Chrome – Intervju med Helios Creed

Chrome 2013 ( Jeremy Harris)

Chrome är en riktig klassiker om man gillar stökig psykedelisk punkrock. Jag hörde av mig till bandet när jag såg att de snart skulle spela i Sverige och lyckades få till en intervju med frontpersonen Helios Creed. Jag fick även lyssna på nya skivan ’Feel it Like a Scientist’.

Chrome bildades i San Francisco 1975 av en kille som kallade sig Damon Edge och några andra typer. De hann släppa en skiva innan gitarristen/sångaren Helios Creed anslöt. Tillsammans så gjorde sen Edge och Creed en handfull plattor som måste anses vara riktiga klassiker inom den mer experimentella rocken/punken. De är viktiga föregångare inom dels punken och det som skulle komma att kallas för industri. Om du har en någorlunda stor skivsamling så har  du säkert tio skivor där banden har Chrome som en direkt influens.

Chrome har existerat i lite olika konstellationer. Damon Edge flyttade bland annat till Paris 1983 och  släppte sen en mängd skivor som Chrome utan Helios Creed. Damon Edge avled sen tragiskt nog år 1995. Sedan dess så har Helios Creed plockat upp namnet Chrome igen och nu är de aktuella med en ny skiva och en europaturné.

Hur låter då nya skivan? Faktum är att det låter väldigt mycket som det gjorde i slutet av 1970-talet fast med en något uppdaterad ljudbild. Det viner, det tjuter, det skrapar, det brummar och det flyter runt. Musiken är repetitiv och malande. Nästan allt är behandlat med effekter och sången ligger och lurar lite under ytan för det mesta. Allt hörs dock tydligare än vad det gjorde för länge sedan och separationen mellan ljuden och instrumenten är mer markant. Jag gillar det får jag säga. Det låter verkligen som Chrome. Kanske lite på gott och ont tänker jag. Någon större utveckling har inte skett, men om man gillar deras klassiska plattor så kommer man gilla den här.

Så till intervjun. Jag har inte brytt mig om att försöka översätta den. Ni kan väl engelska allihopa?

Peter: You have a new album that’s about to be released and I’m psyched to hear that. Can you tell us a little about it?

Helios Creed: We named it Feel It Like A Scientist. When we started it in 2012, I told everybody in the band its going to be Chrome’s greatest album. I told them ‘I feel it and you guys are going to feel it too’. I didn’t know if they’d take my vision seriously, but they did. We all got into the idea. And it was like it was a magical spell and so it really came out like that, you know what I mean. I personally do think it’s our best. For me it’s better than Half Machine Lip Moves or at least equal… it’s up there.

Every album is like a prayer and every song is like a bigger prayer; that’s really manifesting. It’s not just a song on a disk, it’s like an oracle. I wonder what they say about it way in the future, maybe they’ll be able to the use the songs for some other reason we can’t comprehend yet.

I always want to make a new kind of music and grab tones and sounds that are more than a Rock band. The whole idea of a Rock star or Rock band has become so passé. Don’t get me wrong, we use a standard rhythm section and we happen to make heavy music that Rocks! But what we put on the top tracks often doesn’t have anything to do with Rock. I’ve got the best rhythm section you could want. Aleph Omega’s been with me for around 17 years and he’s the best drummer I’ve had. He can visualize what this band needs on the bottom and he does it perfectly. He was a fan way before he played with the band.

And the other part of our rhythm section on the album is Lux Vibratus who plays on most of the tracks. Our newest member, Steve ’Trash’ Fishman is our new bass player and he came in to finish up recording sessions for Feel It Like A Scientist, and he completes the alchemy of this line up on bass and he’s played with so many incredible acts. So we have that foundation on the bottom, but what we lay onto it is where the invention comes in.

I’m always trying to invent new forms of music. I think I’ve found the perfect band finally and I’ve been saying that. I like the unique way our female vocalist sings the artist Monet Clark. She comes from an art world background vs a music background which makes it even more beautiful and what I want, and she’s good at composing.

We call her Anne Dromeda in Chrome ‘cause two band members thought of it separately on the same day, a typical Chrome phenomenon. Lou Minatti is a great guitarist and also a sound engineer and he fit in right away and he engineered the new album, and produced it with me. Everyone in the band fits it really well and did right away. My keyboard player Tommy Grenas would be as hard to replace as Damon was.

