This is an interview done with former Helix guitar player Brent Doerner. It was done in September of 2004
What are you currently doing now?
I am a GUITARPENTER for a local company from Kitchener called Boyer Fence and Deck. My business card reads Sales and Design. I build what I sell. I go on sales every Saturday on appointments set up by Boyer. They have been in business for 75 years. I had the “best built deck of the year” in 2000 – so I try do do good work. I still have all my fingers too! I really enjoy the work – it’s gratifying to see a job go from paper work to reality. I just finished another “masterpiece” this week – a three tier Pagola.
Are you still in the music biz?
Yes – I am working with my twin brother on a band called Cadillac Cowboyz. We are all veteran players except our singer who has never been in a band ( and it shows) – we’re picky fuckers eh? We have been in the rehearsal hall for 1 1/2 years working on 60 tunes – it takes forever it seems. Country guitar playing is alot tougher than most people think. Listen to Brent Mason – if you can find it – Nashville’s # 1 guitarist – and USA’s musician of the year in 2000 – quite imperssive. Ebay wants 102.00 U.S. for his studio disc. The technique is completely different than rock.
Do you still play much or have you basically ?hung up? the guitar?
Yes – I play the shit out of my guitar almost everyday. I just bought another Telecaster yesterday. I’ll take a lesson every day day if I can get one. I bought a Fender Vibrotone amplifier off of Ebay – a 1952 remake of the the original 1952 amp. The amp is hand to hand wired – no printed curcuit board – 8 tubes – 3 , 10″ speakers in a combo unit – it weighs a ton – it’s worth it – TONE TO THE BONE.
I am working on high speed country licks – check out the lead in Jason McCoy’s “I feel a Sin comin’ on”.
Do you play in weekend bands?
Just the Cadillac Cowboyz – but I go out to the Wednesday nite Jam – at the Lil’ Big Horn Saloon in Cambridge, Ont.
Do fans still recognize and approach you today?
All the time -almost daily – sometimes it’s annoying when you’re in a hurry – but you don’t to be rude – other times i’ll get weirdos.
Ever consider recording a solo guitar cd and releasing it yourself and selling it online?
I haven’t, but not a bad idea – I’ve been writing a little with our singer.
Any desire to get back out on the road again?
Not really – weekends are enough – and I’ve been offered gigs – but what about my day gig?
Would you ever consider doing it all over again?
I don’t think the music biz can support my income I’ve become accustomed to. I’m thinking of making a mortgage move that would leave me mortgage free. Then I could look at that – maybe?
Anything you miss about being in a band and out on the road?
Yes and no – there’s always a good laugh – but too many variables that are beyond your control. I always found most of any given day on the road – most of it is pain in the ass, right up to the hour before the show – then it all seemed worth it.
The ?Wild In The Streets? Kramer was on display at the 30th show. What other guitars do you still own from back in the day?
I have the “dink pink” Strat you saw at the 30th – also the white Strat you might of seen on stage – as my back up guitar. I had 18 of ’em at one point – but I’m always changing up guitars. But those three are the only “old ones”
Is the white one with the Reese Pieces Alien still around?
I sold it to some guy who turned out to be a drug addict – I don’t keep in touch with him – dumb fuck.
Were they all Kramer?s back then?
No – I had acouple BC Rich’s – 25th Anniversry Les Paul – 3 Gibson SG’s – a Gibson Melody Maker – 3 Fender Telecasters – Gibson Flying V – a couple of really nice old Strat’s – wish I never sold them – 5 Kramers – a Carvin, really ugly – I gave it Paul , unfortunately he played it all the time – 2 Ibanez guitars – I can’t recall all of them – I think I went through 30 or 40 – some just got all broken up and beat to hell.
How come you never used one of those ?Classic? guitars on stage that night?
The “Dink Pink” strat is basically a classic – but is an ESP. The classic U.S. strat got a rest that nite. The ESP has lock tuning where as – the classic does not – but I won’t hack up the classic guitars I own.
What was it like to get back up on stage with Brian and Fritz at the 30th show?
I had the time of my life – it was a really great time for me! There is a big difference in getting on a stage with “newbies” or veterans.
