Locals may know Scott Helland as the guitarist of New Paltz acoustic punk cabaret duo Frenchy and the Punk. I first knew him—from a distance—over 30 years ago, when he was the bassist in West Massachusetts hardcore trio Outpatients (before he was in that band, Scott was in Deep Wound, which also included a young J Mascis). As one did back then, I wrote away to Outpatients for gig fliers to adorn my dorm room. The group happily complied, and the fliers went up on my walls to become part of the ragged, Xeroxed assemblage that confounded my ROTC roommate. Turns out Scott was the visual artist of the band, and it was he who designed them. Just last month, he unveiled Feast (Paris Punk Press/Exotic Aquatic), a beautifully printed hardcover book of his intensely detailed pen and ink drawings.
Filled with mottled, medieval images of guitars and human bodies morphing into trees and castles and “batfrogs” and other fantasy-forest creatures, Feast is, indeed, a feast for the retinas. Helland’s pagan-organic lines recall the gothic style of Aubrey Beardsley, as well as those of punk pen wielders like Savage Pencil, Nick Blinko, and Raymond Pettibon.
Here’s a glimpse of Frenchy and the Punk in action, with a video for “Don’t Fear the Rabbit”: