MOSES TO MILK TO PAGANS
I was prompted to share this after I was interviewed by Cool Cleveland in their History of Punk segment. They wanted to talk to me because of my connection of theatrical and avant garde Moses and Milk Bands that I played in with Brian Sands, and therefore what possible connection it had to the Pagans (Punk Band that I was also in). Most of this article is taken from my memoir Welcome to My World which s available on Amazon, Kindle and Fireside books in Chagrin Falls.
I was in the Lost Souls from 1965-1968 and the Choir from 1968-1969.
The Choir never achieved all we could have because the band broke up but in the end it worked out well for me. I had been out of the Choir for about three days, feeling lousy because music was pretty much my life, when Brian Sands asked me if I wanted to join a band which was to become Moses.
The original members were Jay Bryk on piano, Chris Kamburoff on guitar, Denny Carleton on bass, Dave Alexy on drums and Brian Sands on guitar.We played together for about three months.
Randy Klawon, who had been in the Choir previously, then left the Choir to join Eric Carmen, was attending high school with Brian and persuaded Brian to join him in a band hoping that Dave and I would follow. We did and formed a new Moses with Brian Sands, Randy Klawon, Dave Alexy, and me.
Moses, like Alice Cooper, was a theatrical rock band except that Moses used positive images. Moses played mostly originals and covers arranged our own way. We bought much of our clothing from costume shops, and used props such as masks and a mannequin. We did so many creative things.
On one occasion, the audience waited before a darkened stage as a government-issued nuclear warning and fallout tape was played. Then the lights flashed on and there was Brian Sands wearing monstrous hands, singing Great Balls-O-Fire. While performing We All Shine On (Instant Karma) a mirror was shown to each member of the audience, as well as a giant Sunkist sign. While performing Cold Turkey, Randy Klawon and I put on masks to symbolize the drugs in the song. Anti-drug songs such as this were not too common in 1969. On Brian’s original, Shock Treatment, Brian wore an Albert Einstein mask while playing an electronic solo on hisTheremin.
I believe this was the beginning of my community involvement. We organized a chartered bus tour to Pennsylvania for our Moses' fans, styled after the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. We also recruited the Eastlake North High School Choir to accompany us. The audience kept time with rhythm sticks and percussion instruments that we passed out to them before the show. Moses distributed music programs so fans would be able to follow our show and read or sing some of the lyrics of our songs.
Moses divided its time playing between Northeastern Ohio and Pennsylvania. We were managed in Cleveland originally by Otto Neuber, who ran a club in Mentor, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) called Hullabaloo. After that we were handled by promoters and managers out of Pittsburgh.
Left to right – Brian Sands, Randy Klawon, Dave Alexy, Denny Carleton
When we played Pittsburgh, we scheduled two, one-half hour shows on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. We were able to stay for free with either college students or our manager. We were compensated enough to put $150 in our pockets, after expenses – not too bad.
Our band was quite a combination of characters as we traveled in a van with our roadies and Dave “99”. All of us had hair down to our shoulders and wore frilly outfits and big boots. One fellow in the band was a vegetarian and would not eat anything out of can. He ate baby food because he thought that would take care of his digestive system. Our
drummer, Dave, rode motorcycles and liked to fight. I did quite a lot of reading about life; books such as Eric Fromm’s, The Art of Loving; The Little Prince; or Kurt Vonnegut’s books. I would absorb these books and try to tune out everything else.
One of our roadies Ric, had the customary hair of our time which was all the way down his back with a goatee and worked in a factory while the otherroady, Dave, a Vietnam veteran, looked like the lion from the Wizard of Oz. Dave “99” was sort of a John the Baptist-type with long hair and sideburns,was blunt, direct, and would tell you to repent if he thought you should. Dave was a fisherman, down to earth and ate sardines out of a can. We were all bachelors, except for Randy who was engaged to Debbie. He held hands with his fiancé and talked sweetly to her as he lived among this eclectic and unconventional combination of people.
