4.21.2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH DWID HELLION

AN INTERVIEW WITH DWID HELLION

The Man, The Myth, The Singer of Integrity. 
(Photo by Oede)

How did you find punk music and what made it stick as something important in your life?
Actually, I fell into it through skateboarding in the early 1980s. Thrasher magazine had many music reviews & interviews with punk bands and back then, (before the internet) that was how we discovered many great bands. Some bands that I came across back then, I still enjoy today. Samhain, Septic Death, G.I.S.M.

I guess what made it stick was that particular music seemed to resonate with me. The bands that I felt the strongest connections with, were often the bands who were more dark with a strong creative aspect to them. While being explosive and dangerous and deep. Many of those bands still have a loving place in my life to this very day.

When did you start creating art? Are you formally trained?
I started creating artwork at a very young age. I was always drawing. I was actually drawing before I could walk. When I was about 13, my stepmother exposed me to xerography/collage and that was also around the same time that I was getting into punk, metal and hardcore music. It all seemed like pieces of a greater puzzle were starting to come together for me. 

In my late teens (18-19), I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art for a short while, but dropped out because of my band touring. Which led to my own personal experimentations with art over the years. 

I actually look at and create music through the lens of creating collage. Arranging sound like it was shapes and color, lyrics like they were victorian etching I meticulously cut out of old French pulp books.

Where do you draw inspiration from when creating your pieces?
Inspiration comes from many facets. Often from necessity, but generally I try to have a story behind the imagery. A story always affords a greater depth to an image. I find it important to have a foundational voice within the art. When the artwork is a part of an album or song, I try to illustrate one another in a complimentary fashion, while still allowing interpretation from the observer, so that the observer participates in the creation process. The observers interaction is an alchemical component of Integrity.

Name your biggest artistic influences.
There are many. Let’s see... Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Pushead, Sakevi Yokoyama, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ted McKeever, John Heartfield, Rozz Williams, Ashley Wood, Ralph Steadman, Jack Kirby, etc. I am also influenced by a variety of unlikely sources towards art. It’s almost like synesthesia, where senses reflect an uncommon result. Like smelling color or tasting sound. 

What was growing up in the Midwest like? How have Indiana and Ohio influenced you?
I was born in Indiana and raised in Kentucky. I was rather isolated for the most part, and that isolation greatly helped to foster aspects my imagination. I was able to create for my own entertainment and that afforded me many freedoms. I learned at a young age how to sew my own dolls and obviously to draw. Having the ability to create whatever I imagined allowed me to delve deeper into the imagery that attracted me and it would utterly consume me. Hours would pass like seconds, its been quite a wonderful gift of escape and creation.

How do you feel about the internet’s effects on the subculture?
I think many positive things have happened as a result of the internet. Musical boundaries have greatly vanished, you see musicians blending a wide variety of musical influences into their work. Same with visual artists. Being able to have access to any question, the fact that you can type into a search engine, “how do I create a homemade synthesizer” or “how do I build an electric guitar from scraps” and be able to find not only hundreds of articles with photo explanations, but also Youtube videos that will teach you these skills in real-time, I find that a remarkable tool for creative people to have at their finger tips.

You once said that when you want to hear a new record, you make one. With that in mind, who are your favorite bands right now?
G.I.S.M., Como Mamas, Brenoritvrezorkre, James Brown, Captain Beefheart, Jim Steinman, Howlin Wolf, Pastor T.L. Barrett, Danzig/Samhain, Ozzy, Jacques Brel, ZOUO, Motorhead, The Cure, Charles Bradley, Throbbing Gristle, Slayer, Chet Baker, too many to list.

Name your biggest non-musical influences on who you are as a person. 
As a boy, I used to look forward to every late night Saturday horror tv show that was hosted by Sammy Terry. Watching those classic horror films alone at night would open up a fantastic world for me. I would have a sketch pad and draw the creatures that passed across my flickering television screen and dream myself into their world. 

Francis Bacon (the painter) as a reluctant philosopher. He had a tremendous impact on my youth. His way of seeing the world seemed to speak to me on many levels. 

Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard and Andre Breton's manipulation of words had a deep and lasting influence upon me. As did Rimbaud and DeSade and of course, The Bible.

Integrity is the premier cult band in hardcore. Th lyrics and imagery work together ultimately to polarize your fan base. It is easy to say there are no “casual” Integrity fans. Why do you think that is and is that something you like about your band?
Thank you, I hope that I can live up to your kind description. I try to invest a certain purity into my recordings and imagery. To some people, this purity seems to connect with their own sensibilities. To others, they may find it repulsive. Ultimately, I am creating in order to entertain and educate myself, first and foremost. The added bonus is that other people also connect with the albums and their interpretation breathes new life into the process. 

