The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 25, 1995 - 11
By athoer Phases
Dair9 Arts Editor
"Oh :God, there's the phone again!
Hang qn just a moment," groaned Mary
Fjnimny, the brains behind the feminist/
;r ' nk band Helium, after what seemed
be the umpteenth click of the call
vaiting on her telephone.
1r4tunately for Timony, Ma Bell's the
ony)thing that's got her down. After
reialing one of the best albums of the
$'trf"The Dirt of Luck," and doing a
$econd-stage stint on this summer's
Lollapalooza, something would be seri-
ogsty awry ifherphone wasn't ringing off
At a successful spring and summer,
Tiiy gets to end a great year for her
bdnd by living one of her dreams: Tour-
miywith legendaryart-punks Sonic Youth.
WXlien asked if she's excited about the
tourTimony responded incredulously,
"Who wouldn't enjoy touring with Sonic
Ybtdh! I'm sure it'll be great 'cause I
Featly love them."
The unique enthusiasm that Timony
brings to her conversation and her music
has its origins in her Washington, D.C.
adoiescence. Even then there were signs
that Timony had a decidedly artistic bent.
rWhen I was in eighth grade I got into
being really different from the kids and
wearing funny things and getting into the
whole new wave scene," she remem-
"Iguess I was alittle bit ofa freak when
I was in eighth and ninth grade. I felt I had
toexpress myselfthrough wearing strange
things. I used to cut up strawberry cartons
andpin them on my shirt, put paint in my
hair, and safety pins all over my dresses.
I went to a Catholic girls' school, so that's
probably why!" Timony added with a
Certainly Timony's iconoclastic iden-
tity was apparent even back then, but it
took anentirelydifferentkind ofschool to
Continued from page 10
The screaming hard rock riffs of
Australia's finest export (no, not
Silverchair) have returned once again
to flood your stereo with some high
rockin' energy. Yes, the oldie yet
goodie AC/DC is back with
"Ballbreaker," the band's latest al-
bum of politically incorrect messages
about women, body oil, and more
on Helium's luck
Where: At the State theater
withSonic Youth and the Amps
Tickets: Available at the Union
Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
polish her musical training. Timony ex-
plains: "I transferred to the Duke Ellington
High School for the Performing Arts. It's
this really cool school in D.C. where the
music program was mostly jazz. They
had all these musicians coming in to talk
to the kids, like Wynton Marsalis and
Dionne Warwick - all these people -
even the Jacksons came! It was really
amazing; I feel really lucky to have gone
to this school. It was a really great leam-
After high school and college, Timony
was in the seminal girl-punk Autoclave.
After that group broke up, the other mem-
bers formed the now-defunct Slant 6 -
and Timony was left high and dry musi-
cally, but not for long. "I actually wasn't
going to start a band, but I had all these
songs I'd been writing by myself and
Brian and Shawn - he's the old bass
player- heard them and they were like
'Oh, we'll play in a band with you,' and I
was like 'OK! I think I suck, but if you
want to play with me that's fine.' I didn't
really plan it out," she said.
Helium's witty, poetic, confrontational
lyrics reflect Timony's individualism and
commitment to feminism. Lines like "I'll
be your movie, your tiny little floozie/ll
be your TV but you could never please
me," illustrate Timony's vivid images
and lucid anger. When asked about how
feminism influences her lyrics, she said,
"I think at times I have had a manifesto. It
hasn't been communicated directly, but I
think the songs, the lyrics, are all feminist.
That's not the only point to them, but I
don't mind people seeing them as femi-
"The most important thing I can say in
a private place is something about
women's issues or something feminist
because other women are going to hear
it," she added.
The lyrics to Timony's songs, while
political, aren't polemical. They're also
just plain interesting. Many of the songs
refer to monsters, witches and plants,
most explicitly in songs like "Flower of
the Apocalypse" from "The Dirt of Luck"
and "I Am a Witch" from the group's
recently released "Superball" EP.
"They're images that I like, and they're
female images," Timony explained. "I
think it's cool when people reclaim de-
rogatory terms and use them in an honor-
able way, like 'witch.' In the song 'Skel-
eton,' the monster is something that the
character in the song is turning into. The
character is totally angry and the anger is
turning them into a monster.
"The song has to do with my anger
about how I'm supposed to act in differ-
ent feminine roles, and the roles aren't
fitting, and inside I'm mutating and be-
coming this horrible monster-creature.
It's kind ofajokethough; I'm makingfun
of myself for feeling like that."
About the characters in her songs,
Timony had this to say: "I guess they're
all connected. In 'Skeleton' I'm becom-
ing this horrible medusa, and in the song
'Medusa' I'm singing to that character, to
have her come take me away. In 'Trixie's
Star' the character is a downtrodden, ev-
eryday person - probably me in my old
apartment watching TV," she said with a
laugh, "or ausedand abused female. That
person is singing to this bird up in the sky;
it's probably some weird religious thing."
