The Party Of Helicopters
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The Party Of Helicopters

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The best kept secret in music

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JAMIE STILLMAN, A CHILD OF METAL who can't shake the love for prog rock, is one-fourth (occasionally one-third) of the Kent, Ohio group the Party of Helicopters. The POH are less cock, more rock than the metal bands of yesterday or those parodying the genre today.
"What I hear in metal is totally different than other people," Stillman says. "I really like At the Gates; they're like the Swedish metal version of the Strokes, very melodic. I can't figure out why is it so funny to like metal again or bands like the Darkness."
The group blends dreamy pop with frantic time signatures, metal riffs, and falsetto vocals, leaving critics and listeners fumbling for a back catalog of adjectives and "sounds likes" to describe their music. Their sound is entirely their own, and like true pioneers the POH saved their fans the trouble of reading through reviews with references to everything from Iron Maiden to Rush to My Bloody Valentine by coining their own niche, "JesusfuckingChrist, theseguysrock-core."
"I'm flattered," Stillman says, "but I don't see where the writers are getting their comparisons from. I can't look at it from an outside perspective. I think these comparisons throw people off, because it's nothing like it (our music). It isn't what you'd expect."
In the nine years since the POH's inception and over the course of five records, the band has made forays into punk, stoner and arena rock, to finally produce the 2003 lo-fi, hip-shaking metal-phenomenon Please Believe It on Velocette Records. First time listeners won't expect Joe Dennis' fanciful atmospheric vocals off-setting Cory Race's maddening 7/8 drumming, Ryan Brannon's heavy bass groove and Stillman's hundred notes a measure. They won't expect whimsical tunes about mustaches or songs deconstructing the indie rock audience like opening track "The Good Punk" does with the lyrics: "This ain't punk rock enough for my ears. I'm outta here ... They got a baby unicorn on the record cover ... Who's this cowboy think that he is?" Nor will they expect to be called out "to move their asses as a unit." Can you even move your ass to metal? POH believe it's possible.
"We want to write music people can't sit and stare or mosh to," explains Stillman. "The newer stuff is heading towards that, something more danceable. The collective goal is to travel and become the world's first shoegazing metal band with dance-pump tendencies." The POH East Coast dance parties incited are infamous and said to be almost as raucous as seeing the Fucking Champs or the Oxes. "We are definitely a live band," Stillman elaborates. "Most people understand the music when they see it live. They can see where it's coming from, because our music translates better live."
And POH want the rock and roll life span of Iron Maiden. They want to rock as hard as Van Halen or the Mars Volta of today. They even wish they had been old enough to have the opportunity of being booed off stage while opening for The Smiths. The POH would love to share just a leg, not an entire tour (for fear of their lives), with legendary thrash metal fiends At the Gates. And if there are any bands out there drawing over one thousand kids a night, please give these guys a call--they're ready to get the lead out and rock yer body to the middle of the dance floor.
- JESSE LOCKS
- April 2004


The post-emo angled-trucker's-cap crowd loves to flirt with the ideas that it understands metal. The reference points are lowest common denominator, throwing the devil sign has become the soul-shake for white kids and these people are rarely seen at a real metal show. Tongue-in-cheek nudge-nudge at Fucking Champs or Drunk Horse will not color anyone's face with surprise, but I wonder what the garden-variety emo ham'n'egger thinks of the party of helicopters. Almost since day one, the band has pulled off a feat of historic heights. Sounds unheard, a combination of Iron Maiden, Yes, Dinosaur Jr and Ride should have the reasonable person wiping vomit
from their sass-hole with a Mr. Bungle t-shirt . Please Believe It plays like a Foo Fighters album next to the last year's enjoyable-yet-reckless black hole, Space And How Sweet It Was. This doesn't mean your local fart-joke affiliate station is going to pick this up. The guys have shucked their Chrome records for a much more straightforward, individualistic approach. Don't fret: Jamie Stillman is still the greatest guitarist in independent rock and Joe Dennis' million-dollar vocals still sound like he gargles with magic. It's just all applied to 10 concise rock songs without a bum in the bunch.
- Summer 2003


