29 Oct


“She’s Got a Ticket to Ride”

Waste no faith on stereotypes – they’ll only be proven wrong. Case in point: the psychedelic haze & gaze merchants from Scotland known as Helicon.

Maybe you’ve gone through your life thus far under the impression that the great Scots are … shall we say … a tight-fisted bunch. Maybe you’ve gone through your life thinking the Scottish scene begins and ends with Mogwai and their epic paeans to Zinedine Zidane. You would be wrong.

But you can turn your song of wrong into the light of being right by turning on to Helicon. Offering their epic, engaging EP – “Take the Ride” – as a gratis download. Not since The Edgar Winter Group has a group made it so easy to take a free ride.

A link to download the three-track, twenty-two minute and eight-second slice of shimmering joy that is Helicon’s “Take the Ride” EP is hidden down below. Before you get there, take the time to learn more about the band, courtesy of guitarist/vocalist John-Paul Hughes.

Who is the one person for whom you have the highest degree of respect for when it comes to musical recommendations? If that’s not possible to narrow down to just one soul without offense, what one person, magazine, radio show, etc. has provided to biggest influence on your musical life thus far?

Christ, there’s way too many to name just one. I guess without wanting to sound predictable Anton Newcombe would probably be to blame. The first time I heard the Brian Jonestown Massacre way back, I decided with my brother Gary, “Fuck it! That’s the shit for me. I’ve no idea what I’m doing but I’m getting myself a fucking amp, a hollow body guitar and we’re putting a band together.” I was introduced to them by our friend Gary Sharp who now also looks after us for all things Helicon related; he’s turned us on to some incredible bands. As well as sniffing around by ourselves – we love keeping up to date with what’s going on in other peoples heads through various shows and podcasts and hearing what guys like DJ Stodmeister (Keith Stodart) and Valis Hertel (Trip Inside This House) are tuning in to. This seems to work for us.

The reason the question is asked is that, like others, we first became aware of Helicon’s “Take the Ride” EP based solely on the “available for download” status read on the excellent blog, Trip Inside This House. This sort of almost blind discovery is one of the pleasant benefits for the modern-day music nerd, with only moderate technical and financial resources needed to explore a world of music. Agree or disagree?

I totally agree. If it weren’t for people, shows and blogs such as these then nobody would have a fucking clue who we are or what we do. Not only is it a brilliant and invaluable method of keeping in touch with what’s going on elsewhere, for us it acts a huge source of inspiration. You hear something new, you’d never otherwise have discovered, and you’re mind races with new ideas and you just want to get together as soon as possible to start jamming and writing away to hopefully come up with something even better.

Keeping with the theme, it wasn’t until the songs from “Take the Ride” had put down roots both in the brain and on the iPod that the additional realization came that Helicon hails from Scotland. Now known, the relationship between your sound and location seems inseparable. How is being based in Scotland a blessing to your music and musical development? And how, if it all, has it been a curse?

If cynicism, brooding guitars and hailing from the same shit-hole town as The Jesus & Mary Chain is a blessing then I guess we can thank Scotland for that. Although our misspent youth hiding from the rain, trying not to become a tracksuit wearing bigot and listening to The Doors and The Velvet Underground seems to have helped shape our tastes and opinions. As far as it being a curse is concerned, the major issue for me is how few people here get us or the genre as a whole. It’s high time there was some decent smoke and psychedelic drugs slipped into the mainstream to turn the kids off the fucking bile they are being subjected to. When a band like Mogwai can hail from the same city as you, and 90% of the population don’t know who they are, there’s something deeply wrong. As a famous Scotsman once said “It’s shite being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. It’s a shite state of affairs to be in and all the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference.”

Clearly, the greatest Scotsman of all time is the Freak from Forfar, the one and only Bon Scott. Realizing that’s really not a question, we nonetheless await your response.

Ha ha, every c**t from Forfar is a freak … but not in a good way!!!

John-Paul and Christian Bland contemplate re-recording "Tattoo You"

“The Point Between Heaven and Hell” can be seen as the highlight of the “Take the Ride” EP, and not just because of its lead-off position and ten-plus minute run time, which certainly sends the hearts of psych-nerds like us all aflutter. The song’s sound fits the title perfectly. What does this song mean to you? Are the concepts of heaven and hell real to you, or just used here as metaphor?

