In 1982 James Rivera, he of the shrieking voice that can out-Rob Halford the Judas Priest singer himself, founded a Houston heavy-metal band that has never stopped rocking. Once signed to the same label as Megadeth and Exodus, it looked like nothing but guitar-shaped pools and hot and cold running groupies in Helstar's future.
That's not quite how it turned out, but over the course of three decades the band has maintained a presence that cannot be denied. For their 30th birthday, they're invading Warehouse Live Saturday to record a double live album and DVD before heading off to tour Europe.
Chatter: Why not Helstar? Is there something you think got in the way of taking that final step into immortality?
With Rotting Corpse, Metalloyd, Legion, Knocturnal Maddness, Epic, Metavenge, Owl Witch, Sanctus Bellum, Carry The Storm and Venomous Maximus, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel St, 713-225-5483 or www.warehouselive.com.
James Rivera: Just like with any band, if you don't have the right music lawyer, manager or agent from the start to steer things in the proper direction, no matter how long you keep at it, it's hard to catch up to the rest. We were just young cats who knew how to write great metal but knew nothing about the business, and it all just blossomed too quick for any of us to really know what to do or who to turn to for the proper guidance.
C: What keeps Helstar alive? Is it a love of the music, a belief that stardom is always attainable, or is it something else?
James Rivera: By far the love. I am mainly speaking for myself, but as well for the rest of the band. We all know we will never headline the Astrodome or anything like that anymore, but we can accept that we are still noteworthy to the metal world to keep getting record-label contracts, putting out albums and still doing world tours at a decent level of success.
To be completely honest, I don't think we ever stop dreaming of becoming huge stars, but we are mature enough now to know we must live down here in reality for now, mortally.
C: Would you consider yourselves heroes of Houston metal?
James Rivera: I think we have been looked at as heroes for sure. We did put Houston on the map of the heavy-metal world before anyone else, and actually got signed to reputable record labels.
C: You personally receive a fair amount of worship in Houston. How do you deal with it?
James Rivera: I love my fans and friends equally, so I guess I never thought there should be some separation from the two. So if they want to look at me as their saint of worship, that is okay too. I just can't promise praying to me and lighting a candle will reserve them a place in heaven in the afterlife. Or should I say Metal Heaven!
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C: What can we expect to see in Saturday's show?
James Rivera: We will do 20 songs that night: Three from each album and some that haven't been played in years. Even one from what was considered the black sheep of the family, Multiples of Black. It was an actual label release and all, but it was in the mid-'90s when metal was pretty much dead and production wasn't all that great.
We will have a new stage show as far as a few props, limited-edition 30-year merchandise, plus we will be giving away door prizes which include some Helstar memorabilia. We are bringing top-of-the-line equipment for a top-notch recording of the show and a top-of-the-line crew to film the concert, to be released as a DVD along with the CD in a box set this September.
So we will always have this for generations to follow and memories to cherish: Something we have never done in the history of our career, and a 30-year celebration called for it.