1979 BREAKING LOOSE/H&S RECORDS
After shopping our music to every record company in Canada and being turned down by every one, we decided to do something unthinkable for a band to do in 1979-we released an “indie” album. In fact, Helix was one of the first bands ever to release an indie album, decades before it became the thing to do for grunge acts in the 90’s. We put the album together with money from my parents and my grandmother, Bill Seip’s mother (Our manager. He also put some of his own money in) , & Brent and Brian Doerner’s mom & dad. The album was released on the H&S label (Helix & Seip) and recorded at Springfield Sound Studios, just outside of London, Ontario in the little town on Springfield. The studio was really a renovated school house. Budgie had recorded one of their albums there. The studio was owned by Bob Leth and Brian Ferryman. Ferryman later went on to be the manager of Canadian country star Michelle Wright.
The album was produced by Bob Morton, who’s claim to fame had been producing the Quebec band Harmonium, a French band that had sold over 100,000 copies of their disc in the Belle province alone. I personally thought Morton did a great job producing the album, especially the song “You’re a Woman Now”. That song had beautiful background vocals sung by ? The song became a huge hit for the band in Texas, due to extensive airplay by Joe Anthony. Joe Anthony was known as “The Godfather of Rock and Roll”. He worked for KISS/KAMAC in San Antonio and owned an Italian restaurant in the city as well. He controlled the San Antonio market and the surrounding area. Joe was also instrumental in breaking bands like AC/DC, Rush, Triumph, Judas Priest during the 80’s decade of metal. In the fifties he played many black artists like Little Richard, when there was serious opposition to playing music by those artists. Joe was stocky, built like a construction worker, and was gay. He died in the late 80’s of AIDS. He was my friend, was instrumental in breaking the band in the early days, and is missed.
Another song that was an underground hit for us from this disc was the Hackman/Doerner number “Billy Oxygen”. With continued airplay in San Antonio and suddenly Amarillo College playing almost every track from the album, we put together our first ever “U.S. Tour”-four dates in Texas. We had played over the border in places like Ypsilanti, Michigan and Rochester & Lockport, New York, but his was the bigtime! So, along with our manager Bill Seip, soundman Wane “Wienner” Williams, and I believe one other road crew guy we set off for the Lone Star State. We ended up playing four dates: Helotiz with Y&T (just outside of San Antonio), Houston (at the Bijou), Dallas, and Amarillo College for Jackson Street Live. If you go to the video section of the website there are a couple of songs from the Jackson Street Live concert there to look at.
Going to Texas made us look like stars to our friends back home. Not many Canadian bands at that time were breaking into the Canadian market. We were looking to follow in the footsteps of RUSH, who had established themselves south of the border by constantly touring-so that’s what we planned to do.
Breaking Loose and the follow-up “White Lace & Black Leather” eventually sold 15,000 copies each and led to our being signed to Capitol/E.M.I. U.S.A. in 1983. Eventually Perris Records re-released each of these discs in the U.S. and Europe (around 1998) and then in 2014 released “The Early Years” which is a compilation of both albums in their entirety in one package. You can read about this period of the band’s history in my autobiography “Gimme an R!”. Both “Early Years” and “Gimme an R!” are available at the merchandise section of Planet Helix.
Songs on this album: I Could Never Leave, Don’t Hide Your Love, Here I Go Again, Billy Oxygen, Crazy Women, Down in the City, You’re a Woman Now
Players on this album were:
Brian Vollmer/lead vocals
Paul Hackan/lead guitar/vocals
Brent Doerner/lead guitar/vocals
Brian Doerner/lead guitar/vocals
Keith “Bert” Zurbrigg/bass guitar