by Bessie The Cow
Chapter 3: Tim Takes The Stage
You probably didn’t know that robotic bovines believe in positive affirmations. That we can attract the people and situations we need to become successful. But we can and do.
“Wish us luck. Bessie. We’re gonna go find us a drummer.”
Luck? How about wishing for a miracle of biblical proportions? I’ve heard the human axiom that “no one is irreplaceable.” Rick Parnell stood a great chance of being the exception to the rule. You may recall what Harry Shearer had told Kinn about how difficult it had been even for the deep-pocketed Tap to replace a stick man with timing and chops like Rick's.
Kinn and Silva weren’t exactly wildly optimistic about their prospects. Wishful thinking could only get them so far in a quixotic quest like this one. In the first place, it had been patently absurd that they’d stumbled upon a timekeeper of Parnell’s pedigree hanging out in the hinterlands. The Men of Milk had been extremely fortunate that His Lordship deigned to play with a couple of unknown hippie guys and a journeyman black guy, not to mention a talking cow. On the other hoof, that couple of unknown hippie guys had penned a veritable "silo of hits" that had served as a perfect foil for Parnell’s verve and panache. And a talking cow like, ahem, yours truly, who’s star shone as brightly as any quadruped's ever has—right up there with immortals like Elsie, Francis the Talking Mule and Mister Ed—didn't exactly keep the townsfolk away from our live performances.
So maybe there were some assets we could build upon.
Still, cats like Parnell, who could hear a song once, blueprint it in his mind, then lay down a perfect studio drum take the first time through—I mean Kinn told me that sometimes the session was over in like 12 minutes—well, you can count those guys on the fingers of one hand. Once you’ve experienced that, it’s a bit dispiriting to dummy down and run through an arrangement dozens of times with a mortal drummer until he's finally locked in.
While Parnell was usually penniless and he began looking more and more ghostly as his preference in mood alteration shifted from botanicals to pharmaceuticals, he still retained an aristocratic presence and had retained enough of his looks to still scream "rock star."
Replace Rick Parnell? Impossible. But replace him we did, and his anointed successor made Lord Richard’s jaw drop when he saw us in concert.
How did we do it?
Let me back up for a second and share what Kinn told me about the last time the band held open drum auditions. Things had simply got out of hand. Some aspirants aparently lugged kits with fourteen toms and a dozen cymbals in a desperate attempt to impress with quantity. Wrong. The more kit they brought, the more their insecurities shone through. It would take them hours to set up their kits. That meant that even if they sucked, which was a good bet, they had to be humoured much longer than desired because Kinn and Silva felt guilty about making them tear down these colossal kits minutes after they'd laboriously set them up.
Having had quite enough of that, this time around the milk nucleus planned to do a little reconnaissance work in clubs and theatres along Colorado’s front range. Inotherwords, they’d be scouting other bands’ drummers. Fair enough.
Kinn and Silva started the night off in Boulder, frequenting the “new wave” haunts that had sprung up like fungi in basement beer stubes. Finding no talent to their liking there, they sped off to Denver for the big city version of the same lowlife lounges. Nothing too tempting there either. The night was getting on, and the milkers had already exhausted all the hip spots of Denver-Boulder. On a lark, they decided to frequent a decidedly unhip spot.
Mister Lucky’s was an unhip spot because it featured a steady diet of copycat hair-bands. The band name on the marquee proudly proclaimed as much: Z-ROXX, it read. What Mister Lucky’s lacked in hipness, it made up for it in another area Kinn and Silva appreciated: an abundance of hormones radiated throughout the club. The studs and nubiles frequenting Mister Lucky’s couldn’t care less whether or not the stars of the night had written the songs on their setlists. What the clientele came for was fantasy. Sexual fantasy. Mister Lucky’s had that in spades.
While the spandex-clad pretty-boy rockers weren’t really world-class rock bands like the ones they imitated—Foreigner, Loverboy, ACDC—when commanding Mister Lucky’s sprawling stage replete with massive lighting rig and monstrous sound system, the general impression came pretty close. The similarly spandex-clad ultra-foxy worshippettes weren’t really big-time groupies like their sisters servicing big-time hair bands in the dressing rooms of arenas and stadiums across the continent, but that didn’t stop them from sporting the same skintight slutwear, making up like them, and excelling at the same naughty favors they did.
But even the most hormone-crazed rock units couldn’t make off with more than a dozen of the groupie wannabes a night. That left the rest of the spandex sluts literally up for grabs. The equally hormone-charged working men of Denver determined and engaging enough to make off with them did so.
This was a younger, dumber assortment of femalia than the typical Boulder JuBu intelligentsia "bims" that Kinn and Silva hung with. And this set clearly enjoyed being thought of and taken as sex objects. Kinn admitted that on some strange level it was pretty exciting to be there.
Boiling the pheromone bouillabaisse for the aptly named Z-Roxx was an 18-year-old, six foot two blonde drummer transcending his setlist of copy tunes with moves that may not have been seen before or after (or ever again, since these days Tim seems to be “beyond” drum kits). He was playing “Working For the Weekend,” Loverboy’s tribute to the working stiffs who bought their singles and albums. Kinn and Silva couldn’t take their eyes off him.
What was he doing? He was twirling his sticks with either hand or both hands simultaneously. Clearly, he could keep this up as long as he felt like it. He was also tossing his sticks to the rafters and catching them on the snare beat. This didn’t seem to challenge him in any appreciable way. He was hammering his crash cymbal from underneath, in a patented move that took your breath away. He was banging his own head with a stick if a part of the song happened tio be about human angst. All the while he was shaking his head from side to center on the two and the four of each measure. This looked nothing like a spastic tic; it was graceful and natural. He could and did do it all night.
