By Dawn Schuett and Christina Killion Valdez

*ews@postbulletin.com

As FBI and law enforcement officials nationwide were looking Tuesday for Lucas Helder in the Midwestern pipe bomb investigation, one of Helder's Rochester bandmates was in disbelief.

"I wouldn't think it would be him," said Mike Stanton, 17, who performed with Helder for a year in a rock band called Apathy. "I just feel sorry for Luke and his family. This has got to be really hard on them."

Stanton said he's known Helder for two to three years and last saw him about a month ago when Helder came into the music store where Stanton worked and tried out guitars. The band hasn't performed for close to two years.

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He described Helder as a "nice guy," "kind of quiet" and "average."

Although reports say Helder has anti-government views, Stanton said that's not a reason to think Helder planted pipe bombs in mailboxes.

"Half the kids I go to school with have that belief," said Stanton, a Century High School student. "I don't think he's out to get the government."

Stanton said he heard Tuesday afternoon that Helder was a suspect. By then, Stanton's mom was already taking calls from national media requesting interviews with her son.

Media requests also came in for the band's CD, entitled "Sacks of People."

Stanton said Helder, once a fan of the groundbreaking grunge band Nirvana and its lead singer Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, wrote songs for Apathy. Helder also played guitar and performed lead vocals for the band, which Stanton described as a "heavy rock" group.

Helder had "an interesting style of singing," Stanton said. As the band's drummer, Stanton said he didn't really pay attention to the lyrics Helder was singing, but he doesn't think they had an anti-government message.

The band's third member was bass player Eric Hielscher, who is believed to live in Madison, Wis. He couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

The three musicians just enjoyed playing music, Stanton said. "We weren't trying to get a message across, because if we were I didn't know what the message was," Stanton said.

When a Los Angeles Times reporter told Josh Scott, a singer-songwriter for the Rochester band Dinner with Gregg, that the FBI had a suspect in the pipe bomb case, the reporter didn't immediately mention Helder's name.

"I had other people in my mind," Scott said. "Then they told me it was him all of a sudden."

Scott, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said his band performed one show with Apathy. Dinner with Gregg is also listed as the contact on the Web site for Last Minute Records, the recording studio where Apathy made its CD.

Scott said he didn't see Helder or the band as politically oriented.

"I just never thought that at all," said Scott, who once worked with Helder at a Rochester grocery store. "There are plenty of other bands in Rochester that are more political activists than Apathy was. Anti-government? I never thought of that guy that way. It does shock me."

The case didn't surprise Kevin Adams, owner of Broadway Records in Rochester.

"I think there's a lot of this going on in the world," he said.

The store sells CDs from local bands on consignment. He had several of Apathy's CDs in stock until about a month ago. They were given away because they didn't sell.

The demand for the CD and interest in Apathy spiked Tuesday, however, said Adams, who didn't know Helder.

"With it having such huge national attention, I think it will be pretty big the next few days," he said.

Jesse Bradley, 20, drummer for the Rochester-based band Cesto, said anti-government views are common in the music scene.

"I think all of us in the music scene are anti-government, but not to that extent," he said. "I don't like the government, but not to that extent."