Helen Kelter Skelter
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Helen Kelter Skelter

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Psychedelic




"Helen Kelter Skelter offers trippy textures with new album"

There is a moment when a band transitions from a group of guys from high school talking about a band to actually becoming a band.

Sometimes, the only result is annoyed neighbors, but occasionally, serendipity steps in or hard work pays off and that band becomes more than a group of friends; it becomes a single identity. The difficulty is in recognizing when or if the moment has arrived.

Oklahoma City-based Helen Kelter Skelter seems to be stepping across the demarcation point at which a group of friends making music for the sheer joy becomes a band that people talk about. It will have two release parties — one in Norman and one in Oklahoma City — to launch its new self-titled album.

Tim Gregory and Eli Wimmer talked about starting a band when they were still in high school, but after graduation, Gregory headed for the University of Central Oklahoma to major in music and Wimmer went to the University of Oklahoma to major in art. Years later, the friends recruited other friends, and the result was Helen Kelter Skelter.

The band has gained success quickly, and Gregory attributes some of that success to Tyson Meade, frontman for Chainsaw Kittens.

“Tyson has added us to his Shaking Shanghai label, and he’s really been helping sort of lift us up and get noticed,” Gregory said.

That included helping the band get booked to open for The Polyphonic Spree in Tulsa. Helen Kelter Skelter only got a short set, but it paid homage to its patron by covering a couple Chainsaw Kittens tracks.

Categorizing its music is difficult, although many people insist on calling it psychedelic rock. Gregory is comfortable with the classification, especially for the new album.

“It definitely has a more psychedelic, trippy feel than our first album,” he said.

Three of the new songs were posted to the band’s website as an EP, and they will be part of the 10-track release. In addition to the CD, the band has already released the project on vinyl in conjunction with Record Store Day. Gregory said they printed 250 vinyls, and Guestroom Records in Norman and Oklahoma City has the album already.

The EP is promising and showcases Helen Kelter Skelter’s eclectic musical tastes and inspirations, moving from wall-of-sound metal to trippy, atmospheric compositions. The songs have a family resemblance, but they clearly represent different inspirational geneses, and that makes sense given the members’ eclectic tastes.

“I grew up listening to all kinds of music,” Gregory said. “Jimi Hendrix was one of my first influences, but I also listened to Nick Drake and Philip Glass.”

That list tells a great deal about the band. A psychedelic rock icon and guitar legend, a moody singer-songwriter and one of America’s great modern composers — those three choices highlight the musical complexity, cinematic scope, rich textures and multiple layers of Helen Kelter Skelter’s sound. - Greg Horton

"Helen Kelter Skelter's debut album a well executed sneak attack"

Helen Kelter Skelter’s (HKS) first 10 track LP is self-titled and drops officially on May Day. It’s on the Shaking Shanghai label. That’s the trademark founded by Chainsaw Kittens’ front man Tyson Meade. This association between a young Norman band and seasoned rock n roll star is no surprise and wholly appropriate. Meade has been mentoring young Oklahoma musicians for decades. The name of his label is a reference to time spent recently teaching in the People’s Republic of China. HKS’ record is a full-on sonic assault designed to shake the world. The first track starts with no direct indication of that diabolic plan. It’s a sneak attack.
Track one “Lonesome Traveler” leads with a gentle acoustic guitar passage and vocals in a slight mist of electronic distortion. It sounds deceptively like singer/ songwriter folk music. That mask is soon cast off and HKS reveals themselves for who they are, a psychedelic rock n roll band. The tempo increases and asteroid flight squiggles zip through the music. HKS personnel remain unchanged from when they came together two years ago. They are lead vocalist/ guitarist Eli Wimmer, Cody Clifton on bass, drummer Nathan Harwell, Jay Jamison on keyboards and guitarist Tim Gregory.
Guest musicians include trumpeter Marcus Spitz, Miguel Correa on baritone saxophone, cellist Andy Beard, Ryan Jones on keyboards and violinist John Givens. Track 3 “Wish List” is a heavy soul hammer of a song. It echoes with the harness boot stomping intensity of Steppenwolf in their 1960s prime. “Carmelita” has a similar rock anthem attraction.
Wimmer’s vocals smooth the path for a guitar solo that slithers like an electric Blue Racer. “Is Something Wrong Here” demonstrates deftly why a psychedelic rock band should include keyboards. The composition just wouldn’t be right without them. “Helousia” has mysterious appeal. It’s a dark spiraling journey into a rhythm-heavy vortex with dripping rainwater conclusion. Naturally, guitar heroics dominate throughout the entire album. “Great Big Shining Hand” could be a shredding primer.
Likewise “You’ll Get Your Money Back” finds Gregory reaching into the freak-out stratosphere with his strings. The album winds down with its only true ballad titled “I Was There, But Now I’m Gone.” It displays HKS’s happy range from steel hammer to velvet hammer. - Doug Hill

"Helen Kelter Skelter is everything that’s cool about rock and roll"

You know, we were supposed to have the night off on Saturday. But we experienced a band so superb, we really can’t keep this secret to ourselves.

