I don’t know if I have ever talked about my own music “career” on this blog. I may have mentioned things that I have had going on or what have you, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the band that I am still technically in (because we never officially broke up). That band is known as Heavens Sake.
Back in August of 1995, I was an almost-25-year old aspiring rock star that wanted to woo the millions with my musical abilities. I was not at all happy in the position that I was in with the band I was “part of” or at least trying to make work. I had a good buddy of mine, we’ll just call him “Hair,” that I thought may bring some clout to the singing department while I would hold down my duties as bass player and backup vox.
I saw an ad in the coolest weekly entertainment rag this area ever saw, ESP Magazine (none of the current ones can touch it), that read “Ace and Peter looking for Gene and Paul.” I perked up! Gene Simmons is the reason I’m a musician and my favorite band is KISS. I could play Gene and Hair could play Paul. I called Hair and told him about it. He said to go ahead and inquire. He didn’t know how interested he was in playing rhythm guitar or the project but he’d give it a shot. So I called up the drummer, Bobby Richardson, who was the “Peter” (as in Peter Criss from KISS) in the equation and discussed his ideas, his wants, his dreams, his direction. By his I mean his and David Barker who was “Ace” (yep, Frehley from KISS). They had known each other a few years as acquaintances but nothing really major. So they agreed to meet with Hair and I at Perkins (the predecessor of IHOP on Peters Creek Pkwy) to discuss what we wanted to try to do, in person. I often wonder had Hair said he didn’t want to do it, well, if I’d had gone ahead without him; the call and that first meeting, I mean?
So they got out of the car and we got out of our car. I remember Bobby telling me later that Hair’s hair scared him upon first seeing it. It was a sight to behold, no lie; big and lush. I was always jealous. Anywhat! We went in and sat and had a powwow of plans and such. After having a bit of nourishment and water Hair and I invited the others over to the “practice place” because we had a drum set, a couple of extra guitars and amps and my stuff, along with a PA. They followed us and we agreed that we got good vibes from them.
You have to understand that Hair and I were playing in bands that were modernly heavy and I wasn’t really into a lot of that, but as I said up front, it wasn’t what I was wanting to do anyway. I say that because the drum setup was more fitting for the heavier music, cymbals that were ridiculously high and a double bass kit with a rack you wouldn’t believe. The drummer (I can’t even remember his name) was a former touring drummer that played a lot of shows like that. Again, more than I wanted to be part of. Bobby had some adjustments to make but was able to jam a bit, albeit uncomfortably. David played some guitar that was there, I don’t remember what kind. Hair played his and I played my bass.
We knew that we were all KISS fans so of course, we started doing a little jamming on what KISS tunes we thought we could pull off. Hair wasn’t as versed in playing the guitar to KISS as the rest of us were with our instruments but it was cool. It was a testing the waters event anyway. Hair and I played a bit of a heavy song he had written and then played a bit of some other stuff that we had done in a previous band together. Bobby and Dave played along but I knew they weren’t impressed and they confirmed it later. Afraid of losing them, I broke into an obscure KISS song called “Easy As It Seems” from the album Unmasked. You’d have to be a KISS fan to know anything from that album outside the hit, “Shandi.” I was told later that it was my knowledge of that song (and how to play it) that secured me in the “Bob and Dave like Tim” camp.
So, we agreed to give this quartet thing a chance. We wanted to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to be KISS without the make up but still in the outfits. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was some leather and such but these were not the elaborate costumes like KISS wore in their heyday. No, these were homemade or makeshift things as I’ll get to later. Let’s get back to the history!
We went through about a month’s worth of practice and although I was having a ball, something was just not right. Putting my finger on it, I had an idea what the problem was but didn’t know what to do about it. About a month’s worth of coming up with a few ideas that could maybe work passed. Shouldn’t a month be an indication if something’s going to work? Songs were way more intellectual in meaning than our party rock band needed. Some of the music that Dave had written was still salvageable, I guess.
Then, after that month, I received the call. Bob called me and asked me to come over, he and Dave wanted to talk to me. Oh crap! I had just gotten in with the two of them and I was going to be kicked out! I was asked to sit down and we imbibed a beer. Bob started the conversation and said that they weren’t really thrilled with this situation and wanted out. *sigh* Then, they rephrased the statement. They liked me and wanted to continue playing with me but they didn’t want to be with Hair any longer. Not that they didn’t like him; after all, he has great hair. It just wasn’t a mutual direction for all of us.
I told them I hated playing that drop-D heavy crap and wanted to do stuff that was more hard rock; like we grew up with. It was their turn to sigh, in a good way. They were afraid that Hair and I were a package deal. Nope, not at all. I wanted to play music, music I love. He wasn’t in it the same way I was, so I was okay with cutting the ties with that. We’d still be friends, sure, but not band mates. The only stipulation was I couldn’t be the one to inform him. Bob handled that. Hair took it quite well. Actually, upon talking to Hair when he and the drummer came to pick up their stuff from the “practice place,” he said he was actually quite relieved. He wasn’t happy in the situation, either, and it was easier for him to move on and do something else. Eventually, he and his then-girlfriend (now wife) moved away to a sleepy Virginian town.
So we were going to look for a replacement and move on. Find someone to play that part of “Paul” in our own little band and let’s make a move. Turns out that wasn’t as easy, or necessary as it sounded at that time. And… scene.
So already, Chapter 1 in the band annuls had been written. Chapter 2 is on its way.
So until next time, same blog channel…
“Band members have a special bond. A great band is more than just some people working together. It’s like a highly specialized army unit, or a winning sports team. A unique combination of elements that becomes stronger together than apart.” – Steven Van Zandt