Interview: Helsott on Cowboy Concepts and Creative Energy

Known as American pagan metal, Helsott take a page out of a different book on their new record, Will and the Witch, out today via M-Theory Audio. We caught up with lead vocalist Eric Dow to talk about the concept behind the record and what prompted them to embrace the Wild West aesthetic.

How did the concept of this record come to be? 

We were on our way to a gig in Las Vegas, and we were driving through the desert, and me and my drummer just looked around at the landscape and were like, we should do a Western album, man. Look at this landscape. We got plenty of inspiration all around us. I mean, we live in California, which is basically the desert, and I’ve been a fan of American history and Wild West culture and all that my whole life, especially the movie Young Guns. So we were just driving through the desert and came up with the concept.

When we came up with it, we still had an album to put out already that we were working on, so we had to wait until that was done. And then we started working on this one, and basically it’s just a fan fiction concept album about how Billy the Kid became the fastest gun in the West. I included shamanism and Native American culture and paganism and voodoo and you all sorts of fun, mystical stuff right along with actual history of Billy the Kid and then kind of meshed it into, like, a funny, fun little story.

What was the writing and recording process like for this one? 

It went really smoothly. We started writing, like, late 2019. When we came back from our last European tour,  we had our10th anniversary shows scheduled on March 20. And so for the first time, we decided to take four months off from playing live and just focus on that one show and writing. And then a week before that show hit, COVID hit, and all the venues closed down. But we had already gotten started writing on the album.

So when everything kind of shut down, we just hunkered down in the garage and just kept writing So one of the things that was different was, instead of all of us bringing in, like, a part here and a part there and little ideas, we were all stuck in a room together. There was nothing else to do. So we were all able to just write the album together as a full band and just hammer it out. And the whole process was very organic. We wrote it very quickly. We’re very happy with it. You know, a lot of our albums, a lot of people talk about how inconsistent they are, that we try to throw too many genres all in at once or whatever, but I think this one, you can tell we’re pretty focused on what we were doing.

Do you have any touring plans you want to announce? 

Yeah, absolutely. We’re trying to hit the road for the first time since 2019. I believe October or November 2018 was last time we toured within Europe. We’re trying to keep it simple. You know, the whole kiss thing—Keep it keep it simple, stupid. And so I just booked a short, nine-day West Coast tour. We’re bringing our buddies from Pennsylvania along who we’ve toured the East Coast with, and they’ve toured with us in Europe and Canada, but we’ve never really done the West together, and they’ve never played the West Coast, so it’ll be cool to bring them along.

We’re starting in Hollywood and headed up north Sacramento, the San Francisco area, and Portland, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake City, back to San Diego, and then down to Arizona and call it done. Hopefully none of the shows get canceled, and hopefully we make it through and get the cobwebs off and all that because we have booked the HRH Viking festival in December. That’s in Sheffield, England, and it’s a rad festival. We’re really looking forward to it, and we absolutely plan on booking a small tour in Europe and the U.K. around it. We’ve played five or six shows now since August last year.

Look out for tour and music announcements in the future, and check out the band here. 

Photo courtesy of Helsott 

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