Back in 2016, a self-proclaimed “fartcore” band from Rochester, NY by the name of Diluted tickled my fancy. I reviewed their Never Fit In EP on a whim and became an instant fan, immediately identifying them as an “ETID-lite” if you will. I never got into ETID myself for one reason or another, which is blasphemous in certain Buffalo circles, but I guess what I was really looking for in that style was a band like Rochester’s Diluted. Diluted broke up in the summer of 2022 unfortunately, but for those that don’t know, they were a fun, unapologetic, ultra nostalgic metalcore band fusing together sounds akin to ETID, Atreyu, and 90s-early 2000s Deftones. They openly ripped off your favorite band and wore that on their sleeves. I always thought it was a cool gimmick.

Anyway, Matt Helmer, the subject of this interview played guitar with Diluted for a number of years which is how we met. He parted ways with the band a few years before the breakup, but stayed on good terms with everyone, even recording Diluted’s later material out of his home studio, Helmer Audio – the main topic of discussion in the following interview.

Since really getting the ball rolling in 2020, Matt has found himself making waves with Helmer Audio and has truly blossomed in his own right as a sound engineer. So now that you know a little backstory, let’s get into it.

1. I miss Diluted. We all miss Diluted. Now that the band is done, think back and talk about your fondest Diluted memories. I realize this is a loaded question. I also realize you weren’t in the band for a while prior to the disbandment.

A: Diluted will always hold a special place in my heart! The first memory that comes to mind is the Canadaway basement show in Fredonia… I was there to perform in Mangoose and the first time I saw Diluted play, it was absolutely epic and I dug their style from the beginning! Besides that I enjoyed the creative band practices and banter between the band members, and my favorite shows playing at United Artistry Live at Anthology and EP releases at the Bug Jar.

2. You’ve really blossomed as a sound engineer over the past few years. Talk about how your in-house setup has evolved gear wise. Be as specific about your hardware and software choices as you’re willing to be. This is for the sake of newer audio engineers who are looking for direction on certain things. We all deserve to put out better sounding products, especially if we’re already investing the money and time. Yes, this demographic includes me.

A: I could go on forever about gear but I’ll try to keep it short! Before January of 2018 I recorded my guitar/ bass/ electric drum set using my computers 3.5mm mic input into an outdated bootleg copy of Sony Acid Pro… monitoring out of some Sony bookshelf speakers that were given to me. not ideal to say the least! I ended up buying a budget Tascam US-2×2 interface and shortly after some real studio monitors (JBL 306P MkII). The Tascam interface came with a lite version of Cubase where I stumbled on an EQ for the first time… this was the start of me transitioning into engineering/ producing from just a musician recording himself. I quickly outgrew Cubase Lite and picked up Reaper which I still use today. Over the years I upgraded my interface to a Universal Audio X8P so I could eventually attempt to record drums and host a larger amount of podcast guests. This was a big step up in quality and routing audio, not to mention UAD plugins are killer! I also succumbed to the hype and picked up a few pieces of analog gear (a Klark Teknik Pultec clone, 1176 clone, and LA2A clone) however I found these to be more useful for tracking rather than mixing. Later I bought a Heritage Audio Successor bus compressor which I mix with sometimes and that adds a cool 3D feel to the music. Most recently I bought myself a MacBook Pro and forced myself to learn Logic which I enjoy using. The only other things of note that I added to my arsenal is a nice small studio desk, monitor stands, Sennheiser HD650 headphones, Sonarworks, and GIK acoustic treatment panels. If anyone wants to pick my brain on this, feel free to hit me up on MySpace! I mean… Facebook!

3. When you were a kid, what were the first songs you heard that inspired you, or steered you toward becoming a musician yourself.

A: Oddly enough the music I was listening to back then wasn’t the drive to pick up a guitar per se, but I always had an emotional connection with music. So when I first grabbed a guitar (actually stole my brothers guitar out of his room!) I was able to create those emotions and I was hooked! I just loved creating weird chords and songs out of them. But to try and answer the question- the first few albums that I loved and learned front to back was Pennywise “Full Circle”, System of a Down “Toxicity”, and Hatebreed “Satisfaction is the Death of Desire”.

4. What other bands have you been in besides Diluted? Give us a rundown of your scene history, if you will.

A: My first ever was a hardcore band named Johnathan’s Older Brother (J.O.B) when I was in high school (Canastota, NY). We played a battle of the bands in Oneida and got 3rd place! No idea how many bands we went against though, and that was our only performance outside of our drummers bedroom. After a long stretch I created In Vain (Utica, NY). While I think we had something special, it was fairly short lived. After another long stretch and a move to Rochester, I became the drummer in Mangoose (Rochester, NY). Then lastly I joined Diluted (Rochester, NY). Not a particularly large catalog of bands but when I couldn’t find band mates I just wrote and recorded my own songs to scratch that itch.

5. You recently shared some of your new songs with me, and as you put it, they’re a bit on the sludgy side. Promote your new music and tell those who know you what they can expect from your future releases!

A: Yes! A few of them have a pretty filthy guitar tone and I’m trying to get away from the “clean” sound I was chasing for a while, both writing and mixing. Nothing has been released quite yet but the big plan is to amass an albums worth of material and contact local vocalists to choose a song they want to collaborate on. I’m also very open to changing the songs to fit the vocalist to promote creativity and get the best song we can. Just a complete collaboration of local artists that promotes both them and my Helmer Audio brand. A win-win as I see it. Follow Helmer Audio and/ or my personal page to stay in the loop!

6. What else is new in your life outside of music? Talk about any noteworthy things you want to brag about.

A: I’m getting married in October! Never thought an introvert like me could snag such an awesome chick but I did it. And I recently got a new job as a security installation project manager so at age 38, things are finally starting to come together! Lol

7. Come up with your TOP 10 ALBUMS. These don’t have to be heavy bands. We’re here to talk about music and life in general.

A: in no particular order-

Poison the Well- The Opposite of December

Between the Buried and Me- Self titled

Chevelle- Sci-Fi Crimes

10 Years- The Autumn Effect

Killswitch Engage- The End of Heartache

Sevendust- Home

Alpha Wolf- A Quiet Place to Die

Thornhill- Butterfly

Incubus- S.C.I.E.N.C.E

Stone Temple Pilots- Purple

These albums have all had a major impact on my musical life!

8. A lot of tours are getting announced these days. Talk about some concerts you’re really looking forward to attending.

A: I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend too many shows this year since any free time is put towards mixing and getting my brand off the ground but there are some killer tours out there! INKcarceration Fest looks absolutely bonkers. Destroy // Create’s EP release is going to be insane. I know Aphasia has some things in the works so I’ll be keeping an eye on those. I’ll be supporting my WNY homies any way I can even if I can’t make the live sets!

9. What’s your favorite Rochester venue and why?

A: I can only pick one?? I really love Anthology… maybe because it gives me The Lost Horizon vibes for some reason but it’s a really cool space with good sound. Honorable mentions to the Montage for consistently booking heavy music and the Bug Jar for being home to Diluted EP releases!

10. Who are your favorite bands out of WNY in recent memory?

A: In no particular order- some stand outs for me are DredNeks, Perspectives, Zero Level, Fight From Within, Inertia, Aphasia, Invictra, Murder in Rue Morgue, White Tides, Poison the Prophet, Damages, Revival, Toxsin the Epidemic, and Star Struck Smiley. Please forgive me if I forgot a few, WNY is stacked with talent!


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