I‘m just a few years too young to have seen Chrome’s classic lineup in concert. That still bums me out a little, it’s something I would LOVE to have seen. Chrome’s insane melange of industrial sound collage, punk aggression, and acid-fried rock guitar proved both that “psychedelia” needn’t be encumbered with dreary, anachronous flower-child connotations, and that it wasn’t necessarily punk’s natural enemy. Echoes of brainfuckingly brilliant albums like Half Machine Lip Moves and Red Exposure can still be heard in gnarlier psych bands working today, and in industrial metal, as well, but the guitarist from Chrome’s classic era, Helios Creed, was and is miles beyond most flanger-abusers in terms of conception, nuance, and just straight up advanced weirdness. That his solo output kinda dusts the Chrome stuff that came out after his early ‘80s split with founder/drummer Damon Edge speaks to the fact that Chrome were really only truly great with both of them there.
While I never saw classic Chrome in concert, I did see a bunch of outstanding Helios Creed shows in the ‘90s, so when after Edge’s untimely 1995 death Creed re-claimed the Chrome name for a 1997 album and tour, I HAD to go. What I saw, though, while it was damn cool, wasn’t really different enough from a regular Helios show to convince me that there was any flaw in the “Truly Great Chrome=Creed+Edge” equation. Creed continued releasing Chrome albums on various labels until 2002, when Chrome seemingly went silent for good—until this year.
A couple of months ago, we at DM were privileged to bring you the debut of the song “Prophecy,” the first new Chrome music released in a dozen years, and a few weeks later, the superb site Consequence of Sound streamed the full LP. It’s really goddamn good, good enough to completely torpedo my belief that a Chrome album needs Creed and Edge to be top-shelf stuff. But still, Creed-only Chrome is characterized by Creed’s idiosyncratic guitar work, just as his solo output is. So when I was offered the chance to talk to Creed about the new Chrome music, I only prepared one question: Really, what’s the difference?
I try to make it two bands, and yeah, for a lot of people there isn’t an obvious difference—like why should I do Chrome when I have the solo thing that’s actually doing better? The difference to me is that Chrome is coming from a different era, and the ‘70s headspace was a lot different. And the alien/sci-fi thing is more prevalent in Chrome. I’m not doing Helios Creed right now—the last thing I did was Galactic Octopi, which was a while ago already.
The new Chrome album was three years in the making, and when we started it, to us it had to be the best Chrome ever made, that was in our heads. If we didn’t have that in our heads, I don’t think it would have been so good. Whether it’s the best one made is a matter of personal taste, but I think it’s up there, and it’s fun to play!
That new album, Feel It Like a Scientist, sees its US release today. Creed alluded to a forthcoming U.S. tour when we spoke, but no dates have been announced as of this posting. Their European tour wrapped up a couple of months ago, and in what could well bear on what we may expect from a U.S. tour, it leaned heavily on classic material. See for yourself—thanks to YouTube user Neonblitz 1968, I found some quite good audience-cam footage of their recent show in Hamburg. Enjoy.