Kent, Ohio indie hepcats the Party of Helicopters mix up dream pop vocals cooing betwixt and between complex guitar patterns, and steady rock grooves that are perpetually subverted by timing pattern shifts. It's a lo-fi, technical treat -- more from-the-gut than poseur artsy. The bitingly satirical opening track "The Good Punk" is a standout, with Jamie Stillman's guitar work recalling Steve Howe of Yes (and in other places Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi). The rocky-riffy "Cover Me" raises the mania stakes, submerged vocals and all and "Science Reasons" is industrial-lite meets surf, meets punk. Highly inventive and literate.
-ADRIAN ZUPP
- Web Exclusive - April 8, 2003


Rating:4/5
THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS: Please Believe It
After several critically lauded recordings on smallish indies, the party of helicopters find themselves on the label formerly known as Capricorn for Please Believe It. However, those familiar with POH will scarcely notice a difference in the bands vibe: Choppy rhythms snake seductively beneath recurring guitar clamor that's as densely metallic as it is shimmeringly progressive, with the falsetto wails of singer Joe Dennis ruling the soundscape. On meandering cuts such as "Rising up is hard work (let's just sit here)" and more commercially viable entities like the Rush-meets-Fugazi "Delta '88", the Kent,Ohio, natives keep it heavy, heady and steady.
-BRIAN O'NEIL - May 2003


THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS: Please Believe It
Party Of Helicopters slices and dices the baddest bits of posthardcore, metal and stoner rock and jams them into the songs on Please Believe It, the Ohio four-piece’s head-spinning new record. Singer Joe Dennis’s floaty, pop vocal style is fascinatingly unpredictable, highlighted by an unwavering falsetto that always comes correct. The rest of this party blasts a body-rockin’ combo of furious bass revving, precision guitar tweaking and constant drum pummeling that will have you name-dropping such luminaries as Quicksand and Smashing Pumpkins (as on “Never Ending Cycle”), as well as Clutch and Helmet (see “Boston”). “Delta 88” squeals to life in the chorus, while its verse introduces the quirkiness to come on “The Toucher,” a whimsical tune about a badass moustache. Magnum opus “Brutal Enigma” looks into the heart of tormented youth (“I thought I was fine/ You say that I’m crazy/ Oh yeah, keep on pickin’ me”) and shows just how blistering the band can be, offering just the Helicopter lift needed to get any party off the ground.
- RYAN JONES - 808 - Apr 07, 2003


Artist: Party of Helicopters
Album Title: Please Believe It
Date of Release: Apr 8, 2003
AMG Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Rock

AMG REVIEW: Few releases from 2003, and virtually none from high-profile acts, come anywhere near the mix of passion and originality achieved on Please Believe It. The production is raw and the instrumentation mercilessly spare, but by overlaying contradictory elements — punk intensity and prog complexity, thrashing beats and dispassionate vocals that track extraordinarily elusive melodies — the Helicopters score one bull's-eye after another. Elaborate structures challenge the band to play with precision and without losing any momentum; time and again they pull this off, sometimes by inserting intense episodes amidst the tumble of chords and fragmented rhythms, as in the single-note guitar squall that crops up suddenly in "Mic My Mind." But it's not just the writing that distinguishes these efforts; without the right chops, most bands would be stranded within these stark textures and contrapuntal tangles. Cory Race deserves particular credit for pumping energy through the elaborate channels mapped in these tracks; you won't find more awesome drumming in the modern rock catalog than what he does on "Delta 88." Critics have compared the Helicopters to a bewildering array of recent bands, but to really grasp Please Believe It you need to go all the way back to acts like Gentle Giant; only then will you have a context vast and deep enough to appreciate what these lo-fi phenoms have accomplished.
— ROBERT L. DOERSCHUK
- AMG


