Brian Vollmer of Helix


I?ve got a question about your 30th anniversary show that you just put on. 30 years is a long time to be involved in rock or music in general and still survive through it all. Did you ever feel that in the mainstream Canadian and international press Helix doesn?t get the respect that it deserves?


No. I?ve always felt respect from the magazines. You ge the odd person that? I think it was an Internet site that really crucified the new album, but that?s the chance you take and that?s part of it all. It kinda hurts though, I gotta be honest with you that when I read a bad thing I try to be like ?what am I worried about?? when there?s ten good ones and one bad one, but that?s just part of it I guess.




So what was it like now that you?ve had time to reflect back on the show? Also to play on stage with all the previous lineups and members?


It was amazing. People laughing, dancing, singing, crying, it all came together. It was a very emotional event for a lot of people. For me it was the end of stress. It was funny, everyone expected me to be stressed that day, but about two days before I just had this calmness flow over me. It was like ?this is finally coming to an end?. I used to feel guilty going for a ride on my goddamned tenspeed, you know, ?Jeez is there something I forgot? I gotta go back to the house!? It was like that to the end, but it came together with lot of people involved with the band through the last 30 years who were directly responsible for making it come out so good, like Chris James of Apex Sound out of Toronto, he did an amazing job.



The few reports that I read said the show went off without a glitch and everybody was quite impressed with how smoothly things went and how well it was done. So I wonder, how long was the preparation? You said you were stressed, was is some months or was it a few years?


We started in October, that?s when we scoped out the hall. Archie [Gamble] actually came to me and said ?listen, we gotta go and check out this hall?. Brantford is really out of the way, we would have been better off having it in a hall in London, where we come from. But once I saw the hall, my brain didn?t work no more. [laughs] It was just such a beautiful hall and it felt like this is the right spot. After he booked it and I realized how much it was gonna be to rent the hall I was like ?What have I done?? but then it was too late. It basically consumed my wife?s and my life since last October.




You had a lot of Helix memorabilia on display that night and I know a lot of things were sold for charity. Was there any part of memorabilia that you put up for auction like that, that was hard to part from?


No, not really. We put up the t-shirts ? realistically, what am I gonna do when I?m 95 and pull out this old shirt? ? I was looking at the shirts and I probably could have just sold them at the site, right, but I though it?d be a great idea to give it to charity. Tim Horton?s is like my charity, I go to Tim Horton?s every morning to read the paper, that?s my routine and three or four years ago – the girls there they all know me, I kinda have a thing for Tim Horton?s Childrens? coffee ? me and Sly, my keyboard player, went there and we sang while people were buying their donuts and coffee and stuff and it kinda became a tradition for me and Sly to do that. When it came to the concert, we wanted to include a charity in the concert. It allowed us to many months in advance go to the newspapers and get advance press on the gig, so there?s a selfish reason as well to involve Tim Horton?s Children. So it had to work out for both of us. So far I think we?ve gotten over 700 bucks and we?ve still got a lot of shirts left, so if there?s anybody out there who wants one?



Are they gonna be auctioned as well online?


Yeah, I think I?m gonna keep selling them like this. The guy who was gonna put them up for me on eBay was my best friend, Randy Haywood, and his mother had a heart attack, her heart stopped for ten minutes the weekend of the anniversary concert. And a week previous to the concert, believe it or not, a good buddy of mine that was gonna help me bring up a lot of memorabilia, his brother died in the driveway. Then on Monday it was the heart attack and then one of my other best friends, who I?ve known for nearly 30 years, HIS mother passed away and her funeral was on the Friday. So it was quite the week.



Did you keep any of your old stage clothes from the 80?s that you wore like in the videos?


There is some of it up there, I?ll probably keep that. I got the one from the ?Wild in the streets? video, that and the belt that I used to keep my cordless mike in. And I think I?ve got a vest that looks like this little sexy number. Wanna see it? I think I?d look pretty funny in it now.



I understand that your longtime bassist Daryl Gray wasn?t at the 30th anniversary. Was he asked to be there or don?t you have any contact with him any longer?


Oh jeez, how do I answer this? I take it that in everybody?s life you?ve got friends that become NOT friends and it?s not that you have anything against those people or anything like that, you just kinda don?t want them in your sphere anymore. There was so many good feelings that day and you know, with Daryl I think there?s some bad feelings between us and I just? Not that I think that they would have erupted that day, I?m not saying that, I don?t think Daryl would have done anything, I?m sure he would have been part of it. It?s just that? for me knowing that there was hard feelings between the two of us would have kinda spoiled my days and I though, ?Hey, I?m gonna spend a lot of money, I?m not gonna spoil my day?. That?s what happened.



Will the entire performance be released on video and dvd or will it just be certain songs?


I?m sure we?re gonna do the whole thing.


Will it also be coming out on cd or just dvd.


I don?t know, I haven?t talked to them [EMI] about that yet. I don?t know if they?re gonna wanna do it. They may wanna do it for the simple fact that they don?t have to spend any money to release a cd, do they? You?re really talking about artwork. Yeah? actually, you just gave me an idea! Thanks!




Will you be selling the EMI dvd?


Yeah, I?ll be selling it. I have a very good relationship with EMI and because I?ve sold Helix products that I bought from EMI since 1997 and I pay my bills when I buy the product and I sell a lot of products for them. Part of my deal with EMI is like I?m kind of a salesman for EMI now for Helix products, which makes total sense, doesn?t it? You know, if anybody has a stake in the success of the band it should be me. Whenever you work with people, or companies, I think it?s better to work in a relationship where you?re both gonna benefit, because if the other person benefits, some of it will be there down the line. Right now Capitol/EMI and myself, that?s the kinda relationship we have. We both make money off this and as long as we can continue doing that, I think we?ll have a great relationship.



When you reunited on stage with a number of previous members, was there any talk of maybe writing again with any of those or having a guest appear like Brent [Doerner] did on your recent album?


Well, I think Brent and all those guys will always be there to play on the album if I want them to. There?s so many avenues we could go down with regards to that. We have talked about possibly doing a showcase bar tour across the country and Brent and Fritz [Hines] coming back and playing with the present lineup, things like that. I kinda take them as they come along. As for playing on the album, I think Brent will be there for any album to play a couple of tracks. He probably will be, he played on the last album.




Do you think you?ll want to go through the stress again for 35, 40 or 50?


Never! To tell you the truth, I don?t think I?ll ever do it again. But at least the next time it wouldn?t be near as stressful because now I know the mediums I?m working with. Part of the scary thing about the anniversary show was that a lot of it revolved around the multimedia stuff that I was bringing in, i. e. the big screen that came down with all this stuff that was being projected on it, which I knew absolutely dick all about. All you need to happen is that suddenly the film doesn?t work, what are you gonna do? I don?t know. All I know is putting a band on stage, band plays, band leaves stage. I didn?t know anything about dvds, projections and screens, how much quality you need to project from, all that stuff. That was the big scary part, a lot of it was just in dealing with the hall. If I was a promotor full time, which I never ever fucking wanna be, I?m sure they know the ins and outs, where they get a contract from the theater and say ?I?m not paying for that, I?m not paying for that, I?m not paying for that?. And they know what to take out where the hall?s gonna accept it or the point where they?re gonna go, ?No, sorry, we won?t rent to you?. Being green at it, I ended up paying for everything.



Would you consider taking the current lineup on more of a full scale tour across Canada? Or do you look at shows that are offered you more individually?


Well, you?re really putting me in a hypothetical situation. We do every date that comes up where the money makes sense, so it?s kinda hard to answer your question. We have this band on any date we do, if that?s your question.


I wonder if you?d do more of a tour like you did in the past, as opposed to?


Yeah, but what decides is how much people want us. It?d be great, I?d go right across the country if I could, but the dates aren?t there to sustain it financially. Right now we need to find a place in Halifax to play, I think we could probably get to play in Montreal right now. Dates are starting to come back for us and we?re getting offers from Northern Ontario. But it?s more of a one-off thing, it?s hard to coordinate them to be about the same time. Promoters just don?t seem to run like that anymore.



I read on your website you?ll soon be working on your autobiography entitled ?Rock you?. Have you already started the writing or is it something you?ll be working on soon?


Done! It?s pretty much written.


And you wrote it yourself?




You didn?t hire a guy to write it for you?




You have any rough ideas when it might be available?


Well, the first thing is I?m gonna do one last read-through, there?s a couple of things I wanna change, these little things. I?ll probably let all the people that are written about in the book read it so they don?t freak out. Friendship with these people is more important than putting out a book. We?re not Motley Crue, we?re a different type of band. Then I have capital interests in the book and when I have a publishing company interested in the book, I?ll take it to them.


Are you gonna do like Motley Crue did with their bio and have any past members write a section, or is it all just yourself?


I consulted some of them before writing parts and most of them have read the book. Brent?s read the book, Fritz?s read the book and Kenny Haig?s read the book. Actually the first person to read the book was our ex-manager Bill Seip.




Outside of your rock/metal singing in Helix, I know you do classical singing. You?ve sung at funerals, weddings, things like that. What I wonder when I read about it is what it sounds like, so I looked on your site. There?s no mp3s of you singing classical music. It?s such a different musical style, have you ever considered putting an mp3 on the site and showing Helix fans that ?this is something else I can do??


I used have it when I had the singing site with my teaching thing, but I quit having the site. It?s a good idea too, I like that. I was actually thinking about putting out a classical album, me singing classical.


I guess you do the known material, you?re not writing original classical?






Is there anything else going on with the band or anything I missed?


We?re playing in Gander and it looks like the weather?s gonna clear up and be alright. It?s great that people have put this on, they?re really dedicated and they?re doing it for a good cause, they?re trying to renovate a school bus used as a mobile rescue unit. It?s nice to be involved in something like that. We?re getting some stuff here autographed that we?re gonna give to them to auction out in help for the cause. It?s nice to be back in Newfoundland and people here have been great, they took us out last night for a barbecue and it was pretty good.




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