by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist —
Helstar featuring James Rivera kicks off their European tour on May 6. The band is promoting their latest release This Wicked Nest on AFM Records. Helstar will kick off their U.S. trek on June 5 in Las Vegas at Vamp’d.
In this exclusive interview James reveals exclusive details surrounding the tour and also discusses in-depth This Wicked Nest with a special track by track break down of the album.
HRH: James welcome to Hardrock Haven. Tell us about your new album This Wicked Nest. Do you think you return to your ’80s thrash roots on this album?
James: Yes. We definitely brought back a lot more influences from the ‘80s traditional style. So to speak. It was done unintentionally. But at the same time intentionally. We thought that is what we wanted to do with this record. We wanted to create the record that was going to embrace all of the Helstar fans. Whether they were old or new.
HRH: The band recently celebrated your 30th Anniversary. Did you want to recreate great moments of your past and bring them into your future?
James: Some it was that. But we think we have reached our plateau of being as heavy and aggressive as we could be with Glory Of Chaos. We thought we don’t want to take it any heavier or faster than that. Then we are going to start messing up of the elements of what Helstar should sound like. We do have a certain identity that is us. That is part of the reason that we wanted to elaborate more on our writing style we had back in those days.
HRH: Everything seems to falls into place on this album. I love the guitar riffs and your voice sounds great on the album. Do you think the album has a political theme to it at all?
James: Thanks. It does and it doesn’t. “Fall Of Dominion” is about that movie V For Vendetta. Even the quote I say in the beginning is from the movie, just before he blew himself up on the train. But that movie has got a political view. It is also the song that wraps up the whole concept of the album, the album cover and everything. It is basically the perfect song to introduce the whole album too.
HRH: How did you come up with the title This Wicked Nest?
James: I was reading somewhere about there is always turmoil going on everyday. I watch CNN headline news everyday. When isn’t something going on in that part of the world? This reporter said you just couldn’t escape from this nest of wickedness. So when he said that. I thought that sounds like a great title. So I told it to the rest of the guys when it was time to come up with the title. I said I got one. This Nest Of Wickedness Larry said we always have an album with of. He wanted to get rid of the of. So he said how about This Wicked Nest? I said it means the same thing. This is fine. That is how we came up with the title.
HRH: 30 years in the business. Do you feel that the band is at the top of their game right now? Are you really happy now with the way things are going?
James: You know ironically I would say “Yes.” 30 years later we are better than we were when we were younger. We are at the top of our game now. This is the time for us to enter the Super bowl. It is kind of like a fine wine. I hate to use the word “age.” But with age we gain more knowledge. With age we gain more experience. So when people feel bad about getting old they shouldn’t because you are just that more than what you were twenty years ago.
HRH: What is proudest accomplishment in metal?
James: I am just proud that I have been able to manage successfully 90 percent make my living from music. Living a nice cool simple life. I have made history in my time period. Not everybody will remember be 50 years from now but there is going to be something about Helstar and the name James Rivera that will go down in the history books one way or another.
HRH: How is the thrash metal scene in Texas these days?
James: It is good. It is almost back to what it used to be in the old days. Sometimes it can even be better. It is doing well. As long as it is the right band coming through in the right days? Everybody loves Texas.
HRH: Helstar kicks off their European tour May 6. What can the expect to see on the tour?
James: They are getting a special treat over there. They are first that will be getting the specialty shows that we are going to be doing across the country. They are getting the show where we are doing 5 new songs from the new album. Then we are doing songs from every album. Then we are walking off and for the encore we are doing a special salute to Burning Star. It is the 30th Anniversary of Burning Star. We are doing six of the eight songs from the album. Then we go to the West Coast right after Europe. We are doing Vegas at Vamp’d on June 5. Then we are doing San Diego and Orange County LA. Then we go do the Warriors of Metal thing in June.
HRH: Awesome. We will be out to the Vegas show.
James: I have got a nice little following in Vegas. I kind of built myself up there the last ten years. I have always done well in Vegas.
James Rivera – Track By Track – This Wicked Nest:
1. Fall Of Dominion – I got that instinct based on the movie Vendetta.
2. Eternal Black – It is simply about Death. The grim reaper. Something that we all have to face someday.
3. This Wicked Nest – It is a political overture about corrupt government. Things that are going on just about every day.
4. Souls Cry – Is about an individual who has died for a short period of time. I have been reading a lot of stories about that stuff. And then had come back to life. And their perception of what has happened to them when they crossed the other side.
5. Isla De Las Munecas – That is an instrumental. It is based on a true island in a certain part of Mexico that is actually a tourist attraction. The island is covered with these wicked little dolls hanging from trees all over the place. They have a certain meaning about the children who have died on that island from a certain tribe of people.
6. Cursed – This another song about the final moments before you die. It is dedicated to Larry’s grandmother who gave him the inspiration. She just turned 102 yesterday. I guess it is the touchy feely of when someone reaches that age that they are always in fear. They don’t want to be left alone a lot. If we live to be very old people you can imagine the fear that lives with you everyday. When is Eternal Black going to knock on my door? I have heard stories too that old people don’t even want to go to sleep anymore. They have really bad sleeping habits. I would think though once you have lived that long you shouldn’t be afraid of it. I am not there yet either. Some people are even afraid to go under during operations. You may never wake up again. It is the fear and anxiety of knowing that your days are not very far away. We are human. I don’t know of anybody who has lived 115 years.
7. It Has Risen – It goes back to the political turmoil. I can sum up “It Has Risen” and “Defy The Swarm” in one. Also inspired by my time with my Turkish metal family over there. I got to spend a lot of time in Istanbul. I am glad I saw it for myself. I was there during that time period when all of those riots were going on in the summer. They’re first hand witnessing listening to music when the military police were going to come and gas certain clubs. I just missed it by one day. The club we were in, they actually came in and gassed all of them. They still kind of had burning eyes and all of that. The stories they were telling. You just don’t hear about that stuff here. All the writing on the wall. It made me think of this leader that started all of this stuff. He wants to do away with the part of Turkey that is part Christian. That is what it is based on. That is what their whole problem is over there. So “Defy The Swarm” is about the people with the mask and the rebellion that they refused to do it. They should be entitled to live their lives the way they want and worship what God they want. That is what the whole problem is. Those two go back to back.
8. Magormissabib – It is based on the corruption over there in the Middle East. It means evil from all sides.
Visit the band online: www.facebook.com/helstar.metal