Think this could lead to more shows with them or recording together again?
Yes – Brian has asked me to do 2 tunes at the Lil’ Big Horn Saloon on November 3 or 4th? I’m doing Crazy Women and Billy O. I recorded with Brian on “Sunny Summer Daze” – I knew I was rough – then – so I started playing the shit out of my axe again. Last week-end I put about 6 hours in on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday.
What was the highlight of that show for you personally?
Kickin ass in Billy Oxygen – spending time with all my old friends – no alcohol back stage made it a really great time – some of the guys looked really nervous – Brian V. made a good move with that – he did a great job. The fans made it a night I will cherish.
Do you keep in contact with other members of HELIX?
Somewhat – Fritz is up north – fresh in from living in Florida for a number of years – “New Orleans is sinkin’ man – and I don’t wannna swim” – good move Fritz! Ivan wouldda kicked yer ass. I don’t communicate with Daryl. I talk with B.V. through email all the time – or by phone. I wish I could talk to Paul – and show him some chicken-pickin’ stuff.
What is the most memorable Helix experience for you?
The Kiss tour in europe – 33 shows – 13 countries – 2 1/2 months. Gene gene the dancin’ machine is quite unique indiviual – lots of laughs – met Brian May in Germany – the man who started “hammer ons” and “pull offs” – Eddy V told me that’s where he got it from – the first Queen LP.
Any memorabilia from ?Back in the Day? that you kept?
Oh ya – all kinds – I have a “wall of shame(fame)” at my house too – Vollmer’s is bigger though .
What about the old stage clothes?
I still have my leathers – I still fit into them – but the legs are too short – we used to throw them in any washing machine – and dry them in any dryer – so I thing it made ’em shrink. The ‘ol lady was shocked when I slipped ’em right on.
What (if anything) do you remember of the “Long Way to Heaven” tour in Newfoundland, Canada?
Lots – at one of the gigs – the crew had a 60′ width x 40′ depth stage requirement that was to really when the crew pulled in. I was sleeping on the tour bus when I heard this god awfull screeching sound. Turns out the house crew had the stage set up 60′ depth x 40′ width. To dis-assemble it , and set it up properly would have taken too long – the show would have been late. So the crew rounded up a bunch of guys, and they “turned” the stage, dragging it on the concrete arena floor – ouch!
We went to some parties aftershow – people were so nice – probably the nicest people I’ve ever met. Other stuff that was unique to “the rock” – was lobster sandwiches – I love the stuff –
Where did the ?Doctor? nickname come from? What is the story behind it?
Brain V. coined that – Paul would bring tunes to rehearsal – and I would “doctor” the songs – make changes to the rough ideas – looking for better ideas.
Do you keep up on new music?
Country music yes – country radio isn’t afraid to play new artists and their tunes. I don’t wanna hear the same tunes – over and over again – I wanna move on with my ears and ideas. Don’t wanna be stuck on listening to the same shit all the time. I’m into high energy country – no slow – cryin’ in the beer stuff.
Are there any new bands/artists that you find interesting?
Brent Mason – no singing – all music – I can’t help it but the”Mr. Big” LP with the train crash on the cover is a hard rock lp I can listen to over and over – contradicting my last answer. The guitar playing ideas on that is outstanding – Paul Gilbert. Green Tinted Sixties Mind is the best tune.
Do you keep up on new hard rock and metal bands from Canada or anywhere else?
No – not really.
What do you currently listen to?
Just “hot new country” radio hits – from there I’ll search out the guitar players – like Paul Chapman or David Kalmusky or Canada’s best picker – Steve Piticco.
What?s the latest couple cd?s you purchased?
Jasom McCoy’s newest – Alan Jackson
As a guitarist, who were your main influences?
Johnny Winter – Richie Blackmore – mostly Johnny – he always played clean – as did Richie
Anything you?d like to say to the reader?s of metal-rules.com and fans in general?
Stay with it – if your serious – I gotta hand it to Vollmer – after all these years he continues to write – writing is the only thing that’ll get you where you wanna go – copy bands fizzle out. Write – create.
Live pics from 30th Anniversary Show and Live in NL ’86 by Celtic Bob