I N M E M O R Y O F D A M O N E D G E . . . 1 9 4 9 - 1 9 9 5
Chrome was born in the shadows of San Francisco in 1976. Their first release 'The Visitation' was the beginning of an almost twenty-six year musical embarkment into weirdness, surrealism, and all things strange. Behind the production controls was Thomas Wisse, a.k.a. Damon Edge, who singlehandely financed the project and began the Siren Records label.
When speaking with Damon, one begins to understand the mind that could create such an original sound.
"I can't imagine having to do hard labor to make a living...I couldn't take digging a ditch or something like that. I'd end up thrusting the pick ax through my skull (laughs)... I do all of the artwork on the Chrome albums. I went to the Walt Disney school of art when l was 17..."
On many early albums, he is credited with drums/percussion, synths, vocals, guitars, and tapes. A jack-of-all-trades if you will.
"I really don't care what equipment I use...I've got a Moog Liberation, and a bunch of other shit... but our place was broken into [in Europe] and a bunch of it was stolen... I've got a maestro echoplex too..." Also on board was Gary Spain, Mike Low, and John Lambdin, who were all a key force in the creation of 'The Visitation. Through Gary Spain, Edge was introduced to Helios Creed who was working with Spain in another band. Helios was to become the other acid drenched half of the Chrome sound.
Drawing from such influences as Can, Crime, The Stooges, and Musik Konkrete, the duo produced a sound that no one could possibly emulate.
'Alien Soundtracks', in 1978, developed and explored other audio worlds whilst hammering out a garage punk, psychedelic-jam in the background. 1979's ‘Half Machine Lip Moves', possibly the most famous album of the Chrome repertoire [and often cited as an influence by many bands from GG Allin to The Jesus Lizard], finds Edge and Creed doing all instrumentation/vocals with Gary Spain contributing occasionally. On this album, the raw punk sound was further developed with blasts of taped schizophrenia and synth sound effects.
'Yeah, we recorded those two albums on four track in my living room...I've got tape recorders all over my house because my spirit controls all of the music that I make...I want to always be ready to record anything from my spirit.'
'Read Only Memory', which came out right after 'Half Machin', is a twist of tapes and found sound and features the famous track 'I am the Jaw'. 'Subterranean Modern' (a 1979 compilation feat. four bands), 'Red Exposure' (1980), and 'Inworlds' (1981) were the next three releases featuring Edge on rhythm/percussion and keyboard tracks and creed on guitar and bass tracks. In 1980, several videos were shot: 'New Age' (Three Versions), and 'Meet you in the Subway' which shows Damon and Helios walking the tunnels of San Francisco's BART station, dressed as droogs.
Possibly the tightest of the Chrome releases was 1981's 'Blood On The Moon', Thanks to the help of John and Hilary Stench, from Romeo Void and Vital Parts – playing bass and drums respectively, Chrome moved forward into a strong four-man band sound while retaining the acid sounds of phased keyboards, effected vocals, and otherworldly, chopped up taped textures, The result was a sonic masterpiece.
The same year, Chrome played a festival in Bologna, Italy.
The following year, 1982, proved to be a very productive year for the band with a multitude of releases and videos. 'Third from the Sun' came out, which featured the classic song of the same name [covered by Prong in 1989]. John & Hilary continued to provide the rhythm section, while Helios played guitar, Damon began to sing almost exclusively, and play synths. Damon's wife, a French woman named Fabienne Shine, began to sing slso, and can first be heard on the track 'Off the Line'. Three more videos were released that year, 'Firebomb,' 'The Need,' and 'Danger Zone' (which consists of educational tapes spliced together in an interesting way).
'No Humans Allowed' in 1982, compiled all of the bands discontinued Siren Records releases. Included was the EP 'Inworlds', the b-side of the 'New Age' single, and the b-side of 'Read Only Memory'. Also released was 'The Chrome Box' set, which included four of their old albums, plus new recordings - 'The Chronicles I & II'. On 'The Chronicles', the Stench Brothers provided rhythm, Helios provided stabs of guitar weirdness, and Damon sang and played synths. Occssionally, Fabienne can be heard in the background with her ghostly pleadings. ‘Raining Milk' in 1983 was simply en edited version of 'The Chronicles' which contain some 17+ minutes songs.
In 1984, Chrome-USA vanished. Damon retained the band name and, after moving to Europe with wife Fabienne, recruited a new cast of characters, most of whom had played in Fabienne's band, Shakin' Street.
