After eight years and five records, the members of New York rock act Helmet still don't know how to classify their riff-heavy sound. But they do know where it shouldn't be classified.
"We're not funk or jazz or blues," lead guitarist and vocalist Page Hamilton said in an interview, though he admitted that the band's 1994 album "Betty" explored all of those styles."Those things were my indulgences. I tried to force the music in different directions," said Hamilton who has been trained in classical and jazz styles. "I know a lot of fans were disappointed, but I think it's important to try to grow musically."
Helmet headlines a Tuesday, July 8, show with the Melvins and Skeleton Key at Club DV8, 115 S. West Temple.
For its fourth full-length release, "Aftertaste," the group returned to its hard-rock roots - resulting in an album that is similar to its breakthrough, 1992's "Meantime," but surpasses it in crafty lyric writing and heavy grooves.
Hamilton said his goal in writing the album was to create a greater mix between smarts and crunch.
"I don't want to say that I'm sick of the visceral animal response that we get - I'm not," he said. "But I need more than that. I need more than seeing a bunch of kids jumping around and breaking each other's noses. I feel like I really need to communicate with an audience who will listen."
Of course, he does realize that writing and playing rock music does have its limitations.
"I'm painted into a corner. Whatever I write in a rock 'n' roll context will elicit a conditioned response, unless I quit rock and make a country record or something," Hamilton said.
Still, don't expect Helmet to follow the current trend of "musical reinvention" - as groups like U2 have done - anytime soon.
"U2 has always jumped on bandwagons rather than created them," he said. "For Helmet to try and be AC/DC or to be Sly and the Family Stone or to be some jazz thing would be stupid. I acknowledge what we are and what we do."
Tickets for the show, which starts at 8 p.m., are $15 in advance and are available at Crandall Audio in Orem, X-mart in Salt Lake City and the club itself during nightly business hours.