Sounds May 10, 1980 - by John Gill
Everyone was talking about it. In the pubs, on the tube, at bus stops. A perfect stranger volunteered me information that the last war hadn't started like this at all. Three teenage office girls on the tube chatted about - of all things - mortality. One fancied being mummified - she couldn't bear the idea of being forgotten after she died. And the fates conspired that on the day America's menopausal redneck of a President dragged us all a step or ten closer to the Big One, Sounds met one of the people who'll probably be asked to supply incidental music for the holocaust; A Chrome.
One Damon Edge of San Francisco, to be precise; along with Helios Creed the sum total of Californian futurists Chrome, who have just signed to Beggars Banquet and released their fourth album, 'Red Exposure'. Edge was in London to finish off a promo video of 'New Age', the single off the album, and respond to the abuse hurled his way by various Sounds journalists. Me Included.
Of all the bands to bob up in the wake of The Residents, Chrome ask for it most. Unintentionally, it seems, they've come up with a new music closer to the spirit of Hawkwind than that of Pere Ubu; hard, clanking rhythm, raucous electronics and Fritz lang lyrics. Edge repels accusations of plagiarism or bandwagon-jumping with a charming indifference.
"It doesn't matter," he replies blithely. "I was playing 'not quite right' music, looking for something new, at art school. I don't give a shit if someone accuses me of plagiarism. Point out the songs we've ripped off!"
Point taken. So where are Chrome's roots?
"Helios was kinda...we had different roots. We both had rock roots, but he had more rock roots and I had more, I don't know, aesthetic desires. In terms of not doing something stupid."
"Most rock is very stupid. Good rock is great, but when you hear these guys singing weird lyrics like "Dance to the music" - it really does something strange to my brain. This boogie thing makes me feel like throwing grenades!"
Careless talk costs sales, but this isn't rhetoric; after a few hours of talking to him, Edge's remarks underline a simple communication problem; a question of semiotics. He's genuinely undisturbed that the language he uses at home might leave him open to criticism here. And so, if rock's out as a mentor, how about the avant-garde?
"Naw. That's not where it's coming from. We don't take ideas from other people's music. A lot of times it may be something that might have been done already, but we haven't heard it."
He seals this by reeling off various bands to whom Chrome have been compared; Residents, Faust, Eno, Can, Neu. He heard the last two recently, but denies all knowledge of the others. In fact, it's impossible to get him to pin down Chrome - "it defies simplicity, simplistic explanation" - or any personal likes or dislikes. The last album he and Helios listened to together was Iron Butterfly's 'In-a- Gadda-da-Vida', sometime last year.
"With each album, we always try to make a total change," he offers, citing the soon-come soundtrack EP to Chrome's film, 'Read Only Memory', due soon from Red Records. The soundtrack is a busy collection of diverse atmospheric, Gristle-style pieces, and the film itself - which he also declines to put into concrete terms - is unlikely to be shown here in the near future.
Edge's lyrics and song-titles seethe with a future-shock, wasteland atmosphere. Post-nuclear, even. But Damon ain't having no truck with our irradiated inheritance, either.
"We're not into negative stuff. I'm not into projecting negative crap. We're into positives. We're not Devo, Dig?"
"We're into greenbelt zones, in the context that they might be here in a few years." He explains that greenbelt zones are areas of the globe theoretically ear-marked for ecological stability; no wars, no defoliation, no overdevelopment. Arcadia...But your lyrics would imply the reverse, Damon.
"I don't know what our lyrics mean at the time. I may find out a few months later." It seems that his lyrics arrive spontaneously during recording, automatic writing-style, and contain " a lot of personal, hidden meanings." But, he stresses, "That doesn't mean that we intend to be obscure. It just sounds right to me."
And, flipping back to our overture, Mr Edge's reaction to the events of the day; the American non-raid on the US Embassy in Teheran, and Mr Bani Sadr's talk of "Acts of war".
"None of this surprises me. I've been expecting this. I've been thinking of taking my family to an island!"
It seems ironic, indeed Karmic, that on the day he met the press the West almost went and provided the visuals to his soundtrack. Does he see any link?
"Yeah! Oh fuck! We're totally aware of that. It's not sci-fi, it's physics! We're all products being fed a lot of bullshit."
Prescience aside, he feels that Chrome are indirectly influenced by the onslaught of the end of civilisation as we know it blah blah, but says that the vinyl result is more "a personal, reflective response" rather than a morbid obsession with oblivion. "It's masochistic to even think on that level any more!" he reproaches.
It may seem like a pose, but a nice guy stands behind the Image unwittingly strung up by our different cultures and symbols. You may get to see so yourself when Chrome gig here (possibly) later this year. Unless, of course, they have other plans for you.
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.). .