by bongo and smokey

Frequently Asked Questions

the four goners

Q: Which one 's Helen?
A: She's gone.

Q: Is it true that Geri "Ginger" Halliwell left the Spice Girls to join Helen Gone?
A: Yes, that was her plan, but she failed the audition because she couldn't remember the name of the android in Red Dwarf. That's our story. Her story is that she was insulted by us referring to her as "Old" Spice.

Q: Is that upright bass an antique?
A: You mean compared to the guy playing it?

Q: How much is a bass like that worth?
A: That depends on how many times you drop it and have to repair the neck. We don't call him Gravity Man for nothing.

Q: Why is that guy called "Bongo”?
A: Next question, Einstein.

Q: Where are you guys from?
A: Vancouver, Canada originally but now based in Kelowna.

Q: How long have you been playing together?
A: You mean music?

Q: How come there 's a moose on the cover of your CD?
A: It was his idea, and who wants to get a moose mad?

Q: Who is the mysterious 5th goner?
A: Smokey Senechal, our digital sound guru!

Q: What songs are on your Real, Real Gone CD?
A: Dinosaurs - a whimsical rant about the current state of radio
This Old House - a true story
People in Moose Jaw - this song, of course, is about Winnipeg
Making Ends Meet - young, in love, and broke
Inner Adolescent - setting the self-help movement back a step
Hush - you don't have to like the truth, you just have to live with it
R U OK? - suicide sucks
To the Moon - we won a song contest with this tune
It's Crazy - go home
I am a Book - you can read whatever you want into this
Twilight Zone - shameless plea for commercial endorsement
Walk Out to the Edge - and back again

Q: Where can I buy your CD?
A: It's out of print and we don't have any more. Try eBay? If you would like us to make you a personal copy with a generic CD case, no booklet, and labeled with a Sharpy pen, we can do that. We accept PayPal. Email and we can work it out.

Q: Where did you get the name Helen Gone, anyway?
A: Here's the official unofficial story:

It was a cold winter's night. A million stars shone like radiant diamonds on a black velvet sky. Karl was driving alone, over the high mountain passes to the BC coast. The car radio was on, the signal drifting in and out in an hypnotic fashion. Either that, or he was just having a hard time staying awake. The car heater was blowing steadily in a valiant effort to keep the freezing exterior air at bay. Now and then an 18-wheeler would flash by, a thunderous spectacle of noise and lights, heading for the Interior. The truck's tail lights would fade away in Karl's rearview mirror and he'd be alone again, with the humming of his tires and the droning of the radio for company. "God", he thought, "what I wouldn't give for a cappucino right about now.”.

As he reached the mountain's summit, he noticed an unusually bright star. It shimmered, moving erratically from side to side. Then Karl realized he'd hit a patch of black ice and was in fact himself travelling erratically from side to side. He slowed down, a tactic he'd heard was widely practiced in some parts of the world. When he had straightened out again, he noticed the bright star was expanding even as he watched.

Suddenly the car started to buck like a mule, the lights on the dash were all blinking alarmingly, and the radio started playing some strange wonderful music he'd never heard before. Before he could think what to do, the car's engine quit, everything went dead, and Karl had to steer his car over to the shoulder of the road. He tried to start the car, but it refused to acknowledge his efforts. "Sounds like a dead battery” he thought. He didn't know what that meant precisely, but someone had said it to him one time in a similar situation, and being a songwriter and all, he was in the habit of stuffing little tidbits like that into the corners of his mind. He sat there for some time wondering what to do. He supposed there wouldn't be any cellular phone service way out there on the highway, so calling BCAA was out of the question. Besides, he didn't have a cellular phone (and it's because of this kind of sharp reasoning that so many musicians need managers).

There was no point in looking under the hood. He only did this around qualified mechanics, so that when they were pointing to things and explaining why it was going to cost twice as much as they had estimated to fix his car he could nod knowingly and say "Ah yes, I see what you mean.” and then give them the go ahead to proceed. It was damned expensive pretending to know things when he didn't, but pride had its price, after all.

Karl climbed out of the car and stood on the edge of the road. The night was still, without a sound. The beam of light advanced steadily up the road in his direction. He stood there, straining to hear a sound or make out a shape. The light reached him and then stopped its progression. Now he could just make out a shape above the light. About 50 meters up in the air Karl saw something that looked like an upside down ice cream cone, except without any ice cream and it wasn't a hollow cone and it was a different colour but otherwise much like an ice cream cone, a big ice cream cone. It was slowly descending to the road. Karl worked his way to the other side of his car, to put it between himself and the cone that had now touched down right in the middle of the road. It had a band of blue light pulsing all the way around its round base. From the base, which almost covered the entire two lanes from shoulder to shoulder, it rose to a pointy peak about 10 meters into the air. Karl was beginning to wish he'd used the washroom at the last rest stop.

Just then there was the slightest buzzing sound and a large section of the cone disappeared, revealing an eerie green light and swirling mist in the cone's interior. It looked like someone had been trying to shoot a Spinal Tap video but had given up. Three things stepped out of the cone and onto the road. They were short, with large heads shaped like the cone they had stepped out of. They each had two big eyes, like children in a velvet painting, tiny mouths and noses, and humungous ears. One of them was pink from head to toe, another was pale blue,and the third was black and white like a cow. Their fingers were very long, but they had no thumbs.