The fact that people usually have very strong reactions to my work, is a wonderful blessing. Whether good or bad. To vehemently despise it or to religiously devour it with love. While being two sides of a very similar coin, these feelings still both seem to evoke a passion from exposure and the purity conjures those strong emotions.  

As for the occult aspect, I spend a great deal of time reading and researching religion and philosophy, processing these ideas through my own mental filters where they eventually mutate into song content and/or imagery.

What is your favorite Integrity album and why?
The next album is always my favorite. I get to uncover what has been hidden within me and reveal it. 

How has hardcore punk influenced your take on “every day” life?
I suppose the DIY attitude that I had as a child was reinforced in me through my involvement with hardcore punk and metal music.

You’ve got more than a few tours under your belt, what are your favorite and least favorite aspects of being on the road?
I love to travel and see new places, especially those locations blessed with a rich history. Interacting with the audience on and off stage is also a great blessing for me. 

Least favorite would probably be the long drives/flights between the concerts. Though the quiet isolation of the flights can sometimes have a soothing quality. 

I’ve noticed that you keep certain speeches in your set, like the intro that you do before “Micha”, the same for decades. Why the consistency?
That speech that you are referring to was the introduction track to the song, "Those Who Fear Tomorrow”. It was originally a narrative sample that opened the album. The intro works together with the song to inform the listener of the songs intention. It began as a sample but over the years, I started to take on the narration myself and embellished upon it as it slowly developed and morphed. The speech adds a sinister aspect to the songs conclusion, while conjuring up a fire and brimstone styled sermon.

Describe an Integrity set in one word. 
Gospel. 

Any final remarks, a message to the readers?
Thank you Shatice for your wonderful interview.

4.13.2018

JUST US: A LOOK AT PUNK'S SELF-GOVERNING WAYS

ACAB. 1312. Fuck the police. These are all archaic sentiments projected by any and every punk. Where did they come from though? Do any of the new punks understand why we all hate the government and the police that serve to guard it? Or do they just go with the flow, thinking it’s just an anti-authority statement made from a childish stand point?

Hardcore punk stands on entirely independent foundations. DIY was, is, and always will be the name of this game. It’s no surprise that we came to develop our own code of morality and law. We are a tribe of deviant outcasts at best but we aren’t savages. Presumably because we have watched the way the rest of the world works and we refuse to accept or repeat their shit.

In the real world, where people work in offices and shops, they are ruled by laws made up for them by a nearly faceless entity known as the U.S. Government. Essentially, normal people get bossed around by law books because the government assumes humanity too stupid and murderous to exist without the threat of prison.

Enter punk rock. We have long since railed against the prison-industrial complex, the police state, and the president. We have set out rules for ourselves to follow that aren’t morally ambiguous and leave no room for misinterpretation. There is no punk rock jail, no island prison we could ship you off to if you break any of these rules. As a matter of fact, the hallmark of justice in our community is that it is, more often that not, delivered swiftly and personally. In the street, where we actually exist.

We do not seek a middleman in our pursuit of justice. Another thing from the DO IT YOURSELF mentality. If someone wrongs you or breaks this short set of rules we have, you don’t run to the cops or your mom. Hell. Sometimes you can’t even run to your friends. Dealing with situations that most humans would call in a mediator or authority figure to settle terms in a one on one way is what we do. But why do we do it? Because it’s just what we were taught from the lyrics that speak to us through our record collections or because this subculture is truly one of a kind and is filled with people with the initiative to make their own choices and claim their own justice?

There’s something about being a punk, living off the beaten path in your head and heart that makes you realize that you don’t need people to handle things for you. The cops have helped how many people, ever? How many people have they murdered instead? When is the last time a president ever had views that truly respresented you and your interests? It is this shock and wake up call that punk provides that allows us to search inside ourselves for our own laws. The founding fathers had no great ideas because they couldn’t even make rape illegal.

Our wide eyed view of the world, a world where everyone minds their business and isn’t a motherfucker, is how we retain enough child-like innocence to maintain a set of laws that are about as official as a “No Losers Allowed” sign on a clubhouse door. It is the idea that a place exists where people will not prosper if they are rapists, homophobes, transphobes, racists, sexists, or otherwise bigoted that lends us the ability to keep ourselves and each other in line.

We have survived for four decades without outside influence or help from the suits who wants us to live by their rules. They wants us to have the same complacent attitudes towards evil that they do. We have managed not to crash and burn. We are living proof that anarchy in a government-less society is possible. We not only survive, we thrive. We have created such that if one chooses, they never have to abide by the strict laws of the land called Western civilization, because it is the self-chosen, self-abided laws of punk that keep us out of jail... most of the time.