Helmet (band)

Last updated

Helmet - Wacken Open Air 2018 02.jpg
Helmet at Wacken Open Air 2018
Background information
Origin New York, New York, US
Years active
  • 1989–1998
  • 2004–present
Associated acts
Website helmetmusic.com
Past membersSee Members

Helmet is an American alternative metal band from New York City formed in 1989. Founded by vocalist and lead guitarist Page Hamilton, Helmet has had numerous lineup changes, and Hamilton has been the only constant member.

Alternative metal is a rock music fusion genre that infuses heavy metal with influences from alternative rock and other genres not normally associated with metal. Alternative metal bands are often characterized by heavily downtuned, mid-paced guitar riffs, a mixture of accessible melodic vocals and harsh vocals and sometimes unconventional sounds within other heavy metal styles. The term has been in use since the 1980s, although it came into prominence in the 1990s.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Page Hamilton American musician

Page Nye Hamilton is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and record producer, mostly noted for his work with alternative metal band Helmet. Most of his work has been in the hard rock and alternative metal styles, though he trained in jazz guitar and has substantial connections with avant-garde music and film soundtrack composition.


Helmet has released eight studio albums and two compilation albums. The band found mainstream success with their 1992 major label debut Meantime , which debuted at number 68 on the Billboard 200, with singles "Unsung" and "In the Meantime". After the releases of Betty (1994) and Aftertaste (1997), Helmet broke up in 1998. However, the band reformed in 2004, and has since released four more albums ― Size Matters (2004), Monochrome (2006), Seeing Eye Dog (2010) and Dead to the World (2016).

<i>Meantime</i> (album) 1992 studio album by Helmet

Meantime is the second studio album and major label debut by American alternative metal band Helmet, released on June 23, 1992 through Interscope Records.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Unsung (song) single by Helmet

"Unsung" is a single by the American alternative metal band Helmet from their 1992 album, Meantime. A music video was produced for "Unsung" and found significant airplay on MTV in the early 1990s. "Unsung" is recorded in Drop D tuning on both guitars and bass, and begins with a bass intro. Its stop-and-go dynamics and catchy rhythm made it somewhat of a flagship of the growing 1990s alternative metal scene. In 1991, a full year before the release of Meantime, Amphetamine Reptile records issued the "Unsung" 7" record, featuring an earlier recording of the song.


Early years (1989–1991)

After Hamilton had left the Band of Susans, Helmet formed in early 1989. They were spotted by Tom Hazelmyer and signed to Amphetamine Reptile Records, releasing their debut 7 inch single, "Born Annoying", later that year. AmRep released their first album, Strap it On , in 1990.

Band of Susans band

Band of Susans was an American alternative rock band formed in New York City in 1986 and active until 1996. It originally consisted of Robert Poss (guitar/vocals), Susan Stenger (bass/vocals), Ron Spitzer (drums), with Susan Lyall (guitar), Susan Tallman (guitar), and Alva Rogers (vocals). The band would undergo several permutations over the years, usually involving three guitarists. Poss, Stenger, and Spitzer were the band's core members throughout its duration. They originated in the New York noise rock scene, but due to their layered guitar sound were sometimes seen as the American counterparts to the UK shoegazing bands and also drew influence from modern experimental composers Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca.

Tom Hazelmyer is an American musician and printmaker. He is known as the founder and owner of the independent label Amphetamine Reptile Records as well as being the lead vocalist and songwriter for the band Halo of Flies.

Amphetamine Reptile Records American record label

Amphetamine Reptile Records is a record label which was founded in 1986 by US Marine Tom Hazelmyer in Washington state. The label specializes in noise rock and also released Strap It On, the debut album by alternative metal band Helmet which sold more than 40,000 records. According to Hazelmyer, the success of the album was vital to keeping AmRep going throughout the 1990s, as it "helped support the other things that sold less." The label was the subject of the 2014 documentary The Color of Noise.