Helen Kelter Skelter is everything that’s cool about rock and roll. The band calls Norman, Oklahoma, home (a region that continues to produce impressive bands) but stopped by the Replay over the weekend.

This is an act with a timeless rock sound, the kind of classic (but hardly simple) rock that anyone can get into. Their psych-based ballads are a bit on the long side, and thank goodness for that because every second of it is precious. With an intimidating amount of pedals scattered about the floor, the guitarists produced solos that bend and beckon you to soak it all up. We were also fond of the drummer’s preciseness and the synths that translated the songs into a richer and fuller sound.

Those vocals were a doozy, saturated in reverb and completely flawless. We noticed that with a few songs, the singer whistled for just a short moment. Just once, that’s all. It’s a tease really, a unique trademark that felt like a little peck on the cheek welcoming you to the affair.

And what an affair to remember! Every song felt like a precise work of art. This is a band that would play quite well with Lawrence’s own Psychic Heat (hopefully that’s the route they’ll take the next time they’re here).

Here’s what they sounded like on Saturday:

Words and photos by Fally Afar - I Heart Local Music

"Cover story: It’s a wrap! Local musicians celebrate phenomenal year"

Helen Kelter Skelter
Rock ’n’ roll from Eli Wimmer, Cody Clifton, Nathan Harwell, Jay Jamison and Tim Gregory

How we met: Speaking of Trent, he’s repeatedly mentioned his new favorite band. This piqued my interested because Trent records a plethora of bands at his Bell Labs Recording Studio. In March, I got to hear this mystery band when I DJ’d a St. Patrick’s event at Opolis. That night, Helen Kelter Skelter was magical, with elements of everyone from Television to Nick Drake, UFO and early U2. Their audience was just as diverse. They also became part of my album release show, and then later, when Tim DeLaughter asked me to open for his band The Polyphonic Spree, I called on them to be my backing band. That night was a highlight of my 30-plus-year career. Thus, Helen Kelter Skelter had to be part of this Q&A as well. — TM

What was your funniest or most absurd moment?
We had to make a pit stop in a small town in south Oklahoma to take refuge from the relentless August heat and lack of A/C in (guitarist) Tim’s ’77 VW Bus by way of a walk-in beer cooler at a gas station. No purchases were made; strictly chillin.’

What was your most embarrassing moment?
After a show at Lola’s in Fort Worth, a couple of us struck up conversation with a middle-aged guy, interested primarily in his much-younger lady friend, conversing mainly about ourselves and the set we just played. Shortly after, we found out said guy was the singer for Toadies. Oops! We gave him an EP.

What is your favorite album or albums of 2014? You can talk about why you like them if you want.
Collectively, we’ve been diggin’ new albums from Temples, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Liars, Perfume Genius, Alt-J and Primus, to name a few. As far as local acts, Gum’s new record has been a huge hit within HKS. It delivers on so many fronts: incredible songwriting and lyrical content, impeccable quality, great tones and a ridiculous attention to detail. Great album. Great dudes. Tyson Meade’s Tomorrow in Progress has been a staple this year, too. And, of course, Broncho’s latest gem.

Did you have any time-travel moments in 2014?
Any time we travel/tour in Tim’s bus, we’re taken back to the ’70s, a time when the success rate of a seatbelt was questionable and air conditioning came via open window. - Ok Gazette Q&A

"Band Q&A: Helen Kelter Skelter"

Though in its relative infancy, Oklahoma psychedelic rock band Helen Kelter Skelter — including current members of Ivy Mike, The Great American Jug Band and Pidgin Band — has already released an album, produced a number of cinematic videos and played some high-profile shows. Guitarist and co-founder Tim Gregory talks about the band’s history and what’s on the horizon.

Q: Having not been around very long, you guys sure hit the ground running, in terms of recording and playing shows. How did you get a record out so quickly?

Tim Gregory: Eli (Wimmer, guitar and vocals) and I have wanted to put a band together since high school but hadn’t been able to because of our schedules and living in different cities/states. We had a couple of songs already written, and once we were both residents in the same city, pieced the rest of the members together and got the ball rolling.

