E-Interview with Mary Timony
Mary Timony is a unique talent. Presently, she is the main force behind the Boston-based band, Helium, who has just released an EP on Matador Records called No Guitars. Their previous album, Dirt of Luck attracted a large following for its unique combination of powerful imagery and musical innovation. In the following Q&A session, Mary addresses both of these recordings, as well as gives us a glimmer of the creative spirit that lurks behind the music.
… but to tell you the boring truth, I think the time may come very very soon when Helium records sound like Joni Mitchell…Q: First of all…you have been very very busy not just with Helium but with an assortment of projects: Mind Science of The Mind, Led Byrd, Lincoln ’65, Disque 6, the All Over Me Soundtrack… and now the new Helium EP and record (not to mention having been in Autoclave or being a Magnetic Field briefly) one could say you are quite the busy body?
A: I wouldn’t say I am a busy body. I usally am really busy for a short while and then have nothing to do for another little while, then am really busy again…its a weird life, the rock musician’s. I do like to be involved with projects outside of Helium because they can be fun.
Q: What can we expect from the upcoming EP (and record)?
A: The upcoming EP…well, I don’t know…a lot of guitars… not as many keyboardy sounds…more undistorted than distorted…a chamberlin…a xylophone… it should be out on april 8.
Q: I get an idea from some of your music (particularly from the album Dirt of Luck) of it portraying a sense of mocking the female stereotypes such as those portrayed in the media. It reminds me of those satirical cartoons we see in the papers… exaggerating and making a very intelligent point at the same time. Would you agree?
A: Well, I don’t know about the very intelligent point part… but yeah, I think the lyrics are like a satire in that they are pointing out that I don’t like these certain female stereotypes, but I think that rather than making fun of someone else like a cartoon typically does, I am making fun of myself. I do this to show my anger at the ‘other’…may be it seems more like a cartoon to someone who is watching or who sees it…I think I am focusing more on my own gut feeling. like…”look, THIS is what you have made me into, a monster…underneath the quiet, girly, exterior lurks the monster of destruction” whatever…actually.
Q: On the cover of Pirate Prude is a crown with ? (ovaries?) in the middle — this image appears in the belly of the character in the painting on Dirt of Luck’s cover… is this indeed what i think it is?
A:Yes it is the same image, hmmm if you were to ask me this I would tell you… this image stands for CREATION the opposite of DESTRUCTION which is the natural state of ladies in the patriarchal world. Creating is the force that casts a spell against this destruction, by speaking and making we create our own new world….okay this is all fine and everything, but has nothing to do with reality you say…yeah okay…well i guess i just like to
use my imagination…like those new agers who search for the lost Atlantis…we like to create our own myths….
Q: Is there any particular reason why the lyrics to ‘All The X’s Have Wings,’ ‘Honeycomb’ and ‘Flower of the Apocalypse’ were left out?
A: Well, those lyrics weren’t good enough to be shown or were too wrong to be printed.
Q: In listening to the Dirt of Luck, one can hear a bit of the Fall but it hints at more — that your roots are not in indie rock at all. Where would you say you were ‘grounded’?
A: I hope the songs dont sound too indie rock. I like some indie rock bands but to tell you the boring truth, I think the time may come very very soon when Helium records sound like Joni Mitchell (or try to) albums, I like the sound of real music latley. I would say that I have tried to make our songs sound like folk songs, and I mean like the songs you sang at camp more than anything, although no one who has heard our music would agree with me I am sure, because most people (aside from you, I mean) would say we sound like indie rock!
Q: What situation/environment do you feel the most comfortable writing in? Performing in?
A: I feel the most comfortable writing in a comfortable environment…a huge clean room, a nice old piano, some cut flowers, my own coke machine (ok, ok, not that) but since I have almost none of these things, (except the cut flowers cause they cost the least) it is, at times hard to write songs, and this is why in all the songs I imagine I am in imaginary places, in the sky, in outerspace, underground…ok may be its not that literal, and I know you didnt really mean ‘environment’ that litreally but I couldnt help myself…ummm performing, hmmm, … with lots of instruments, I would say.
Q: How did you arrive at the name Helium (ok…a cliche question admitted but its such a cool name.)
A: Can’t remenber. No ok I can. I thought of it after riding my bike around obsessing about what our name should be, and brian and shawn seemed to like it okay.
Q: There were 3 helium videos that i have seen. (XXX, Pat’s Trick, and Superball). What was it like seeing them (especially Superball got some noticable rotation) among the other things on MTV — among this included a spot or two on Beavis and Butthead?
A: I guess it was nice to see them on MTV, I dont know. Ive only seen one of them on MTV once. I don’t have cable, you know what i mean.
Q: There are some people who claim (among them Juliana Hatfield) that guitars were not meant for a woman to play. The shape and sound are a very masculine… i guess meaning we should be playing harps and piccolos or something?? Anyhow, how would *you* respond to this?
A: Juliana went to Berklee College of Music. 98% of the student body of Berklee is composed of white suburban metal-head males who attend the school to learn how to play “Night Ranger” and Slayer songs of the 80s. How is one girl like Juliana s’posed to get a grip in such an environment’ (again the word)? I don’t think she meant it, what she said, I think she was confused.
Thats what I like to think. She likes to hate herself. I’m sick personally of all this medieval bickering about what girls can and cant do. What is necessary is to prove wrong the people who believe, and the forces inside us that say–girls are stunted beings in some way. PLEASE!!!!!! You know?
Q: Heard or seen anything interesting lately?
A: Yeah Ash just bought me this record of this guy ‘Bo Hannson’ that is all songs inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. pretty cool Moogy stuff.
As always I will say my favorite bands out of boston are Syrup USA and the Lilys, both of which I am about to go see!
Q: what is the most rewarding aspect of making (and sharing) your music? (i know it is corny..but there are many pitfalls just wondering about the most inspirational stuff….)
A: The best thing is knowing your ideas (musical) have been heard by people who can relate to them. For me, a really great thing is touring with and
playing shows with bands I like. That part is really fun.
Q: Any interesting plans or predictions you might want to share?
A: Well, the ep is out in april and the record is out in sept. Thanks Dina!!
(..and thank you Mary!! )
original link: http://members.aol.com/LilWhirl/index1.html