Helmet's Page Hamilton

Today is the 38th birthday of Page Hamilton, lead singer and guitarist

of Helmet, an alternative band specializing in distorted, loud guitar

noise. Hamilton studied jazz in New York City before working with

guitarist Glenn Branca and spending time in the art-noise group Band of

Susans. In 1989, Hamilton teamed with bassist Henry Bogdan, drummer

John Stanier and Australian guitarist Peter Mengede to form Helmet.

They issued a series of singles and an EP on Amphetamine Reptile Records

that year, debuting their disciplined brand of ear-splitting, hard-core

metal that's heavy on lacerating guitar riffs. In 1990, Helmet's debut album,

Strap It On, perfected their minimalist guitar sound on

tracks such as "Sinatra" and "Bad Mood."

Interscope/Atlantic liked what it heard on Strap It On and signed

Helmet for the band's 1992 major-label debut, Meantime. Recorded

by noted grunge producer Steve Albini, the album mirrored its

predecessor in locking into one intense, slow, martial rhythm. Mengede

left Helmet after the release of Meantime, but his guitar playing

is still present on 1995's Born Annoying, which includes material

from the band's first demo tape. For Betty (1994), Helmet added

ex-Rest In Pieces guitarist Rob Echeverria and included a version of the

jazz standard "Beautiful Love." Another of the album's cuts,

"Milquetoast," was recorded with Butch Vig of Nirvana fame. "Just

Another Victim," a collaboration with House of Pain, was featured on the

soundtrack to the film "Judgment Night." In 1997, Helmet released

Aftertaste, which was less experimental than its predecessor and

for which they played a series of U.S. shows with grunge pioneers the

Melvins. Helmet also toured Europe, Australia and Japan in support of the

album.

Other birthdays: George Alexander (the Flamin' Groovies), 52; Rick Wakeman

(ex-Yes), 49; William Wallace (Guess Who), 49; Butch Tavares (Tavares), 45;

Miki Berenyi (Lush), 31 ... Big Joe Turner, 1911-1985.