One time, a booking agent who knew our manager, arranged a limo ride to and from our gigs. We would do two shows in two sides of town and then get a hotel room or find somewhere else to crash before driving home the next morning. Well, the booking agent/limo driver, who seemed to me to have some sort of underworld connection, went to the party with us. He loved the band and would say over and over again “Hey, you guys are great.” The lead singer was into Salvador Dali and was theatrical, the drummer was like Keith Moon and the wild, guitar-like Jimmy Page, and the bass player looked like a broad, who was me. I would bristle and patiently correct this guy, pointing out that I wrote most of the band's material; he came back with "Not that it’s bad that you look like a broad, but you look like a broad.” This went on all night.
Moses opened for such acts as Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. When we opened for Iggy, we enlisted a forty-piece high school choir, complete with choir robes, to open with one of our original songs. I wore these really oversized shoes and fell off the stage; at least a five or six foot drop – maybe more – right onto my chest. It was pretty embarrassing when I fell and was trying to catch my breath in the presence of so many young girls. I walked into the back room and there was Iggy Pop. I immediately, gasping for breath, said something to him about his band. Iggy Pop was smoking a cigarette. He said, “This boy is very well informed,” and then took anotherpuff.
It wasn’t much longer after that we played with Alice Cooper. He had a small portable vacuum cleaner, a pillow and a rubber chicken. He strangled the chicken while the vacuum was running and ripped open the pillow so it appeared the chicken’s feathers were flying all over the place.
When Alice Cooper came off stage, I said, “Wow, that was quite a stage act.” Alice replied “I am trying to take people to that place (their subconscious) where they don’t exactly know the feeling they are having. I want to really reach their hearts; go beyond logic and get a true read of their emotions.” This is the same guy who just took a vacuum cleaner to apillow.
Alice cooper was paraphrasing “in his way” what much of Modern art is all about. Some modern art scoffs at our logic. Modern art isn’t Christian, but the concept of our logic being insufficient is actually biblical in that way. God proclaims he will destroy the wisdom of the wise and will use the foolishness of the message of the Cross (1st Corinthians 1:18) to destroy what Man thinks is so important because people can’t know God through their own logic.
Quite a bit of Dada art and Surrealistic art came out of the horror that artists were feeling after World War I. The art which made no sense logically was rebelling against Man’s “so called” wisdom that had created the FirstWorld War.
I then saw Alice Cooper in the movie, Wayne’s World, and when Wayne or Garth says “Wow, you’re playing Milwaukee tomorrow,” Alice says “It’s not actually Milwaukee; its Milwaukee (accented) which is the Native American pronunciation.” That scene summed up what Alice was like when I met him. In your mind, you picture that you are going to meet a madman when you meet Alice Cooper, but he is an intellectual who cares about the correct pronunciation of words, getting past logic and into the inner fabrics of the heart.
We also opened for The Hello People, MC5, Ted Nugent, and others. We also recorded an album in Cincinnati that was never released. Moses peaked when we toured. We went from Cleveland to Buffalo, to Pittsburgh, to Erie and ended up in Cincinnati. While this was not a huge tour, I was able to internalize the feeling of what touring was all about and I didn’t really likeit.
We recorded an album and I wrote one of the songs, You Cut me into Ribbons. This song was written after listening to Humble Pie. A former friend had been criticizing me, and writing this song was how I expressed my anger and frustration -- a result of that moment in time. I remember a musicproducer telling me I would never make it because of the negative lyrics in You Cut me into Ribbons. I decided to ignore him and not change my lyrics. My instinct to ignore him would be validated years later after listening to Taylor Swift’s, Mean and song lyrics written by Kurt Cobain confirming what I already
knew – that the hipsters from the music business who think of themselves as the lyric police, really have no clue of what is going to make it. They only have power over your lyrics if you let them. Long live art, expressionand writing what you feel.
