BRIAN VOLLMER of HELIX speaks out!
January 2000, interview by Vesa Nuorala
Photos courtesy of Helix homepage
The new L & C contributor Vesa Nuorala contacted the vocalist of legendary canadian band HELIX to get the latest news...take it away, Vesa!
Brian, thank you so much for doing this interview. Now, what is going on in the world of Helix/Brian Vollmer?
Brian: "I have just released my first solo CD "When Pigs Fly". The band starts playing live in March. As for Helix, 1999 was spent releasing several of our old albums for the first time on CD, as well as releasing B-Sides, which was unreleased material from the past 25 years."
Any touring plans for Helix/Brian Vollmer in 2000?
Brian: "Helix and Vollmer will be playing one off gigs in Canada. Unless the CD explodes, the chances of touring are slim because of the cost involved."
At least here in Finland there isn't any radioplay for bands like Helix, is there any in Canada?"
Brian: "It's very tough to get airplay because it takes an incredible amount of money and time to coordinate the effort that it takes to work radio. In Canada I will be doing a mail out to as many stations as I can afford."
What do you think of the music scene of today?
Brian: "It's the same as it always was: some of the stuff out there is very good, some of it is very bad. I think that it's a shame that a lot of the radio stations/record companies will not have anything to do with me because of my age. I personally think When Pigs Fly is some of the best stuff that I've ever written and recorded, but sometimes the perception of what I'm all about closes people's minds to even listening to it. On the other hand, I was never in this business for the money, so as long as I can keep producing quality music that I'm proud of, I'll be happy."
25 years in the business, what has kept you going?
Brian: "The music and the fans. I know everyone says that, but in my particular situation, it's very true. I make a very good living teaching Bel Canto, the Italian method of voice production; I don't need to spend all my spare time doing the writing/recording thing. I do it because I love music and to me there's no greater high than hearing a song you've just written and being proud of it."
What is this "Bel Canto" method?
Brian: "The "Bel Canto" technique of singing has been used for hundreds of years, and was the prelevant technique to sing during the "Golden Age of Opera". It is a lost art, and I'm probably only one of a handful of people in the world who still teach it. It has four steps to it: Lift of the throat, aiming of the voice, inhalation (the act of breathing in while you sing) and using the diaphram. It was taught to me by Ed Johnson, who, by the way, I dedicated the song "Good Times Don't Get Better Than This" to on the When Pigs Fly CD."
B-sides was done by some of the original members of Helix, was it easy to get them all and participate. Any new recordings coming out from Helix?
Brian: "It was a little tricky getting everyone together, and at times I thought the whole thing was going to fall through. Brent is pretty well out of music now. I think it's very hard for him to do something like the B-Sides recording because once you've made up your mind to get out of the business, it's all or nothing. He gave 16 years of his life to trying to make Helix a world class band, so you can't fault him. Logistically, Fritz had to come from Florida, so we had to record on the date when he was here. When we finally entered the studio, however, recording was a breeze and everything went fast and smooth."
Last one: Name the person from Maple Leafs coaching staff who is from Finland?
Brian: "Don't have a clue!"