with Jordi Pinyol, HELMET frontman Page Hamilton reflected on how he first started playing guitar. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I wanted a guitar because of LED ZEPPELIN. The first album I got was 'Led Zeppelin IV', the one with 'Stairway To Heaven'. I bought it because I liked the album cover — that old man with the bundle of sticks. And I saw it at a Payless drugstore; it was probably three dollars. And I traded… For Christmas that year, I got two copies of 'A Night On The Town' by Rod Stewart. That was the big hit at the time. And so I took the second copy back to Payless and traded it for LED ZEPPELIN. And I got home and I put the record on my crappy record player, and it starts off with 'Black Dog'. And I just was, like, 'What is this? What is this?' I didn't know anything about chords, I didn't know anything about music, I knew about vibe. That vibe was so fucking powerful. It took me someplace. It created this world, this musical world."

He continued: "So many people get impressed by quote-unquote musicianship — you know, 'Wow. He's got incredible technical facility.' I'm, like, where is he going — he or she? Where are they going with it? Is it technique for the sake of technique? Oh, no, thanks. It doesn't do it for me. I mean, as a guitarist, for 15 minutes, I can be, like, 'Wow, this guy can really get around the fretboard. That's really great. Are you going to say anything? Are you going to communicate anything from [the heart]?' Mozart said music is ear, brain and heart. You need all three of those to make a great song, to be a great musician. And I'm more heart than anything. My brain, I'm a half jackass; I can barely express myself. And my technique is okay. I practice and I can play some fast stuff, but I'm not a shredder. But my solos are part of a musical statement. The solo is supposed to do something.

"I always loved Rick Nielsen from CHEAP TRICK — not a technically amazing guitarist, but when he plays a solo, he jumps out for eight measures, boom, and he hits you with this solo and it's, like, 'Yeah!'," he explained. 'Or THE STOOGES' 'Raw Power'. Those solos, they jump out and punch you in the face. And that to me is — I need that, I need that kind of raw energy and excitement in music too. And that's why I love everything from [John] Coltrane to AC/DC and THE BEATLES.

"Not all music is gonna connect with all people, and I never made that a goal of mine," Page added.

HELMET is continuing to tour in support of its latest studio album, "Left", which was released in November via earMUSIC.

Guided by Hamilton alongside co-producers Jim Kaufman and Mark Renk, and mastered by Howie Weinberg, the 11 songs on the new album are leaner and meaner in their execution than previous aural throwdowns.

Joining Page in HELMET's current lineup are drummer Kyle Stevenson, guitarist Dan Beeman and bassist Dave Case.

HELMET's first official live album, "Live And Rare", was released in November 2021 via earMUSIC. It was made available on heavyweight black vinyl as well as a CD digipak edition and digital.

Although HELMET disbanded in 1997, Hamilton revived the band in 2004, and the group has continued to tour and record.

Having cut his teeth playing with avant-garde guitar icon Glenn Branca and indie stalwarts BAND OF SUSANS, Hamilton launched HELMET in 1989, and the band released its debut album, "Strap It On", on the independent Amphetamine Reptile label the following year. HELMET soon became the subject of an unprecedented major-label bidding war, ultimately signing with Interscope and releasing "Meantime" in June 1992.

Even while the band was absent from the spotlight, HELMET continued to exercise considerable influence on multiple generations of bands. Their songs have been covered by the likes of CHEVELLE, DEFTONES, FAITH NO MORE, PIG DESTROYER and SOULFLY, and the band inspired a 2016 HELMET tribute album titled "Meantime Redux". HELMET has also been cited as a key influence on such bands as GODSMACK, KORN, MARILYN MANSON, MASTODON, PANTERA, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SEPULTURA, SLIPKNOT, STAIND, SYSTEM OF A DOWN and TOOL.

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