With the 2014 founded HELION PRIME, one of the most unique and exceptional bands of nowadays Power Metal scence, come up with their self-titled debut album on February 24th on AFM Records. The Sacramento based band plays an awesome mixture of 80s Power Metal with a strong Science-Fiction concept. We spoke with guitarist and bandleader JASON ASHCRAFT about his musical and lyrical visions, influences, space, his dog and HELLOWEEN.
Jason, you founded the Helion Prime along with your former singer Heather in 2014 – was the whole musical and lyrical concept set from the very beginning?
Yes it was. So it was actually I who came up with the idea of the band originally decided to do a small project to sort of break away from my other band Dire Peril. I was dating Heather at the time and asked if she would be interested in singing some vocals for me. The project quickly grew from a two song studio idea into a full length album and soon full band.
Did your heart actually beat for two major interests: Power Metal and Science-Fiction, of which you felt need to be combined?
You can say it that way yes. Science Ficiton as always been a huge interest of mine and when it comes to writing music it’s just easy and natural to write about for me.
Listening to the final result of your debut album, I have to say, that there is nothing comparable and the whole mixture is completely unique. The feeling I get, reminds me on old Sci-Fi movies from the 70s/80s, telling about our presence. How do you feel about that and how would you characterise your influences?
That is a huge compliment for sure. My influences are all over the board. Power Metal is my first love with heavy metal but I enjoy other sub geners. As well as a lot of non-metal music. The last month I’ve been playing “Rent” repeatively on my spotify and in my car.
From the musical side, your roots are based on Power Metal, but you also add some Prog, Thrash and Melodic Death Metal influences. Is it important for you to keep your sound open for whatever influence a certain song needs?
Very important. I call us power metal because as I mentioned above it’s my first love and though we may not be a stricly power metal band that’s okay. I don’t want to limit what I write and if the song sounds good to me I’m happy with it. I don’t have some invisible barrier that says how the songs have to go. For the most part the songs write themselves I may have an idea of what I want to do when I start a song but by the time the song is done it may sound nothing like my original idea. I don’t want to force it and I just follow the way it’s being written and if it doesn’t come out how I originally planned as long as I’m happy with it that’s okay.
With what kind of music did you grew up, and what do you listen to nowadays?
Believe it or not I grew up a country boy. Garth Brooks was my idol. It wasn’t until around 8/9 when I started playing my dad’s tapes (Metallica, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, etc.) Then I switched sides, haha. I still enjoy some country today though, Garth Brooks included. Nowadays I listen to a wide spectrum of music. My highschool days I was very narrow minded. It was heavy metal or die kind of attitude. Now I don’t care if it’s a good song I like it. I’m a huge Bruno Mars fan in fact and I think he’s fantastic. As I mentioned above I’ve been listening to “Rent” lately. Musicals are a huge part of my life as well. I can’t write one or perform in one to save my life but everyone needs goals right?
If I listen to “Apollo”, old Helloween come into my mind, who also had futuristic lyrics on their two “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” classics. I would bet that those are among your all-time favourites?
Helloween is a favorite of mine absolutely. What’s funny is
“Apollo” was heavily inspired by Edguy who is inpsired by Helloween. So that power metal train just keeps on going and passing it down each generation!
There are different Sci-Fi influenced bands of many different genres, from Watchtower, Voivod, Therion to The Kovenant and others. Which other Sci-Fi bands did you enjoy most?
A personal favorite of mine is Iron Savior. They aren’t only a favorite Sci-Fi based band but a favorite band in general. The „Ziltoid“ albums by Devin Townsend are huge ones on the list for me. My all time favorites would have to be the Ayreon and Star One albums by Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Who has become probably the biggest influence on my writing.
By the end of the year you announced the departure of Heather, who’s voice was so characteristic and fitted perfectly to your sound, especially as she already sounded as there are twins singing. Why did she decide to leave the band that she founded along with you?
For Heather, Helion Prime was always second place to her other band. Which is fine as I knew that from the beginning. As Helion Prime began to process though I think the pressure got to her. Their are other personal reasons Heather decided to leave the band but those are… personal.
You just announced your new singer Kayla, who has an amazing voice as well. How did you find her and what convinced you? How does she feel about the Sci-Fi topics?
Kayla was recommended to me through Justin Herzer who performed the drums on our debut album. He saw her perform when she came through town with her band. I checked her at because at this time we had very few leads and figured I didn’t have much to lose. I was instantly impressed and reached out to her. She’s expressed her excitement joining the band and stepping out of her comfort zone. It’s going to be a new sound for sure but I’m already excited about it. Nothing wrong with changing things up!
Did you already start working on new material along with her?
We have in fact already begun work on new material. I am almost six songs in to the sophmore release. Once I have written all the music her and I will get together and start working on the lyrics/vocal melodies.
In “The Drake Equation” you are asking the question of all questions: Are we alone? So, in your opinion, are we?
I don’t believe we are alone, no. What aliens are out there I couldn’t tell you but I don’t believe we are alone. I like to think there is something out there is this what appears to be endless universe… one of possibily many.
Another important role in your life has your best buddy Tobi, which can be seen in your trailers. Is he from outta space?