Review -by Deb Rao , Live photos - Jim Hackett
Canadian rock band Helix made a rare U.S. appearance at the Wolf Den at the Mohegan Sun Casino on April 17th. The band performed a blistering set that spanned their extensive career and also debut two new songs off of their new album Vagabond Bones at the U.S. concert including the title track, "The Animal Inside (Won't Be Denied)."
Helix opened the show with "Wild In The Street", and highlights of the set included "Deep Cuts The Knife." The new material "Vagabond Bones" has a great AC/DC vibe and went over very well with the die-hard Helix audience. Singer Brian Vollmer is a great live performer and has a bluesy kind of voice that rocked the house. Brian informed us that he has just got out of the hospital due to a bout with blood posioning that infected his finger and also just got over the flu. Brian gave an outstanding performance due to the circumstances surrounding his week and really held true to the old show biz saying the show must go on.
It was great to see the band perform in The States again. As I mentioned Helix has a new album out entitled,Vagabond Bones." It has their signature bluesy rock sound with great vocals produced by Aaron Murray. Helix conquered The States with a sledge-hammer performance that inspired the old MTV video hits,"Heavy Metal Love", and "Rock You." You could tell the band was having the times of the lives onstage that reflected in their attitude and amazing stage presence that rocked the house and took us back to the 80's for 90 minutes of pure fun.
Interview with Brian Vollmer
Canadian rock band Helix made a rare U.S. appearance at the Wolf Den at the Mohegan Sun Casino on April 17th. The band performed a blistering set that spanned their extensive career and also debut two new songs off of their new album Vagabond Bones in the U.S. including the title track and "The Animal Inside (Won't be Denied)."
We caught up with Helix frontman Brian Vollmer and discussed his recent hospital emergency with blood poisoning, new album “Vagabond Bones” and the evolution of Helix..
Rockmusicstar.com: Brian, great to see you back in The States tonight at the Wolf Den at the Mohegan Sun.
BRIAN: Yes, and we almost didn't make it.
RMS: What happened? I noticed the bandage on your finger?
BRIAN: "Well, I had the flu really bad. We were out in Western Canada in British Columbia, Alberta for the last two weeks. We were fighting off the flu all the way through it. We finally got to the last date and we figured we are home free. I come offstage at the Deerfoot Casino where we were playing out there in Calgary. I started going through the hot and cold shakes. My finger stated to swell up. A few days previous to that I had gone out to the audience to do some crowd participation. I got a wee little bit of knick of a 32th of an inch long in my finger. I went back to my room. I called up my merchandiser, who just happened to be my best friend Randy, and I said listen man c'mon down and stay with me in the room because I am pretty sick. By the time he got down there and he came in I said,” Is it cold in here I am freezing?" He said,” It is a hundred degrees." So I lay there, I was going through the cold sweats. My finger started throbbing. I thought I better go to the emergency room because I might lose my finger, I kept thinking to myself. By the time I got there, I was in a lot of pain. They realized I had blood poisoning and it had gone pretty well up to my shoulder. They put me on morphine. The doctor came in with the scalpel right then and there and he sliced my finger open and squeezed the entire poison out. I was on intravenous for three days. They wouldn't let me leave. I didn't think I was going to make it down here. I thought I am so sick right now there is no way I am going to be able to sing next Saturday night. By Wednesday it was under control with the intravenous. They let me leave Province, Alberta. I flew back to Ontario where I live. I was still a bit sick. But then on Thursday I was getting better. Friday, which was yesterday, we flew down. I am feeling better. We just got in under the wire"
RMS: Is this your only U.S. tour date? I know the band has a lot of upcoming dates in Canada.
BRIAN: "Yes, they are mostly dates across Canada. Next week we are back in Calgary, Alberta. Then we have a week off. Then we have some Ontario dates. This summer we are going to be out at Minnedosa, which is a big festival north of Winnipeg. We are also playing out in Newfoundland. We are playing with Streetheart and another great Canadian band. Loverboy, in New Brunswick at a big Festival. Our summer is pretty much like that."
RMS: Are there any European dates?
BRIAN: The only European date that makes sense for us to do is Sweden Rock. It costs so much money to get over to Europe. It almost costs just 10,000 for the flights. You are talking a lot of money to go to Europe. I talked to the promoter that runs that Festival by email. He is kind of giving me hints that he is thinking of us for next year."
RMS: The new album is out Vagabond Bones. Tell us about the writing process for this album. What was it like working with Sean Kelly?
