We had have a nice chat with Larry Barragán the guitarist and founding member of US heavy metal band Helstar from Texas. We talked about guitar god Jimmy Page, Monsters Of Rock, brunettes and violent artistic expression.
Can you tell us your earliest memories of rock/heavy metal and was it love from the beginning?
Actually, my first memory was my brother listening to the song Black Sabbath. I remember he would play it over and over again and to be honest that song used to scare the fuck out of me. I would go tell my mom, “he keeps playing that song again!”. Finally my brother said, “Sit down and listen to this! It’s fucking cool!”. After that I saw the light and I stared listening to Deep Purple and Zeppelin and Rush, BOC, and then you know, it was in my veins.
Which is the most important rock/metal album you bought with your own cash back in the day?
Judas Priest Stained Class. Isn’t it funny how you remember something like that. I didn’t even really know who they were. I just thought the name was cool and it reminded me of Black Sabbath. I was completely blown away when I heard that drum intro to Exciter. Rob’s voice was so amazing. It was life changing because these guys were metal. There was no blues influence or jazz odyssey. It was metal.
Any bands you loved as teenager and today you would think about “My God, What Have I Done”?
I think maybe early Led Zeppelin. Only because I used to think that Jimmy Page was a guitar god but when I listen to the solo on Heartbreaker it’s pretty sloppy. I didn’t really listen to any pop stuff because you know my brother was older than me and he was the one that influenced me to listen to the bands he was into. So while my friends were listening to the, I don’t know, the Jackson 5 or whatever, I was listening to Sabbath and Deep Purple.
Who did you see at your first concert – what was your first experience with live rock/metal?
My first concert was Alice Cooper on the Welcome To My Nightmare tour. I can remember thinking I want to do that! I want to be in a band like that!
Was it hard to get info on the bands you loved as youngster – was there any big media coverage in your home area?
Oh it was all word of mouth. We traded tapes and we went to the record stores and looked for the cool looking album covers. I remember seeing Iron Maiden’s first album and just thinking, “Oh man, this has to sound bad ass!” and it did. So, I would show my friends and then it would just spread. We’d by fanzines and read on all the different bands that were coming out. It was slower but we still got our information about metal either way.
Do you think the digital age has taken down the secret of being in a big band for young people & musicians these days? Do we know everything about our musical heroes in 2016?
Well it is a bit of an overload. I don’t think that bands are going to get as big as the bands from back in the day. So, I think that that fans can getting information about their favorite bands easily is a good thing. In the end the fans just want feel close to you and they feel that way because your music has moved them or touched them in some way. So many times I’ve talked to fans and they tell me stories about different bands they have met and it’s heartbreaking sometimes because of a bad experience with a rude band member. I don’t like to use the term hero but you know these kids look up to you and I think the least you could do is sign a shirt or give them handshake.
Did you go to many festivals as a young rocker/headbanger?
Not too many came around but when they did I was there. Monsters of Rock was great one. Mostly, I just went to the shows that were on tour. The packages were always great. I remember seeing Judas Priest and Iron Maiden opened up. This was on the Killers tour. So, you always had cool bands touring together.
Was it easy or hard for you to grow up with big gigs/festivals? Would you have travel long distances to see your fave bands?
Not hard my mom would drop my brother and I off at the arena and pick us up later. Then when my brother started to drive it was all over. We were going to see all the shows we wanted to see.
What are the five most important albums since you fall in love with rock/metal?
Hm, let me see…Heaven and Hell, Stained Class, 2112, Burn, and of course the first Angel Witch.
Did you had have a rock/metal big bang? I had big posters of Lita Ford and Lee Aaron on the wall of my children’s in 1979 …
Oh man I loved me some Lita as well and Doro, oh my god! The funny thing is I’m very partial to brunettes but those girls were metal and hot!
Anything more you’d like to give us insight about your good rock/metal breeding?
You know it’s just been a way of life. I’m blessed to have experienced all the music I’ve listened to over the years. It’s a passion and I have a love for this form of art. Because that’s what it is. It’s this violent artistic expression. I know a lot of us can have a bad day but we can listen to metal and that angst is diverted to another place and I think that’s really, really cool.
Check out Helstar, they have killer of a new album ‘Vampiro‘ out now via David Ellefson‘s EMP Label Group ! Helstar is touring November/December USA with Flotsam and Jetsam and Hatchet. European tour dates to be annouced soon ! www.facebook.com/Helstar.Metal