JULY 12th, 2014

Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal entertainment worldwide. We are here talking with Larry Barragan guitarist who formed the band HELSTAR in 1981. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.

1. 1981 you formed the band Helstar, what made you decide to call the band this ?

LB: Actually, it was a friend of ours John Diaz who was in the band for a very short time who came up with the name.   I thought of changing the spelling because I thought maybe we could do something with the S as the center letter.  So, there really isn’t anything special behind the spelling I just thought it would look cool for the logo.

2. When you were only 19 years old HELSTAR became one of the most influential underground bands, how did you feel at that time, because that’s pretty young to have that name put on you.

LB: I don’t think any of us really knew what people thought of us.  We were just kids trying to write metal like our heroes.  You have to remember that we came from a time where the internet didn’t exist.  So, if there was a buzz about the band we really didn’t have any idea.  We just knew that when we played people liked it and that’s what really mattered to us back then.

3.  You have opened for some striking names in the industry like Megadeth, Anthrax, King Diamond, and many more, is there anyone of those that you felt was the ultimate to open for ?

LB: I think the shows we did with Anthrax were epic!  I loved opening for those guys.  We hit it off with them very well.  It was great to watch them every night.  But you know almost all the bands we’ve opened up for have been really gracious to us.  With the exception of one or two band but all in all we’ve never had any hard times being the opener for any one.

4.  In 1987, you moved the band over to L.A., what was the reason for this, and then why back to Texas again in 1988 ?

LB: We moved to LA because that’s where the label was and we just thought it would be better for us to be there and get known there.  Really, we should have tried the Bay Area.  We were too heavy for LA at that time. They really didn’t get what we were doing.  We ended up moving back because it was just so expensive to live out there.  Texas is much more affordable.

5.  Helstar has played many festivals over the years, for you, which do you prefer to play, the smaller venues, or the big festivals, and why ?

LB: I like the big festivals to be honest.  Playing to that many people is a rush.  The only thing that kind of sucks is having to do shorter sets but for the most part I love doing the festivals.

6.  How did you enjoy playing on the 70,000 tons of metal cruise ?  Did you see the cruise expand your fan base at all ?

LB:  Yeah, I think every time we play we win new fans.  Always, after we play for example at a festival and do a signing there’s always someone that says they’ve never heard of us before but they’re going to go out and buy our music.  I did enjoy doing 70,000 tons.  I wish we could have played 3 times instead of 2 but that’s how it’s organized.  I did get a little sick on the second day though.  Ha!

7.  You have a new album out, already in Europe, and the USA can expect it on April 29th, was it a long process from start to finish ?

LB: Not really, we had been playing and touring quite a bit in between.  As soon as James said it’s time to start working on a new one, we got to it.  It took maybe 5 months or so to write.  We took our time with it.  I think it shows.

8.  Did you have any issues while putting it together ?

LB: Not really.  The only thing was that James was away for a big part of it.  He was touring with Vicious Rumors.  We recorded most of it in our home studios.  So by the time he was back a lot of the hard part was done.  Obviously, once he got back he started adding his parts and giving his input for changes here and there.

9.  How did you come up with the name “Wicked Nest” ?

 LB: James actually came up the title Nest of Wickedness but prior to that and unbeknown to him Rob and I had just said whatever we do let’s make sure “of” is not part of the title because the previous two did.  We liked his title and just gave it slight twist.

10.  Who wrote the lyrics for this album ?  Was there any inspiration behind it ?

LB: James and I split them up.  I did 5 and he did 3.  A few of the songs have obvious political themes.  Some are a little more personal, like the song Cursed is one that I wrote and pulls me down whenever I listen to it sometimes.  But for the most part there is a theme running through a few of the songs that are tied to how corruption is what makes the world go round now.

11.   I have listened to the trailer for it and I was impressed by how you have the power metal and some thrash elements incorporated, was this always the plan to put the 2 different genres together ?

LB: I wouldn’t call it a plan but I would say that thrash is something that we love to play.  Now as you point out, we’re not an all out thrash band but I think we’re unique in that we have a singer like James that can do many styles of singing and he makes it all come together.  

12.  Do you yourself have a favourite song on this album ?  

LB: Man, that changes everyday.  I think Defy the Swarm is my favorite just because it’s a brass knuckles, punch you in the fucking face kind of song.  But all the songs have things the I like about them.  I hope that the fans dig it as much as we do.

13.  With you being a guitarist, I am curious and have to ask, when you create your riffs for a song, are they yours, like trademarked or can someone else like them and use them ?  

LB: I think if someone wanted to use one of my riffs without my permission that would be called plagiarism and my attorney would be making a call or two if that ever did happen.  Now if someone wants to collaborate on a song that’s a completely different deal.  I would be up for that if it was the right situation.
14.  Is it hard to come up with different riffs, as you have been guitarist since 1981, how do you create them for a song ?

LB:  Yeah, sometimes it is a little hard.  But if you just try everyday to come up with something more likely then not I’ll come up with at least to riffs that I can build off of.
15.  When an album is being created what comes first, the riffs, drum blasts, lyrics , what are the stages in creating your album.

LB:  For us we start with the guitar riffs.  Rob and I email them back and forth and then when we have a basic skeleton we get Mikey involved.  The lyrics are usually last.  I have done a couple of songs where I had lyrics and they happen to fit but usually I like to do the lyrics after the music.  The songs are constantly evolving all the way up the time we are doing the vocals in the studio.  Sometimes we’ll hear something and say “awe, that needs to go twice” or “extend that” or “cut that in half”.  Thank god for Pro Tools because that makes things like that easier for sure.

16.  Who was the artist who created the album cover for Wicked Nest, and do you know how the artist came up with the image, was he/she given ideas and then they created something for your approval ?

LB: Johan de Jager is the artist.  We worked together with him.  We have our sort of mascot that we call Skully and we wanted him to change him up a bit.  To us the cover represents the title very well.  It shows that behind the smiles and the nicely pressed suites is the demon of power and corruption.  We’ve exposed him.    

17.  When you are not working on band things, what do you enjoy doing the most ?

LB: I’ve got a couple of Harley’s that I love to ride.  I like just getting on and going.  Somewhere, anywhere.  It just clears my mind

18.  What would surprise people the most about you ?

LB:  I don’t’ know.  I’m pretty much what you see is what you get.  That may be a question that you would have to ask my family.
19.  Is there anything that you would like to add, that I might have missed asking that you would like people to know ?

 LB: Well first of all thank you for the interview Rita and thank you Metaltitans.  Thanks to the fans.   We hope you guys dig the new album and we’ll see you out on the road soon!  Cheers!  

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us here at Metaltitans. We would also like to wish you much success on your new album “Wicked Nest”.
For those of you interested, here is the trailer for the new album: