Brian Vollmer

Last updated
Brian Vollmer
Born (1955-06-30) June 30, 1955 (age 64)
Origin Listowel, Ontario, Canada
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician
Instruments Vocals, rhythm guitar
Years active1974-present
LabelsH&S Records, Aquarius, A&M, Dirty Dog Records, Capitol, EMI/Sanctuary, Vollmer Records, DeRock Records
Associated acts Helix

Brian Vollmer (born June 30, 1955) [1] is the lead singer and only remaining original member of Canadian hard rock group Helix. Since the band's inception in 1974, Vollmer had gone from lead singer to de facto leader of the band, weathering numerous lineup changes. Vollmer was born in Listowel, Ontario before relocating to Kitchener. He currently resides in London, Ontario with his wife, Lynda.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Helix (band) Hard rock band

Helix is a Canadian hard rock and heavy metal band. They formed in 1974, and are best known for their 1984 single "Rock You". The original lineup was formed by drummer Bruce Arnold, and consisted of lead vocalist Brian Vollmer, guitarists Ron Watson and Rick "Minstrel" Trembley, keyboardist Don Simmons, and bassist Keith "Bert" Zurbrigg. However, their most well known lineup, and the one that recorded "Rock You", was the 1980s version of the band: Vollmer on vocals, accompanied by guitarists Brent "The Doctor" Doerner and Paul Hackman, bassist Daryl Gray, and drummer Greg "Fritz" Hinz. The history of the band has been marked by many lineup changes, with Vollmer being the sole constant member and only remaining member of the original lineup. Although Hackman was killed in a tour bus accident in 1992, the surviving members of the 1980s lineup reunited in 2009 for an album and have continued to tour since 2011. Watson died in 2019.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law.

Contents

Life and career

Helix

Helix were formed in 1974 for a Battle of the Bands contest in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada by drummer Bruce Arnold. Their original name was the Helix Field Band, soon shortened to simply Helix. [2] By 1976 the band lineup had solidified to include twins Brent "The Doctor" Doerner (guitar) & Brian Doerner (drums), as well as Paul Hackman (guitar) and Keith "Bert" Zurbrigg (bass). With management under Kitchener's William Seip, Helix released two independent albums on their own H&S Records, entitled Breaking Loose and White Lace & Black Leather , in 1979 and 1981 respectively. Their second album, White Lace & Black Leather saw more lineup changes, with Brian Vollmer now the last remaining original member.

Battle of the Bands is a contest in which two or more bands compete for the title of "best band". The winner is determined by a voice vote of the audience or the band who brings the most people to support them. Traditionally, battles of bands are held at live music events and forums. Popular examples include the yearly Live and Unsigned contest in the United Kingdom and the annual SoundWave Music Competition.

Kitchener, Ontario City in Ontario, Canada

Kitchener is a city in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario. Located approximately 100 km (62 mi) west of Toronto, Kitchener is the regional seat. Kitchener was called Berlin until 1916, designated the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada. Located in Central Canada, it is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest jurisdiction in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

In 1983, Helix finally signed to Capitol Records after being rejected by them three times. In 1983 they released No Rest for the Wicked , their major label debut. The "classic" '80s lineup of Helix formed after this, now consisting of Brent Doerner, Paul Hackman, Greg "Fritz" Hinz (drums) and Daryl Gray (bass). This lineup recorded three more records for Capitol: Walkin' the Razor's Edge (1984), Long Way to Heaven (1985), and Wild in the Streets (1987). By 1990, Brent Doerner had left the band, setting off a chain of member changes that would leave Vollmer as the sole constant member. [3]

Capitol Records American record label

Capitol Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label "of note" in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.

<i>No Rest for the Wicked</i> (Helix album) 1983 studio album by Helix

No Rest for the Wicked is the third studio album by the Canadian rock band Helix. It is also their major label debut, on Capitol Records.

<i>Walkin the Razors Edge</i> 1984 studio album by Helix

Walkin' the Razor's Edge was the fourth studio album by the Canadian heavy metal band Helix. It was released on the Capitol Records label in 1984.

The 1990s started off with the Back for Another Taste CD, and a special reunion show in Kitchener featuring Keith Zurbrigg and the Doerner brothers. At this time Brian Vollmer began working on his first solo album. However, in 1992, Vollmer's longtime bandmate Paul Hackman was killed when the group's van rolled down a 40-foot embankment after a concert in Vancouver. [4] [5] Recovering from the shock of his death, he took the songs he had recorded for his solo album, and released them as the next Helix record, It's a Business Doing Pleasure (released on Aquarius) in 1993. Vollmer would later call the album, "a huge mistake on my part, and I take full credit for the blunder. The really sad thing about it all was that I was really proud of all those songs on the album and they were wasted because they did not fit under the Helix name." [6]

<i>Back for Another Taste</i> 1990 studio album by Helix

Back For Another Taste is the seventh Helix studio album and eighth album altogether. It was also their last album of their original Capitol Records contract. In a fall 1987 interview on MuchMusic with Erica Ehm, lead vocalist Brian Vollmer jokingly stated that this album would be titled Blood, Sweat & Beer.

