1. Welcome back to Europe again! It's been a couple of years since you were here before. What can we expect to see and hear this time around?
Answer: For one thing, we have a different guitarist in the band to replace Brent Doerner. His name is Chris Julke and he's been an excellent addition. The reunited band has been together now since 2008 and we've gotten extremely tight musically over that time. We've also worked the set quite a bit and since the new CD was released in May we've added three songs from the disc: Even Jesus (Wasn't Loved in His Home Town), Bastard of the Blues, and Screaming at the Moon.
2. We saw you guys in Oulu, the "Legends Of Rock" concert and you played a very good gig. Do you remember that show?
Answer: Yes - like it was yesterday! Had a fantastic time. Toured around the city during the day sight-seeing and visiting with my friend Vesa. The whole day is still very clear in my head.
3. You've got a new album out, "Bastard Of The Blues". If you compare it to the "vintage Helix" material, how does it differ from it?
Answer: I don't think it differs from our vintage albums at all, but then again, it's hard to comment when you're "inside" something. Whenever we put together albums/CDs we sit down and just try and write good songs.
4. Tell us about the album title, what's the story behind it?
Answer: Bastard of the Blues is about that unholy co-mingling of r&b and rock and roll creating that bastard child heavy metal. Helix's roots are in both those styles of music.
5. The new album has been released by the band themselves if I am correct. Would you say that in today's music scene the role of a Record Label isn't as important as it was back in the eighties?
Answer: Bastard of the Blues is distributed in Europe and the U.S. by Perris Records. In Canada I've released it myself as there are really no labels here anymore except Universal. We were with them on the last couple of discs, but when our connection there left the company we thought it was time for us to leave as well.
6. Back in the day, you had some hits with songs written or co-written by those "songsmiths", songwriters like Bob Halligan and Marc Ribler. Were you pushed by the label to collaborate with outside sources or what was the deal with these guys?
Answer: No, we weren't directly pushed by the label to write with these guys. It was more the matter that we felt we needed a smash airplay song. Bob Halligan wrote Rock You and brought it to the band through his manager Barry Bergman, who knew our producer Tom Tremouth. As for Marc Ribler, he was another writer under Barry's umbrella and we hit it off the first time I ever went to New York to write with him, producing the hit song "Good to the Last Drop". We also wrote "That Day is Gonna Come" together-a song that was basically about myself and Paul Hackman.
7. What's the situation for Helix in Canada these days? Do your songs get airtime on radio or video channels? I would imagine the classic hits are being played on Classic Rock stations, but is there any chances to get the new stuff aired?
Answer: No, not really. Canada seldom supports it's classic rock/metal artists. I've been told straight to my face by program directors here that they will not even consider playing new music by classic rock artists. This is a real shame as I believe a good writer doesn't quit writing great songs just because they get older. This non support, felt even more acutely in our hometown of London, was the inspiration for Even Jesus (Wasn't Loved in his Home Town)
8. Do you follow the hard rock/metal scene yourself? Have you come across any cool new band lately, bands that could "carry the torch" when classic bands call it a day?
Answer: There's lots of great up and coming metal/hard rock acts but very few have the "star status" that bands had during the 80's. Who'll carry the torch? I dunno...I guess whoever writes the best tunes.
9. Are you still involved in teaching the Bel Canto method? Are there any potential new "rock gods" among your students? :)
Answer: I have a couple of great students that I've either taught or I presently teach. Morgan & Mercedes Lander of KITTY have taken lessons from me, as has country star Tim Hicks, who had 3 Number One songs in Canada last year. I've also taught Sarah Smith, who I believe is going to be a huge star one day. Presently she has a couple of CDs out and regularly tours across Canada & Europe.
10. The support act on your gig in Helsinki will be Urban Tale, a Finnish band that's been on a long hiatus. Have you heard any of their material? They've got one of the best singers in Finland, he's been called "The Finnish Steve Perry"
Answer: Never heard of them. Sorry.
Interview by Kimmo Toivonen