Line Out Music & the City at Night

Friday, September 28, 2012

What Comes Naturally: Then, Now, and the Mental Toughness of Unnatural Helpers

Posted by on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Whitmore is the drunk koala helping himself to those leaves.
  • Whitmore is the drunk koala helping himself to those leaves.
In 1979, there was a leadership program started in Seattle schools called Natural Helpers—a sort of peer-counseling network for troubled youth. If you're a thirtysomething who grew up in Washington State, you might remember it (I certainly don't—my school only had D.A.R.E., the anti-drug initiative that taught teens exactly how to talk about drugs with drug dealers later in life). So the band I'd like to tell to you about, Unnatural Helpers, gets its name from that considerate program. Dean Whitmore remembers: "We couldn't just call it the Natural Helpers. It was obvious we should just go Unnatural Helpers."

While we're on the subject of Washington State peers, allow me to slow down in the KNOWN ZONE before I get issued an Inside Job ticket. I know the people who make up the current iteration of Unnatural Helpers. I lived with two of them alternately in a delightful house made entirely out of black mold, our bands have played together throughout the years, and we currently share a label. I'd say our relationship is somewhere on the "great to see you" hug spectrum but hasn't crossed into the "come over for a baptism" family dinner realm. Yet.

The Unnatural Helpers are Whitmore (drums/vocals), Andrew Sullivan (bass), Andrew Greager (guitar), and Johnnie Heinz (guitar). Their music is sturdy and tough; muscular without being gross, its muscles hidden underneath shirts; absolutely not tan or shiny. Think about aggressive fun and compact punk and garage aesthetics. Think about brash yell-singing and lyrics that wryly address problems of a social and personal nature. Now think about Seattle, 10 years ago.

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Unnatural Helpers play the Funhouse tonight.


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