Paul Wayne Hackman was a Canadian guitarist who performed with the rock band Helix from 1976 until his death in a road accident. Among the hits which contain his playing are the #32 Canadian single "Rock You" and the #20 mainstream Canadian rock single "Deep Cuts the Knife", which he co-wrote with Bob Halligan Jr..

Vancouver City in British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011. The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada, with over 5,400 people per square kilometre, which makes it the fifth-most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America, behind New York City, Guadalajara, San Francisco, and Mexico City according to the 2011 census. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada according to that census; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. 48.9% have neither English nor French as their first language. Roughly 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage.

Helix continued to tour after this tragedy, with new drummer Glen "Archie" Gamble, bassist Daryl Gray, and a rotating lineup of guitar players. [3] In 1999, he released his first proper solo album featuring Brian Doerner on drums, called When Pigs Fly . This was released under the band name "Vollmer". In 2004, the 30th anniversary of Helix, the band played a special concert at Brantford, Ontario's Sanderson Centre. The then-current lineup of Helix played a short set, followed by members of the original 1974 Helix lineup. Other past members made appearances on hits and rarely played songs from the independent albums. [7]

Glen "Archie" Gamble is a drummer from London, Ontario, Canada and is best known for his tenure in Helix. He has played with some classic rock bands, both as a side-man and in an opening capacity: Kiss, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil, Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant, as well as some younger bands: Sum 41, KAOS, The Trews, Finger 11 and more.

When Pigs Fly is a solo album by Brian Vollmer, lead vocalist of the Canadian heavy metal band Helix. It was released in 1999 and features ex-Helix and current Saga/My Wicked Twin drummer Brian Doerner. It was released under the band name Vollmer and is Brian Vollmer's only solo release to date. It was Vollmer's first studio album since Helix's 1993 release It's a Business Doing Pleasure. There would be a five-year gap between When Pigs Fly and Vollmer's next studio release, Helix's Rockin' in My Outer Space from 2004.

Brantford City in Ontario, Canada

Brantford is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada, founded on the Grand River. It is surrounded by Brant County, but is politically separate with a municipal government of its own that is fully independent of the county's municipal government.

Around this time, Vollmer filmed a cameo (as himself) during the fourth season of the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys that was included on that DVD as a deleted scene. Helix was mentioned in several other episodes after this as well, as it was revealed they are one of the characters' favourite concerts to see, and sell marijuana at. Vollmer also published his autobiography, Gimme An R, in December 2005. The book covered the numerous lineup changes and ups and downs of Helix through their 30-year career, along with many rare photos. [8]

A cameo role or cameo appearance is a brief appearance or voice part of a well known person in a work of the performing arts. These roles are generally small, many of them non-speaking ones, and are commonly either appearances in a work in which they hold some special significance or renowned people making uncredited appearances. Short appearances by celebrities, film directors, politicians, athletes or musicians are common. A crew member of the movie or show playing a minor role can be referred to as a cameo as well, such as Alfred Hitchcock's frequently performed cameos.

Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian mockumentary television series created and directed by Mike Clattenburg. The show focuses on the misadventures of a group of trailer park residents, some of whom are ex-convicts, living in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The television series, a continuation of Clattenburg's 1999 film of the same title, premiered on Showcase in 2001. There are three films in the series: The Movie, released on October 6, 2006; Countdown to Liquor Day, released on September 25, 2009; and Don't Legalize It, released on April 18, 2014.

Autobiography biography written by the subject

An autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809. Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time". Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of his or her life.

In 2009, Brian Vollmer reunited the surviving members of the classic '80s lineup: Daryl Gray, Greg "Fritz" Hinz, and Brent Doerner. Vollmer cited fatigue of the rotating Helix lineups: "Daryl, Brent and Fritz have all 'been there, done that, got the T-shirt.' So I thought, 'What the hell? Why not just get the original band back together and save myself a big headache?'...We just realized we're better as a unit — and I got sick of working in new people." [9]

Brian Vollmer had a cameo appearance in the 2009 Trailer Park Boys movie Countdown To Liquor Day, released September 25, 2009. [9] [10] Helix also performed at the opening gala of the premier of the new Trailer Park Boys movie at the Halifax Metro Center. [11]

Since 2008, Vollmer has co-produced every Helix release alongside Aaron Murray, and occasionally his co-writers Sean Kelly, Steve Georgakopoulos and Gord Prior.

