Slacker Logo



Like many influential bands, Helmet were born out of an unusual set of influences. Oregon-born guitarist and founder Page Hamilton had actually moved to New York City to study jazz, but found inspiration in the late '80s through post-punk acts Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, and Big Black, and envisioned a group that combined then-unusual tunings (particularly dropped D) with uneven and jazz-like time signatures and harmonies. The result was Helmet, the East Coast's answer to Seattle's then-underground sensation Soundgarden. Hamilton recruited bassist Henry Bogdan from Oregon, along with Australian guitarist Peter Mengede and Florida drummer John Stanier for the group's first incarnation. Helmet's independent label debut EP, Strap It On, showcased the group's raw power -- both instrumentally and in Hamilton's growling vocals -- through tracks like the mocking "Sinatra" and rocking "Bad Mood." Signed to the Interscope label soon thereafter, the same lineup released its breakthrough 1992 CD, Meantime. MTV aired three videos by Helmet, then the only band close to the Seattle grunge sound on the East Coast, in "Give It," "In the Meantime," and the distorted, stop-and-start showcase "Unsung." Hamilton, Bogdan, and Stanier collaborated with Irish rap group House of Pain on "Just Another Victim" for the 1993 film Judgment Night, after Mengede left the band. The popular soundtrack (with its unorthodox mix of rappers and alternative bands like Ice-T and Slayer, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Mudhoney) created even more of a demand for Helmet's next CD. Replacing Mengede with guitarist Rob Echeverria on 1994's Betty, Hamilton crafted an album even more versatile -- and at times even heavier -- than Meantime. The song "Milquetoast" appeared on the soundtrack to the hit film The Crow; Stanier's unrelenting drumming drove tracks like "I Know," and Hamilton's jazz background showed on the cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "Beautiful Love." Yet Betty proved to be a critical success but a commercial failure, its versatility relegating it to the cutout bins. Echeverria left Helmet in the mid-'90s to join Biohazard, and the band bought time to refocus by releasing the Born Annoying collection of B-sides in 1995. Hamilton played all the guitar parts for 1997's Aftertaste -- but his vocals sounded like his heart just wasn't in a group in which he couldn't keep a rhythm guitarist, and the album proved a disappointment. After touring with Orange 9mm's Chris Traynor on guitar and much deliberation, Helmet disbanded in 1999. But the Helmet influence was heard throughout rock, whether by Hamilton's involvement with industrial groups (Nine Inch Nails) or indirectly through metal acts (System of a Down), and even the atonal distortion of rap-rock hybrids such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. Helmet returned in 2004 when Hamilton recruited Traynor and a new rhythm section consisting of drummer John Tempesta (Rob Zombie, Testament) and bassist Frank Bello (Anthrax); signed to Interscope, the group released Size Matters in October of that year. The lineup would change with following albums as well. Drummer Mike Jost and bassist Jeremy Chatelain joined Hamilton and Traynor for 2006’s Monochrome, released on Warcon/Fontana, and guitarist Dan Beeman and drummer Kyle Stevenson rotated in for 2010’s Seeing Eye Dog. ~ Bill Meredith
Read More Read Less

Stations Featuring

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
    1 song

Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   Unsung
  3.   Wilma's Rainbow
  4.   In the Meantime
  5.   Give It
  6.   Rollo
  7.   Biscuits for Smut
  8.   Better
  9.   Milktoast
  10.   Renovation
  11.   Monochrome
  12.   Street Crab
  13.   Just Another Victim by House of Pain
  14.   Enemies
  15.   Primitive
  16.   Rude
  17.   FBLA
  18.   [Untitled Track]
  19.   White City
  20.   Welcome to Algiers
  21.   She's Lost
  22.   Seeing Eye Dog
  23.   Flushings
  24.   [Untitled Track]
  25.   Goodbye
  26.   Howl
  27.   Gone
  28.   Money Shot
  29.   On Your Way Down
  30.   Swallowing Everything
  31.   See You Dead
  32.   Speak and Spell
  33.   Overrated
  34.   I Know
  35.   Milquetoast
  36.   Army of Me
  37.   Role Model
  38.   Turned Out
  39.   Iron Head
  40.   Exactly What You Wanted
  41.   Tic
  42.   Sam Hell
  43.   Oven
  44.   Your Head
  45.   Geisha to Go
  46.   Born Annoying
  47.   Impressionable
  48.   Sinatra
  49.   Distracted
  50.   Complete
  51.   Bad Mood