Helmet has been described as a "thinking man's metal band"; according to Hamilton, the term came from original drummer John Stanier because he once heard an interviewer say it. [1] Eschewing the traditional metal image of long hair and black clothing, the band stood out with their preference for simple T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, and short haircuts. Their atypical look was referenced in an episode of Beavis and Butthead , in which the pair's commentary on the video for "Unsung" included the lines "That drummer looks like a regular guy" and "If you, like, saw these guys on the street, you wouldn't even know they were cool." [2]

John Stanier (drummer) American drumemr

John Stanier is an American drummer who is currently the drummer of experimental rock band Battles. He has previously played in Helmet, Tomahawk and The Mark of Cain, as well as performing on several releases as a studio musician.

Their music is characterized by repetitive, syncopated, staccato guitar riffs, often in unconventional time signatures, and almost always in a minor key with drop-D or drop-C tuning. The guitar sound is heavily distorted and dissonant, with choruses that often involve guitar feedback waves.

In music, syncopation involves a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur". It is the correlation of at least two sets of time intervals.

Staccato is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and has appeared in music since at least 1676.

The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

Before Hamilton had settled on a name, the guitarist Peter Mengede's then-wife Reyne Cuccuro [3] suggested the Germanic name "Helmuth". Hamilton misinterpreted her and mistakenly believed that she was referring to the form of protective gear. Hamilton then thought excitedly that Helmet had "sounded like a pretty cool name for a band" and opted for the Anglicized spelling. Other names taken in consideration were "Cry Ruth" and "Poly Orchids", along with the more esoteric and obscure "Tuna Lorenzo" and "Froth Albumen". [4]

Germanic languages Sub-branch Indo-European language

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Southern Africa.

Helmuth is both a masculine German given name and a surname. Notable people with the name include:

Helmet any type of historical or modern armor worn to protect the head

A helmet is a form of protective gear worn to protect the head. More specifically, a helmet complements the skull in protecting the human brain. Ceremonial or symbolic helmets without protective function are sometimes worn. Soldiers wear helmets, often made from lightweight plastic materials.

Success (1992–1998)

The band achieved success after signing to Interscope Records in early 1992. It is rumored that the members received in excess of $1 million at signing, along with an unprecedented amount of control over their work. Their first Interscope release, Meantime , was released in 1992 and certified Gold in 1994. The album has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and remains Helmet's top-selling album.

Former drummer John Stanier. John Stanier e5100801.jpg
Former drummer John Stanier.

Helmet toured the United States, Brazil, Europe, and Asia relentlessly, generally with other AmRep recording artists. Internal tensions rose high at times. In early 1993, guitarist Peter Mengede left the band and formed Handsome which only released one album in 1997. He was replaced by Rob Echeverria, guitarist of hardcore band Rest in Pieces. The band's third album, Betty , was released in 1994. Despite managing the band's highest-ever chart position on the Billboard 200 at number 45, the album failed to sell as many copies as Meantime. In 1995, the band appeared in The Jerky Boys: The Movie , covering Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe," and featuring a cameo by Ozzy Osbourne as their manager. Later, after recording and touring in support of Betty, Echeverria left to join Biohazard. His departure was much more amicable than Mengede's.

The band elected to push on and record 1997's Aftertaste as a three-piece. A first version of the album was withdrawn at last minute in the fall of 1996 when promotional activities had already begun. Eventually, release was delayed to March 1997 for a new audio mix, and guitarist Chris Traynor (formerly of Orange 9mm) was recruited for the supporting tour. Although the song "Exactly What You Wanted" became a moderate radio hit, the album spent only a few weeks on the Billboard 200 and has sold 135,000 copies as of April 2006.[ citation needed ] The Aftertaste Tour in 1997–98 would prove to be the band's last. Amid long-standing private disputes, the members decided to call it quits. Asked about the breakup, Hamilton replied, "9 years, 1,600 shows, 5 albums, and we found it hard to look at each other anymore" [5]

Aftermath and subsequent projects (1999–2003)

After the dissolution of Helmet, the members went on to different projects.

