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QnA Buffet w/ Scott Helman

Does each member of the band have a nickname? If yes, spill them! If not, please make them up right now!

Callum Maudsley, AKA Callous, cause once a lady at the airport mispronounced his name this way and it suddenly made a lot of sense (dude to the incessant guitar playing).

Julian Pshigious, AKA Chips, cause his last name sounds like Ahoyous and so that makes Chips Ahoyous and, u kno, that’s pretty funny.

Dylan Burrett, AKA Dill Pickle, ‘cause once he ordered pickles for dinner and, u kno, that’s pretty funny too.

All artists go through periods where they seem to lack creativity, when you’re experiencing one of these phases, what do you do to get yourself out of it?

I’d say at this point I’ve somewhat divided my life into two stages that I pendulate between: The Album Cycle and The Writing Cycle. I think the best perspective I’ve been taught by mentors is friends when stuck without inspiration is to pay attention to how you’ve gotten out of it before. When I’m in a “Writing Cycle”, I pay attention to small details like what clothes I wear, how often I eat, how I treat myself etc. Each person is different, but for me, the self-deprecation train is usually the hardest hurdle to cross. That train is usually the thing keeping me from writing what I truly need to write. Paradoxically, being hard on yourself, if not taken overboard, can be a useful tool to keep yourself in check and find out what you really want. And so I’ve become a believer that “writer’s block” is not some inexplicable obstruction, but the manifestation of a real issue that needs to be resolved, keeping you from the lyric, or the feeling, or the song as whole, like some boss in a video game standing in from of the gate to the next level. If you can’t get to the point, there’s probably a reason, and at that point, it really just boils down to the work (or therapy!).

What are some of your earliest musical influences that have found their way into the music you’re currently making?

As of late I’ve been growingly inspired by the music I was raised on. When I started to play guitar, I was enamoured with the fact that I had found something I could call my own, since no one in my family was musical, and “art” wasn’t really a high subject in my household. Through that I became quite indignant about my parent’s music (both British, both ‘80s babies). Because I had found a new outlet for expression, I had also found a new outlet for discovery, and I felt myself becoming drawn to singer songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley, Tom Waits etc, and a lot of Canadian music (which, to my teenage joy, my parents couldn’t quite understand on a cultural level). Still, the waring had to end, and somewhere along the line (probably in an intoxicated state) I heard Hungry Like The Wolf and just couldn’t deny. I probably exist somewhere in the middle now, combining my love for my coveted music, and my love for my parents’ music. Right now my big go-to’s are Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, George Michael etc.

Aside from other artists and music, what inspires you?

The weird, beautiful, kind and confusing mind of my girlfriend.

All touring bands know that no two venues are created equal. What are some of the best rooms you’ve played and why?

Back when I was touring with WOTE (Walk Off The Earth), we played The Roundhouse in London UK. I’m a history fan, and have always felt that the significance of the past events of a place change that place, and give it a strange value. From its political history (See The Dialectics of Liberation), to the sheer amount of incredible acts that have blessed the stage (Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and the list goes on). Plus my whole extended family is from the UK, and they got to see me play in the legendary 3,000 seater.

Are there any band photographers that you’re into and would love to be shot by?

I’m not sure about photographers, but my favourite music video director is Daniel Wolfe. See Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky Short Film or The Shoes – Time To Dance (featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as a serial killer). Dark stuff, but SO GOOD.

Lots of songs start out with a working title and are eventually renamed, what were some of the original names of your songs before they were complete?

Before I got together with Simon Wilcox, Tawgs Salter and Ron Lopata to write PDA, I had written a poem called Hungover, which turned into a song I was working on. It was OK, but I felt the lyrics were better than the song, so I scrapped it and brought them to the session. From there we wrote PDA, which was just a word mentioned in the first verse.
Beatles or Rolling Stones and why?

I was once at this yuppie bar in downtown Toronto, and sat next to this guy. He was nice, and we chatted for a while. Then he told me if he ever dated a girl who said she liked the Beatles more than the Rolling Stones, he would break up with her. I was so unnerved that started to pack up my things and leave.  Then he accused me of stealing his phone, which the bartender quickly noticed was right in front of them. So I guess both.

Do you believe in the term ‘sold out’? 

I do reject the notion that progression is selling out, as do I reject the notion that commerciality is selling out. I think people have sold out before they’ve begun. If you’re in it for anything other than the expression of your most necessary thoughts, and the passion of creating something beautiful (and hopefully sustaining yourself economically by doing so), than you’re probably already there. Luckily I have an amazing team of passionate, beautiful people!! 🙂

Tell us 3 bands that we should be listening to/be keeping an eye out for?

Alvvays, Francis and the Lights, Turnover.

Scott Helman plays two intimate Australian shows this week, get tix here:

Scott Helman @ OAF, Sydney

Scott Helman @ The Toff In Town, Melbourne