Helium (band)
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Helium Band
Mary Timony Plays Helium with Hospitality.jpg
Mary Timony Plays Helium with Hospitality, San Francisco, 2018
Background information
OriginBoston, Massachusetts
GenresNoise pop, post-punk
LabelsMatador Records
Dumptruck, Autoclave, Team Sleep
Brian Dunton
Mary Timony
Ash Bowie
Shawn Devlin

Helium was an American alternative rock band fronted by Mary Timony. The band formed during the summer of 1992. Between 1992 and 1997, they released two full-length albums, three EPs and several singles.


Under the original moniker of "Chupa," the band's founding members were Mary Lou Lord; Jason Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield's brother; Shawn King Devlin; and Brian Dunton. Devlin and Dunton were both also in the band Dumptruck before founding Helium.[1]Mary Timony, formerly of the band Autoclave, replaced Mary Lou Lord on vocals and guitar shortly after formation, as Lord was reluctant to use electric instrumentation. Following Lord's departure, the remaining members changed the band's name to Helium.

Timony was known for her husky, vibrato-less and monotone singing style. The band's record label, Matador Records, likened Timony's vocals to Kim Wilde and Debbie Harry.[2]


Their first release was a 7" single entitled "The American Jean" (1993), which was followed by the 7" "Hole in the Ground". They released their first EP, Pirate Prude, in 1994. Shortly after the release of Pirate Prude, Dunton left the band and Polvo guitarist Ash Bowie, boyfriend of Timony at the time, joined on bass. In 1995, they released their first full-length release, The Dirt of Luck, and played the second stage of Lollapalooza. Adam Lasus produced and engineered The Dirt of Luck, Pirate Prude, and all of Helium's singles up to 1995.

In 1997, the group released the EP No Guitars before releasing their second album, The Magic City. This album featured synths and analog drum sounds, as opposed to their previous guitar-centered releases.

Commenting on the band's new direction, in an interview with the Boston Phoenix in 1997, Timony said: ""It seemed natural for a girl my age to be expressing anger in music. For whatever psychological reason, I found it easier to express it in my songs than any other way. Writing out of anger is an easy framework, and that's one reason I don't do it now. I remember hearing Patti Smith say that she stopped playing music because she wasn't angry anymore. I could totally relate, except that I want to keep playing. Lately I'm more into the idea that making music is fun. I want it to be a collaborative, creative thing, rather than using music as a tool."[3]

The band toured the United States in early 1998 and disbanded shortly thereafter.

Film and television

The band makes an appearance in a 1994 road movie, entitled Half-cocked. On television, two of the band's music videos, "Pat's Trick" and "XXX", were critiqued by Beavis and Butt-head.


Timony began a solo career in 2000 and Bowie released an album of old four-track recordings under the name Libraness. Timony was later a member of the bands Wild Flag and Ex Hex.

Matador Records reissued the band's two albums in March, 2017, along with a new collection of rarities. Timony consequently played two "Mary Timony Plays Helium" tours in the U.S., backed by members of the band Hospitality, in 2017 and 2018.[4][5]



Title Year Label
The Dirt of Luck 1995 Matador Records
The Magic City 1997 Matador Records


Title Year Label
Pirate Prude 1994 Matador Records
Superball 1995 Matador Records
No Guitars 1997 Matador Records


Title Year Label
"The American Jean" (b/w "Termite Tree") 1992 Warped Records
"Hole in the Ground" (b/w "Lucy") 1993 Pop Narcotic (on orange vinyl)
"Pat's Trick" (b/w "Ghost Car") 1995 Matador Records


Title Year Label
Rock Stars Kill 1994 Kill Rock Stars
Half-Cocked - The Motion Picture Soundtrack 1995 Matador Records

Music videos

Year Title Director Album
1994 "XXX" David Kleiler Pirate Prude
1995 "Pat's Trick" David Kleiler The Dirt of Luck
1995 "Superball" Tryan George The Dirt of Luck
1995 "Honeycomb" Brett Vapnek The Dirt of Luck
1997 "Leon's Space Song" The Magic City


  1. ^ Brett Milano (4-11 September 1997). "Wonder woman Mary Timony uncovers a Magic City". The Boston Phoenix. The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ Staff (9 September 1997). "Helium". Matador Records. Matador Records. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ "Cellars by Starlight". bostonphoenix.com. Archived from the original on 2016-02-19. Retrieved .
  4. ^ O'Neal, Sean. (March 23, 2017) "Mary Timony revives Helium for reissues, rarities, new tour," AV Club. Retrieved on March 12, 2018.
  5. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie. (October 17, 2017) 'Mary Timony Announces 'Plays Helium' Tour," Pitchfork. Retrieved on March 12, 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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