BRIAN: "We wrote all of these songs with Sean Kelly. Five of the songs we co-wrote with Moe Berg from Pursuit Of Happiness, which is a good Canadian act. Moe Berg has a long track record on Canadian radio. We had some very talented people working with us. Right down to Aaron Murray who co-produced the album and engineered it. Aaron is the top graduate of the Fanshawe College audiovisual course in London, Ontario. He was the protégé of Danny Broadbeck , who is the protégé' of Jack Richardson who produced all of the Guess Who albums. Once again, we had all quality people from start to finish. On this album, even though we didn't have a lot of money, we still got a quality result."
RMS: How is the re-union going?
BRIAN: "Great, Daryl and me punched each other a few times. (Laughter) No, it has been great."
RMS: What inspired the band to get back together?
BRIAN: "It happened by accident. For ten years I had been using rental players. Even thou they are quite capable musicians. There is nothing like having the original guys. The end of 2008, we finished touring on the Christmas album and they all walked on me with the exception of Jim Larson. At that point, I went to Brent and said look man why don't you come back. Touring is a lot different than when you were in the band transportation, money wise, rooming wise everything. So Brent thought about it for a couple of days and got back into it. Then Sean Kelly joined because he wanted to be in the band so bad that even thou he is a great guitar player he joined as the bassist. That is how we struck up the writing relationship. On drums I had Rob MacEachern that drummed on the Power Of Rock And Roll. In about three months of Sean playing in the band, he got offered to play for Nelly Furtado for great money. So I give Sean my Blessings no worries. As long as we continue to write together I am happy. At that point I went back to Daryl because I knew Daryl wanted to be back in the band and I said jump aboard. At that point it made sense to get Fritz back in. So I went to Rob MacEachern and I said, Rob here is the situation would you be a gentlemen and step aside? He said,” Sure." Rob is a good guy and great drummer. So he stepped aside and suddenly the band went back together. Jim Larson left the band. He was replaced by Kaleb Duck who is the young kid out there that I call him the chick magnet. He has been great. For a 22-year-old kid, he is mature beyond his years and great player. We have taken him under our wing and he is having the time of his live too."
RMS: How has Helix evolved since the heyday of metal? The band has been together a very long time.
BRIAN: It was 1974 when we first got together. Basically, you develop a lot of musicianship and showmanship that we developed as a band at the Canadian bar circuit which isn't there anymore. There really isn't a bar circuit in the United States anymore. Bands are restricted in playing in their own area unless they get a record deal. In a way it is a bad thing because when we were on the road back in the 70's and the 80's we toured right across Canada. You not only had to go over downtown Toronto and Younge Street, but you had to go over to some small towns in Alberta. So it made us a more rounded band. Just seeing the country gave us a great perspective which filtered its way through our music as well."
RMS I noticed MTV Metal Mania has been playing your video 'Heavy Metal Love' in rotation. How has the promotion of your music changed since the heyday of the video MTV genre? Now we are a generation of The Internet and have iTunes, Facebook, Myspace. How do you find the new tools of promotion?
BRIAN: "We use all of that stuff. There are literally so many venues to market your material that we can't physically do it all. Luckily for us, because digital recording has helped us do album a lot more cheaply and video's a lot more cheaply. Our new video has over 15,000 hits on youtube; we did for ungodly sum of $250. The name of the album is Vagabond Bones and the name of the single is 'Make 'Em Dance.' We have Canada's top model Rebecca Hardy in the video. The video has been doing great. Back in the day that video probably would have cost 60,000 dollars. We have all of that knowledge that we have gained through all the years of recording. There is only one way to get that and that is to do it. We have all been through that process. In fact you were asking previously what the big difference was the evolution was that the guys have been there and done that. I don't need to follow them around and tell them what to do and explain why we are doing things. We are all motivated in the same direction."
RMS: Brian, is there anything else that you want to say about the upcoming Canadian dates and new album Vagabond Bones?
BRIAN: "We are having the time of our lives. Part of the reason that it sounds good is we enjoy what we are doing. We are not just going through the motions up there. We got a new album out and we are trying to push it just like we used to push the other albums. There is no difference in the way we are out there plugging “No Rest for The Wicked” or the other albums."
Helix Tour Dates
Apr 24 2010 8:00P
Secret Venue TBA Calgary, Alberta
May 7 2010 8:00P
Dr. Jekyll’s Roadhouse Strathroy, Ontario
May 8 2010 8:00P
Norma Jeans Tillsonburg, Ontario
Jun 30 2010 6:00P
K-Rock Boat Cruise Kingston, Ontario
Jul 17 2010 1:00P
Rock The Yacht ~ Early Show Toronto, Ontario
Jul 22 2010 8:00P
TBA w/ Dr Hook Bathurst, Nova Scotia
Jul 23 2010 6:00P
Fergus Truck Show Concert ~ Early Show! Fergus, Ontario
Jul 30 2010 12:00P
RFM ~ Rockin the Fields of Minnedosa Minnedosa, Manitoba
Aug 6 2010 8:00P
Club One St Johns, Newfoundland