Like many influential bands, Helmet were born out of an unusual set of influences. Oregon-born guitarist and founder Page Hamilton had actually moved to New York City to study jazz, but found inspiration in the late ’80s through post-punk acts Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, and Big Black, and envisioned a group that combined then-unusual tunings (particularly dropped D) with uneven and jazz-like time signatures and harmonies. The result was Helmet, the East Coast’s answer to Seattle’s then-underground sensation Soundgarden. Hamilton recruited bassist Henry Bogdan from Oregon, along with Australian guitarist Peter Mengede and Florida drummer John Stanier for the group’s first incarnation. Helmet’s independent label debut EP, Strap It On, showcased the group’s raw power — both instrumentally and in Hamilton’s growling vocals — through tracks like the mocking “Sinatra” and rocking “Bad Mood.”


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