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An Interview with Red Helen


Rags to riches stories, in which lucky, talented individuals rocket from humble beginnings, to fame and stardom seemingly overnight, can be interesting reads. However a commonly found flaw lays in the writer’s reluctance to reveal the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that generally precede such overnight successes.

The story of Johannesburg, South Africa based metal band Red Helen is no fairy tale of lucky breaks. It is a rather more detailed story of hard work, persistence and a keen resolve to reach their goals and become an international success.

The members of the band are Brandon Pratt (on vocals), Greg van Kerkhof (on bass / vocals), Erick Gerber (on guitars / vocals) and Matt Sletcher (on drums).

I had a chat to the band about their upcoming performance at Krank’d Up Festival and a few other things. This is what they had to say:

You guys write some of the best tech metal in South Africa. How long does it take you guys to write and complete a song?

Thank you for the super kind words! It varies, sometimes a song will be written in a couple of weeks. Sometimes it can take up to a year to write a song and be show ready with it! With the progressive and technical nature of our music it takes a long time but we’re also perfectionists which doesn’t help speed up the process haha.

Are Gregg’s fingers possessed by demons?

No, no, his fingers aren’t possessed but that right thumb of his definitely is! That thing could cure world hunger and tear down sky scrapers with one fatal swoop!

What is the funniest thing to happen mid-set?

Mid-set we’ve had members almost pass out from dehydration,  almost poop themselves from diarrhea, we’ve had to ask other bands to lend us their instruments because input jacks have given up, we’ve jammed improvised funk tracks while one or more of us scramble to fix a technical issue! Brandon has tripped and fallen all over Greg’s gear and totally messed up his settings!

Brandon has tripped and fallen on Matt’s drum kit. Brandon has accidentally unplugged Erick’s guitar pedals more times than what is basically humanly possible. Brandon has accidentally thrown his mic into the audience mid-song. We’ve had an audience member threaten Brandon mid-set for touching his perfectly styled hair. Brandon then, of course, touched his hair again.

You guys have played abroad. Which country has the best beer?

We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have performed in Germany and I think the members of Red Helen that drink beer would agree that the beer there is pretty damn amazing!

Best touring story?

We’ve got so many goofy tour stories! Everything from almost being hijacked in Durban and having to race off as fast as we could with a car full of sweaty dudes and a trailer full of gear. Two members (uh hum, Matt and Erick) got lost in Cape Town and drove around for 5 hours in a van that contained all of our gear, their phones had died, neither had a charger and they didn’t have a GPS, none of us could get a hold of them! Amazingly, they arrived safely at the venue by some miracle about 15 minutes before our set!

Packing up our gear outside of a venue in a pleasant little drizzle of rain only to realize some dudes at the club above us were actually spitting at us from a balcony! We were once playing a show in a really dodgy area and Erick, Greg and Brandon decided to walk after the show to a nearby garage to buy food, while walking they noticed a dodgy group of guys following them, they got safely to the garage but realized they probably couldn’t walk safely back to the venue without being robbed!

They called Matt to get him to pick them up in the car only to realize the only pair of car keys were in Brandon’s pocket so they were stuck! After some time Matt convinced the big ass scary bouncer from the club to walk with him to fetch us, we thought we’d have to sleep in the garage!

What time is you Krank’d Up Festival slot and what can fans look forward to?

We’re up on the main stage at 7:30, fans can expect orchestrated madness, tons of moshing and head banging, maybe even a cover of one of our favorite bands! See you there!

I’d like to thank Red Helen for this interview and I wish them all of the best with their musical endeavors. If you’re not familiar with them, crank up their song “Ode To The Corrupt” below:

Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Interviews categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.

Photo by Snapback Photography



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