Slaves & Gods and…
Helsott has been leading the charge for American Folk Metal since day one. With a heavy and diversified sound, they have managed to capture attention with many a metal fan. The new album “Slaves And Gods for label M-Theory will go even further in garnering a wider fan base. Featuring numerous guest appearances and a few more tangible style additions, Helsott are holding nothing back for the future. Vocalist Eric Dow answered some questions for us regarding the new album, new members, the guest appearances, touring and a few other things…..check it out…….
Your 2nd full length is now out with “Slaves And Gods”…..how has the response been so far?
“We have had mixed reviews… Much like “The Healer” EP. I had just done an interview where the interviewer said I ask too much from our listeners. Haha. I say open your mind and your ears and don’t worry what others think about it.”
Did you have a plan on what you wanted to accomplish on the album before and during the writing and recording process?
“Yes, we had a plan. It was not executed by our then guitar player and he ended up quitting the band the first day of recording drums. So the plan changed during the recording process and for the better if you ask me.”
On some level I feel this could be a semi-concept album….is there a definite thread of some sort to all of the tracks here?
“This is not at all a concept album. I think with how the album came together after our guitar player quit, it is a pretty good complement for you to feel like the songs blend together like a concept album. “Spoiler Alert” I am working on a concept for the next Helsótt album.”
Pretty Crazy times
The band has undergone some lineup changes over the last few years…..how does Helsott sound still recognizable even with all of the changes? Are your vocals the most identifiable part of the Helsott sound?
“We have kept the core writing group together. We have Mark, Myself, Coop, and Steph… All of the bass players and lead guitarists we have had in the past rarely contributed to the writing. My vocals are a big part of the sound but not any more than any other vocalist is to their respective band’s.”
I think a lot of people would love to hear the story of fan and new bassist Michael “Doc” Beaulieu and how he became part of Helsott…..is it similar to how Tim “Ripper” Owens became the singer of Judas Priest on some level?
“Not that similar. Ripper was in a Priest cover band. He was already putting himself out there as a musician. Doc’s background is in medicine. He has busted his ass for many years to become a very respected doctor in his community. He has had some theatre experience, but that was mostly for singing. Basically Doc had contributed to our Indiegogo campaign because he had seen it shared through Tyr’s page and he saw the “Honour Thy Valkyrie” video we had shared from our original EP “Folkvangr”. The perk he picked was for us to write a song for him. I had found out he was a doctor and was inspired to write “The Healer”. We became friends and he joined us as crew for the first 8 dates of the Pagan Rebellion tour with Arkona and Heidevolk. Mikey had quit the band and there was a spot open on bass. Doc, Coop, and I had many drinks and came to the conclusion that Doc would become the new bass player. We have one tour down with him and will be doing a west coast run with Arkona and Korpiklaani in November. Pretty crazy times.”
“Not all we have to offer”
The new album has a much more diverse and varied sound, do you think you are a “pagan metal” band or is there a better set of words to describe your sound?
“I think you have asked me this for “Woven”, “The Healer”, and now again for “Slaves and Gods”. Pagan is such a broad term and we have a broad sound with mostly pagan themed lyrics… I don’t know how much more pagan we can get but call us whatever you want.”
You seem to be able to perform live with many different metal acts in a variety of genres….does Helsott have that much crossover appeal do you think?
“Yes I do. The only time I have felt like the crowd just didn’t get us was when we opened for Kill Devil Hill… That I could totally understand. We are nothing like that genre and taking that show was purely selfish on our part to share the stage with such amazing musicians. I think our catalog has such a wide variety that we could run with a bunch of different bands. I hope someday the agents and managers out there see that rather than just wait for pagan/folk bands to come around to give us opportunities. If were to get a tour with a power metal band, we would come guns blazing with our power metal influenced songs. If we were to tour with a full-on death metal or black metal band we would play all of our heavy dark stuff. We love it when we get on a bill with pagan/folk bands because that is our wheelhouse but it is definitely not all we have to offer.”
The album once again has the talents of Felipe Machado gracing the cover…… did you give him an idea of what you wanted based on the album title? Does he offer more than one choice to you to decide what will be the cover?
“I gave him a rough idea of the Pharaoh looking over his slaves as they build the pyramid. He ran with it. He does not offer any choices for us. He gives us a rough idea of what the cover will look like and I put in my 2 cents and he gives me an update. I ok the update usually because he is a bad ass and then he finalizes the art.”
The most incredible part of the album is all of the guest appearances was this something that had been planned on? How did the writing and recording process work? Did you have specific people in mind to fulfill certain parts?
“I had intended to ask Trollmannen and Masha to sing on “Trollskald”. I had never gotten around to doing it because our old guitar player said the song sucked and basically refused to play it. I was pleased when both musicians ended up on the album. The rest of the guests was basically out of necessity. We were in the studio already and needed material. So, Cooper and I wrote some stuff while were there and brought back some old tunes that were never released on a full length album and re-worked some of the stuff we were originally going to put on the album. After that we need guitar players and bass players to record the parts. So we got some amazing help from our friends. Kevin Storm recorded 3 songs for us on guitar. Beorn did most of the album on bass for us. Dr. Leif did the title track on guitar for us. Mark returned to the band late in the process and finished up the other tracks on guitar and bass. We gave one song that we had arranged and drums for to Masha and she wrote the guitar parts and half of the lyrics and sang on the track. Sergei recorded the guitar parts and I wrote and recorded the other half of the lyrics to the song that Masha called “Winter Smells Like Death”. Very cool track. I figured since we had this many guest musicians on the album let’s get a few more! Enter Dom Crey, Damna, and Lethien.”
Tom Petty cover
The cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream” was an unusual choice but still works…..how did you decide on this one to cover?
“Tom Petty passed away 2 weeks after I had seen him at the Hollywood Bowl and I was greatly inspired to do a tribute to him. “Runnin” is a cool rock song and I felt it would translate quite well to what we do. Instead of acoustic guitar fortifying the electric I thought violin would be awesome.”
You had a incredible run of shows in Europe and the US this year….any highlights that you would like to share?
“Just sharing the stage with David Vincent from Morbid Angel and Killjoy from Necrophagia (R.I.P.) Those would be the best highlights for me. The other was finally getting to play and see a big part of Europe.”
How has being on a label (M-Theory) been beneficial the most for Helsott? Exposure? Promotion? Other?
“Being on a team. Knowing that I can contact Marco Barbieri any time of the day or night for advice helps a lot. It’s a partnership. All of the things they do for us is the stuff that we don’t have to pay upfront for anymore. Gives us more money to spend on the quality of the records we make.”
Now that the album is out what will you be doing to support it….another tour in the works? Other events or plans?
“As much touring as possible. We have 5 dates with Korpiklaani and Arkona to look forward to. We are booking a Euro tour around our appearances at Wacken Winter Nights and Cernunnos Pagan Fest. We will be doing more videos too.”
Favorite music from 2018 so far?
“Too many to name but off the top of my head… Einjerjer, Mayan, Dragonlord, Malphas, Dimmu.”
“Thanks for taking the time and supporting us. We appreciate it.”