Hamilton relocated from New York to Los Angeles, California and became involved in a variety of projects. This included playing guitar for David Bowie, doing sessions for film scores, working with composer Elliot Goldenthal on the 1999 soundtracks to In Dreams and Titus. It was Hamilton's second time working with Goldenthal, the first being the 1995 soundtrack to the movie Heat . When working on film scores, he was part of a "guitar orchestra" called "Deaf Elk" [6] with other guitarists. He periodically returned to New York to work with his band Gandhi, which is where several of the songs appearing on Size Matters began.

Bogdan formed the Moonlighters in New York with Bliss Blood, for whom he played steel guitar, before returning home to Oregon to play for the Midnight Serenaders. Stanier took a break from drumming, but returned to play drums for Tomahawk, The Mark of Cain, Battles and Primer 55.

Reunion (2004–present)

After moving to Los Angeles, Hamilton began working with drummer John Tempesta (formerly of Testament and White Zombie) on a new project. After searching for a record label and a name for the project, Hamilton was urged by Jimmy Iovine of Interscope to release the new project under the established Helmet moniker, to which Interscope held the rights. [7] Hamilton had resisted for some time, but since his relationships with Stanier and Bogdan had not improved since 1998, and his previous offers to reunite had been rebuffed or ignored, he decided to move on and release more music as Helmet without them.

Page Hamilton circa 2008. Helmet.jpg
Page Hamilton circa 2008.

Chris Traynor, still on good terms with Hamilton, soon came on board to cover bass and guitar parts. With Tempesta on drums and Hamilton covering vocals and guitar, the three recorded Size Matters in early 2004. The album featured lyrics which were inspired by Hamilton's brief 2003 relationship with Hollywood actress Winona Ryder, [8] and has been cited by critics as a departure from Helmet's earlier, more experimental sound. [9] Frank Bello was later recruited to play bass on the supporting tour; however, he left before its conclusion to reunite with his original band, Anthrax. [10] Jeremy Chatelain replaced Bello for the duration of the tour. John Tempesta left in early 2006 to join The Cult.

In late 2005, Helmet were dropped by Interscope following lackluster sales for Size Matters. Helmet then signed with Warcon Enterprises and announced that a new album was in the works. Helmet performed at the 2006 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, with a temporary lineup consisting of Charlie Walker on drums, Chris Traynor on bass, and Anthony Truglio (formerly of Gandhi) on guitar. The new album, Monochrome , was recorded and co-produced by Wharton Tiers, who recorded Helmet's first two albums, Strap It On and Meantime. For the album, Hamilton and Traynor returned to the studio with newly recruited drummer, Mike Jost (formerly of Adair). Helmet headlined the 2006 Warped Tour in support of Monochrome, with Jeremy Chatelain reprising his role from the 2005 Size Matters tour. The band later split with Warcon due to a variety of financial disputes between Hamilton and the label's owners. [11] Hamilton stated "Amphetamine Reptile and Interscope were both fantastic experiences for us, and Warcon was the first time that I’d actually run into any problems with a label. I trusted somebody and got screwed. I’m not bitter about it, but I lost a lot of money. They never paid me tour support that they were contractually obligated to pay. There were a lot of things. I’ve never seen one penny of royalties from them, but I own the record [Monochrome] now, so it’s my record." [11]

In September 2006, Chris Traynor announced that he had left the band after nearly a decade of working with Page Hamilton. A few days later, Mike Jost also left the band to attend to his duties as a new father. Jeremy Chatelain also made other commitments. Hamilton announced in early October 2006 that drum and bass duties would be filled by Kyle Stevenson and Jon Fuller, respectively, both from Milwaukee, and both previously members of Big Collapse. [12] Australian Jimmy Thompson (formerly of Full Scale) also joined the band on guitar in 2006, but was replaced by Dan Beeman by late 2008. Due to line-up changes, Hamilton was forced to cancel many shows scheduled for late 2006 in the U.S. and Europe. Helmet opened up for Guns N' Roses for the remaining dates of their tour in December 2006. The band toured Australia in April and May 2008, playing shows throughout the eastern and southern coasts.

Betty 20th Anniversary European Tour. Opening concert - September 11, 2014, Lucerna music bar, Prague - Czech Republic. Helmet-betty-20-Prague-2014.JPG
Betty 20th Anniversary European Tour. Opening concert - September 11, 2014, Lucerna music bar, Prague - Czech Republic.

