As AFM Records‘ very own Helion Prime have the imminent release of their sophomore album, Terror of the Cybernetic Monster (check out the Decibel Geek review here), we were lucky enough to pin down band leader/founding member/guitarist Jason Ashcraft to quiz him on the album, line-up changes and influences.
Decibel Geek: Your music is based on ‘science fact’, what first triggered your interest in science?
Jason Ashcraft: I have always showed an interest in science and primarily with space, but my peek interest began in my late teens. I’d say like a lot of kids growing up watching Star Wars had a hand in it. Who wouldn’t want to fly around and shoot lasers in space?
DG: Is Brian May a hero with him having an interest in science/astronomy?
JA: Brian May is definitely a hero. More on his musical front as Queen is one of my favorite bands and Freddie Mercury is easily my favorite singer. The fact that he is very knowledgeable in my field of interest is an added bonus.
DG: How did mascot Saibot come about?
JA: So Saibot actually came about on accident. When designing the first album cover we originally did not intend to have a dinosaur on it, but at the last minute I asked the artist “If you can throw in a dinosaur somewhere go for it” and the rest is history. As where the name comes from one day a friend randomly asked me what my dogs name spelled backwards is. My dogs name is “Tobias” so backwards it’s “Saibot” (yes, I’m aware this happens in Mortal Kombat too….oh well). Saibot seemed like a fitting name for a giant cyborg rex. Still don’t know why my friend was asking that question though….
DG: Can you tell us about the reasons behind the departures of both singers, Heather (Michele) and Kayla (Dixon)?
JA: Ah, this old chestnut.
I’ll keep it brief. Heather left the band due to commitment elsewhere. Juggling both bands was getting to hard for her and she was committed to her other band before Helion Prime. We love her and all remain friends.
Kayla was excused from the band shortly after joining due to personal and creative differences. We hold no ill will towards her and wish her continued success with all her projects.
DG: How well has Sozos (Michael, vocals) fitted in and does he share the scientific interest?
JA: Sozos has felt right at home since the beginning. The moment we heard is auditions we knew he was the one. He has a degree in physics and is currently a physics teacher so I would say the interest is very high.
DG: Did you gel with Sozos immediately when writing together?
JA: Absolutely, his writing is a perfect balance to my music. I hardly had to ask him to change anything when he would send over his ideas. He understands the source material great and captures the emotions perfectly. I can’t wait to see what we do on the third album.
DG: This album feels like it has more of an edge. Was that a conscious effort or natural occurrence following the changes in vocalist?
JA: It was a natural occurrence. I actually tried to keep the album similar to the first one. Not to repeat what we did but keep a consistency going, but the music spoke for itself and took a different path.
DG: You hit some fairly niche subjects on your debut, such as “The Drake Equation”. What can the fans expect on the new album?
JA: This one seems to focus more on Earth/human nature than anything. Once again that wasn’t planned it just sort of evolved that way.
DG: The title track ticks every box when it comes to being labeled ‘epic’. It’s a great track. Can you tell us a bit about how it came about and the process behind it?
JA: So musically this song is pretty old. It was something I had written years back for my other band and I felt it never really got the exposure it could have. When doing this album I knew it would make a good fit and we could have a lot of fun telling the story of Saibot and bringing in a few guest singers. It allowed us to dive into the lore of Saibot and come up with a pretty cool backstory of how he came to be.
DG: Do you think it’s a risk including a massive 17-minute song to finish the album?
JA: I think there is always a risk when you do anything as a musician. You never know what people will think or how it will turn out. At the end of the day you have to do what you feel and make sure you are happy with it. You won’t be able to please everyone. Something I’m still working on figuring out.
DG: Bands generally don’t like to be pigeonholed, so do you consider yourselves power metal?
JA: I say we are power metal. Mostly because that is the music I love and I don’t feel like trying to sit down and figure out exactly what we “are”. If you listen to us would i say we “traditional” power metal? Probably not, but we have elements. People can really call us whatever they like.
DG: Any touring intentions?
JA: Always! That’s a top priority for myself and this band.
[The band have announced some dates for September and October, check them out here]
DG: When you’re the biggest band in the world what will be on your gig rider?
JA: Probably a lot of Red Bull. lol
DG: Who were all your heroes growing up, musical and otherwise?
JA: Godzilla, Jon Schaffer, Hansi Kursch and Tobias Sammet.
DG: And finally, Spotify: Good or evil?
JA: I want to say good and evil, but honestly I can’t say it any better than Bill Kelliher (Mastodon) already did in this Blabbermouth.net article.
Many thanks to Jason for answering our questions and if you want to buy the album and follow the band, please click on the links below.
PRE-ORDER: TERROR OF THE CYBERNETIC SPACE MONSTER
OFFICIAL WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER