I love savage, ultra-aggressive music, especially when played with substance and obvious passion. Which is why I love Helpless. Their debut album Debt is a scorching, visceral maelstrom of nastiness, one which delivers 22 minutes of ferocity and heaviness.
Let’s dig a little deeper with the band’s bassist Steve Waldron…
Where did the band name come from?
We were searching for an appropriate name to fit the themes of the music for a while. Nothing was jumping out at us. Rusty picked out Helpless by Neil Young and immediately we all agreed and new that that was the one.
What are your influences?
Between us we have very similar but also quite varied influences.
For myself one of my biggest influences would be Death, they are the band that made me pick up a bass and want to learn. Me and a few other mates ended up playing a tribute show to the band a few years back which definitely had an impact on the way I play today. Within the band the main influences would be the likes of Converge, The Jesus Lizard, Melvins, The Secret and of course Gaza.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Tell us about Debt and what it means to you
We are all really proud of this record. Me and Dan used to play in a grindcore band and kept talking about working towards a full length but the band split, which has happened to pretty much most of the bands I have been in before getting to release a full length. So to finally have achieved this and get it released means a lot and we couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out. Today we received our copies of the CD & Vinyl, it was a proud moment to finally hold one haha.
What topics do the lyrics deal with?
The lyrics deal with a lot of different issues; but they centre around a negative outlook on different aspects of modern life, spun with a few lines of optimistic nihilism.
What are your ambitions for the album?
Well obviously we are very excited for the release. We have a weekender booked around the date of release with label mates Wren and Watchcries. We have a few other dates booked in but we can’t announce them yet. Next year we would like to get out to Europe again and play some more shows. We have a few other ideas floating about but they will be announced some time soon.
What has the initial feedback/reaction been like?
We have been completely overwhelmed with the feedback so far. The reviews have been all positive and the press coverage has been great. Sixteen year old me would’ve lost my mind being featured in Metal Hammer and to have a track on the CD. So yeah the initial feedback has been excellent. Just very excited to get it released now.
If you had to do it over again, would you change anything?
Nothing. We have all been really happy with the way things went and how they are currently going.
How were the songs written?
We rehearse every week at the local practice/recording studio PMC. We got a few tracks written in there and around the time of writing and recording the EP. We spent a lot of time in my bedroom with an electric drum kit and practice amps working on different ideas. We had more than ten tracks wrote initially but we ended up filtering a few out as they weren’t up to the same standard as the ten that we chose. Loads of demo versions of the tracks, then adding to them, replacing certain riffs or drum parts to improve them. It was a long process but very satisfied with the final piece.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
That’s a tough one. I really do like the whole thing haha.
Though if I had to choose one I’d probably choose Moral Bankruptcy. I just really dig the overall feel of this track particularly the intro. It’s a really moody track and captures the theme behind the lyrics. It runs at a different pace to the others and it’s really satisfying to play.
How did you decide on the order of the tracks?
We had demo versions of all the tracks way before going into the studio. Denied sale was always going to be the album closure. We really thought about how the tracks ended and begun and then pieced them together in an order that worked and flowed nicely and I feel that it does.
How do you think your music will progress in the future?
We are already keen to start writing new music and feel that the sound will definitely progress. There are a few ideas floating about already and know the direction the music should take. We already feel that Debt is a huge step up from the EP so that must only continue right?
How did you choose the cover artwork?
I knew a guy from Bristol called Chris Nicholls (Soft Geometry Creative). I dropped him a message and asked if he would be up for painting something for us. We sent him the tracks and let him get to work. He sent us something that we really liked but shortly after he also posted something else that he had worked on and as soon as we saw it we knew that it had to be that one, it was a very striking image and felt it suited the album. Chris was more than happy for us to use it and is really pleased with how it looks on the sleeve.
How important is good album art to you?
Album art is very important. When I first got into buying music I used to go into town and pick up the albums that had the best looking artwork and buy it without ever hearing the band, it’s how I discovered bands like Pestilence, Morbid Angel & Death. It would stick out from the others, I’d become instantly intrigued by it and have to buy it.
With music becoming increasingly digital in nature, what’s your take on the digital/physical debate and the current state of the music industry?
I have always been someone who buys physical copies. When I was younger I used to buy CDs and now I buy records. I don’t think I have ever bought digital music. I like to own a copy of it, read the lyrics, study and appreciate the artwork. Particularly on vinyl. It’s good to see a rise in vinyl sales in the past few years. As for digital I cant really comment.
What do you think of the current state of the UK metal scene, and what are some of the better bands out there at the moment?
The music scene down here in the south west is pretty quiet. There was a really good venue down here at one point which unfortunately closed down and I keep seeing more and more venues around the country facing closure which is a sad thing to see as they are normally replaced by things that we don’t need or already have. We need to travel to Bristol most of the time to catch any decent shows.
Dragged into Sunlight are without a doubt one of the better UK bands out there at the moment, I’ve been a fan of that band for a while now and seen them on several occasions. I really appreciate their approach on their music and live shows. They are doing really well at the moment, touring with Mayhem across the world is a huge thing.
Playing live – essential or pointless?
Neither essential or pointless. Certain bands like Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega and Darkthrone never play live and they have all had good successful careers in music. However I personally really enjoy live music, it can help you appreciate a band more by seeing them play in front of you…From a band’s perspective playing live is great, playing in different countries and cities is a good way for people to discover your music. Too many people rely on social media for their music.
What are the next steps for Helpless?
We have a weekender at the beginning of September in support of the new release with Wren & Watchcries:
We also have a few more shows which will be announced shortly. Hopefully get back out to Europe also.
During this we will continue to write new music.