Chris Helme

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Chris Helme
Chris Helme performing at the Galtres Parklands Festival in August 2014
Chris Helme performing at the Galtres Parklands Festival in August 2014
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Alan Helme
Born (1971-07-22) 22 July 1971 (age 50)
Howden, Yorkshire, England
OriginOsbaldwick, York, England
GenresFolk, alternative rock, Britpop
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1990–present

Christopher "Chris" Alan Helme (born 22 July 1971 in Howden, Yorkshire) is an English singer-songwriter, formerly the frontman of John Squire's post-Stone Roses band The Seahorses.


Early days (1990–1996)[edit]

Helme began singing and performing at the age of 19, and began playing in pubs and folk clubs in his native York with his first band Daisy Space/Genuine Moon Material[1] before forming folk-jazz band Chutzpah in 1993.[2] The band regularly gigged at the White Swan Pub and Fibbers, where Helme worked behind the bar.[3] In 1995 the band busked across rural France[4] before splitting up (the band went on to reform in 2007 for a one-off gig at The White Swan).

The Seahorses (1996–1999)[edit]

A friend of John Squire's long-time guitar technician Martin Herbet discovered Helme busking outside Woolworths department store in York's Coney Street.[5] Impressed by Helme's version of The Rolling Stones song, "No Expectations", he requested a demo tape and passed it on to Squire. Squire went to see Helme perform at Fibbers on 26 May and 16 June 1996.[6] Another gig was then arranged at the Roadhouse venue in Manchester, where Squire invited Helme to join his new band, for which he had already recruited bassist Stuart Fletcher.[7]

Geffen Records, to whom Squire was still under contract following his departure from The Stone Roses, signed the band. The Seahorses released their debut album Do It Yourself in 1997. The album was produced by Tony Visconti and spawned three hit singles. "Love is the Law" reached no. 2 in the UK Singles Chart; "Blinded by the Sun" got to no. 7 and "Love Me and Leave Me" at no. 15. The stand-alone single "You Can Talk to Me", co-written by Squire and Helme peaked at no. 15.

In January 1999, after two years of intensive touring, including support slots to The Rolling Stones, U2 and Oasis, a press release sent to the NME announced the split of the Seahorses "due to John Squire's and lead singer Chris Helme's irreconcilable differences over the musical direction the band should take".[8]

Both Helme and Squire later gave conflicting reasons for the split. Helme claimed that "there was a personality clash during rehearsals. When he (Squire) came up with new stuff I didn't like his lyrics or tunes. I could have gone with it and made quite a lot of money, but I wasn't interested."[9] Squire later commented on his reasons for ending the band that "I thought, 'This sounds shit, we don't deserve to be in this place.' The band sounded complacent. I don't suppose it was anyone's fault. Maybe it got far too much attention for very little effort in the early stages, because of what I'd done in the past."[10]

Solo and The Yards (1999–2009)[edit]

Following The Seahorses' early demise, Helme undertook a short solo tour across England which culminated with a gig at the Improv Theatre in London. Backed by a newly formed band featuring members of York band, 'The Lo Beams', Fraser Smith of Shed Seven and fellow ex-Seahorse, Stuart Fletcher[11] performing material written whilst in The Seahorses. The gigs were confirmed just 11 days following the official announcement of the Seahorses' split.[8][12]

Following these initial gigs, which the NME described as "fairly unambitious rock music",[13] Helme abandoned the band format and returned to his native York where he performed sporadic low-key solo acoustic shows. In 2000 Helme started working with session guitarist James Nisbet and began playing showcase gigs in London backed by a revolving cast of session musicians, which at one point featured drummer Toby Drummond, who temporarily replaced Andy Watts in The Seahorses. With a full band, Helme headlined his biggest gig to date as a solo artist, at the Theatre Royal in York in May 2000.[9]

In 2001 a permanent backing band was assembled with Nisbet, drummer John Miller and Stuart Fletcher back on bass. With new management and PR, an official website was launched and a 3 track demo CD was serviced to the media.[14] With the new band, Helme performed numerous London showcase gigs at Ritz and undertook a short UK tour in November of that year.

Helme then went on to form The Yards from the ashes of his solo backing band. Initially named Super Zero,[15] the band originally featured former Shed Seven guitarist Paul Banks who left before the release of their debut EP The Devil Is Alive and Well in D.C. in April 2003. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2005[16] and second album Imperial Measures in 2009 via their own label Industrial Erotica. The band split in November 2009 with members pursuing their own projects.

Solo (2009 – present)[edit]

Helme set up an independent record label, promo company and booking agency "Little Num Num Music" with fellow York musician Andy Gaines. It was on this label that Helme released his debut solo album, Ashes, in May 2008. He toured the UK extensively to coincide with the release and followed up with a single, Pleased, in 2010[17] which was taken from his second album. In August 2012 Helme released second album The Rookery to positive reviews.[18][19][20] Recorded in 11 days the album was produced by Chris Helme with Sam Forrest (of Nine Black Alps). Helme continues to tour as a solo artist[21] and with a full band and a third album is slated for release in 2015.[22] On 26 May 2022, Chris played an acoustic solo performance of Do It Yourself in its entirety at Bridlington Spa in East Yorkshire. The gig was played 25 years to the day since the original album release date of 26 May 1997.


  1. ^ "Cultural Foundation - an interview with Chris Helme". Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Preview: Chutzpah!, The White Swan". The York Press. 16 March 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  3. ^ "IARY". Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  4. ^ Middles, M. (1999). Breaking into Heaven: The Rise and Fall of the Stone Roses. Omnibus. ISBN 9780711975460. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  5. ^ Middles, Mick (1999). ISBN 9780711975460. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  6. ^ Middles, Mick (1999). The Gloria Estefan Collection: Piano/Vocal/Chords – Gloria Estefan – Google Books. ISBN 9780711975460. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  7. ^ Middles, Mick (1999). The Gloria Estefan Collection: Piano/Vocal/Chords – Gloria Estefan – Google Books. ISBN 9780711975460. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Seahorses Washed Up". Nme. Com. 23 January 1999. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Helme Doesn'T Spare The 'Horses!". Nme. Com. 18 May 2000. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  10. ^ "JSU – John Squire Unofficial". John Squire. 10 August 2002. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  11. ^ "To Helme And Back". Nme. Com. 24 February 1999. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Seahorse Resurfaces". Nme. Com. 3 February 1999. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  13. ^ "". Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  14. ^ Paul Stevens. "THE DEFINITIVE YARDS DISCOGRAPHY by Paul Stevens. The complete guide to Stone Roses records". Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  15. ^ Dave Butterfield. "Chris Helme – Joseph's Well – Live Gig Review 2002". Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  16. ^ "The Yards Album Review". Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Chris Helme – Pleased". 29 January 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Chris Helme – The Rookery – album review". 27 August 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Review, Chris Helme, The Rookery". Don't Panic. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  20. ^ James Horrigan (17 September 2012). "Chris Helme | The Rookery | CD Review". Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  21. ^ Lay, Sarah. "Chris Helme: Derby – live review". Louder Than War. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  22. ^ Cowell, Steve. "Chris Helme interview: 'I wasn't good at being a rock 'n' roll star'". YorkMix. Infinite Mix Ltd. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015. Chris is putting the finishing touches to his third album, which he has been working on for more than a year

External links[edit]