I guess there’s a metaphorical and literal aspect to it. Life itself can feel like that slow unrelenting drift towards the point between heaven and hell. Sitting in purgatory, never sure of your fate (there’s the old catholic educated pre-disposed guilt complex working overtime). A sort of ambiguity to your purpose, and so, as we’re channeled into the system from the moment we’re born, your fate is inextricably linked to the decisions of some fat, greedy bastard in a pin-striped suit. As far as an existence of a heaven and hell? I just don’t buy that at all, even though our school teachers tried to terrify us into believing otherwise. I try not to get too angry about it because I know lots of really decent and good-hearted people who do believe and I feel a little sad that ultimately they’re living and dying in what to them will always be that point of purgatory.

What keeps your musical fascinations afloat? Are there particular things – actions, people, frustrations – that spur you to create music? Or is there really no rhyme or reason?

Other music. Events and people can inspire the lyrics but nothing makes me want to make music (which is always more important to me than the lyrics or singing) more than hearing some other spine-tinglingly brilliant music from someone else. Although to be fair, really fucking bad music can inspire me equally. You hear some of this shite that goes around from these little fucking oxygen-thieving idiots on radio and TV that tries to pass itself of as some credible art form and you can’t help but do your own little bit to counter it and provide an alternative.

No less a psychedelic pioneer than the high-flying John Denver is quoted as having said the following: “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.” Your thoughts?

Fair point, well made, but he should really have been concentrating on flying the plane instead of giving an interview.

What music have you been listening to the most lately? Is there anything on the horizon that you’re particularly excited to hear?

I believe Mogwai are just putting the finishing touches to a new album as are the BJM so that’s always good news. My usual favourites dominate my listening. The Black Angels, Warlocks, BJM, Wooden Shjips etc., etc. I float around new bands a lot and really dig getting the “A Trip Into ….” mixes from Psyilocybin Sounds each month which always has loads of new psych bands I’ve never heard of to check out.

If push comes to shove, which band or artist had the loudest guitar sound that you’ve ever heard live?

Us! Ha ha. I’d have to say, after a gig only a few weeks ago in a Glasgow venue with only a 100 capacity, The Black Angels sound tore the roof off the place. Also, My Bloody Valentine in Glasgow a year or two ago … I can reliably inform anyone who hasn’t saw, or didn’t see, MBV live that the ear plugs that were handed out to the crowd pre-gig were really needed.

What’s next for Helicon?

We’ve got the songs ready to finish our first album which we’re really excited about. There’ll be about 10 absolutely huge tracks on there and we’ve a load of new stuff to get cracked on with straight afterwards. Martin, our drummer, is off to Australia for a while so it’ll need to wait till January before we can get properly stuck in. We’ve also got a cover of NEU’s ‘Hallogallo’ coming out very soon via a label we really respect, Fruits De Mer. They asked us to contribute to a covers compilation album and we probably got a little carried away. It was recorded live, in one take, and its wound up being about 12 minutes long. We’ve also just hosted and played our first psychedelic night in East Kilbride. We got so fed up of bad venues and sound engineers in Glasgow that we’ve decided to start doing it all ourselves… with the assistance of our good friend and sound engineer from our EP’s, Marshall Craigmyle. Lot’s of psychedelic lighting on the go, great DJ’s playing some psych classics… as a band we undoubtedly played our best gig to date. It was a brilliant success and the best night we’ve had in a long time so there’ll be plenty more of that to come……

Ryan – We truly appreciate you listening to our music so thanks for taking an interest and God Bless….. no wait, Fuck, I don’t believe in him, do I ???!!!

Download the “Take the Ride” EP by Helicon



2 Responses to “HELICON”

  1. -valis October 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    It really and truly does make my heart sing when others find out about bands most deserving, like this unruly, unkempt band o’ misfits known as Helicon. Gods love ’em, as i do.


  1. Take a Free Ride with Helicon « Mr. Atavist - October 30, 2010

    […] Head over and get the skinny from John-Paul Hughes {guitar,vocals} himself, info on grabbing their sonic goodies in the form of thier Take the Ride EP, and much more … “… nothing makes me want to make music (which is always more important to me than the lyrics or singing) more than hearing some other spine-tinglingly brilliant music from someone else. Although to be fair, really fucking bad music can inspire me equally. You hear some of this shite that goes around from these little fucking oxygen-thieving idiots on radio and TV that tries to pass itself of as some credible art form and you can’t help but do your own little bit to counter it and provide an alternative.” — John-Paul Hughes at Revolt of the Apes […]

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