On November 20, 2011 Helmet announced the European Meantime Anniversary Tour running from March 5 to April 8, 2012 encompassing 28 shows in Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and the UK during which they played the whole of the 20-year-old Meantime album. [13]

On October 28, 2016, Helmet released their eighth studio album, Dead to the World . [14]

The band announced tour dates for May 2018 in the U.S. and July-August in Europe on their official website. [15]

Musical style

Many critics cite Helmet as an alternative metal band; [16] [17] however, the band has been categorized under many genres , including post-hardcore, [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] noise rock, [23] [19] experimental metal [24] and post-metal. [22] Jim Farber of the New York Daily News has jokingly labeled Helmet as smart rock. [25]

Legacy and influences

The New York Times called Helmet "a band that made important connections between indie-rock and metal." [25] They have had a large impact on many nu/alternative metal, post-hardcore and heavy metal acts, with bands such as Botch, Chevelle, Deftones, Full Scale, Godsmack, Grinspoon, Korn, Linkin Park, Lostprophets, Marilyn Manson, Mastodon, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Papa Roach, Pressure 4-5, Primer 55, Norma Jean, Reuben, Shuvel, Silverchair, Staind, System of a Down, Three Days Grace and Tool all having been inspired by Helmet's sound. [26] [27] [25] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [25] [30] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] Music artist Mike Patton has also cited Helmet as having a significant influence on his solo career; with original drummer John Stanier and Patton actually having played in the music project Tomahawk together. Regarding Helmet's influence on the heavy rock world, Hamilton remarked "I hear it all over the place. I've heard Helmet riffs in Evanescence. Kids today have no idea at this point, because they [first] got into, say, Korn or System of a Down. Bands like Mastodon and Norma Jean tell me, 'Oh, we ripped you guys off with this,' or 'We got turned on by that.' Some bands do cool things with it, and there's a bunch of shitty bands that have imitated us too." [7]

Chevelle, [41] Deftones, [42] Faith No More, [43] Pig Destroyer, [44] Primer 55 [45] and Soulfly [46] have covered Helmet songs. In 2016, a tribute album titled Meantime Redux was released. It featured covers of 1990s Helmet songs (including all 10 songs from the Meantime album) by various underground hardcore bands. [47] Late Deftones bassist Chi Cheng remarked "Every band should wish to aspire to the originality and genius of Helmet. An inspiration to fans and musicians-alike" [48] while Norma Jean guitarist Chris Day recalled in 2006 "The first song I ever learned to play on the guitar was a Helmet song. I pretty much just tried to figure the songs out and that's how I learned to play basically. Helmet is a band that I have listened to for years and will always enjoy them because they have the sweetest riffs I have ever heard. I love to air drum to them in the car also. I wouldn't be the same without Helmet in my life." [48]

Helmet is considered a major influence on the nu metal genre, [49] [50] with the band's use of Drop D tuning influencing many in the genre. Hamilton, displeased with this connection, responded "it's frustrating that people write [us] off because we're affiliated with or credited with or discredited with creating nu-metal and rap metal or whatever the fuck it is, which we sound nothing like." [51]


Band members


See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Betty</i> (Helmet album) 1994 studio album by Helmet

Betty is the third album by Helmet, released in 1994 on Interscope. The album was highly anticipated by both music critics and fans as a result of the band's success with the previous album, Meantime.

<i>Born Annoying</i> 1995 compilation album by Helmet

Born Annoying is a compilation album of alternative metal band Helmet's early songs, released in 1995 by their old label, Amphetamine Reptile, a.k.a. AmRep. It is a collection of singles, B sides, compilation tracks, and other rarities spanning from the band's inception in 1989 until they were signed to Interscope in 1992. However, the band did record two songs in 1993 that were released through AmRep; they are included here.

<i>Aftertaste</i> (album) 1997 studio album by Helmet

Aftertaste is the fourth album by Helmet, released in 1997 on Interscope. This proved to be Helmet's final album with original members John Stanier (drums) and Henry Bogdan (bass). Guitarist Rob Echeverria, who appeared on Helmet's previous outing, Betty, left the group to join Biohazard. Subsequently, the album was recorded as a three-piece, with Page Hamilton covering all the guitar parts. Guitarist Chris Traynor came on board for the supporting tour.

