13 Nov

Exclusive Interview with Page Hamilton of Helmet!

I’m so excited I can barely write this post.  I had the amazing opportunity to interview Page Hamilton of Helmet regarding his “Close to Home” art project.  All the information came back to me today and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Corey Danziger of SceneFour.

“Close To Home” is the art project Page Hamilton began to mark the 20th year of Helmet with “200 epic canvases for Helmet Believers worldwide.” You can see more information at Legacy Of Helmet. I now present to you the interview and some pictures directly from Page Hamilton.

MNTB: Where did this idea come from? I know you did some work with David Bowie. Did he give you any ideas?

PAGE: Bowie influenced everyone that came after him. Playing with him in ’99, there were a lot of tidbits of info that I picked up. He is extremely intelligent. It’s not like he said, “you do an art piece.” I was actually approached by creativity house SceneFour with the art collection idea, and then I developed a concept for the art that I love.

MNTB: How long have you been working on these pieces?

PAGE: Six months ago, that’s when we decided to start this project.

MNTB: Do you have a favorite piece or one that sticks out more than the others for you?

PAGE: Well, the basic piece is going to be the Close to Home canvas. It’s the one constant in each piece in the series. Then the collector will be able to request specific songs, and I’ll be augmenting the canvas individually per song from the Helmet catalog. Initially, it was going to be completely at my discretion, but then I thought it would be cool to let the collector have the selection. I’m actually excited after getting my chops down on the first few pieces I’ve done. I was a little nervous to begin with, but once I dug into it, it was great.

MNTB: Did all the items in the pieces come from you diligently collecting it all and putting it in a safe place or were there contributions from the various band mates?

PAGE: Helmet was my brainchild, as I’m the songwriter, producer and guitar player, but when I began spending time with SceneFour and started discussing what we wanted to accomplish, it became clear to me that I want to explore growing up in America, American music, incorporating my family and my upbringing. I thought it would be interesting to delve into that. One of my favorite eras of rock and art is the 60s and 70s and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here had an influence on the artistic direction that this went. Almost all of the photos in the Close to Home collage are from the 60s and 70s. I think that the Hypnosis cover had that 60s normalcy to it, and yet there are bits of imagery that are ominous. I found that the photos we used had an inherent mystery to them particularly the one of my mom and I at less than a year old in front of the gas tank or nuclear orb thing. I’m looking up into the clouds. It gives out a kind of perspective, the innocence of being a child, starting life with open eyes and also a looming danger ahead…sort of the trials and tribulations of life on the planet. I was really happy that in the end we decided to make an art piece for the project as opposed to a piece that is all about Page Hamilton rock star.

MNTB: Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer………and now an artist. Is this something you may continue on the side joining Bowie, Lennon, Iggy Pop and other musicians who have expanded into art?

PAGE: I am thoroughly enjoying this project and process. My eyes are open. And I’ve always been open to the creative thought process. I’m so blessed to do what I love. It’s incredible. And for me, it’s never been about the financial reward. I’ve been on a path, and this project is expanding my pallet. Pardon the pun. I’m open to this.

MNTB: After all 200 pieces are out, will this be an ongoing thing with something new coming out every year or so? And have you thought of having any fan collaborations where they give you pieces of your history from shows they’ve been to?

PAGE: I’ve actually thought about that in the past, but my brain works in an organized way. I’ve got good work habits, and I typically don’t think of things, or projects, in terms of how to collaborate or produce. I’m always open to things. But I’m constantly running around, and I’ve always got things to produce, the educational thing and clinics which I love doing. I’m not sitting around thinking about things to do. So, in terms of the art, this piece and project is a yearlong process, and we are now in the middle of it. I’m taking things a day at a time and giving my full attention. It’s not my style to think two steps ahead. We are in the formative stages of an interesting project, a project that is going on for the next year or so.

MNTB: You’ve said you loved playing live as opposed to being in the studio. Any chance you’ll be doing any live art pieces?

PAGE: No, actually I think that’s a misprint because I love both environments. I love touring and playing live and the studio is an incredible creative environment. But really my favorite part of the process is the writing. Sitting down with a cup of coffee and a guitar, working on lyrics and music is my favorite. In terms of doing any live art pieces, I’m actually going to New York to be taped for an artist’s installation. It’s going to be videotaped and will be part of the installation. So definitely this project did open my mind and eyes to possibilities, and I always had an interest in art and painting. I’m not a painter, but I love painting and I love time with paintings.

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