Brian Vollmer of HELIX
Interview & Photos By Celtic Bob
Been awhile since our last interview. I see you have been quite busy with shows, selling the infamous Planet Helix and most importantly the release of OLD SCHOOL. Would you like to give our readers a quick rundown on how the album came to be and what prompted you to put out those unreleased tracks from the 80’s?
It really came about as a result of selling Planet Helix. Lynda and I had decided it was time to downsize, as Planet Helix had become too much for us to maintain. I was going through our downstairs closet and the first thing I came across was all the 2″ tape from Breaking Loose, White Lace & Black Leather, Back for Another Taste, and a few other albums. The problem with 2″ tape is that: a) No one has a machine to play them and b) Even if they do the tapes crystalize over time and have to be “baked” in order to be played. This is an expensive process. Most of these songs had already been released so I decided to throw them up on Facebook for sale. About an hour after I did that I received a call from my old friend Greg Goddovitz, who heavily advised me not to. It was then that I started looking at all the cassette tapes and the songs on them as well and realized I had at least an album’s worth of material. That’s when the idea for “OLD SCHOOL” was born.
How has fan reaction been so far?
Very positive. The album for a lot of them is like taking a trip in a time machine back to the 80’s, which is pretty cool ‘cos people don’t write like this anymore.
The new CD is fantastic! I am really digging it. I have the LP pre-ordered from your site which I am really looking forward to spinning. Is the mastering for the LP the same as the CD or did you do the analog transfer with different mastering?
Mastering is different for vinyl.
Before you passed the tapes over to be archived, did you have them all baked and backed up for possible use down the road?
We baked 3 of the tapes. Once they are baked they immediately have to be transferred to digital as they will only play once or twice and then they fall apart.
Any more gems on there that may eventually show up as either a bonus track, B-Side or a full EP/LP?
There are other tracks but these are the most obvious. There is also a ton of guitar riffs that potentially could become new songs down the line.
What was it like hearing some of those songs for the first time in decades?
I remembered all the songs. My first reaction was how we were going to get them to a finished state.
Will any of the songs make their way to the live set?
One already has: Coming Back With Bigger Guns. We’re going to try other ones as well-perhaps Closer will be next.
Fritz just returned after his accident. How is he doing?
His recovery has been nothing short of fantastic. He returned to behind the kit a couple of weeks ago for our shows in Vancouver & Calgary.
You have a show with Anvil coming up soon. Any other big shows coming up?
Lots. ROCK BARCELONA in July with Def Leppard, August at the Rogskojet Festival in Sweden w/Airborne & Accept, Caribou Rocks the North w/Loverboy/Trooper/The Romantics, the list goes on…
It’s been quite some time since we’ve gotten any live product from the band. Is there a chance of recording a show for a future release?
Maybe. But it’s way down my list of things to do.
Did you discover any live shows in amongst the tapes apart from the ElMocombo?
There’s a box of ’em.
What year is that show?
Is that a possible future release?
Maybe. Some good tracks there.
Who owns the rights to that show?
Myself and whomever owns the old CHUM tapes. Don’t know who that is.
Is it a similar situation as the Much Music – Live In Edmonton concert?
Will you be promoting OLD SCHOOL for the next while or is there plans to get a new record of originals out?
We’re working on a new Helix album with the present line up. My goal is to have them write this one.
With the resurgence of 80’s Metal that has been happening the past couple of years, and now with the release of the OLD SCHOOL album, do you think the next studio album will head more into a heavier direction like NO REST FOR THE WICKED and WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE?
Hard to say. We go song by song.
Any writing started or ideas kicked around?
Already have a couple of songs written.
Can we expect a 2020 release?
Don’t know yet.
Anything in the works that you’d like to share or anything you want to say to fans and readers out there?
Buy OLD SCHOOL!
www.planethelix.com (CD, LP, Shirts)