Based out of Argentina, the mighty Helker present the classic sounds of true metal with an all-out vengeance. Their album Somewhere In The Circle has been released worldwide via AFM Records, channeling such mega-greats as Dio and Iron Maiden. Produced by the none other than Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner), Somewhere In The Circle is an absolute triumph from a band we’ll be hearing a lot more of in future days. Whether it’s the compelling vocals or the skilled musicianship, Helker is sure to excite the senses of all who venture out to give a listen. We recently had the opportunity to interview front man Diego Valdez to find out more about Helker and their epic adventures in metal! Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Helker, and how long the band has been together. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
First I want to thank you for your interest in the band and for this interview! Ok my name is Diego Valdez, I am the singer of Helker and Helker started in 1998. After many changes the band is now formed by Christian Abarca (bass) Leo Aristu (guitar) Hernan Coronel (drums) Mariano Rios (guitar) and me on the vocals. Here in Argentina we have many good bands and talents but we didn’t have a good music industry, it’s a hard place to be a musician and especially a metal musician. I like the work of these bands (there are many more, but this are the bands that are coming to my mind right now) Arraigo (folk metal, but with Argentineans roots, not Irish or Scottish), Triddana (I sing in this one, it’s a folk metal band but with Irish and Scottish roots!), Incuria (hard rock) and Wotan (hard rock) but I recommend that you investigate more, because there are more cool bands here!
Is there any story or concept behind the Somewhere In The Circle title?
Select two songs from Somewhere In The Circle and what inspired the lyrics.
Yes, we see the life as a circle, and the songs are stories that happen in this circle, life stories with light and darkness, good and evil. A good example could be “Flying” it’s a very hard lyric and talks about of someone who has suffered a loss of someone very dear and has dark thoughts and wishes about that. But on the other side you have “Just be yourself” who talks about never surrender no matter what the people says, a kind of biographic story!.
What was it like working with Mat Sinner and what did he contribute to the overall recording process?
Well, he knew how to capture the essence of Helker and give us a very clear path to follow. He is a wise and nice guy and knows what he wants, the kind of help that we need! We sent the pre-production to him and he cut and asks some changes until he was pleased. We didn’t understand first why he cut this amazing parts! But then, when the job was finished we saw the whole thing and his way he saw the things was the right things, the results was amazing!
What was it like sharing lead vocals with both Tim Ripper Owens and Ralf Scheepers on the song Begging For Forgiveness?
A dream come true, I still hear the song I can believe it! For us, who are five guys from Argentina people like Mat, Ralf and Tim are unreachable so having all of them in our album it’s just amazing! And they did a great job, just like we expected! A great experience.
What could one expect from a live Helker show?
Let’s put it in this way, if you like the album, and you think that the album has power well, multiply that for a hundred and you will get a Helker show! We left all on the stage and we are very anxious to know new audiences!
Has Helker ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
We never played outside Argentina, and we think that maybe, if the album does its job and goes right, we can do some international tours. There is no formal proposition yet, but there are a lot of plans! We really hope that someday we go there and rock!
Who did the cover art for Somewhere In The Circle and how much input did you have on it?
After many comings and goings we found the right artist to do the album cover. We sent a lot of covers form here, but Mat had something different in his mind so he gave our ideas to the artist (sorry I can remember the name, but its the same artist who did the U.D.O. covers) and when the finished cover came…was…WOW! The guy captured all our ideas and put all together in a brilliant way!
Any strange or unusual happenings while out on the road or at a live show?
There are many road stories to tell, but the one who come to my mind now was when I left the hospital to do a very important gig, the thing was that I had a problem with my leg, and I was unable to walk for 6 months more or less and we had this big show in the biggest metal festival here, and never played in that festival before. So the first choice was to tell a friend to sing as my replacement, thinking in the band’s benefit, but I asked to the doctor if I could do the show anyway, the doctor says “you don’t need your leg to sing so do it, but only if you don’t step” so I did the show…on crutches! And the crowd loved the crutches because like in “Braveheart” I raised the crutches and scream and the people go crazy!
How did you wind up signing with AFM Records?
Well, all started with Mat, we felt that we was ready to do the next step and we needed a professional producer, so our first and only choice was Mat, then we started the recording process and when all was finished, Mat liked the album so much that he proposed first to be part of his booking company and management so he presents the album to AFM and AFM liked the album too, and he we are!
What was it like working with Tarja on the Phantom Of The Opera track and would doing something like acting or musicals interest you?
Well, Tarja it’s a sweetheart, so the experience was great. We did “the phantom” before here in Buenos Aires in 2008 at the end of her first tour as a solo artist so we knew each other very well and she knew what to expect when she called me this time. That was my first view of how an international and professional tour must be and I like what I saw! It also was my first appearance in a worldwide DVD. Everything was fantastic, the guys of the crew, the guys of the band and the organization too! They make feel like one of them. And about acting and stuff, I don’t know, could be fun! Maybe under the right circumstances I’m always available to learn something new!
If Helker was asked to appear to on Tribute To Dio CD, what song would you do by Dio and why?
In fact we already participate in a Tribute to the great RJD if you search in youtube (Helker Push) you will find it, and the song chosen was “Push” why? Because it was a hit of course, but we know that is not the typical song to do, so we choose that song trying to show something a little bit different.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?
I think that it would be great if we can be successful to share our feelings with the people when we play, I hope that the people can be touched by the music, that’s would be awesome!
Any final words of wisdom?
Thank you again for give us this chance to reach the people out there. I really hope this album can give us the chance to play in the whole world and rock together! Never give up, never surrender!! Cheers and all the best!
• Diego Valdez – vocals
• Mariano Rios – guitar
• Christian Abaca – bass
• Leo Aristu – guitar
• Hernan Coronel – drums
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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