10 Quick Ones with HELENA COS from SPIDER ROCKETS – February 2018

According to a recent press release: “New Jersey’s Spider Rockets are just days away from the release of their fifth full-length album ‘Along Came A Spider,’ this Friday January 26th via P-Dog Records.  The album is available for pre-order. Today, the band have partnered up with New Noise Magazine for the premiere of their new single “Rip Your Heart Out.” We get front woman Helena to answer to our 10 Quick Ones about new music, her influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

We just released our fifth album, Along Came a Spider.  We recorded with producer Dan Malsch (Framing Hanley, Tantric and Doro). This is an album that has been in the works for longer than we’re used to. It was supposed to be released in 2016, then in 2017. But we aim high and we never felt it was quite right, so we kept at it. Songs evolved, parts were added and parts were deleted. We didn’t want this to be one of those situations where you look back a year later and think “damn, we should have….” And, we’re glad we saw it through because we feel this is by far the best album we’ve done. It also draws from more influences than our prior records. If you listen to our previous album, Bitten, you’ll see the natural progression of Along Came a Spider in terms of songwriting and production.  A kind of natural evolution. I think the one thing listeners might not pick up on right away is that there’s some angst in these songs. OK, that’s a joke, it’s pretty obvious there’s some angry feelings here. Even more than on our previous album, so we haven’t softened any. Even our cover of “Heartbreaker” (previously recorded by Pat Benatar) fits into that category. But we always were careful that the emotions did not work against the sense of melody, hook or the song itself. I think we struck a very good balance between strong emotion and accessibility. These are songs that you can sing or hum along to and that stick in your head. Are you asking about subliminal messages?  I think I will let you figure that out, although, I have to say, mind control has always fascinated us. But, really, in terms of ‘hidden nuggets’, we did have a little fun with backwards masking, or basically, using some parts backwards. Actually, if I’m remembering correctly, I think it’s one part. And you can definitely hear it. Let’s see if you can find it…

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I never really thought about being a musician, honestly.  It was just always there.  My earliest memory as a musician-to-be was trying to figure out how to make noise come out of a flute.  Sadly, I could not master that, so I moved on to learning how to play the violin.  I remember getting up at 6:30 am to practice.  Whenever I stopped for too long, I could hear my mom from the other room say, “I don’t hear you practicing.”  And I would get back to it.  We lived in an apartment and had very, very nice neighbors who never complained. Saintly martyrs!

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

I’m gonna try to answer this one in broad strokes.  I would start with classical music. Not because I loved it right out of the womb.  In fact, I never loved it — quite the opposite, mostly.  But, my first instrument was violin.  As a violin student and player, what is generally known as classical music to most people, is what I played and heard most of every day growing up.  Also, growing up, I used to love watching movie musicals. Doris Day, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand. The music and the voices of these women were magical – the kind of magic with fairy dust shimmering through the air and pretty flowers falling from the sky.  I moved on (I think fairy dust eventually becomes toxic) and I started exploring blues and jazz with Ella Fitzgerard and Billie Holiday.  Incredible song interpretation from these ladies!  Big Mama Thorton, Etta James and Janis Joplin and Tina Turner got me hooked on grit. Lately, I often return to Amy Winehouse and Sia – both combine catchy and clever songwriting with remarkable vocals.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?

I would be scared as hell if the opportunity ever arose, but, yeah, I’d pick Bob Dylan. First, because he is a genius. Second, because I imagine most people would not expect me to pick Bob. And third, because there is almost no chance of this ever happening. From “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” to “Things Have Changed” Bob continues to be relevant. This is a guy who changed popular culture and music with his lyrical power and storytelling. A voice that’s not at all pretty but real and reaches places that pretty just can’t.

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?

No-excuses rock that sometimes sneaks up behind you so it can beat you over the head. But, it also leaves you tapping your foot, bobbing your head or humming for the rest of the day.

6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The best thing?  No such thing to me.  Really.  Being a musician just is.   It. Just. Is. Kind of like, what’s the best thing about the color red?  Explaining the most awesome thing about the color red seems kind of ridiculous and would no doubt be goofy as shit (not in a good way).

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

First of all, I have to say I am not a good cook.  But, that doesn’t stop me.  My guinea pigs are my band members, those poor suffering souls.  They have tried my vegan egg salad (I got universal thumbs down) and my tofu turkey (OK, it came in a box, but I warmed it up).  Ever try a green smoothie?  Or a brown one?  The guys have tried them all.  Not because they want to, but because they are really, really good sports and are optimistic that maybe I’ll get it right eventually. We fend for ourselves regarding drinks.  Like the time at a festival when Johnny and Dale kept the makeshift bar open until the early hours.  When the bar finally closed, they managed to find their way back to the van, which is a miracle in itself. But, then, they made some really interesting choices….  Johnny curled up outside against the driver’s side tire and decided to take a nap.  Dale, not to be outdone, decided that no, he didn’t want to get inside the van either, where it was nice and warm.  Instead, he crawled under the back of the van, on the ground, where it was undoubtedly, far more comfortable, and fell asleep.  No, you just can’t make this stuff up. Guitar is always Johnny.  If the guitar is plugged in, he is playing.  Especially when people are trying to talk. Are we having an important conversation? No strumming quietly in the background.  Hell no!  This calls for a very long, balls out, guitar solo.  Maybe, two or three, if the conversation is long enough…

8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

A chef – no, I’m kidding. When I was in school, I took a questionnaire to see what profession best suited me and the answer was:  garbage collector.  I was a bit surprised because I don’t really like garbage and am sensitive to smells.  But who knows, maybe, my subconscious was telling me something. After all, isn’t being in a band a lot like being a garbage collector? You run around in a big vehicle with 2 or 3 guys, you make stops at multiple locations, you load, you unload. And when it’s all done, you’re stinky and tired. The one notable difference is garbage collectors get paid a lot more than musicians.  Ha!

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?

Wow, that’s a great way to torture yourself, right?  Replaying mistakes and creating different outcomes in your mind….  Of course, there is no actual way to go back and change what you did, but it is a very nice way to get super depressed.  Some people say that kind of internal darkness is great for creativity.  Maybe, but it is dangerous, too, if you stay there too long.  Nope, instead, I prefer to move onward and upward (something someone close to us often says).

10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would want to be a fly on the wall, I think, instead of an active participant.  Way more interesting to soak in the creative process without getting in the way and changing it. AC/DC’s Back in Black. Catchy hooks and riffs, a chorus of guitars and a singer whose raw delivery goes right to the heart of it encapsulating the blood, sweat and pomp of great rock.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller which still is the gold standard for pop albums. And, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.  All epic albums and each one different from the other.  I have always loved AC/DC.  Thriller continues to influence pop music and because of this remains interesting to me.  And Alanis was powerful and cool as hell with her Jagged Little Pill making a universal and inclusive album by baring her psyche without restraint.

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10 Quick Ones with HELENA COS from SPIDER ROCKETS - February 2018

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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