The Party of Helicopters
Please Believe It
The whir of twin chopper blades signals that something big is on the horizon...a scrape of hot metal erupts into a wail of guitar turbulence that sounds like a twin-turbine burning itself out. Before you know it, you're knee-deep in populist muck, a lanky gent is swinging a shiny metallic object just inches from your face and the bass roar becomes so loud your insides are shaking like gelatin. The tectonic rumble is so deafening that you're certain your eardrums will burst at any moment. Then you black out and wake up the next morning, only to find that you've been steamrolled by the Party of Helicopters. And you couldn't be happier about it.
Please Believe It, the band's hip-shaking and intensely volatile follow-up to Mt. Forever, is a screeching amalgam of ear-piercing art-metal, arena rock hysterics and punk rock hostility, seared by the scorched-tongue kiss of lead singer Joe Dennis. The band's protagonistic brand of shoegazer-y cock-rock guarantees that they sound like no other act you've heard this year, and in a calendar-season that's already seen its share of heavy-hitting genre-splicers (Cave In, AFI and the Coral) step to the plate, that's really saying something.
Possessed of the same glitter-metal bravado that fueled the sorely missed Chainsaw Kittens, the PoH strike a precocious balance between savvy art-school tunefulness and over-the-top heavy metal thunder. Dennis's Freddie-Mercury-gone-wrong vocals are a perfect foil for the rest of the band's technically proficient, devastatingly strident tri-fold ambush; at times -- "Rising Up is Hard Work (let's just sit here)" and "Mic My Mind" in particular -- it sounds as though he's clambaked himself into oblivion and waltzed into the wrong studio entirely, only to find himself surrounded by an Iron Maiden cover band whose Bruce Dickinson got stuck in traffic. In spite of these glaring disparities, the band works amazingly well as a unit: the savage-yet-sparse instrumentation of "Boston" allows Dennis ample room to stretch his pipes, while the bottom-heavy throwdown "Delta 88" sees him rein in his baser vocal instincts, letting his compatriots' controlled squalor do the lion's share of the talking. In the end, it's that give-and-take that lends Please Believe It its strident edge.
Some might argue that Party of Helicopters have merely dragged prog-rock kicking and screaming into the new millennium -- but Please Believe It contorts and confounds their chosen idiom, smashing that myth to pieces and securing the band's reputation as the booze-soaked, bathroom-dwelling, Hawkwind-quoting metalheads of rock's class of 2003.
- Reviews - 4/15/2003


The Party of Helicopters "Please Believe It"

In this age of fraudulent rock music, the saviors are seemingly nowhere to be found. Instead, all that's left are a bunch of pierced, tatted and spiked-up kids who call themselves bands and sing/rap the praises of Maiden, Zeppelin and the Misfits only to outfit their records with candy-coated, wimpy three-chord crap.
That is why the buzz around The Party of Helicopters is so exciting. The band has all the aforementioned influences, yet, are so fresh and original that its unfamiliarity only adds to the tantalizing, sheer rock of it all.
The Party of Helicopters' fourth full-length, Please Believe It, is a picture of the band honing a new sound at full throttle and full volume.
POH's sound is a sexy contrast of dream-pop lyrical delivery cast against sharp metal riffage unlike anything else except the remote kinship to labelmates Jucifer. It sounds as if the members of POH finished their upbeat pop/rock record only to stumble upon 40 minutes of writhing guitarism from Maiden's Dave Murray and splice it with the original vocal tracks. But they didn't do that at all. POH's creation is all its own -- it's just that good.
The album opener, "The Good Punk," kicks off with an ascending whirlwind of a riff that almost drowns out (in a good way, of course) the soft hum of lead singer Joe Dennis' vocals as he sarcastically questions, "Who does this cowboy think he is/I probably could take him...."
"Mic My Mind" and "Cover Me" are tunes that bring out POH's sound best and show the different directions the band's sound can follow. The former is a light-guitared meandering that traipses into a hop-up-and-down, bouncy pop/punk chorus. "Cover Me" is a new-age homage to metaldom. Vacuously cool lyrics remind us of the oh-so-metal theme of bravery in the final hour. This song is a rolling thunder of soft howls that give way to an all-out barrage of metal riffs.
"The Toucher" is a throw-down jam with the guitars and heavy drumwork playing DJ. Dennis hollers some of the best lyrics ever delivered by a white man: "Everybody here tonight/Needs to move their asses...Everybody don't lie/I know you want to party down ... Who is rollin' deep tonight/Hold on to me so I can/Make sure you're being nice." Word to your mother.
The rest of the album is filled with delectable heavy guitar work by Jamie Stillman, as he backs Dennis' dreamy lyrics to form a dynamic sweeter than any pop/rock candy and as hard as the strongest metal.
-NICK MARGIASSO
- April 10, 2003


