Since earning second place at Supernova’s Van Sessions, Helmz Deep has definitely caught the attention of our staff – our music reviewer Matt caught my ears with an email reading: " ...these guys are pretty f-in rad; feel like I should be blaring their tunes while riding my motorcycle through kicking horse pass, intoxicated, with a stripper on the back... " - and I’ve been enjoying their stuff so far :)
With an upcoming gig at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver’s Hysteria Finals, you can expect to hear a lot more from this band very soon. In the meantime, let me present to you… Helmz Deep:
Glen Dobson - Vocals Martin Saunders - Guitar Ryan Martel - Drums Eric Lipschultz – Bass
Helmz Deep - To Hell
So guys, how does each individual fit into the band?
Martin Saunders I formed the band back in 1998. Then we have Ryan Martel on Drums he has been with us since the beginning. We had auditioned several drummers by the time Ryan came in and he totally blew us away. He smoked and played at the same time and sang back ups like a pro so we knew he was the one!
More recently we met up with Eric who plays bass. We call him Lippy and most people think it’s because his last name is Lipschultz; but trust me, that isn't why we call him Lippy!
Then there is me, Glen Dobson fronting the band. Everybody calls me Dobber. But that is because of my last name.
Do you have any other nicknames?
We have always referred to each other in the band as "Peckerhead". It started off as a friendly ribbing when things went wrong: "Come on Peckerhead; get it together!" type of thing. But over the years it became a term of endearment among the band members. It's a badge of honor to be a Peckerhead now.
What got you where you stand as a band today?
We formed the band back in 1998. Martin had just moved to Vancouver from Peterborough and was hoping to break into the music scene. I had moved here from Calgary the year before with the same goal. We used to hang out on the front stoop of the building playing guitar and waiting for the U.I. checks to arrive; (Laughs) that’s when we put this plan of ours into action. We formed the band and started writing songs.
None of us come from money so we were never able to afford a pro studio recording. We all worked just to afford food and the instruments we needed to play, and would do recording with guys who were trying to get a start as a producer or engineer. I guess the days of being discovered and then the label recording you were gone by that point. You needed to have a pro recording first.
We learned the hard way it took some capital to get a start in this business. But we are nothing if not persistent so 12 years later here we are still going for it.
Why the name Helmz Deep?
We got the name Helmz Deep from our original bass player. He was reading Lord of the Rings at the time and threw it out there as a band name, we all liked it. Though the rest of us didn't know what the name meant or where it was from and Dave just said he got it from a book he was reading.
We actually found out it was from lord of the rings while playing a show with a band called Mr. Underhill (apparently this is a Lord of the Rings name too) He was stoked that we were all playing on the same bill. He said “man it’s going to be a night of Tolkien!” We of coarse had a totally different idea of what a night of tokin' meant! (Laughs). Once we found out though we were already pretty attached to the name; so we said ”what the hell nobody really reads that book any more” but then the movie came out… Oh well. It’s still a really cool name!
That’s pretty hilarious. How would you describe your band’s sound?
We are definitely a rock band and our sound reflects that. We have driving riffs and really melodic vocals. We are big believers in the emotion that is caused by a great riff and meaningful lyrics put together with a great melody line. I think the best description is BIG. We have a big sound, harmonies and drive that create an emotional experience with some thought provoking lyrics.
Helmz Deep - Stalker
What is the most rewarding thing about being in a band?
Obviously the most rewarding thing is being able to say you’re in a band and impress chicks! Let’s face it that’s why everyone gets into a band, right? (Laughs) Seriously though the most rewarding thing is to be able to put your heart and soul into something as a group and then sit back and really be satisfied with what you accomplished together.
Being in a band is alot like sex and pizza; even when it sucks; it’s still pretty good. (Laughs)
Was there any particular moment or event that made you realize you wanted to pursue music full time?
That’s easy; it was the first time we played for somebody. The second our first song was done and the room exploded with applause, that was it. It hit me like a lightning bolt. It’s as close as I will get to understand a heroin addict because ever since that day I have been chasing that high.
The cool part is I still get that feeling every time we play live. The second the crowd responds, I’m back in that place with that feeling of euphoria. It is what makes you keep going when you feel like it will never happen and maybe you should quit. The roar of the crowd puts you back on track and you keep chasing it.
What is the biggest challenge facing ‘new’ artists, in your opinion?
Exposure, exposure, exposure. There are so many great bands out there today, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of new acts. To stand out and be heard is that much harder. It seams like unless you know somebody in the business or have an endless promotion budget you don’t stand a chance.
It’s the old catch 22, you can’t get a following unless you get better gigs, and you can’t get better gigs unless you have a following. You can rehearse all you want in your jam space; it’s never the same as a live show. Everything changes live, your at the mercy of the sound man and it takes a lot to put on a great show to an empty room; but you have to do it. Getting your name out there is definitely the biggest challenge.
We have been waiting for Seeds for 12 years! So we knew all about it from The Fox. We have entered before but we knew our recording wasn’t up to par. This year we had the recording and the songs. It has been an awesome experience! We have gotten exposure we never would have received other wise. Placing in the top 50 was a huge jump.
We have also had over sixteen thousand views on our profile page since the Seeds contest thanks to Supernova! Now we are number three for top songs on the main page and people are getting connected with us like never before. We have met some great bands like Jesus Krysler and BlackburnX who have been a lot of fun to do shows with and our fan base has increased ten fold.
I would tell other bands to get involved in this site ASAP! Get a good recording and put it out there. At the very least you can connect with other bands and network to increase your fan base. It is well worth the effort.
Where is your favourite place to practice or play?
The Roxy; I have wanted to play that place since I moved to Vancouver. We finally got to play there as part of Supernova’s Van Sessions - and it didn’t disappoint! It was awesome. Great stage, good crowd; and hey we won 2nd place and the Wildcard vote! So we pulled it off pretty well. Commodore Ballroom... your next!
What other artists do you look up to?
For me (Glen) it is Maynard James Keenan. Tool, A Perfect Circle, Pussifer - I love them all. He is such a great lyricist and for me it’s all about the lyrics. Also Nickelback; I know, everyone knocks them because they are so successful; “sell out” they say. But I think that is just jealousy; they write great songs and obviously they do it right and that is why they are so successful. That is what we all strive to do.
(Martin) - Wow, that's a tuff one. James Hetfeild, Jimmy Page, David Gilmore and Toni Lomi are all guys i look up to, and the bands they play their music for, obviously. Riffs hit me on an emotional level. The most important ingredient in music for me is feeling and these guys all have loads of it!
(Ryan) - I'm pretty strange when it comes to stuff I listen too. Anything from country, to jazz, hip hop, latin, you name it! There is no real artist I look up to the most, accept for Dobber... cause he is staring me down right this moment...
(Lippy) - As a Bass player of course the Chilli Peppers are right up there, Van Halen and Stone Temple Pilots as well.
So is there such a thing as ‘bad’ music?
I would define bad music as any music designed just for sales. No love just dollars. Songs written to a formula by a corporation based on proven sales. Other than those corporate made songs; music is art. How can it be wrong? It’s just someone’s artistic expression and that is what music should be about; like it or hate it.
Anything else that makes your band unique?
Even now that we have a pro recording; we still have people constantly say that we sound better live then we do on the album. I think that is solely due to the connection we make with the audience during the live shows.
We are entertainers who recorded our music on CD. We are out there telling a story with passion and conviction. Let’s face it what’s better a great story heard on a CD or seen on film? That will never change. But the music and story that is told by Helmz Deep is real, no fluff, no formulas just 4 real people bearing their souls for the world to see. People should check it out for themselves.