August 15, 2002

Rock 'n' roll identity crisis
The late b.p. helium strikes out on his own

By Melissa Link


Since 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 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.''
    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 Lakes).
   "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 shell.''
   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.''
   
the late b.p. helium
   Annie, One Suit Wonder

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17

Where: Tasty World, 312 E. Broad St.

Cost: $5

Call: (706) 549-7871

It's a pretty heartbreaking scene, but Poole is determined to move on.
   "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.

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