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The Helio Sequence Practice Restraint

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012 12:10

The Helio Sequence

Pavlina Summers

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from The Helio Sequence. The band’s studio and recording space flooded while on tour in 2009 and they were forced to find a new home. Luckily, it all worked out for Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel.

Their new album, Negotiations, benefited from their new spacious industrial studio, and now they are ready to hit the road once more. College Times caught up with Summers a couple weeks ago before they left for their European tour to chat about the record and Talking Heads. 

College Times: What is your favorite Talking Heads album?

Brandon Summers: Oh, by far Remain in Light. That record was hugely influential especially when we were recording our second record long ago, back in the day in Beaverton, Young Effectual. It’s funny, my stepmother was like, “You should really hear Talking Heads,” and gave me a copy of it. I ended up putting it on and it blew my mind. That first song, "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)," is amazing stuff. It’s just such a cool record.

You made Negotiations in a new studio. What’s the difference between it and the old one?

Well, the old studio we had was in a basement and it was an old dance studio and it was pretty small, probably 500 or 600 square feet.It was part of a bigger practice space so there were bands all around us. There was a jam band next door and a metal band upstairs. It was really dynamic and there was a lot of noise going on. You’d be recording and then all of the sudden the metal band started rocking it upstairs so we’d have to stop, whereas the new place we have is three, four times bigger and really long. It’s basically a big section of a warehouse – the old break room cafeteria of it. It’s great because it’s still zoned industrial so we can play through the night, which we always do. The only neighbor we have is a Children’s Book Bank and they’re really nice and they’re only there during the day. It’s a lot more secluded.

How did that affect the recording?

It was a lot bigger and it was not sound treated at all, so it took about a month getting it all prepared and cleaning just like when you move into a new home. At that point it was really cool because the possibilities were super open.

When you were recording how did the idea for Aces (A Quadrophonic Surround Companion Disc For Negotiations) come about?

That’s an idea that Benjamin had actually been kicking around for a long time. We had actually been talking about that idea like, “Oh, what if there was a companion to the CD and you could do this quadraphonic thing with it?” It was definitely inspired by listening to The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka back in the day when we were teenagers. It pretty much blew our minds. Benjamin spent about five weeks just sitting in front of the monitor in the studio just mixing the quad. It turned out really cool.

How has it been performing these new songs in front of an audience?

It’s been great. The record itself is a little bit different tonally. It’s more, I don’t know if I’d say laid back, but there’s a definite restraint to the songs. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we were very much recording on our time. We were making something for ourselves as much as everybody else. It’s a very personal record. It’s interesting to take those things that feel very personal to me and actually bring them out into the public. It becomes a little bit more of an extroverted conversation. It feels really nice to play.

The Helio Sequence w/Slowdance, Crescent Ballroom, October 7, 8 p.m., $14 to $16

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