The Party of Helicopters draws from many influences, including shoegazing dream-pop, dissonant prog-rock and harmonic noise, though calling the group “punk” is probably the best single-word description. That doesn’t begin to describe the Kent band, but even though the list of things the group isn’t isn’t short, the list of reasons not to like them is even shorter.
Fortunately, the Party of Helicopters is kind enough to spell out these deficiencies on the very first track of Please Believe It (Velocette). “The Good Punk” is attending a Party party, and he is totally unimpressed with the band and vocalist Joe Dennis’ fey ways to the point where it’s a personal affront to him. His ire would have turned into a physical beat-down if he wasn’t afraid that the singer would kiss him or something—I don’t know because I don’t know how these people think, and neither does the band, though it’s obvious they’ve seen this “Good Punk” far too often.
So only those insecure with what punk is and/or their own masculinity need fear the Party of Helicopters...
—BRIAN O’NEILL - COLUMBUS ALIVE


The Party of Helicopters • Please Believe It • Velocette Records • Ever hear of "Jesus-fucking-Christ-these-guys-rock-core"? You will after you check out this musical number from the boys in POH. Chock full of blistering riffage and thundering percussion, you will hear a variety of influences in this album. Imagine Coheed and Cambria styled vocals mixed with all the rock of The Fucking Champs, and that's the tip of the iceberg. So start grooming your indie-rock mullet and prepare for the invasion. (RP)
- IMAPCTPRESS.COM


Discography

"Please Believe It" LP (2003)
"Space And How Sweet It Was" (2002)
"Mt. Forever" (2000)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

You've had it with this "new rock" thing by now, haven't you? I mean, you were probably getting sick of it eight months ago but now, sifting through an endless stack of Next Big Things while that tragic genius from The Vines is trying so desperately to Get Free from MTV, you've had about all the stunt casting and empty signifiers you can handle.

So, faint critic, take heart. the party of helicopters are not from Sweden. They are not huge in the UK. Nowhere in this biography will you see the party of helicopters compared to Gang of Four or Television or PiL. the party of helicopters do not wear ties when they play. the party of helicopters do not even own ties.

the party of helicopters are, however, an insanely good rock band -- a big tangle of knotted-up guitar riffs, thundering percussion, saw-toothed fuzz bass, and vocal melodies that dart and dive and wander like a hobo. Their music being frustration, aimlessness, disappointment, and raw hope coming out as pure solid riffing and apocalyptic rhythms. It's so invigorating and original that their 2000 release Mt. Forever was named one of Spin's Top 20 records of that year.

Since forming in 1995 in Kent, Ohio, the party of helicopters has been confounding rock scribes and audiences alike who sometimes get perplexed by the melange of styles being hurled at them. Their audiences are often split with a perceptible rift between the stoned metal heads, the drunk art rock types and the wide-eyed emo boys and girls. Such has been the case over the course of the last seven years, ten releases, ten tours and two drummers (original drummer Jon Finley left the band in 2000 "to play the guitar and keyboards in his bedroom 24 hours a day"). The stylistic range can somewhat be explained by part of the PoH's rock pedigree. While still in high school, guitarist Jamie Stillman drummed and toured with legendary art-core band Harriett the Spy, and vocalist Joe Dennis and original drummer John Finley played guitar and bass in the shoegaze outfit The Man I fell In Love With. The collision of influences and styles can lazily be likened to The Fucking Champs getting it on with My Bloody Valentine.

Please Believe It propels the PoH even further into chaos. The album opener "The Good Punk" starts with Dennis stating "this ain't punk rock enough for my ears" then proceeds to churn through the next six (!!) minutes dissecting the musical ethics of the new American indie rocker. Cerebral! "Cover Me" (track 3) is a traffic stopper -- tornado riffs corkscrew ceaselessly, upending the melody line and filling the song with furious momentum propelled even further forward (and laterally) by Corey Race's impossibly "keeps you guessing" drumming. It's like Yngwie Malmstein trying to play along to Big Black, all of heavy metal's guilty pleasures battling Dischord's punk rock puritanism. Even when the PoH tries to play it relatively straight, as they do in the aching pop song "Neverending Cycle" (track 8) the edges are serrated and the tempo is bratty and fitful. "The Toucher" (track 5) is an extremely angular ditty about mustaches with a chorus featuring some wickedly fucked up fuzz bass by "bass guitarist" Ryan Brannon.

If you've got to file this anywhere, file it with your SST Records, right between Double Nickels on the Dime and You're Living All Over Me. They are not the sound of yesterday, nor are they a spit-shined nostalgia act or a by-the-book exercise in genre. the PoH are pioneering their own niche. It's called JesusFuckingChrist,TheseGuysRock-Core.