Q: Are the songs written the “standard” way, with melody and guitar, or are they put together in a way that allows everyone a voice up front?

Gregory: While each song is approached differently, the large majority of the time, the process starts with Eli and me solidifying the general structure. Once that reaches a presentable level, we bring it to the rest of the band and mold it into something we all enjoy. The process is a nice marriage of methods and allows all parties to be involved and, ultimately, be happy with the final product.

Q: Are you concerned that the intricacies of what you guys are doing get lost in the spectacle/wall of sound/overall feel when you play live?

Gregory: It’s definitely something we think about when writing and practicing. We want everything that’s recorded to be represented in the live show, so we work hard to make sure the things we create in the studio can be reproduced live. However, we also focus on making our live sound its own entity. There’s a fine line.

Q: You’ve done two music videos for “Wishlist,” one a performance video and the other with a narrative and cast. Why two different styles?

Gregory: It’s to give our audience two contrasting visual flavors to choose from and the opportunity to voice which style they prefer. Would you rather see a video with a story or see a video of the band rocking out? We are planning two more double video releases sometime later this year. The story videos are part of a trilogy directed by Spenser Sakurai. The next set of videos will be for “Carmelita” (from a new HKS EP, due in September) and “You’ll Get Your Money Back.”

Q: What’s the creative payoff for producing these videos, for you guys as artists? What are you hoping those videos do for people who might be checking out your band?

Gregory: Videos are necessary in the social media game. Anyone can record a handful of songs and post them online, but putting the time and effort in to visualize a song helps to separate an artist from the pack. The payoff can range anywhere from giving current fans something new to consume and enjoy, to drawing in new fans who maybe turn to YouTube as a method for searching for new music.

— Becky Carman, for The Oklahoman - The Oklahoman

"Helen Kelter Skelter to Entrance Deli"

By Doug Hill

There’s another sound associated with rock band Helen Kelter Skelter besides persistent percussion, shimmering keyboards and jangling guitars. It’s the guttural engine of a 1977 Volkswagen bus they arrived in for their interview. It’s a wholly appropriate vehicle for these five 20-something men who are playing a kind of music pioneered well before they were born. Likewise the yellow and white bus was assembled when they were just gleams in their mother’s eyes. It’s a good vibrations kind of ride. Helen Kelter Skelter will be bringing their attractively modern interpretation of psychedelic rock 'n' roll to The Deli Saturday. evening. Vocalist/guitarist Eli Wimmer and guitarist Tim Gregory were representing band mates Nathan Harwell on drums, bassist Cody Clifton and keyboardist Jay Jamison talking about their sound.

First and possibly foremost, Helen Kelter Skelter is a Norman outfit. They are steeped in the musical history of this place, have listened closely to its heroes and benefited from the virtuosity here. They understand the sound and fury of those who came before them such as the Chainsaw Kittens and the Starlight Mints.

“Norman is a big pool of talent,” Wimmer said. “And this is where we grew up.”

Helen Kelter Skelter have been playing out together a little over a year now and 2014 will be their Norman Music Festival debut on the Dreamer Concepts stage. Wimmer, Gregory and Harwell were art classmates at Norman North High School and music was one of their hot topics back then. Making music together has been something they’ve wanted to do since those Timberwolves days.

Helen Kelter Skelter play heavy rock that brings to mind the Doors and Steppenwolf of the past and the Foo Fighters and White Denim of today. The quintet would pair well on a local venue bill with like-minded Horse Thief and the Feel Spectres. Helen Kelter Skelter utilize an unusual method of collaborative songwriting. Because of jobs, social demands and a small work space the personnel create in shifts.

“Eli might do some work and then I’ll come in afterwards and add to it in the time I have,” Gregory said.

The result is often songs with a rich collage effect that manage to be both lyrically poetic and musically compelling.

“They’re about disappointments and triumphs,” Wimmer said. “Some are about freaky scenes and weird things that you only see one time and want to remember it in your tune.”

Creating a mood and chronicling life events are the aim in compositions with titles including “Wish List,” “Some Tight Rope” and “You’ll Get Your Money Back.”

Helen Kelter Skelter wisely chose Norman’s Bell Labs presided over by CEO Trent Bell for mixing their first self-titled and recorded EP.

“Trent Bell is awesome,” Wimmer said. “He’s encouraging and opinionated but honest. He helped a lot by being someone who really cares about what the record will sound like at the end.”

