Helix was formed in the Summer 1979. Dave Cutter and Tim Parkhurst rented a building (to live in) where Highway 101 exited onto Higuera. We rehearsed in this building, which had once been a slaughter house.When I was growing up, it was a surplus store run by a Vietnam Vet who called it “Tiki Tom’s Surplus”. He later turned it into a church called “The Morning Sunshine Christian Center”. We heard that he had to leave town because he had too many wives. There were windowless brick meat lockers in the back where Dave and Tim’s roommates, Luke and Robert, set up grow lights and a small pot farm. Tim slept in a loft under the skylight. Tim’s Drums were setup in front of a big cross on what was once the altar. This was a very cool place to rehearse and hang out.
Chuck Whitaker, Leslie Ridgeway, Dave Cutter, Tim Parkhurst Pat Scandalis
and the ARP Avatar in the “Morning Sunshine Christian Center” rehearsal space.
Tim’s Drums were set up on what had been the altar.
Pat and Leslie. Pat is holding up,
Brett's (sound engineer) new Les Paul.
That's my trusty ES-175 on the right.
Its still my favorite electric guitar.
At the time, Tim was working at a local music store, Castle Music. We met Chuck Whitaker, a bass player there. Things really jelled when Chuck joined. His girlfriend at the time, Carrie, did lots of the posters and marketing stuff for us gratis. I recall that Chuck had this very weird bass speaker that he had build. We thought that it looked like Captain Pike from Star Trek Episode "The Cage".
Chuck: We met at --what the heck was the name of that music store??? -- One of the guys there told me to come by after hours when Tim and Pat would come by, some local prog rock freaks that he thought I might get along with. That was WAY more interesting then the top 40 crap I had been doing with a bunch of drunken frat boys (though our version of Santana's Europa was actually pretty awesome...)Tim: I was working at Castle Music at the time. I set a record for staying at that job for a little over a year (the owner, Ron Resnick, went through employees like most people go through underwear). Anyway, the job had it's perks including being able to borrow equipment and play with it. That's how we got the Tascam four track setup for a couple of days while at the Morning Sunshine Christian Center. I think we also recorded instrumental tracks to a Kansas tune one night. Another perk of working at Castle was the fact that it got me (and later Pat) into the NAMM show. Been back a few times since then, always an interesting experience and a mix of rock stars and wannabees. Working at Castle also allowed me access to equipment to record an early demo of "Won't eat prunes again" and a punk / harmonica version of "You light up my life" for Weird Al. He bought me a pizza dinner that night in return. I shoulda asked for royalties. ;)Through Tim, we had access to lots of new gear that was coming out. I remember Tim demo-ing one of the first Prophet-5's for me. Tim was always bringing home some new Synth to play with. At one point Tim borrowed a reel-to-reel 4-track recorder which we used to try and record a demo tape. I think that we only recorded the instrumental tracks of “Holding on to Yesterday”.
Pat Scandalis, Chuck Whitaker
and Dave Cutter looking at our
Dave Cutter adjusting the mix. Chuck and
Carrie in the background
During this time, I bought the ARP Avatar, the first commercial Guitar Synth (Analog... Pre MIDI). I really wanted to be able to play like Keith Emerson, but from a guitar. The Avatar was very expensive ($1600.00), and was very hard to play accurately, though I found ways to use it for solos... lots of reverb/echo/delay to cover tracking glitches.
I recall that we rehearsed a lot, but only played a few gigs. We played in front of Castle Music, as well as 2 gigs at Poly Royal and a performance in the Student Union Quad.Tim: We played there 'cause I was working at the Cattle Mucus... I mean Castle Music and it was the store's grand opening (about 3 months after the place actually opened).
Chuck: We did a Poly Royal gig where Lionel [...Lionel D. Lewis...] first saw us-- actually I think we played twice that year: once on the big stage in front of the Library and once in a side plaza.
Leslie: We played Poly Royal twice - once at the Archie Quad and once at the SAM Stage in front of the Business Admin./clock tower building. I think it was the same Poly Royal, just different times of the day - and I think it was at the SAM Stage that Jeff Bringle gave his review. At the Quad, we did Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" and at the end I heard some guy say, "I always like it when a chick sings that song." My aunt and uncle and grandmother were there and I remember my grandmother had one of those smiles on her face like "It's too loud and it's awful music but that's my granddaughter up there." Pat had that Alien model curled around his talk box. That always cracked me up, having that thing on stage.Tim: I also remember playing outdoors at Cal Poly twice during Poly Royal. Once out on a stage on a large open area and once in a more secluded plaza area (help me out guys and gals, I'm a little fuzzy on this). We were very tight and had never sounded better as I recall. I really think we had a problem with playing indoors and being thrown off by the reflected sounds. We ALWAYS sounded better outdoors. Especially to the people indoors...(sorry, just had to get that one in). I remember finishing with Zepelin's "Rock and Roll" and accidentally kicking the mixer when I stood up to bash a cymbal with my hands. The reverb tank in the mixer went "Wa-rrRRRRUMBLE!!!" in time with the end of the song. Sounded like we did it on purpose. The crowd ate it up.
One of Carrie's Promotional Posters
Alien, Pat and Leslie, Architecture Plaza,
Poly Royal Spring 1980
It seems like we were always struggling with whether we should continue to try and play Prog Rock, or if we should try to play more danceable cover tunes so that we could get gigs. Helix lasted the school year of 1979-1980. At the end of the year Dave Cutter graduated and moved to LA.