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.   Biscuits for Smut
  6.   Rollo
  7.   Give It
  8.   Just Another Victim by House of Pain
  9.   Miserable
  10.   Milktoast
  11.   He Feels Bad
  12.   She's Lost
  13.   Milquetoast
  14.   Speechless
  15.   Sam Hell
  16.   Gone
  17.   You Borrowed
  18.   Like I Care
  19.   FBLA II
  20.   Swallowing Everything
  21.   Speak and Spell
  22.   Insatiable
  23.   (High) Visibility
  24.   Tic
  25.   [Untitled Track]
  26.   Thick
  27.   Everybody Loves You
  28.   Unwound
  29.   Drug Lord
  30.   Last Breath
  31.   Throwing Punches
  32.   Overrated
  33.   Vaccination
  34.   I Know
  35.   Repetition
  36.   Turned Out
  37.   It's Easy to Get Bored
  38.   Distracted
  39.   Flushings
  40.   [Untitled Track]
  41.   410
  42.   Howl
  43.   Money Shot
  44.   On Your Way Down
  45.   Monochrome
  46.   Brand New
  47.   Bury Me
  48.   See You Dead
  49.   Smart
  50.   Murder
  51.   Make Room
  52.   Role Model
  53.   Symptom of the Universe
  54.   Crisis King
  55.   Diet Aftertaste
  56.   Broadcast Emotion
  57.   Birth Defect
  58.   Driving Nowhere
  59.   Exactly What You Wanted
  60.   Pure
  61.   Oven
  62.   Your Head
  63.   Taken
  64.   Impressionable
  65.   FBLA
  66.   Live in San Francisco 2006
  67.   Shirley McLaine
  68.   Welcome to Algiers
  69.   So Long
  70.   Seeing Eye Dog
  71.   In Person
  72.   And Your Bird Can Sing
  73.   Pariah
  74.   Almost Out of Sight
  75.   Diet Afteraste
  76.   Enemies
  77.   Crashing Foreign Cars
  78.   The Silver Hawaiian
  79.   Beautiful Love
  80.   Clean
  81.   Lord of This World
  82.   Gigantor
  83.   Iron Head
  84.   Street Crab
  85.   Harmless
  86.   Renovation
  87.   No Nicky No
  88.   Shirley MacLaine
  89.   Rumble
  90.   Born Annoying
  91.   Sinatra
  92.   Rude