Norman’s Ben Lindesmith of Zanzibar! Media mastered the disc and Hawaii resident Grubz aka Tyler Crook had his hand in some remixing.

“The whole concept was quite a bit of teamwork, including the cover artist Shelby Strong who lives in L.A. and is my former band mate from Robots in the Sky,” Gregory said.

Helen Kelter Skelter will be playing from their original songbook at their next performance. They don’t have a repertoire of covers but are considering reworking an obscure Fleetwood Mac tune to include in their set. Expect a psychedelic light show along with the music. The band recently filmed a couple of music videos at the Flaming Lips’ art gallery called Womb in Oklahoma City. From that experience special effects have been on their minds.

“One video is a story and the other is us playing live,” Gregory said.

Helen Kelter Skelter worked with videographer Spencer Sakurai, known for being the director of photography on The Pixies’ “Bagboy” music video.

Because of Helen Kelter Skelter’s close relationships in the Norman music scene it was no surprise to learn they consider one of its pillars their mentor.

“When it comes to writing original music it would have to be Gregg Standridge,” Wimmer said. “Gregg inspired us because he writes his own music. He taught me about chord structure, to write my own songs and is a great guy to learn from.”

Standridge is long-time Norman guitar teacher and working musician who has had a positive impact on many up and coming guitar slingers. Helen Kelter Skelter will be putting those good vibrations front and center at The Deli Saturday night.

If You Go

What: Helen Kelter Skelter in concert

Where: The Deli, 309 White St.

When: 10 p.m. March 29

Cost: $5 - The Norman Transcript

"Music review: Helen Kelter Skelter Offers Psychedelic Gem"

NORMAN — Musician: Helen Kelter Skelter

Album name: Self-titled

Why you should listen: Helen Kelter Skelter is a Norman band comprised of Eli Wimmer, Cody Clifton, Nathan Harwell, Jay Jamison and Tim Gregory. Their band’s name is a tongue twisting mash-up of the American deaf and blind political activist Hellen Keller and Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.” The band has released a new eponymous EP with three original compositions and two remixes of the first and third tracks. The disc clocks in at a fleeting 17 minutes of playing time.

It was produced by the band members, mixed by Trent Bell at Bell Labs in Norman and mastered by Ben Lindesmith. Attractive cover art is by Shelby Stong. Helen Kelter Skelter has shared little about themselves at their website or anywhere on social media. Rather than divulging what instruments they play, there are less than helpful designations next to each name such as “Mad Scientist” (Jamison) and “Technician of sorts” (Gregory). So the question arises: Should they be taken seriously? And the answer is yes because their music is good.

The physical CD copy of this album was passed on the old fashioned way of one handing it to another. When asked what Helen Kelter Skelter sounds like the one word description was “psychedelic.” That’s accurate after a fashion. The group indeed bears similarities to early bands from that genre such as Quicksilver Messenger Service and Blue Cheer. Helen Kelter Skelter also recalls fusion jazz including Weather Report and Return to Forever. The remix track of “Wish List” is even complete with zooming asteroid space sounds, a Joe Zawinul synthesizer trademark during the 1970s. The first version of “Wish List” is heavy as a pile of bricks. It’s the hallucinogenic rock of ominous vocals, insistent guitar riffs and bad-ass percussion. “Some Tight Rope” has more of a folk rock sound with meandering melody, highly discernible lyrics, measured guitar licks and twinky keys. “You’ll Get Your Money Back” reverts to intense testosterone-fueled rock ‘n’ roll. You won’t want your money back for this little psychedelic gem. - The Norman Transcript

"Sun and Stone is vibe and groove Japanese Game Show and Helen Kelter Skelter support on a prime Saturday night"

Between the synth, bass and electric guitar, Japanese Game Show drummer Eric Price wrangled the band in, maintained their signature tight grooves and exemplified their splashes of fun intended to get fans dancing. - F5


Still working on that hot first release.



A product of Norman, Oklahoma, Helen Kelter Skelter’s tonal variety is built upon a nostalgic yet contemporary take on rock and roll. While the stylistic influences of each member span the spectrum of genres, their collective sound unifies and touches a vein of psychedelic rock, offering a multifaceted sonic peppering that ranges from pull-the-rug-out gut punches to heartwarmingly-wobbly waltzes. The furor of guitar and synth tones produced in each intently crafted song is forged together by the thunderous heartbeat of the bass and drums, affording an ample soundscape for memorable melodies and poignant lyrics. As the critics have said, “Helen Kelter Skelter is everything that’s cool about rock and roll,”.

Band Members