Genre: Power/Speed Metal
Questions by: Nick Parastatidis
Answers by: Larry Barragan (Guitar)
1. Hello. How are you? How are things in the HELSTAR camp at the moment?
LB: Hey Nick, how’s it going? We’re doing good man. We have a little bit of a break right now but we’ll be starting back up next month with some shows in Chicago and a couple in the West Coast as well. All in all pretty calm right now.
2. You have a new album under the title “Vampiro”. How long did it take you to compose and produce it?
LB: I guess it was about a year and half in the making. I pretty much write and record as I go along. I use a drum program just to get a feel for what the songs might sound like and I record the riffs as they come.
3. In my opinion “Vampiro” is the musical continuation of “Nosferatu”. Do you agree on that? Which are the new elements that you introduce to your sound with this release?
LB: I wouldn’t really say it’s really a continuation, you know, this album has some elements that were on “Nosferatu” but musically this album is quite a bit heavier. I think the thing that connects the two albums is the mood. When James said he wanted to do this I knew I was going to have to write something that had a darkness to it and a gothic feel.
4. Let’s talk about the lyrics. I think that this is a concept album too. My question is do you continue the “Nosferatu” story here in a way or is it a completely new story? Can you tell us a few things about it?
LB: It is a concept album in the sense that all the songs on it are about vampirism. The songs don’t really connect as a story. They’re all stand-alone songs but they all deal with different subjects. Again when James said he wanted to do this, his initial thought was that we would do the whole album about all the Christopher Lee movies but, you know, those movies didn’t have the greatest story lines. They were great movies when we saw them as kids but when we went back and watched them I knew it would be difficult. So what I suggested to James was that we broaden the scope of what he wanted to do. The songs are all about different movies but most of them are about particular scenes in those movies. You know when movies are made out of books the movie can’t reproduce all that’s in a book and the same goes for the songs. So we condensed the lyrics and we tried to write about the scenes that were our favorite parts of all these different movies.
5. How do you explain this attraction of yours to the world of vampires?
LB: I don’t know really. The first movie I saw was “Taste the Blood of Dracula” and I was about 6. My brother and I went to see it and you can image it scared the fuck out of me. That was it. I was fascinated with all horror after that. I think the thing that attracts me about Dracula and vampirism is the darkness and the violence and the romanticism that’s all rolled up into one. The hatred for God and the feeling of betrayal by the one that he basically dedicated his life to and, you know, the search for his lost love and the deep despair.
6. Your new album finds you in David Ellefson’s label. How did you achieve this deal? What made you choose this label? Are you satisfied so far?
LB: Well we go way back with Dave. We opened for MEGADETH back when they release “Peace Sells”. EMP Underground has been great to us. So far, you can see that all the bands are being cared for very well and that’s one of the most important things for us. A lot of times and band will put out an album and, you know, if that band is not a priority they get pushed to the back. That’s not the case with EMP.
7. Do you think that “Vampiro” can bring new fans to the band and also can it make younger generations get interest in the past HELSTAR releases?
LB: I don’t know really. I can tell you that almost every time we play someone will come up to me and say I never heard of you guys but I’m going to look you up now. It seems that the “Vampiro” is so far very well received. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
8. How have the press and fans received the new album so far? Which was the best compliment you have received and which was the most bizarre comment that you got about the new album?
LB: The most bizarre thing to me has been that the album is too long. That just doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. It almost makes me feel like asking so your attention span is only 30 to 40 minutes? If that’s the case then just listen to one half today and the other tomorrow. Best compliment, we’ve received, hmm, we’ve had a few reviews that have given us perfect ratings and that’s pretty cool. I mean, no one wants to read bad reviews. I don’t care who you are. All in all the reviewers have been very kind to us.
9. I think that you have been asked so many questions all these years. I would like from you to think a question that you have never been asked before or you would like to be asked and also answer it…
LB: Man, that’s a tough one. I don’t know. No one has ever asked about why I play guitar and the reason for that is quite funny. I really wanted to be a drummer but my older brother talked me out of it. He said you don’t want to be a drummer. That guy is always in the back! You should play guitar. That guy is always up front and there you have it. That’s really why I play guitar and not drums.
10. Thanks for your time answering my questions. I wish you all the best. Hope to see you for live shows here in Greece. Please close the interview in any way you like…
LB: Ah, thanks Nick. We hope to be in Europe around the end of February. I hope we can make it to see you guys. Thanks to all the fans for your support throughout the years. We’d be nothing without you guys. Cheers!