He’s been with Chrome since just after Damon passed, and stuff he comes up with is even better than what Damon would come up with sometimes. I’m really happy with the keyboard melodies he writes. He knows what I like. He’s just great at composing. We toured with Nik Turner of Hawkwind together before I took back the helm of Chrome and he joined me. This album couldn’t have been as great without the input each of these players brought to the recording sessions. It’s magical this line up.

P: Chrome really stood out as a band in the 1970’s and you’re still standing out as far as I’m concerned. Did you have any special intentions and ambitions when you joined the band in 1976? How would you compare the Chrome of today with the early years?

HC: In ’76 I liked the idea of seeing Chrome as not being a Blues based band, ‘cause back in ’76 I was frantically trying to escape hippies playing the Blues. Thats what Rock had turned into. Before that, Rock was heavier like Black Sabbath, and it’s not that Sabbath’s formula was super duper heavy, but it was their approach that was heavy. I wanted Chrome to have a similar approach, with a standard heavy rhythm section, but what would be different was the top tracks, the guitar on up, with the craziest stuff you’re never going to hear in Rock! We don’t even want to call it Rock.

The new album has the strange noises, it has the Rock, and it’s a natural evolution from classic Chrome. We’re still trying to create something new, a new genre. I hate the stereotype of Rock, when people get into this Hollywood image of what that means. I hate that. In Chrome we have our approach, which is different. Damon and I were not interested in cliche and being like what everyone thought a band should be. Chrome is the same now.

P: A lot of bands and musicians names you as a big inspiration. I’d like to know what inspired you in the early days? What inspires you now?

HC: Anything that is experimental I was all over it and that is why I was so fascinated with Damon and his approach to producing which was often very spontaneous, and it’s a method in Chrome I’ve continued to use all these years. Pretty much the same music inspires me as in the early days. I liked Throbbing Gristle who aren’t even Rock and Roll, and certain kind of Rock that was mind expanding, which is why I was such a fan of Psychedelia and still am. The idea that I’m able to do the formula, then mess it all up, that has always inspired me. Feel It Like A Scientist is total Chrome from an experimental point of view, yet its a brand new take. I hope it doesn’t remind anyone of any other band and that it is its own thing. We didn’t want it to sound like Half Machine Lip Moves or Third From the Sun, I just want to keep going forwards. Feel It Like A Scientist has twice the fidelity, because of the quality of today’s recording so we wanted to work with the equipment we have now and stretch and experiment with it like we did when Damon and I were all analog.

We have a lot of different qualities on that album and we recorded it in different studios. So there are different sounds. That is one of the things so fascinating about it.You can go from the track ”Six” to the next song on the album ”Unbreakable Fluoride Lithium Plastic”, which stylistically are drastically different, but they’re both ours. I just think that’s the greatest! You think it’s really heavy, then it goes into the epitome of heavy, raining metal, scary. I’m inspired to keep creating something new, to keep stretching, to keep the quest.

P: Me, my sister and a lot of my friends will come and see you live when you play Stockholm with Pig Eyes. What should we expect? Have you played in Sweden before?

HC: I played in Sweden before with my solo band, but not with Chrome. But we always play a few Chrome songs in a Helios Creed set. Its going to be frighteningly great and heavy, with two heavy guitar player and a monster drummer. We’re more of a Punk influenced sound of course, I never liked heavy metal as a genre. because its gets to straight and repetitive. I’m all Jimi Hendrix and Sabbath inspired Punk that’s experimental and strange, with weird samples and keyboard lines, heavy but more interesting than metal. We’ve got classic Chrome in the set, and tracks from the album we just put out last year Half Machine from the Sun, the Lost Tracks from ’79-’80, and tracks from the new album. So the set has music from where Chrome came from to where Chrome is now. Expect a really great mind-blowing, loud show. Hopefully you’ll walk out with your mouth hanging open.

Chrome spelar på The Liffey i Stockhom den 16:e juni. Pig Eyes med Örebros egna Calle Henriksson agerar förband. Jag kommer att vara där, häng på!

Feel It Like A Scientist front cover