Personal life

At various stages of his career, Brian Vollmer thought seriously of folding Helix. The first time came at the end of 1989 when Brent Doerner quit the band. Vollmer and manager Bill Seip decided to keep the band going despite the loss. After the 1990/1991 tour for Back for Another Taste , which saw the band playing smaller venues, Vollmer again talked to Seip about folding the band. Seip's advice was to keep this information to himself, so he could either quit and do something else, or come back to Helix later. With the 2002 departure of Daryl Gray, who was like a partner in the Helix business, Vollmer again pondered quitting the band. Each time, he decided to keep going. [3]

In the late 80s, living in Kitchener, Ontario, Vollmer was divorced and working at a convenience store to make ends meet. It was during this time that he was mugged and decided to make the move to London, Ontario to live with friends and make a fresh start. His vocal cords, however, were in very bad shape due to years of touring and no vocal training. He met a vocal coach, Ed Johnson, who taught him the techniques of Bel canto, which helped to restore his voice to full strength. [3]

Teaching and Planet Helix

In addition to running the Helix business, Brian Vollmer also currently teaches the classical vocal technique, Bel canto, in London, Ontario, as well as singing classical music at weddings and funerals throughout southern Ontario. [12] He has given vocal lessons to Mercedes Lander of the heavy metal band Kittie who also hail from London. His wife Lynda now helps with the running of the business from their home, which they have dubbed "Planet Helix". [3] "Planet Helix" was featured in a 2007 episode of MTV Cribs . [13]

Discography

With Helix

For a more comprehensive list, see Helix discography.

Solo (as Vollmer)

Related Research Articles

<i>Long Way to Heaven</i> 1985 studio album by Helix

Long Way to Heaven is the fifth studio album by the Canadian heavy metal band Helix. This album was their third for Capitol Records, and there were bigger expectations from the band after the success of the previous Walkin' the Razor's Edge. The first single was "Deep Cuts the Knife", cowritten by Paul Hackman and Bob Halligan, Jr. The song received heavy airplay in the U.S., gaining "double breaker" status, and in Canada was added to heavy video play on MuchMusic. Q107 in Toronto had the song riding at #1 for several weeks on their "Top Ten at Ten". Their first tour to kick off the album was in Sweden where they became the first Canadian rock band ever to tour that country extensively. For this they achieved their first #1 album in that country.

Over 60 Minutes With... is the seventh album release by Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band Helix. Their first compilation, it collects music from their first three Capitol Records albums but includes nothing from Wild in the Streets (1987). It was released on cassette and CD. Along with past singles and album tracks, the compilation album also includes previously unreleased songs "Everybody Pays the Price" and "Give It To You". Also included is "Jaws of the Tiger", which had first been released in 1986 as the B-side of the "It's Too Late" single.

<i>White Lace & Black Leather</i> 1981 studio album by Helix

White Lace & Black Leather is the second independent album by the Canadian rock band Helix. It was released in 1981. It is their first album featuring bassist Mike Uzelac and only album with drummer Leo Niebudek. This was the band's last independent release before signing to Capitol Records in 1983.

<i>Breaking Loose</i> (album) 1979 studio album by Helix

Breaking Loose was the first independent album by the Canadian rock band Helix. It was released in 1979. Joe Anthony from KISS FM in San Antonio, Texas began playing "You're A Woman Now" which enabled the band to play there for the first time. It also featured "Billy Oxygen" written and sung by guitarist Brent "The Doctor" Doerner. The song mixed genres such as hard rock, metal, funk and progressive rock and garnered them some early Canadian airplay.

<i>The Early Years</i> (Helix album) 1991 compilation album by Helix

The Early Years was the ninth Helix album and their second compilation album, issued in 1991. It reissued all the tracks from the band's first two independent albums, Breaking Loose (1979) and White Lace & Black Leather (1981), with new cover art. This was the first ever Compact Disc release of these two albums.

<i>Its a Business Doing Pleasure</i> 1993 studio album by Helix

It's A Business Doing Pleasure was the eighth Helix studio album and tenth album altogether. It was their only release on Aquarius Records. It's A Business Doing Pleasure followed the death of lead guitarist Paul Hackman and the departure of temporary guitarist Denny Balicki. In their stead, guitarist Brent "The Doctor" Doerner returned to Helix after a 4-year absence, and Greg Fraser joined on guitar as well.

