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Still rockin' after all these years

The leader of Canadian metal band Helix has spent three decades riding the music business roller coaster. The rush is even sweeter now.

By LOGAN NEILL
Published February 2, 2007


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NEW PORT RICHEY - Thirty-one years as a front man for the heavy metal band Helix has taught Brian Vollmer numerous valuable lessons. But perhaps the most important thing he has learned in the music business is the need to trust no one but himself.

These days, Vollmer, 51, views himself as keeper of the flame for Canada's best known heavy metal band. He guards its legacy and pushes the band toward ever new territory because he thinks Helix's best work may well lie ahead.

"I can honestly say that after spending more than half my life in this band that it's more fun now than it ever has been," Vollmer said by phone this week as he prepared for a two-night stand this weekend in New Port Richey. "The great thing now is that I control my own destiny. The band can essentially do whatever it wants to musically, and that's something I couldn't have said two decades ago."

Indeed, the early 1980s found Vollmer and Helix in the thick of the meteoric rise of metal's popularity, taking its place alongside flamboyant arena rockers Aerosmith, Rush, Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot and Motorhead. Album successes like No Rest for the Wicked and Walkin' the Razor's Edge yielded anthems Rock You, Heavy Metal Love and Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'.

It was not to last. By the 1990s, metal was fading fast. Suddenly, Helix found itself looked upon as a dinosaur by its record company. In 1992 the band suffered a tremendous blow when longtime guitarist Paul Hackman was killed in a vehicle accident after a concert in Vancouver, British Columbia.

An ever-changing personnel roster left Vollmer pondering whether it was worth keeping the band going. Personal battles included the discovery of polyps growing on his vocal chords. In time, Vollmer's voice would heal, thanks to extensive vocal training. Meanwhile, he launched an effort in 1997 to rebuild Helix and to pursue solo projects.

"I simply decided it was time to operate the band like the business it really is," Vollmer said. "I figured if I'm the one putting in my time and talents, I should also be getting the rewards as well."

After retaining the rights to Helix's songs, Vollmer began an ambitious effort to reissue the band's albums on his own label. He and his wife, Lynda, also control tour bookings, publicity and band merchandise, which is sold through their Web site, www.planethelix.com.

Vollmer says the positive response to the band's latest CD, Get Up!, is proof Helix is on the right track.

"My aim is to keep making our music fresh for old fans, and hopefully gain some new ones along the way," he said. "After all, I've been doing this awhile. And I want to keep doing it for a long time to come."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 352 848-1435.

If you go

Two nights of Helix

Helix will perform at 9 p.m. today and Saturday at the Bourbon Street Concert Club, 4331 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Doors open one hour before show. Call (727) 843-0686.

[Last modified February 1, 2007, 23:22:23]


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