For the past two years Chris Helme has been out of the media spotlight writing songs which in time will make up the bulk of his debut solo album. It the only time he's ever really felt at ease and is the first to admit there were times in The Seahorses when he "sold his arse". Early next year he realeases a 6 Track solo acoustic CD before heading into the studio with PJ Harveys producer and the full Chris Helme band.
Q: I believe you've been touring for about 3 months solid now. How is it to be back on stage again?
A: Yeah, its been pretty much 3 months. I did an acoustic tour round and about, then we did some recording, found a new guitarist and now were on the road again. I haven't actually stopped playing since the Seahorses split up...its just that I've been doing it in different guises really. As soon as the Seahorses split up I joined this band full of my mates but we just ended up getting stoned and making a racket.
Then I started doing some acoustic stuff on my own again, joined another group of people and since then it just kind of developed till what it is now. I know now that I've got a fucking amazing bass player which is Stuart from the Seahorses and John Miller the drummer is fucking great as well. I think its the only time when I've really felt at ease.
Q: The Chris Helme solo stuff is just totally different from the Seahorses. No more "muso-wank" to use your own words?
A: I didn't say that. Every time any journalist wanted to know anything they were more interested in what dirt I had to spill on John. And I don't really have any dirt to spill on John. The thing is I didn't like his music and he didn't like my music and there's nothing wrong in that...it was nothing to fall out or anything.
They asked me what sort of music I was doing and listening to so I said Van Morrisson and load of stuff like that. "So what would you describe your music as" they went and I was like "nothing muso, not a load of wank".
Q: Wasn't there supposed to be a live album coming out this month as well?
A: No, no no...there was supposed to be a live album out. I was sort of doing it and I started listening back to it and it wasn't up to scratch. A lot of other people did but when I hadn't released anything for nearly 3 years I'd like it to pretty good...it was good but it wasn't brilliant.
I'm doing a solo acoustic thing which will have about six songs on it. I wander round oblivious to what people think and they're always asking when I'm going to get stuff out. It doesn't really bother me that I haven't because I'm playing and stuff then I forget why I'm doing it. I tend to really hate recording...i'm really fucking picky and i'm never really happy.
"Do It Yourself" the Seahorses album I can pick that to holes until there's nothing left of it. So I'm finally going to do a solo acoustic thing with six tracks on. I then heading into the studio with the band and a guy called Ed who did the PJ Harvey stuff...we've done some stuff with him already and he's just totally chilled out and lets us get on with it.
Q: We haven't heard a note of your new stuff so its as much for us guys as the readers. How would you describe you solo stuff? We've heard the names Starsailor and the Verve banded around when talking about your music?
A: Wasn't I doing stuff before Starsailor. I haven't got Starsailors album and I've only heard a few songs on the radio but I wouldn't say its like that. I don't sit in my bedroom and start writing my persona down and what the music is like...I know there are probably people who do but I won't start naming names.
All it is the songs that have started off acoustically, we play them as a band and they develop. I don't think it sounds like the Verve or Starsailor though...there would be no point in us playing pastiches of what's gone before.
Q: What have you been listening to in the past year then. Anything contemporary?
A: As you know if you put Radio 1 on you're not going to hear anything you like. I really liked the Charlatans new single and strangely enough Kylie Minogue's single "Can't Get You Out Of Head". I went to see one of her gigs and it was brilliant but I got collared from one of the journalists from Q outside. But I liked it because it was a proper performance...I think if I had to watch someone like me I'd be really bored!!!
Q: It's a cliché but from what you saying it seems like its a case of "I'm doing it for myself and if anyone else likes it, its a bonus". Have you got any ambitions for your solo career?
A: All I want to do is write music and play with other people. I can play with myself whenever I want!!! That was one thing with the Seahorses I was never allowed to do...I was almost sued by my manager if I went off and did something on my own because it doubled their workload and they into that at all. That was one of the frustrating bits about being in the Seahorses and I kind of sold my arse a bit about that.
I'd go as far to say I'm not happy with it being called Chris Helme at the moment. I'm only doing that so people will come down to the gigs but i'm trying to think of a band name. With The Seahorses John thought of that name and all the other bands I've been have had really ludicrous names like Chutzbar. If someone was to say they'd heard a band called Coldplay you'd think it was shit but it tends to loose the shitness if your songs are good.
Q: Looking back at the Seahorses do you regret any of it?
A: Not at all. I'm in the frame of mind of whatever happens happens and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. The thing was it was very difficult because the music John was getting into was very different from the style of music I was getting into. I didn't want to be in a rock band that was the sort of rock band he wanted to be in...I get really bored listening to loads of guitar solos and John thrives on that.
Me & John weren't particularly close anyway...there quite an age gap and because of everything he's done in the past I don't think he wanted to be bored by are little pathetic lives. He was never really that interested in what we were doing, he never rang us up and I never used to ring him up. I haven't spoke to him since the band split up.
Knowing John he's probably up to something and you won't know what it is until he comes out with something. He likes to keep things under wraps...only he knows what he's doing!!!
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