Helium was an American alternative rock band formed during the summer of 1992. Under the original moniker of "Chupa," the band's founding members were Mary Lou Lord; Jason Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield's brother; Shawn King Devlin; and Brian Dunton. Devlin and Dunton were both also in the band Dumptruck before founding Helium.
Mary Timony, formerly of the band Autoclave, replaced Mary Lou Lord on vocals and guitar shortly after formation, as Lord was reluctant to use electric instrumentation. Following Lord's departure, the remaining members changed the band's name to Helium.
As Helium's second frontperson, Timony incorporated a Lolita-esque image with the band, with short schoolgirl skirts, an accompanying hairstyle, and naughty lyrics. Timony was also known for her husky, vibrato-less and monotone singing style. The band's record label, Matador Records, likened Timony's vocals to Kim Wilde and Debbie Harry.
Their first release was a 7" single entitled "The American Jean" (1993), which was followed by the 7" "Hole in the Ground". They released their first EP, Pirate Prude, in 1994. Shortly after the release of Pirate Prude, Dunton left the band and Polvo guitarist Ash Bowie, boyfriend of Timony at the time, joined on bass. In 1995, they released their first full-length release, The Dirt of Luck, and played the second stage of Lollapalooza. Adam Lasus produced and engineered The Dirt of Luck, Pirate Prude, and all of Helium's singles up to 1995.
In 1997, the group released the EP No Guitars before releasing their second album, The Magic City. They toured the United States in early 1998 but disbanded shortly thereafter.