<i>Strap It On</i> (album) 1990 studio album by Helmet

Strap It On is the debut album by American alternative metal band Helmet. Originally released in 1990 through Amphetamine Reptile Records, it was subsequently rereleased by Interscope in November 1991.

<i>Size Matters</i> 2004 studio album by Helmet

Size Matters is the fifth album by the American alternative metal band Helmet, released in 2004 through Interscope. It is the first new album since the band ended with a bitter break up in 1998.

Institute (band) band

Institute was an American rock band featuring Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale. The band's only album, Distort Yourself, was released September 13, 2005.

Henry Bogdan, is an American musician. He is perhaps best known as the original bass guitarist and a founding member of the alternative metal band, Helmet. Henry Bodgan played bass for all of Helmet's albums released up until 1997 which included Strap It On, Meantime, Betty, and Aftertaste.

<i>Unsung: The Best of Helmet (1991–1997)</i> 2004 greatest hits album by Helmet

Unsung: The Best of Helmet (1991–1997) is a compilation album of Helmet in its original form, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton, bassist Henry Bogdan, drummer John Stanier, and guitarists Peter Mengede (1989–1993) and Rob Echeverria (1994–1996). It was released in early 2004 in a run-up to the much-anticipated new Helmet album to be released later that year.

Chris Traynor American musician

Chris Traynor is an American guitarist, bassist and studio musician. He has played with Orange 9mm, Helmet, Bush, Rival Schools, Institute, Gavin Rossdale, and High Desert Fires.

Peter Mengede is a musician best known as the former guitarist for Helmet. He formed his own group, Handsome, in 1993 with former members of Quicksand, Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law. They released one album before disbanding in 1998

<i>Monochrome</i> (Helmet album) 2006 studio album by Helmet

Monochrome is the sixth album by the American alternative metal band Helmet, released in 2006 through Warcon. This is the third Helmet album in a row to be recorded as a three-piece, with new drummer Mike Jost joining veterans Page Hamilton and Chris Traynor. Bassist Jeremy Chatelain, who replaced Frank Bello on the Size Matters tour, rejoined the band for the 2006 Warped Tour in support of Monochrome.

Jeremy Chatelain (bassist) American musician

Jeremy Chatelain is a musician originally from Utah. He formed the Utah-based bands Insight and Iceburn, and went on to sing in NYC band Handsome and later formed Jets to Brazil with singer Blake Schwarzenbach. In 2005 Jeremy joined the band Helmet to play bass, but left in September 2006. Since 2000 he has written and performed with Cub Country.

The discography of Helmet, a New York-based alternative metal band formed in 1989, consists of eight full-length studio albums, two compilation albums, fifteen singles, and fourteen music videos. This list does not include material performed by members or former members of Helmet that was recorded with Adair, Anthrax, Band of Susans, Biohazard, The Cult, Disturbing the Peace, Exodus, Norma Jean, Testament, Tomahawk and White Zombie.

<i>Seeing Eye Dog</i> 2010 studio album by Helmet

Seeing Eye Dog is the seventh studio album by the American alternative metal band Helmet, released on September 7, 2010 via Work Song, the label imprint shared by singer/songwriter Joe Henry and Helmet mainman Page Hamilton's manager. It was their first album in four years since the release of Monochrome in 2006.

"All for Nothing" is a song by American rock band Linkin Park featuring American guitarist and singer Page Hamilton of alternative metal band Helmet from their sixth studio album, The Hunting Party. The song appears on the album as the second track. It has entered the UK Rock chart at number 23, although it hasn't been released as a single. The song was written by the band and produced by co-lead vocalist Mike Shinoda and lead guitarist Brad Delson. The song is featured in the video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2015.

Exactly What You Wanted 1997 song performed by Helmet

"Exactly What You Wanted" is a song by American alternative metal band Helmet. The song was released as the first single from the band's fourth studio album Aftertaste.


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