Helicopter, H 58
4xCS + 7-inch
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Helicopter is very relieved to announce this box set, which has taken about nine years and many anxiety attacks to come together.
In April 2008, Sissy Spacek embarked on a west coast tour. We didn’t really have much material at that time, so we played mostly a weird collage of electronics and tape. At some of the shows we played songs intermingled, but mostly it was exploratory and experimental.
When the tour was finished the recordings were meant to become this box set: 4 cassettes and a 7-inch with inserts. This endeavor was faced with many obstacles, and after only a couple of years, I was so frustrated that I decided to just edit the material into a simpler album, Rip, which came out on Gilgongo in December 2011. I never quite gave up on the box set version, but the universe, through endless blunders, just kept telling me it wasn’t the time for it.
Some of the catastrophes along the way:
I bought 400 tapes and had them sent to my friend’s house in Los Angeles, only to realize that I would then have to re-send them to Greh, who was dubbing them in Detroit.
I pressed 100 copies of the 7-inch at Bill Smith, along with a few other records. Putting out records when you’re on the road/couch surfing is pretty much impossible. You don’t have any space to deal with anything and the anxiety of trying to assemble and ship and organize hundreds of copies of multiple records is enough to drive anyone insane.
I ordered 100 reel boxes and had them sent to Los Angeles. On another tour I drove them up to Portland to have my friend Cody Brant hand-draw each cover.
The tapes were then shipped to me in New York, where I was staying at the time. This was around 2009 or 2010. I thought for some reason I could get the release going from there, despite having basically no resources at my disposal.
I asked Cody to ship the boxes to me in New York, which he did. I think I had suggested sending them media mail, which he confirmed with the post office was ok. They arrived with $100 postage due, so after conferring with the NY post office, I had them returned to sender thinking they would be sent back to the Portland post office that OK’d it and they would be understanding. No such luck.
When leaving NY, I had to then ship the tapes back to Los Angeles again, 400 tapes’ fourth trip through the mail.
A couple years later I was in Los Angeles, looking through my storage space, tearing the entire thing apart, looking for the 7-inches, thinking maybe I’d try to get this project going again. No luck. I asked everyone I could think of if I had anything stashed or left at their house, specifically a box of 100 unpackaged 7-inches. No. Somehow I managed to lose the entire pressing. (To this day never found.)
The boxes stayed in Cody’s basement for many years, developing a bit of mold, cobwebs, and age by the time I picked them up. Later most fell into even worse condition while in storage (again) and most ended up unsuitable to be used at all and I had to buy more.
A bit of luck later, I was on the phone with Bill Smith looking for some pressing plates, and they told me they had H 58 on the shelf. I immediately knew that these were the plates for the Rip 7-inch and after a moment of astonishment, asked them to press another hundred.
After driving all the pieces across country yet again, they finally were all in one accessible place. I looked for the files of the originals, but it they seem to be completely lost. I asked Greh if he still had them. No luck. I listened to the tapes and figured out what was what and then labeled them all. I got the rest of the material printed and assembled the boxes and finally got everything finished.
The recordings in this set differ greatly from the Rip CD. These recordings were essentially the source for that album, but here the material is presented more as concrète events with less intervention. Since the original files are lost, it’s doubtful there will be any digital or second edition of this version, aside from the Rip album.
Here’s the story of the Vancouver BC show that was the description for the Rip CD when it came out:
We played this show in Vancouver BC that was definitely in my top three. Sissy Spacek caravanned up there with Yellow Swans and arrived late afternoon right between the venue and Gabe’s girlfriend’s house. It was probably about two blocks in between. We hung out there for a little while and I had needed to pee for a really long time, so I took a few steps over to this alley and took a piss and then reconvened with everybody hanging out and waiting for the promoter and Gabe’s girlfriend to arrive. After a couple minutes we noticed these two women in the alley checking us out. After a skeptical, then dismissive look, they squatted directly in my piss and started smoking crack.
Previous to this, we thought everything in Canada had been hilarious. The accents at the border, the 70’s strut of the “walk” light, road signs … pretty much everything. This was something different. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a long time, and I’m not used to seeing stuff like this in broad daylight off what seemed to be a main drag.
Eventually we hung out a bit at the house and then headed over to the venue once the promoter showed up. I parked and he warned we should take everything out of the car. “Everything.” Don’t leave a single insignificant thing in view or it will definitely get broken into. We unloaded into a white room, kind of cold and dank. The walls and ceiling were literally dripping. It reeked of beer. “Oh, we had a party here last night, we just hosed it down.” “With beer?” I asked as a joke, but not really. He explained it used to be a fish factory and that they had shows there and bands practiced there. They never had any problems with cops because of the neighborhood.
“How many bands are playing?” “Six, I think.” “What time does the show start?” “Probably around midnight.”
We left back for the house to check out their half pipe and hear stories about the view from their second story window. Just walking back and forth a few times between the house and the venue, we saw a lot of stuff — weird stuff. Zombies milling about, prostitutes hanging around, people with bad things or no thing to do. I can’t say how we looked, but I can say that I did not see anyone that looked like they had a normal agenda.
Around 11pm we headed back over. I set up the record table and checked to make sure everything was ok. In the back storage room there was a tower of around 50 cases of beer. Jesse and I were baffled by everything at this point. We decided we should just take a walk up and down the street and see what was about. Just crossing the road had shown us quite a bit. Corydon refused our invitation to join us in no uncertain terms.
We head out to the street. I had noticed this big rig parked on the corner all day. It was just the front cab of a big semi truck. It was the kind that was elongated and probably had a small apartment behind the seats. As we passed it, being night time now, I looked back over my shoulder through the windshield as we walked by and saw a white, doughy, mid-50’s man, standing completely naked, staring back at me from behind/between the seats. We made solid eye contact. I turned immediately and told Jesse, “Don’t look back” as I slowly turned my head around to look again, only this time the light was now off and I could only imagine he was now standing there still looking at me, completely naked, now in darkness. We passed two more crumbling prostitutes who were barely able to stand before we managed to get to the corner. We took a right and noted the street name, Hastings, and walked about six blocks up the street.
Passed 11 pm, things looked much uglier than during the day. Everyone was some kind of walking dead, zombie, prostitute, unconscious and sprawled out, people literally in the gutter, everything looked like absolute bad news. There were many notable sights. We saw a convenience store whose neon sign read, “Open 23 Hours”. We saw drug addicts freaking out, prostitutes getting into cars, people shaking, yelling, etc. Jesse looks fucked up, so I think that’s why, between the two of us, a guy chose his spit for me (but missed). Suddenly we realized we were now far from the venue. Pretty far. We should turn around. We crossed at the intersection at Gore Street and came back on the other side. Unscathed except for an empty box of Goobers thrown at me (again the victim!)
As we stroll up to the venue, probably around 11:30 or so at this point, we have to wade through people to get to the door. Miraculously it is completely packed. $5 to get in, $5 per beer. The promoter explains that underage kids know this is a place they can drink no problem, so they always do well. We play a set alternating between grindcore and full-on noise. People were rowdy during both. Six bands is never something you want to hear, but somehow it went fine, crowded until it ended around 6 am and turned into a sloppy sock hop. All the beer was gone.
The next day Jesse was sick enough to go to the hospital and bow out of the rest of the tour.
Recorded up and down the West Coast by Jesse Jackson, Corydon Ronnau, and John Wiese and featuring appearances by Yellow Swans, Peter Kolovos (Open City), and Paul Costuros (Death Sentence: Panda!).
Numbered edition of 100.