However, Timony is quick to add,
"It's not a concept album. 'Pirate Prude'
(the group's first EP) was a concept in
itself, with reclaiming the word prude.
Helium is a gas! Huh-Huh. We said gas.
She's this figure, like a female super-
hero. But 'The Dirt of Luck' is just
songs. A 'concept album' seems like
something where you sit down and say,
'This album is going to be about sports,'
andyouwrite all thesongs about sports,"
Although the group's recent fame in
the indie-rock world (Sonic Youth's
Thurston Moore names them as his cur-
rent fave) has rendered Timony too busy
to write as much as she'd like, she's not
too worried. "I go through phases where
I don't write songs, and then I go through
phases where I write a song a day. I
wouldn't want to force myself to write
because then I'd be writing the same song
over and over again," she explained.
However, it looks like Timony will be
getting more help in the songwriting de-
partment from Helium bassist Ash Bowie,
who also plays in the group Polvo. "Ash
and I wrote 'Baby's Going Underground'
(one ofTimony's favorite songs) together
and anothersong that we've been playing
live that I really like. It's really great
playing with Ash 'cause he's got all these
great ideas, he's really creative," Timony
Once again, Timony's independent
nature shows up on "The Dirt of Luck":
Not only did Timony do all ofthe guitar
and vocal tracks but also a fair portion
of the bass and drum tracks as well
This was one time where her artistic
freedom became a hindrance. "I ended
up doing a lot of stuff on the record by
myself because at the time there was
only Shawn and me in the band," shi
sighed. "That wasn't fun 'cause I needed
help and I couldn't get it from anyone.
That was horrible, but it turned out
OK." As always, Timony's character-
istic optimism carried the day-such is
the luck of Helium.
After 20 years of the same old
crunchy blues riffs and throat-pierc-
ing vocals, AC/DC still has a bit of
creative juice left. Ax-master An-
gus Young's scorching guitar is as
fluent as ever, but after 15 years of
screaming (replacing original vo-
calist Bon Scott after a rock'n'roll
vomit accident), vocalist Brian
Johnson's voice is strained almost
Nevertheless, the songs on
"Ballbreaker" continue on in the
same vein as every other AC/DC
album. With a few less catchy cho-
ruses and a repetitive sound
throughout the album, the disc is an
AC/DC disc. Enough said. If you're
a fan, it's great, and if not, well,
then it's not.
The songs are still as potent as ever.
From the same people who brought
you "Big Balls," there are new clas-
sics like "Cover You In Oil." Johnson
sings: "Pull on the zip / She give good
lip service / It's nothing for the show
/ I just pay to see her go / She make
you hot / You spray your lot / Comin'
in honey / We're headin' to the top."
What a masterpiece!
- Brian A. Gnatt
Hempilation should be a really
good compilation album. A bunch
of mostly cool rock stars getting
together in a loose format and do-
ing covers of classic tunes all about
everyone's favorite illegal sub-
stance. Unfortunately, the blown-
out hippies at NORML (the National
Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws) decided to throw
together a half-assed, immature col-
lection of campy crap.
The album starts off with its two
best tracks, The Black Crowes cover-
ing Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12
& 35," and Blues Traveler doing Sly
Stone's classic "I Want To Take You
Higher." These tracks are decent, but
somehow just don't satisfy. The con-
cept of those bands doing those tunes
is great, but they don't seem to put
much into it and the recordings are
The Cypress Hill track, "I Wanna
Get High," is a decent live version of
an old tune of theirs, but the opening
minute or so of "who wants to get
high? Anybody wanna get high?"
stage babble is too annoying to get
through. "I Like Marijuana" by David
Peel and the 360's is too stupid to
even get into.
311 's cover of the old Bad Brains'
song "Who's Got The Herb?" is a
pretty good, relaxing track. Surpris-
ingly, metal band Sacred Reich does
a pretty rockin' version of Black
Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf." Also, the
Ziggy Marley and the Melody Mak-
ers song "In The Flow" is fairly
Other than that, Hempilation doesn't
have much to offer. The rest of tracks just
qualify as stupid hippie fodder, especially
Widespread Panic's horrible version of
the Van Morrison classic "And It Stoned
NORML has got to learn that there is a
line between righteous pot smoker and
stupid hippie. Pretty much anybody who
has a liberal bone in their body can agree
that hemp shouldbe legal, but these songs
certainly don't do anything to advance
the cause. If anything, they just enforce
the stupid stoner image that they seem to
want to shed so badly.
- Mark Carlson
Please see RECORDS, page 12
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