"I just had to get out. We wanted to move to Europe, but Helios wanted to stay... I looked out to the sky, and all I could see were giant prison bars around the city...What happened with me & Helios was exagerrated by the media...We had some problems with Subterranean Records. They ripped us off. So I left..."
'Into the Eyes of the Zombie King', released on New Rose records, had a more electronic feel as Damon began to use electric drums and sampled loops much more. Also in 1984, Chrome played in France at the Lyon Cultural Center, which was recorded for release. Many tracks were variations on the older Chrome songs, namely, some ‘Blood on the Moon' and 'Third from the Sun' tracks. 'Liquid Forest', also recorded in 1984, was s 180 degree turn, musically, with overlayed backward, repeated rhythms and vocal explorations. Writing conventional "songs" was not the focus here (has it ever been?), as many tracks lead into each other.
'Another World', in 1985 was a much more upbeat album, without the slowed down, dark, electro rhythms. 1986's 'Dreaming In Sequence' album was a continuation of that feeling with many more upbeat tracks and the beginning of Damon's famous echo-wailing. Clean guitars were pushed to the foreground for something totally new to the Chrome sound. 'Eternity', also a 1986 release, is a loose, flowing album with two songs on the A side, one song on the B side. Electro-rhythms, clean synthesizers, and repetitive guitar and vocal themes was the idea here, with a return to a slightly darker, atmospheric, soundtrack sound. In 1987, things picked up again. Damon brought in many more musicians and released 'Alien Soundtracks II’ a dark, electro-synth blast of songs and a return to themes of aliens, other planets, and "Pharaoh Chromium sitting on his throne".
"A lot of people liked the opening song 'Ghost Town'. I wrote that in about a day (laughs)..."
In Germany, during December 1987, Chrome played live. Very little information is available on this event, but it was released as a full length album.
'We need at least $30,000 to start a tour off. Any less and it's just too rough...I got into a little trouble while we were on tour once and the prince of Morocco had to help me out of it (laughs). The prince was a Chrome fan...'
Around this time also, Damon produced four solo Damon Edge albums: 'Alliance' (1985), 'Grand Visions’ (1986), 'The Surreal Rock' (1987), and 'The Wind is Talking' (1986). Somewhat off the beaten path, these albums are often ignored by many Chrome fans. However, several very interesting pieces are contained within.
In the late 80's, Damon and Fabienne parted ways and Damon moved back to L.A., where he had grown up. In 1988, 'One Million Eyes' was released. Continuing on with the return to alien themes and such, Damon overlayed spoken-word, sci-fi samples. Analog synths and phased guitars were used again as somewhat of a return to an older Chrome sound. Side two is a fourteen minute piece. In 1990, 'Mission of the Entranced' came out. There are only two tracks on this album – side one's 'We are not Haunted' and side two's 'Mission of the Entranced'. Both are repetitive themes overlayed with sound effects, voices, and guitars. Damon's strong point was telling interesting stories over a wash of alien sound, and here is no better exsmple.
In 1994, 'The Clairaudient Syndrome' was released. Side one is s straightforward rock venture spiced with Damon's twisted sense of humor. Side two, on the other hand, is a journey into inner space. One can imagine a demented alien war veteran speaking at a podium while the organic hum of the starships engines pulsate and drone quietly in the background.
"My new CD is coming out soon, it's called 'The Clairaudient Syndrome'. Clairaudient is a phenomenon where you hear a sound before it actually happens...I changed all the band members names, we've got a new thing going now."
August, 1995. Thomas Edward Wisse was found dead in his L.A. apartment from heart failure. Reportedly said to have become very sick and agoraphobic, Damon spent the last of his days recording new songs for future releases. Incidentally, 'Angel of the Clouds' features Damon's lost work from the album 'Days of Beauty’. After somewhat patching things up with Helios, the two talked of a reunion, which, obviously, never happened.
In any event, Damon had a brilliant vision and created Chrome. His memory continues to live on through his twenty years of recordings, his artwork, and stories.
- ANDREW MULLEN
All the material on this site has been compiled from other sources. Brent Marley has a site dedicated to chrome & helios creed (www.helioschrome
.com)he should be commended for painstakingly typing the interviews by hand and scanning alot of the pictures and photo's as well. The videos came from (www.youtube.com/user/HeliosChrome) a great you tube channel dedicated to the music of chrome and helios creed.In addition there is also a website (www.staticwhitesound.com) where you can purchase and/or learn more about the history of chrome and their music, another site alot of the information on here is culled from .Helios Creed also has a site on the internet I would advise everyone to look into ( www.helios-creed.com.). .