Rock 'n' roll identity crisis
The late b.p. helium strikes out on his own
By Melissa Link
" 'The late b.p. helium' comes out of my trying to
kill off 'Bryan Helium,' '' says Bryan Poole of the moniker for his new
project and the stage name he had adopted as a member of Elf Power,
respectively. "I've been trying to kill off the late b.p. helium, but
nobody likes any of my band names.''
leaving Elf Power about a year ago, Athens musician Bryan Poole has
carved out a cool spot for himself as the late b.p. helium.
The former bass player for Elf Power, one of Athens' most celebrated
Elephant 6-associated indie pop acts, Poole has gathered a rotating
lineup of musicians to strike out into his own territory by way of the
late b.p. helium. His show Saturday at Tasty World features bassist
Scott Dansby (from Le Guano), Jason Nesmith (of Caspar Fandango and The
Sunshine Fix) and Derek Almstead (Summer Hymns, Of Montreal, Great
"It's up to me to keep the ball rolling to get
people motivated to play my songs,'' says Poole of fronting his own
band. "I guess I'm still kind of bashful and shy about that. So when
people still wanna play with me, I'm kind of surprised.''
Such an insecure persona isn't exactly what one would
expect from the guy who arguably had the most energetic stage presence
among Elf Power's members, but Poole admits to many discomforts in
dealing with day-to-day life. "Some people may think I'm stuck-up, but
really I'm just freaked out,'' he says. "I think the best rockers are
really just the geeks in the bedroom who want to break out of their
Although his departure from Elf Power was amicable,
Poole has had a bit of difficulty moving on. It was a relationship that
can be readily likened to a romance that simply couldn't continue, and
Poole found himself struggling with the pull to do his own thing. "I'd
had a few songs in Elf Power, but I just never felt like my songs were
Elf Power songs and I just felt like I needed to put up or shut up and
do my own thing,'' he explains of his decision to leave the band about
a year ago.
"It really didn't hit me 'til we did the second tour
with J Mascis and Mike Watt - two of my idols,'' he continues. "The
first couple of days on the tour I was just unhappy and I didn't know
why ... I didn't let the rest of the band know 'til the last show in
London. I smashed my bass on stage and ran out of there and started
walking down the street crying ... It was just what I had to do.''
It's a pretty heartbreaking scene, but Poole is determined to move on.
the late b.p. helium|
Annie, One Suit Wonder
When: 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: Tasty World, 312 E. Broad St.
Call: (706) 549-7871
"It's hard, it's still hard. It took a couple of
months for me not to dream about being in Elf Power and to separate
myself from that band,'' he says. "It is a relationship, it's like a
marriage. You just know that you can't keep going on.
"Elf Power was a savior for me early on,'' he says
reflecting on his six years in the band. "Andrew (Rieger, Elf Power's
front man) would put up with a lot of my stuff. I was just so on the
edge of suicide all the time and he was really good at letting me talk
about it and not weirded out by it.''
The late b.p. helium has a round of shows scheduled
in clubs throughout downtown Athens over the next couple of months and
is planning an East Coast tour with Visitations (former Fable Factory
frontman Dave Rathgaber's new project) as well as a couple of Florida
dates with Of Montreal. The debut EP from the late b.p. helium is due
for a European release this Fall, thanks to connections made during
Poole's Elf Power days, and he is planning a mini-tour of Scandinavia.
"I guess the more you play the more you wanna go to
exotic places,'' explains Poole, who will be playing bass for Great
Lakes on their European tour. "I'm just gonna go to Norway a couple of
weeks early, form a band and tour,'' he says.
Poole plans to have a full-length album out next
spring, to be released on Orange Twin records, the label run by Elf
Power's Laura Carter. Although the bouncy chords and fuzzy psychedelic
sound of the late b.p. helium may ring a bell with many Elf Power fans,
particularly those familiar with their live performances, the subject
matter of Poole's songs is a far cry from the wacky fantasy land so
frequently illustrated by his former band.
"I guess a lot of the songs are just trying to purge
my inner pain, which is basically depressive,'' says Poole of his
lyrics. "That's part of why I'm glad I'm playing Nuci's Space next
month - I've been there, I'm still there.''
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, August 15, 2002.