“Arriving Angels” is your brand new album. As soon as I played this chaotic beauty of orchestral maneuvers into the abyss, it was like the witnessing the most spectacular sunset during the middle of a catastrophic earthquake. How would you describe your new album to our readers interested in a dance of death with an uncompromising cello and tribal rhythms of uneasiness?
To me, the songs are dark, and intense, brutal sometimes but also really intimate, if that makes sense. Kind of minimalist doom, I guess.
The legendary Steve Albini produced the new record and it does have reflections of the U.S Steel Cello Ensemble and Big Black, was either one of these an influence on you?
It’s hard not to be influenced by Steve – as an engineer, a musician and a writer. But the thing that I didn’t fully appreciate until I toured with Shellac, was how great a guitar player he is. His tone and his style. I am definitely a huge fan.
A member of the underground noisemakers Neurosis contributes as well, how did that come to be?
Steve suggested Jason when I was ready to record. Fortunately Jason had heard me play when I was touring my first record and was a fan, so he said he’d do it. I can’t imagine the record without him. He’s an amazing player, of course, but a wonderful person as well.
This is album number three with a tour coming right up, when does the tour begin and how far will you travel?I’m doing some Midwest/east coast dates in the spring. I’ll go back out in June, hopefully doing some shows with Rachel Grimes. In the meantime I’m looking forward to playing some shows in and around LA. I moved out from Chicago a couple years ago and I’m really looking forward to building an audience here.
Do you tour alone and what are your favorite cities to play?
I do tour alone. My favorite city to play in is Chicago – I lived there for 20 years and feel like I have a strong relationship with the city. But I’m looking forward to what the West Coast has to offer. It’s nice to have a new challenge – new people to play for.
During touring, what do you do in your time between and after shows? Do you have an intimate relationship with your listeners in terms of getting to know them and staying connected?
I try to at least find the heart of the cities I go through – stray off the interstate a bit if I have time. And I do love to meet people at shows. It’s interesting to me how different people are from one city to the next. A wonderful thing to be able to experience.
In the 90’s you were part of the alternative/underground rock movement, how did that experience translate into your decision to go solo?
It was kind of an organic process. I left Verbow but still wanted to play rock. I didn’t see any situations where I could be as integral to the band as Verbow, so I just started to write.
The cello was my first instrument when I was eight; I was not very good at it and to this day cannot figure out how to play a power chord on the fret board. How did your unique style of cello playing come to be? Your cello playing is more expressive than most guitarists in the current world of music are.
Thank you! I think it’s all about sound. What you hear in your head and feel in your heart. And finding your own way to express it. I love the cello – I started when I was 8, too, so it’s a part of me. I think I’ve probably used it to express myself for a long time.
What is the difference between Helen Money, the performer, and the offstage personality?
Well, I’m pretty soft-spoken in “real life”. I think when I have the cello and pedals and the amp to help me I’m able to express a part of myself that’s more assertive and maybe emotional - the side of me that I normally keep to myself.
You have some extensive experience in the world of metal, is it a passion of yours as well? What is your attitude towards the punk/hardcore movement and were those sounds influential?Definitely. I really like how visceral that music can be. It’s serious stuff, not arty. I like music that isn’t afraid to wear it’s heart on it’s sleeve.
There has been a renewed interest in the New York No-Wave scene of the late 70’s, what are your thoughts on experimental music and playing?
I’m for it – but I don’t see myself ever playing it. Sometimes avant garde stuff loses me because it can be either too conceptual or too heady. But then there’s stuff like Glenn Branca, which is pretty conceptual but very powerful and visceral. That I like.
Does your new label offer adequate tour support and how difficult is it to conduct such an endeavor with a public reluctance to live music? Will this be the rise of experimental improve because everyone can just YouTube live performances of their favorite pop/rock/ metal artists?My label is pretty small and they aren’t able to offer me that kind of support. It’s very hard to tour in the US, but I think to really reach people you have to play for them. It’s important to connect with your audience in that way. To put yourself in a live setting, where you’re dealing with the unexpected – where you’re communicating directly with other people. That’s the best part of it, for me.
Where can readers see your amazing live show and hear your records?I’m playing an in-store at Permanent Records in Eagle Rock on March 2nd. And I have other tour dates posted on my website – I’ll keep updating it as more are confirmed. This record is available at Profound Lore’s webstore. And all three are available on my website. And I’m sure Amoeba and Permanent Records in have it or could order it.
Any last words you would like to share with us before we part ways into the abyss.