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 South African based Red Helen is no fairytale 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.
Since their formation in The Campus of Performing Arts, Johannesburg during the last quarter of 2008, Red Helen have proven numerous things. Not only have they painstakingly earned a reputation as a formidable unit of hard working, dedicated, professional individuals; they have made it clearly known that they are here to stay and deserve close attention from the local music scene. Red Helen have proven they are an immutable force to be reckoned with, consciously and deliberately paving their own way towards taking over not just South Africa, but the world!
Music is not only a passion, but a lifestyle for the five musicians who collectively call themselves Red Helen. The lineup, after multiple member changes, has been forged through time, will and determination to never give up. Each musician brings their own taste, sound and feel to the table, creating a sonic amalgam comparable to the crashing of a torrential thunderstorm. The nature of which is both devastatingly crushing, and extraordinarily beautiful.
Red Helen constantly seek new and exciting opportunities to challenge themselves and expand on their already unique palette of musical influences and soundscapes. At their core is an unquenchable desire to constantly better themselves as professional musicians and performers – a testament to the progressive nature of their songs. The band hopes to challenge the musical norms and stereotypes set and exacerbated by a number of modern metal bands and musicians. Leaning to more specific stylistic references, Red Helen strive to create emotionally wrenching songs in the context of intricate rhythmic devices, catchy melodies and a harmonic symbiosis between vocalists and guitars.
The band is held together by the capable hands of Matthew Sletcher, the self taught drummer, whose hard working attitude and natural ability secure his position amongst the best up and coming drummers of the current generation. The low end of Red Helen’s frequency spectrum emanates from the bass guitar expertly controlled by Greg Van Kerkhof, whose dedication and discipline have resulted in a formidable combination of masterful bass playing, powerfully sung vocal melodies, and a unique style of song writing. Erick Gerber, the only remaining original member of the band, shatters preconceived notions of what a guitar can sound like in the context of modern, progressive metal. Constructing blazing, technically brilliant guitar lines and singing over syncopated rhythmic phrases truly sets this man apart, as an extraordinary musician and a talented writer. Finally, the band is fronted by the incredibly charismatic Brandon Pratt. With an enormous array of vocal abilities, Brandon’s voice lends fathoms of aggression and power to Red Helen. However the intensity and energy of his performance are his true assets. Since the employment of his skills, the band has discovered a truly amazing relationship with their audiences, who have become an integral part of the chaotic performances led by Red Helen.
Having performed all over South Africa in many different settings and towns, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, Red Helen have been received extremely well nationally by crowds of eager fans. Besides their critically acclaimed live performances, they have also attained many achievements along the way. In 2014, front man, Brandon Pratt was named Best Vocalist, at the first annual South African Metal Music Awards. The band has also proven to be a formidable opponent in battles, placing third in Tanz Café’s “The Set Up”, and being chosen as one of two “Bands of the Year” by local venue, Rumours Lounge. In June 2014, Red Helen won the South African Leg of the Wacken Metal Battle, and had the honour and privilege of representing South Africa in the World Finals of the battle, found at the 25th anniversary of the Wacken Open Air Festival, Germany, widely regarded as the biggest metal festival in the world. Red Helen finished at 6th place out of the 30 international bands that competed.
Red Helen are about to release their highly anticipated debut album, “Trading Past for Pathways” with well known, South African producer, Clinton Watts of Watts Productions. The album will be released to the public on the 17th February 2017.
The story of Red Helen’s success has not come to an end. Rather it has just begun. With the international debut of their unique sound, soon to be under their collective belt, big things await this determined group of musicians. Over night rags to riches stories do not apply here. Get to your nearest Red Helen show to see the fruits of their labour clearly displayed.
“Trading Past for Pathways” Released 17th Feb 2017
Red Helen – Ode To The Corrupt
Red Helen – Suicide Notes And Bloodshot Eyes
Red Helen links:
Check out Red Helen on Facebook here
Watch Red Helen on You Tube here
Listen to Red Helen on Soundcloud here
Listen to Red Helen on Bandcamp here
Check out Red Helen on Reverbnation here
Follow Red Helen on Twitter here