Mary Timony is really into raising the dead these days.
"I'm going through a personal obsession with the Zombies," she says from her home in Washington D.C., referring to the classic British psych-pop band. "They come to the Eastern seaboard all the time, so I've gone to see them literally seven times. I get in these moods where all I could do was listen to the Zombies."
Timony's enthusiasm for resurrecting a project long considered deceased is appropriate, considering she's bringing back a long-dormant act of her own—Helium, the beloved '90s act that disbanded in 1998 after two full-length LPs and almost a dozen singles. Her West Coast dates follow a brief reunion of sorts last year, where Timony performed from the breadth of the Helium catalogue to sold-out crowds backed by the Brooklyn-based trio Hospitality.
"I didn't know what to expect from the shows," Timony says. "It's so great that people were interested. There was a whole 10 years there when I was doing solo records where the shows were super under-attended and I was losing money. I didn't know if it was gonna be like that again or what. But people showed up."
The live dates are following a reissue campaign by Matador, which re-released the band's excellent full-lengths as well as the double LP Ends With And, a collection of Helium's many singles and B-sides.
Hopefully, it will introduce a new generation to the band. In the '90s, Helium's sludgy, medieval dirges turned ennui into inspiration. While Timony sang in an exhausted, perpetual sigh, her vocals were juxtaposed with the powerful, inventive momentum of drummer Shawn Devlin, who used his high hat like a dysfunctional ticker-tape machine and made certain tracks feeling like they were simultaneously racing and stumbling.
What's especially surprising about Timony's retroactive reflection is that it's timed when interest in her current project is at an all-time high. Ex Hex, the power-pop trio she in 2012 after releasing a pair of solo albums, was heralded as a high point in an already illustrious career. Their debut, Rips, was featured on many Best Of lists the year it was released. But Timony assures anyone with a shared affinity for both Ex Hex and Helium that they're not mutually exclusive musical ambitions.
"We're working on a new record right now," she says of Ex Hex. "Hopefully people will react positively. I've definitely been on both sides. I've made some records where people have definitely not reacted positively to. It's nicer when people react positively."
SEE IT: Mary Timony Plays Helium is at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Allison Crutchfield, on Monday, Feb. 19. 9 pm. Sold out. 21+.