We played at this one club three times a week. One day the club owner told us he could no longer pay us $750.00; well, that was a surprise to us as we had been getting paid only $350.00 per show. We were being ripped off by the manager who had been helping himself to a $400.00 cut per show three times a week in 1969 and 1970. That’s a lot of money. I’m sure if we had continued we would have a typical VHI story; band starts, then gets ripped off, yada, yada, yada, etc.
I lost a lot of weight (down to one hundred pounds) and was wearing down. Maybe it was the Vietnam War or trying to go to college while playing in the band. We all wanted to quit the band in a way; something was missing. I remember the turning point. We played in Buffalo NY one night, traveled to Pittsburgh the next day and played ashow in front of about 15,000 people. We then had to drive to Cincinnati to make a record; I felt empty. Somehow the sleazy managers and living out of a van got to me. The band members all started to drift in different directions and seemed to lose interest; we then began to break up as a band.
I then dropped out of rock and roll had a transforming experience through the Holy Spirit and even lived in A Christian Community. With the help of my community and spiritual advisors, they encouraged me to go back into music and rock n roll. Thanks Christian Community for not being legalistic and weird.
The first band I played in during the “Christian community time” was a three piece blues band with two seminarians from Borromeo Seminary called Abba. Al Retay was a seminarian and a great guitar player. Joe Zaminska played drums and I played bass. We played songs by Cactus and Jeff Beck and I learned to fill up the bass in a three piece band. A three piece band in rock generally means lead guitar, bass and drums.
While playing in Abba (no relation to the Swedish singing sensation), we did my song You Cut Me into Ribbons. After the band broke up (don’t remember why), the group reformed itself and continued to perform my song. This is a compliment for a songwriter and for me was an open door to ask ifthey would like to do another one of my tunes if I were to write one specifically for their singer AJ Robey. I then wrote the song Boy Can I Dance Good for AJ, who was sort of a David Bowie “glam rock” sort of singer.
As things go, the band didn’t perform the song, but I did, in all the
bands I played in after that. The song had four chords and was fun to
play, and other bands started to perform it as well. Eventually,
it was recorded by the Pagans.
Chuck Eddy, in his review of the Pagans’ album, Buried Alive, said that if all
songs rocked as well as Boy Can I Dance Good, I’d call this album the best
album ever made. Thanks Chuck! It has also been recorded by
Eddy Current and the Suppression Ring from Australia.
Left to right – Al Globekar, Denny Carleton, Brian Sands, Dave Alexy
In 1974, Brian Sands and I agreed to reform Moses as a new group called Milk. Randy Klawon was replaced on lead guitar by Al Globekar, andDave Alexy played drums. Moses had been high energy and you could dance to her music. Milk was artistic, avant-garde, and basically off-the-wall; playing Tiny Tim melodies, Rudy Vallee songs, 2000 Man by the Stones. We threw from the stage into the audience, baseball cards along with photos of the group. Milk posing with man-sized shampoo bottles made Milk too much for most audiences.
Whistle a Happy Tune and Getting to Know You were turned into Rock songs and readings were delivered from an old army joke book during any lulls in the music. Milk performed originals such as
Brian's own Eat the Hot Dog Now; Get Sick Later, and my own Boy Can I Dance Good.
We played Jump into the Fire by Harry Nilson for fifteen minutes with Brian playing around with an echoplex (you can jump into the fire rrrrrr, but you’ll never be free-eeee, but we can make each other happy-happy). Then there was the Lucky Lips medley based on old rock and roll songs where the guy has lucky lips, ends up getting carried away at the drive-in, gets girl pregnant and then gets stuck in a marriage that he doesn’t want. Basically, it was exhorting the kids through music humor to dare to be chaste. The owner of the club, a Christian with righteous indignation, totally misunderstood the song and said he was shocked that I, of all people, would perform something like this. He then pointed out some other rock and rollers who would never do such a thing. I have noticed that a lot of people just do not understand satire or art.
Just about everywhere we performed, people could not stand us. We had a few loyal cult-type fans, but we seemed to be an irritant most of the time. Milk played a few gigs in Pittsburgh, and the hatred continued. There was hostility towards us everywhere we went. One time, Brian and I got so aggravated we played with our backs to the audience.
Whoever had Milk open for Canned Heat wasn’t thinking that 4,000 people, many of whom were smoking pot and tripping, were ready to party. As mentioned, Milk did children’s songs, vaudeville, humor, and satire and was not appropriate band to open for hard rock blues, boogie bands.
Milk remains most notorious for nearly starting a riot that day as the ill-chosen, opening act. As people started to heckle and threaten us,Brian
Sands and I began to call the crowd robots, spoiled kids and rotten fruits. I did a radio show in Hamilton, Ontario and the first thing the guy asked me about was the riot Milk almost started that day.
After our near-riot with Canned Heat, we had a band meeting and Al and Dave said part of the problem was that Brian and I talked too much and egged the crowd on and agitated them -- valid point. So we played at Pickle Bills in the Flats of Cleveland and Brian and I were angels. Not a word wasspoken. Al went up to the mic to announce a song and someone who was sitting in the balcony above us threw down a corncob hitting Dave’s drums. Al said “Hey! That’s not cool.” Brian and I, feeling vindicated, didn’t say aword.
I got out of Milk because I Felt my own talents were not a good fit in the band . I then played out in Lake County with the late Fred Grupe friend and founder of Abby Rodeo) and Inner Citry that featured Pamela Moore who went on to sing with Meatloaf. As Rock N roll goes it didn’t work out and I was starting over again.
I hosted a jam session every Monday night at Fottenbottens in Downtown Willoughby. One of the musicians who would come to play was Mike Hudson. He wanted to start a punk band called the Pagans. He told me he needed a lead guitar player. He already had his brother Brian on drums and Tim Ali on bass. At that time (1975), punk and new wave were new styles of music that seemed the same to me. I told him I would play guitar with his group for a while to get it going. I was curious to see what this new music was all about. At that time punk and new wave were used as somewhat the same thing.I knew of the Sex Pistols, Blondie,The Ramones and Elvis Costello.
Many people have asked me how, as a Christian, I could have played in a band called the Pagans. Well, first of all, I was in the Lost Souls and that band was not about losing your soul. The Pagans was just a name to me and it was also a different time.
I was the beginning guitar player of the Pagans. I played probably about 20 jobs in the year and a half I was in it. I was fortunate, while with the Pagans, to have played on the same bill with bands such as Pere Ubu, Devo, Dead Boys, the Nerves, the Rubber City Rebels, the Electric Eel and the Wild Giraffes.
I never quite fit in though because I was about ten years older than those band members, and I hated the punk drama. I did; however, like themusic, loved the people, and learned a lot; most importantly, how the bands were able to self-publish their music on their own labels.
I was interviewed by Northern Ohio Magazine about my time with the Pagans. Some people were upset about the interview because it seemed to make my role in the Pagans bigger than it actually was. I played about tenjobs with them at their beginning.
When they added Tommy Gunn, the new guitar player, they became the Pagans that everyone knew. Because I never really fit in, I never attended the Pagans’ reunions. When you think of the Choir, you think of Wally Bryson, Dan Klawon, Dave Smalley, etc. I was in the Choir, but I’m not Wally. When you think of the Pagans, you think of Mike and Brian Hudson, Chuck Smith, Tommy Gunn and Tim Ali and maybe others, but not me.
The song they recorded, Boy Can I Dance Good, is a song I had written for AJ Robey from Bluestone Union. Mike changed the song to fit his style adding new lyrics and changing the chords around. His version is almost an adaptation of my original work.
I quit the band because they were taking a direction in which I would not fit. Within two days, they replaced me with Mike Metoff and kept right on going. In about two weeks, they had signed with Johnny Dromette of Drome Records and became the Pagans who their fans know and love.
I recently released as a download Boy Can I dance good done by Milk with Brian Sands singing lead.You can hear how the song was changed by the Pagans and also hear the late legendary Brian Sands vocals and theremin playing.