Helmet’s Page Hamilton has given the credit for the band’s classic track Milquetoast to producer Butch Vig.
Before the song appeared on Helmet’s 1994 album Betty, they recorded a version – called Milktoast – with the man who was at the desk for Nirvana’s Nevermind, and it was he who suggested taking a dynamic approach.
The earlier version appeared on the soundtrack for Brandon Lee’s film The Crow and was re-recorded by Betty producer Andy Wallace for the album release.
Hamilton tells Rolling Stone: “We did one version of this with Butch and then one with Andy. I had wanted to work with Butch before but I was wary because of the whole Nirvana thing. Record companies wanted everything Nirvana but we weren’t Nirvana. But I met him and really liked him.
“Butch gave me the idea to have no guitars on the first verse. Like, ‘Why don’t you mute the guitars here and just do this vocal thing?’ And then he added that Pink Floyd, AM radio effect to my voice.
“That all changed the feel of the song, because originally it was in-your-face right from the beginning. Which is kind of our thing — Helmet’s not really known for dynamics. But Butch was like, ‘How about some dynamics?’ And I said, ‘What a great idea.’ It turned out to be one of my favourite things on the album.”
Helmet recently wrapped up a European tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Betty, and are now taking the show across the US.