<i>Half-Alive</i> 1998 live album by Helix

half-ALIVE was the first official live album by Canadian heavy metal band Helix, following the promotional-only Live At The Marquee. It was also their 11th album altogether and featured five new studio songs. It was their only release on DeROCK Records and was recorded at various gigs throughout the 90's.

Vagabond Bones is a studio album by heavy metal band Helix, released on November 17, 2009. It is Helix' 12th full-length studio album and 21st album released overall. It contains performances from members of the 1980s Helix lineup: Brian Vollmer, Brent Doerner, Daryl Gray and Greg Hinz, as well as former member and co-producer Sean Kelly. Kelly departed Helix during the production of Vagabond Bones, prompting the reunion of the 1980s band. Kelly remained on hand to finish the record before leaving to tour with Nelly Furtado.

Deep Cuts is a compilation album by the Canadian hard rock band Helix. It is their 12th official release, and their third compilation album. It collects music from both their early indi career as well as their catalogue with Capitol Records and rare tracks.

"Rock You" is a hard rock song written by Bob Halligan, Jr., and the first track from Helix's 1984 album Walkin' the Razor's Edge. It is best known for its call and response refrain of "Gimme an R, O, C, K." Helix's recording reached number 32 in Canada on the Billboard AR chart on August 4, 1984. It also came in at number 101 on the Canadian Billboard Pop chart on September 1, 1984.

<i>B-Sides</i> (Helix album) 1999 compilation album by Helix

B-Sides is a compilation album by the Canadian hard rock band Helix. It is their 13th official release, and their fourth compilation album. Despite the title, it actually consists of no b-sides. It was released in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of Helix, and featured a reunion of surviving members of the "classic" 1980s lineup on three tracks. It also compiled previously unreleased tracks from 1989 to 1998. As a bonus, it included two unreleased songs from the Helix independent years.

Live! in Buffalo is a live album by Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band Helix. It was recorded on September 29, 1983 in Buffalo, New York. It is their 14th official release. It includes several songs that were road-tested versions of new tracks that were written for 1984's Walkin' the Razor's Edge, but yet to be recorded. It also features a song called "Hot on the Heels of Love" that has never been released in any form anywhere else.

<i>Rockin in My Outer Space</i> 2004 studio album by Helix

Rockin' in My Outer Space is a CD released by hard rock/heavy metal band Helix on May 24, 2004. It is Helix' 9th full-length studio album, and 15th official album release. It is also their first studio album since 1993's It's a Business Doing Pleasure, an 11-year gap and the longest gap between studio albums in Helix history.

<i>30th Anniversary Concert</i> 2004 video by Helix

30th Anniversary Concert is a DVD release by Canadian hard rock band Helix. It is a live concert recorded on July 17, 2004 at the Brantford, Ontario Sanderson Centre. It is a complete concert and it features appearances from band members past and present to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The concert is interspersed with interviews, studio recordings and photo montages.

Smash Hits...Unplugged! is an acoustic studio album by the heavy metal band Helix. It was released in November 2010 via the band's official site and at shows, with a wider release via EMI in January 2011. It is composed of acoustic versions of Helix hits from albums past as well as a new cover version of "Touch Of Magic" by the late Canadian singer, James Leroy. It is the first studio recording by the current Helix lineup of vocalist Brian Vollmer, guitarists Brent Doerner and Kaleb Duck, bassist Daryl Gray and drummer Greg Hinz. It also features guitar performances by ex-member and co-producer Sean Kelly. It is Helix' 13th full-length studio album and 22nd album released overall.

<i>Old School</i> (Helix album) 2019 studio album by Helix

Old School is the fourteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Helix, released in June 2019.

References

  1. Brian Vollmer (September 13, 2015). "The Sunday Update". Facebook.
  2. "Hair Metal Mansion - Interview with Helix vocalist Brian Vollmer". Archived from the original on 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Vollmer, Brian (2004). Gimme An R! the story of Brian Vollmer, lead vocalist of Helix. Ball Media Corporation. ISBN   0-9739849-0-2.
  4. Sleaze Roxx - Paul Hackman Archived 2011-10-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Canadian Music Periodical Index Archived 2012-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Helix History - 1993 Archived 2011-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Metal Shrine - Mail-intervju - Brian Vollmer, Helix Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  8. HELIX - Release Date Confirmed For Gimme An R! Autobiography
  9. 1 2 A Helix story with a happy ending
  10. Bravewords - HELIX Mainman Brian Vollmer Issues Year-End Update
  11. HELIX Perform At Gala For New Trailer Park Boys Movie
  12. Calgary Herald - 25 years later, Helix still wants to rock you
  13. The Jack Richardson Music Awards: Hall of Fame Inductee: Helix Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine