Former member of acclaimed Indie band The Seahorses, in which
he penned and performed tunes with John Squire, Chris Helme has never
been one to shy away from the limelight. However, since The Seahorses
disbanded, Chris has been hard at work pursuing other musical avenues, not least
by means of York-based band The Yards. Aside from his exploits in bands, Chris
is keen to write and perform solo material.
What's more, he's recently released his debut solo album: Ashes.
Chris plays at Lamp in Hull on Tuesday 15th July 08.
Here, in an exclusive interview with Steve Rudd, Chris talks about life both
in The Seahorses and The Yards, and about a recent
show he did at York Minster in aid of charity. He also makes mention to the
state of the current music scene in York, while alluding to the music
promotion he does for The Num Num Club in the city...
Hi Chris, how you doing?
Better than ever, thanks.
You've recently released your debut solo album, Ashes. Was the release a long tin in-the-making?
Well, I have been writing and recording ever since The Seahorses split up, and also playing with The Yards who are on their third album now, so yes it has been a long time, but more of a case of fitting it in with everything else. Plus I've got an Xbox and an 8 year old son, so there's always that temptation to shoot each other over and over again for hours and hours and hours. I've lost too many years to Sony and Microsoft.
Given that you've been involved in the music industry for so many years, have you never attempted to release any solo stuff before now, or have different circumstances thus far prevented you from doing so?
I never really thought about going on my own until now, and after looking into it it seemed like it was possible to do without a big deal. There are so many more avenues to take these days. The Internet is so readily available and recording gear is so cheap. There really wasn't any excuse not to crack on with it. Apart from the Xbox.
In a nutshell, how would you describe the time you spent in The Seahorses, in the light of the widespread critical and commercial acclaim that the band received at the height of its creative powers?
It was hard to see what was going on as we were all in the thick of it.
I have some pleasant memories of it all and I wouldn't change any of it for the world.
It was a steep learning curve, but I got a lot out of it, although the sayings fog
of war and smoke and mirrors spring to mind ... It was a great experience, but you
got to keep looking forwards, not backwards.
As well as penning and performing solo material these days, you also manage to find time to play I York-based band, The Yards. How did that outfit come about?
The Yards are the brothers I never had. I will always have time for the band; they keep me grounded and we all make sure we hook up regularly to write and record. It's a pleasure and an honour to be in The Yards and I'm going to stop now before I well up. We are mixing our 3rd album at the moment and planning on taking it on tour when it's cooked.
You recently played a gig at York Minster with Hayley Hutchinson in aid of charity. Is that the kind of thing you've done before?
If it's for a noble cause then yes, I'll do it. Who wouldn't? Not that I've done Hayley though, although I have sang on her album and she's sang on mine. Sorry, that was rather crass for this time of day. She's mint, and Sam, her fella, is a dude. They are the Sorry Kisses. Myspace them, you'll like... I promise.
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