The new year has already brought us a lot of interesting new music in unexpected ways. Scott Helland’s career has taken him from hardcore punk to thrash metal, to folk-punk cabaret, to working with J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), and more; he never fails to surprise with his continuous evolution as an artist. Today we bring you the new single and video from his new project, Guitarmy of One, and the song “I Spy The Prisoner.” Filtering in an old-school influence James Bond or Maverick on TV, and with a musical style akin to John Barry, Lallo Schifrin, or Jobim. It makes for a cool aesthetic both visually and musically, right down to the artwork for the single. Check out the clip and a Q & A we did with Scott below.
Q & A with Scott Helland/Guitarmy of One:
Thematically these reference points from old television, spy, and cop shows are great! Which is your all-time favorite? And which has the best theme song? All time favorite?
I’d probably have to go with Bond for favorite spy movies. The shows, well, It’s a toss up. I think one of the best theme songs is the theme to a kind of forgotten show called The Persuaders. It’s very sixties, tonally… it’s just awesome. It’s written by John Barry of course. The Rockford Files had a great theme and cool guitar work, with its seventies sound, but I’d probably have to go with the 60s Mission Impossible theme as the best! Though that original James Bond theme with the surf type guitar riff is pretty classic too. Hard to choose!
The guitar work is amazing! Does playing in this style push you out of your comfort zone?
Thanks! When I left the punk scene and started writing solo back in the mid 90s, I was switching from electric bass to acoustic guitar so yeah, it took me out of my comfort zone at first. But now, it’s been so long it has become second nature. I play with a looper and although that allows me to create a wall of sound solo, and layer parts on the fly, live, it also creates limitations. Those limitations flex the creativity muscle and make me push my boundaries to get the organic, energetic and visceral sound that I hear in my head.
The video is fun! Was the bit with the cell phones at the beginning a commentary on our over-reliance on technology?
Spy movies and shows – no matter if they were serious or comedic – always had lots of gadgets. Back when those shows came about, there weren’t gadgets for regular folks and it all seemed futuristic. Now here we are with these gadgets and we are definitely addicted to not only the technology but the gadgets themselves. I also just used it for comedic value. I like injecting humor into the imagery to complement the energy of the music. I’ve been having a lot of fun making the videos for this record. I wanted the video to have some humor. It’s like that old video for “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest from 1980, where they break into a bank, not with guns but with guitars! There’s humor and spirit in it among the riffage. I do watch and listen to things released after 1980, honestly, but that’s for another interview!
Do you envision performing with this project live when shows return?
Absolutely! I play music for a living and keep really busy with my duo, Frenchy and the Punk, but I also do a lot of solo shows. I will definitely be playing solo shows for this new record when shows come back. Playing music live has always been what it’s all about for me. I’m the type of person that gets chills from live music. Nothing beats that energy. I live for it.
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