Rockhand of the Month: from Scott Helland of Gypsy Nomads/Deep Wound – Plus Stories About J. Mascis!

Deep Wound. Only a few hardcore Dinosaur Jr fans would recognize the band name.

But Deep Wound is important, man. ‘Cos it’s the band that birthed Dinosaur Jr. It’s the band that Lou Barlow, J Mascis, Charlie Nakajima and Scott Helland formed in 1982 in Massachusetts.

In 2011 sometime (ie, this week), I got an email from Scott Helland. Helland’s an amazing artist based in New York now, and plays with a “Frenchie” called Samantha (he’s “The Punk”) in an alt-cabaret-gypsy band called The Gypsy Nomads. He said he dug the Backstage Rider Rockhands Gallery and had a concept for a piece of art….and would I like it?

Taking a picture of yourself or your friends throwin’ the horns for the BackstageRider is awesome. Taking a picture of a band throwin’ the horns for the BackstageRider is also awesome. But sitting down and drawing or sketching or painting out original rockhands art for yours truly, is truly rocktacular. And Scott’s piece (which joins Welsh artist Pete Fowler and Vancouver artist Mark Atomos Pilon on the gallery) is, quite frankly, stunning.

RockHand by Scott Helland for

So while I had Scott, I prodded him about what it was like to know Lou and J. in highschool. Here’s what he said:

“Lou and I went to high school together in Westfield, MA and J went to high school in Amherst, MA a few towns over. We pretty much just rehearsed and played shows. Along with Charlie the singer, we were just four weird, quiet kids into punk rock! Lou and I sat in the lunchroom together and talked about Black Flag records and punk singles and were completely unconnected to the other kids. Lou talked so little to anyone else in school I think they thought there was something wrong with him. We rehearsed in Lou’s attic which was like an oven sometimes and in J’s basement, both places had tons of records tossed about everywhere. We were all so obsessed with music. Everything I remember is more music related than high school related, I think we all hated high school so much – I certainly did!

I remember for the first Deep Wound record Lou and I went out behind a hospital in Westfield looking for slugs. They ended up in an ice cream cone, I held it up and Lou snapped the picture and that was the cover!

Also, J had the coolest way of cutting his hair, he would put a razor blade in a comb and drag it through his hair and voila, instant punk rock hair. I remember another time while rehearsing J was playing the drums so fast he whacked himself right near his eye and went flying back off his drum seat and ended up with a huge welt around his eye.”

Ah, *sigh*, the follies of youth. I remember when I used to cut my hair with a homemade razorcomb! Not.

Anyway, it’s nice to have been introduced to Scott through the magical power of the Rockhands, and now I’d like to introduce you to the magical power of his Gypsy Nomad-ery. Check ’em out and rock on! \m/

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