Karl suddenly realized his situation. "Hey”, he said, "do you guys know anything about cars?” The three beings looked at each other and appeared to speak, although Karl couldn't hear anything. They shuffled forward and laid their hands on the car's side windows. "OK, well never mind”, said Karl. "Those are great costumes you guys have on. Where'd you get them? And what's that thing you're flying in? This is a joke, right? Can you guys help me or not?”

The three beings did not reply. Instead they huddled together, leaning in ‘til their heads touched. Once they had their play worked out they stood up, clapped their hands once, and then rushed around the front of the car and grabbed Karl before he realized what had happened. They picked him up off the ground and carried him over their heads, as if he were a canoe. They were sure strong for their size. They carried Karl into the cone. The door slid shut behind them. They set Karl down gently. He got to his feet and looked down on them. "What is this? Who the hell do you people think you are? Or what the hell do you people think you are?”

Karl looked around but couldn't see much except green mist swirling like smoke in a night club. He felt the slightest sensation of movement, as if he were in a slow elevator going up. The three beings stood in front of him, holding hands, and staring. Karl stared back. They continued staring at each other for a long time, until all three of the beings abruptly let go of each other's hands, turned around, and then rejoined hands. A doorway opened before them and they stepped out. Karl followed, and stepped out of the green light into a dimly lit space.

Two enormous corridors curved away to the left and right. There were red lights set in the walls at equal distances but they only threw their light a little way. It looked like he'd stepped right into a set for Doom. The three beings set off down the hall to the left, holding hands and skipping. He decided to follow them.

He walked slowly and cautiously at first, but after an uneventful while he picked up his pace. There was no sign now of the three beings who had brought him here, or of a men's room. He looked at his watch but it was no longer working. It was frozen at the same time that his car had broken down. "God” he thought to himself, "what I wouldn't give for a latte right about now.”.

He followed that hallway until finally the light began to change. There was a yellow light that got brighter and brighter as he advanced. He arrived at last in a large room, the size of a cathedral. It was brightly lit, but he couldn't say how. The room was full of little beings of every colour imaginable. They were dancing and swaying to that wonderful music he'd heard briefly before his car had quit. The melodies were new but yet familiar. The harmonies were sweet and pure and the rhythms got his toes tapping without his even realizing it. He knew right then and there that this was his kind of music, the sound he'd been looking for.

There were tables down each side of the room, laden with what appeared to be food. It all looked like wobbly jelly. It looked like a regular big party, in an alien kind of way. Karl observed the room for a while from the mouth of the great curved hallway. Every now and then he noticed a being slipping out through a couple of doorways at the far end of the room. Each of the two doors had different symbols on them. Playing his hunch Karl worked his way across the room. No one seemed to be paying any attention to him. He made his way to the doors. "Door number one, or door number two?”, he thought. He followed a somewhat bloated looking alien through door number one. Sure enough, there were sinks and cubicles and mirrors, and the familiar sound of running water. A short time later, Karl emerged back into the main room, much relieved.

He was scanning the room, looking at all the little beings dancing, Elvis eating wobbly jelly at one side of the room, the beings looking down from a gallery over the hallway he'd come in through, the....... Elvis???!!!??? Yes, there he was towering over the little beings. The music had changed to something slow and vaguely melancholy. Karl hurried across the room, stepping on a few toes as he pushed his way through the crowd to where Elvis was wiping his chin with a rhinestone-encrusted cuff.

"Excuse me”, Karl said, "but are you Elvis Presley?” "Yes sir, that's me” replied the king. "What are you doing here?” "Hey man, this here's alien abduction central. These cats are checking us out, man. It's driving me nuts. I been here all day, and there ain't a TV in the whole joint.” "All day? But you've been, um, gone, for years!” "What do you mean?” "I mean this is 1997!” "Whoa, hold it right there. What are you saying? These guys just scooped me out of Graceland this morning.” "Well actually, um, everybody thinks you're dead. They make pilgrimages to your grave site and everything.” Elvis paled. "Man, I don't know what's creeping me out the most, you or this music. Hey DJ”, he yelled up at the gallery, "hold it right there. This don't move me, man. Play something real, real gone for a change.” Immediately the air was filled with a slapping rhythm. A shaft of light came down on Elvis and followed him as he moved to the center of the great room. The bass kicked in, and Elvis began to twitch.. Then a twangy guitar came in and Elvis began to sing. When he was done. he stood in the limelight holding a karate pose. The room erupted into thunderous applause. Elvis bowed, threw kisses around the room, saying "Thank you, thank you very much. You've been a wonderful bunch of aliens. you really have.”, and walked back to where Karl stood.

"Man they love me here”, said Elvis. "Yeah, well, um listen, Mr. Presley, sir. I think we need a plan, or we're never gonna get home again.” "You may be right, man. See, one time I was in this jam, in one of my movies you understand, and see there was these three bad guys, and what I did was...” But Elvis was interrupted by a huge explosion that shook the entire room. The lights flickered on and off , and aliens were making high-pitched squealing sounds, like frightened gerbils. The floor slanted crazily and everyone and everything started sliding down to one end. As Karl slipped on food that was now all over the floor he realized he hadn't even had a chance yet to see if anyone there knew where a guy could get a big non-fat no-whip mocha in a place like this.

Karl was now pressed against one wall, and he noticed a small window down around waist level. Stooping down, he braced himself and peered out. They were headed directly for a large sun. "We're gonna crash!” he yelled above the squealing. The sun loomed larger and larger. Karl could feel the temperature rising through the wall. It looked like curtains for Karl, Elvis, and the aliens, when suddenly....

Anyway, we just thought Helen Gone was a fun name.

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