. I did an interview earlier and somebody asked me if I [knew I] was onto something back when I was first writing. I said, “Yeah. I always thought I was good.” We’re not the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or AC/DC. But Helmet always sounded like Helmet, and we sort of developed our own sound. There’s a vocabulary that’s kind of universal now that’s very simple. My friendDavid Sims, [the bassist] in Jesus Lizard, said, “I wish I’d thought of it.” When you first hear it, it’s like, “Oh duh.” But that’s cool.
The problem is that the internet IS some kid in a basement with an opinion. The fact that David Bowie and Elton John told me that they were fans of Helmet – or Neil Young – that means something to me because I grew up on their music and they’re great musicians… That means more to me than some guy who hates the fact that my hair is short.
Later after college I discovered Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, and those kind of bands. My tastes have changed but I still carry a lot of the influences from my youth.
People keep asking me if recently performing the Betty album will influence the song-writing and I think it might. There’s songs on that record that I forgot about and it’s really nice to have that variety in the set along with tracks from Strap It On, Meantime, Aftertaste, Size Matters, Monochrome, and Seeing Eye Dog.
We’ve played it [Milquetoast] a million times. When you play a song that much you sort of become disconnected with the lyrics. It’s just another song essentially about people’s opinions and being told how to live your life even though they may have less life experience than you have.
I was into jazz even when I was a kid. My parents would play Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, and Dixieland music. I loved The Monkees, The Beatles, The Eagles, and America.
Whenever I work on the computer, I have folders and you know how you always give everything working titles, if you have a riff or a motif or a chord progression or a lyric written on a page, it’s just a line or a word or something so I always give everything a working title when I’m making a folder.
To me, music and songwriting is… part of the intriguing thing is the creative process; you know, the creative thought process. Relying on that… there is some sort of inspiration there and you can’t always put your finger on where it comes from. So, it’s always been important for me to have my own thing and, even though I’m inspired by and influenced by many different musicians and styles of music, I was very determined early on to have my own thing. So when I sit down to write I don’t necessarily have a particular narrative or message in mind. I’m interested in language and in words.
We did a really cool video for this song [Milquetoast] with Alex Winter from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure fame. He’s an extremely intelligent guy. Butch Vig also did a mix for The Crow movie.
We went to South America on a trip and all I had was a Robert Johnson album. So that’s a definite influence on the album. My bandmates John [Stanier, drummer] and Henry [Bogdan, bassist] were interested in expanding their roles as writers, so that had a positive impact on the record.
People are always going to have favorite albums or songs and you know that’s more the listener’s personal bias than basing it on anything musical or actual. I’m the same way as a listener.