By Calen Vanstone
Not too many musicians can be credited for influencing numerous modern-day bands, or even be credited for the creation of a genre, and still be going strong with their own music to this day.
Page Hamilton, frontman and songwriter for alternative-metal band Helmet, is one of those few. Helmet began in 1989 when Grunge was gaining legs, and metal and all its sub-genres went decidedly underground in comparison to its mainstream days in the eighties. Hamilton and his trio weren’t concerned with “scenes” or “musical fashions” at the time. The group played to their strengths and found their own style, a sound Hamilton has never been able to label, nor enjoyed seen given one.
“I hate all those terms. I just felt like I was creating rock music. It was just about having a certain level of musical integrity. It was never about current trends.”
By the time group came to release their 1992 magnum-opus, Meantime, whatever it was they were doing had unwittingly inspired a league of musicians, and was credited with providing the building blocks for a genre that became known as Alternative Metal. Bands ranging from Tool, to Pantera, to System Of A Down, to Nine Inch Nails all give credit to Hamilton and his unique sound.
Coming up to twenty-five years since their formation, Hamilton has only one idea on what it takes to last as long as he has.
“Be good. We don’t have massive audiences, but we’ve stuck to our guns.”
Hamilton also understands the importance of keeping up a strong connection with his fans, and why Helmet fans are special.
“They are way smarter. They are great people! I’ve always had a great relationship with the fans. I’ve made good friends from fans before.”
For the upcoming Australian tour the band is undertaking, fellow legendary outfit, Melvins, will join them for the ride. The tour will run either side of the bands’ appearances at Meredith Music Festival on the 14th of December. Hamilton, no stranger to our shores, is excited to be coming back.
“I love Australia. I love touring here this time of the year. It’s way more fun to go to Bondi in summer. It’s great to tour with those guys (Melvins)! Its great to go to the other side of the world with good friends you’ve known for a long time. They’re a great band. It should be fun.”
As for what audiences can expect from the shows.
“We will be playing some new songs from our upcoming split with Melvins, but as far as setlists go, we just play what we feel like. We’ve always done that. We have no songs we feel we must play every show otherwise the audiences feels cheated. We just play what we enjoy playing.”
Nothing has been announced to celebrate the bands’ upcoming twenty-five year milestone, nor even how much longer the band will continue. However, Hamilton knows what to do when that time comes around.
“You never know day-to-day. I would play six nights a week for the next ten years if I could. You just don’t know. It won’t turn in to one of the bands that sticks around any longer than it needs to. If it’s done, it’s done, but for now I know there is more left in me.”
Helmet and Melvins play Adelaide on the 16th of December at The Governor Hindmarsh. Tickets at www.moshtix.com.au