Then he was playing Mister Mister’s “Hunters of the Night,” improving upon the drum machine that had been used on the recording. Here was a guy that was an excellent drummer, with a great sounding kit that he was deep into, that you couldn’t take your eyes off. Here was The Next Milkman Drummer. There only remained the small matter of breaking the news to him.
The set ended. The platinum god left the stage and was immediately engulfed by a ring of goddesses that could have easily lingered at the Playboy mansion instead of working at the insurance companies, family restaurants, and nail salons where they were actually employed. Kinn told me there was nary a one of them that he wouldn’t have "licked his way to the Kansas border" for. He went on to add that he would have gladly licked his way 800 miles to the Mississippi river for the lot of The Next Milkman Drummer's “fans.” I must confess to taking a certain voyeuristic pleasure in hearing Kinn confess his many lusts. I always pressed him for the gory details, which he sometimes provided.
Somehow or other, Kinn pressed his way through the god’s entourage, and introduced himself. The god’s name was Tim Pantea. As luck would have it, not only had Young Tim heard of The Milkmen, he’d heard “Lolita” and loved it. He gave Kinn his phone number.
What kind of coup was this? Imagine being horny, going to the Miss Universe pageant, and going home with the winner. That’s the kind of coup this was.
All business, Kinn called around noon the next day. Tim still lived with his parents. He agreed to come to Boulder the next day to discuss possiblities.
Tim showed up about an hour late, in a rusting, sputtering 1974 Pinto. We learned that the teen god possessed a high school diploma from Wheat Ridge High. Prior to dazzling Mr. Lucky’s with Z-Roxx, he’d cut his teeth with Johnny Quest, and its predecessor, Norwich. The meeting went amicably. It was arranged that later that week he’d bring his drums and take a crack at the open position.
On time and ready to play, Tim was very particular with the way he set up his toms and cymbals—they couldn’t possibly obscure any part of him from the chest up from any angle, lest they block the audience’s uninterrupted view of him twirling his sticks, hurling his sticks, banging his head, or subtly forming his features into highly theatrical facial expressions.
He sounded good immediately. You did have to drill the changes with him, which we weren’t used to. But the effort was worth it, because once he knew the changes, the schtick followed very quickly. Seeing him act out our songs was every bit as luxurious as we imagined it might be. Having played in the top copy band in a top copy scene, it was no problem for him to reproduce the Parnell parts. He had them pretty much memorized from the cassettes we’d given him. When we tried newer material, he approached it a little more straightforwardly than Rick, with all his jazz training, would have done, but Tim still exhibited loads of confidence, power, timing, and attitude. Over time, we saw that the more he listened to tapes of Rick, the more he was able to incorporate Rick-like classy little embellishments of his own devising into his performances.
In short, he passed the audition. To close the deal, we had to promise to provide him with an 6-foot-high drum riser, so that foreign objects like guitarists and bassists didn’t interfere with the all-important sight lines. Kinn felt Kinn-ship with Tim’s display of compulsion. Tim liked the fact that The Milkmen fussed over him and seemed classier and more ambitious than the musicians he was used to being around. Everything was copasetic except for one little detail.
The image-conscious Tim didn’t share Kinn and Silva’s appreciation for Chocolate Milk. Chocolate Milk was an older, none-too slim black person that didn’t fit into Tim’s concept of the ideal milk-unit. That was sad, cause Kinn is on record as saying his all-time favorite live lineup included the Young Tim/C-Milk rhythm section. Kinn and Silva were big fans because in their minds C-Milk was a living, breathing, sweating, connection to The Power of Soul and The Roots of the Blues. When The Milkmen wanted to break out of the British Rock thing and venture into Hendrixy power soul — which is exactly what they did during my ritual milking—C-Milk was the boss-man driving the band. Kinn liked the contrast between the black and the blonde, the old and the young, the soulful and the image-conscious. He thought it aided and abetted an overall sense of dramatic tension.
Young Tim, a decade younger than Kinn and Silva, who were in great shape, and two decades younger than C-Milk who wasn’t, visualized another pretty boy in his own mold manning the bass position. Kinn and Silva stopped short of promising to replace C-Milk. C-Milk would exit naturally enough once travel beyond the immediate region become a reality. He was burdened with a wife and five kids and had a day gig to boot. They explained that to Tim, who understood. The tandem got along reasonably well for the dozen or so gigs they were paired.
After our banishment from the Blue Note, we needed a new venue to call home. At least we were ready with a complete lineup if and when one happened to spring up. Venueless and drummerless, the same doubters we’d won over with Rick’s help now saw a splendid opportunity to count us out. Surely we’d be vulnerable with whatever typical run-of-the-mill scumbag we’d scrounged up to bash wood on hide. Who’d want to hire us now?
And when these doubters found out where we were resurfacing and who we’d be resurfacing with, they really began licking their chops: we would be supporting Missing Persons, a definite national "hot act," at the 2,000 seat Boulder Theater. What a splendid opportunity for us to fall on our faces in front of the whole town and every industry-type around! Missing Persons just happened to be led by none other than Terry Bozzio, the dynamo who reigned as the Musician magazine Rock Drummer of the Year.
You probably didn’t know that robotic bovines believe in positive affirmations. That we can attract the people and situations we need to become successful. But we do.
Chapter 1: Dashing Dairymen
Chapter 2: Rick Plays The Snare Drum With His Head
Chapter 3: Tim Takes The Stage
Chapter 4: Meet Mr. Watts
Chapter 5: We Open For Missing Persons
Chapter 6: Conquering Colorado
Chapter 7: Ric Sees His Successor
Chapter 8: Westward Ho!
Chapter 9: A Cow Writer Co-Writer
Chapter 10: Welcome To LA
Chapter 11: Madame Wong's or How Quickly They Forget