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Answers by Cooper Dustman
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
We discovered music in the early days from our parents' generation ( 1950’s through the 1980’s). Bands like Steppenwolf, Iron Maiden, and The Doors. Even some oldies like The Beach Boys, The Mamas & Papas, and Howlin’ Wolf made their way to our ears. If we did not get into music I don't know what the fuck we’d be doing. It's such a big part of our lives, that we would probably find one way or the other back into it even in an alternate reality.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We find comfort in nature, barbequing, fishing and camping. Just having a good time with our friends does the trick. Literature is a big one too, so much of the world is hidden in books. We also enjoy being on the road, sightseeing if we have the time... I think a lot of bands share the longing for a tour and all the exploration that comes with it.
How long has your band been around?
Eric and Mark founded the band in 2010, they and I had many other groups before so we were all pretty seasoned when I joined in 2011. We have even brought back riffs/ songs from our younger days, adjusting the tunings and changing the lyrics to fit our current vibe and themes.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of Southern California, this had a big impact or what we heard on the radio. Southern Rock is and has always been a big influence on the group. Bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, CCR, Allman Brothers, America, etc. But we can't leave out the southern juggernauts of our time, even some of our band members had the privilege to see the mighty Pantera live many times. They were a true game changer!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
We wanted something dark in the Germanic/Icelandic/Norse lore. In “Helsótt” you have all 3 meaning the same thing, “Hels Journey” or “Fatal Illness.” The name stuck and we are proud to wear it!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
One has to be Cernnunos Pagan fest in France in 2019. We drank hot mead before the show and had our first wall of death, completely unexpected! They were one of the best crowds and we could tell they genuinely enjoyed our music. The energy was off the charts, so much that at the end of our set I threw my stick very hard at the crowd by accident. It was a low ceiling so I couldn't lob it like I normally would and it ricocheted off someone's head. Mark saw the whole thing and couldn't stop laughing at me for it, makes for a good tale but to whoever that was... I’m very sorry!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Here in the US we love playing at Brick by Brick in San Diego. They are the most hospitable and it's an honor that we have the chance to build a following there. We are grateful beyond words to call it our stomping ground. In December this year, we are scheduled to play our first show in England at the HRH Viking Festival! This we are extremely excited about, none of us have ever been to that country.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Pantera, and Metallica. Without a Doubt!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Be consistent and relentless. After you land a tour, stay on the horse! Capitalize on your big moments with excessive activity especially after a tour even if you're tired, that's when your hype is at its strongest. Remember a band is like a spirit, physical and mental realms don’t manage the real power that exists, tap into it!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Hard to say, a big part of growing as a band is making mistakes. How else could we have learned? It’s important to everyone's experience that fucking up one way or the other is how you improve and learn to become a better version of yourself.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I think our self-titled song “Helsott'' is a contender. It demands a lot of passion and energy to even play right from all the members and it’s the namesake of the band. Every time we perform the song, it reminds me of how far we have come.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We love playing anything off the new album “Will and the Witch.” As for requests, it's always “Honor Thy Valkyrie,” “Vandals Divide” or “Whiskey Breath.” We always make sure to have at least 2 of those songs on our live setlists.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
There are many different methods we have used. Eric takes care of the lyrical content, he’ll hand the lyrics to Mark and me so we get an idea for the themes and vibe. Mark will sometimes write entire songs on his own with his guitar, then Eric will put lyrics to that. I specialize in happy accidents and the “garnishing” usually towards the end of the writing process. Eric and I work on the drum beats and the backing tracks will most of the time be written after the song is complete. However, we are always changing how we go about the order of operations to challenge ourselves and the listener. We like to give every song its own unique personality.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
One theme comes to mind that is most prevalent in our music... TO BATTLE!!! Metal music has a unique way of allowing the performers and the listeners to celebrate their energy, aggression, fear, love, loss and everything in between... It seems as though there aren't many other outlets that provide this level of freedom and solace. We do our best to capitalize on strength, freedom, and honor.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We do, it's a part of being in a band. If the issue is serious we will have a meeting to solve it and decide our next step to move forward as a group. Because we are a very determined and driven band, any disputes are dealt with haste so we can get back to the good work. At the end of the day, Eric, Mark, and I have always kept this ship sailing despite the currents. An old proverb comes to mind, “smooth seas don't make good sailors.”
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are about to embark on a west coast tour in mid-June. We’ll be performing in Hollywood, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and Glendale, AZ. Our good friends Malphas will be out with us and we are very excited to finally tour again, it's been way too long! We will be playing primarily songs off the new album “Will and the Witch” that's available for pre-order now and the release is coming out before the tour.
Album Pre-Order - http://smarturl.com/helsott
Upcoming HELSOTT Live Performances:
06/16 – Viper Room – Hollywood, CA*
06/18 – Den of Sin – Sacramento, CA*
06/19 – Dante’s – Portland, OR*
06/20 – The Fun House – Seattle, WA*
06/22 – The Shredder – Boise, ID*
06/23 – Aces High Saloon – Salt Lake City, UT*
06/24 – Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA*
06/25 – Starlight Lounge – Glendale, AZ*
07/09 Ramona Mainstage – Ramona, CA*
12/03-12/04 HRH Vikings – Sheffield, England