Rock & Roll Paternity Ward: An Interview with Tim & Neko

by | Mar 23, 2023 | MUSIC, REGGAE & JAM, ROCK & INDIE

I first saw Tim Beavers II and Nekoro Williams perform 7 years ago in the Summer of 2016. I had recently moved to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, and having been in the city less than a week, and freshly 18 years old, I was itching for a sense of freedom. Teaming up with a friend from high school who also recently moved here, we bought tickets to a People’s Blues of Richmond [PBR] show having been introduced to them as younger teenagers. They had just put out their third, and what would turn out to be their final album, Quit or Die, being at the height of their popularity. We got there when the doors opened and waited around for hours. Working our way to the front of the house we rode the rail all night long head banging along to one of the more popular bands to come out of Richmond in the last decade, feeling for the first time truly free, and completely alive.

In early March I stood by my back door just a few minutes after Beavers arrived at my house for an interview. He was waiting outside to guide Williams into a parking space. I had been distracted briefly by my dinner that was simmering on the stove, and when I glanced back outside, Beavers was dashing across the alley with a trashcan trying to make space for Williams’ pickup truck. He was attempting to make the sharp turn into what turned out to be the neighbors driveway. I went out and informed them of the confusion, and directed them towards an available spot that usually doesn’t tow. I placed a roommate on guard to warn us of any passing tow trucks, and introduced myself to the two rockers. I felt even more alive.

In December of 2019 PBR was all but done with. Williams was developing a solo project and working as a studio drummer, Beavers was excited about a new group The Mighty Good Times that he was starting, and a decade of playing as a group was coming to a close. Of course whatever new projects were developing at the time became essentially null and void a few months later as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world, especially live music, to a screeching halt. The Mighty Good Times only got to play a few shows, the tours that Williams found himself being called for nonstop were now nonexistent, and everyone went inside for what seemed like an eternity of waiting for the world to either start again or seemingly end. 

Given all of this, you can imagine my surprise when Beavers reached out to RVA Magazine in the early months of 2023 to bring to our attention that he and Williams would be working together again, and even stranger still, they would be performing as a duo; just guitar and drums. Now, personally, I find that three piece rock bands can be a bit lacking if the guitarist does not have the right chops, which Beavers obviously did, but do Beavers and Williams have what it takes to support a full sound with just the two of them, no safety net, and completely exposed on their instruments? Check out their new song, “Under-Achieved & Overdosed” to find out, but I’m sure you won’t be shocked to discover that what these two veterans of the Richmond rock scene have been cooking up is nothing short of a wonderful and bizarre creation that will bring this lineup back to the front lines of Richmond music. I sat down with Tim & Neko to discuss where they’ve been, and where they’ll go from here.

After over three years, I had to know what drew these two back to each other. Beavers on the subject said, “I called Neko, and I was like, ‘dude, I’m thinking about you. Let’s jam, see what happens, and maybe we’ll go to the studio soon. I had a riff, and a chorus, and we took that and made it a 7 minute long thing. It is the thing I’m most proud that I’ve been part of in the studio so far. We only had two practices before that, and it’s the first original thing we did together. There’s not another Neko brain out there. I just wanted that back in my life.” The pair fistbumped. 

The two had very different backgrounds, so this bond is a bit of a surprise. Beavers was born in Gaithersburg, raised in Richmond and not in a musical family, not picking up the guitar until he was 15 years olds. Williams on the other hand was born in Richmond to a family full of musicians. The son of Ernest “Drummie Zeb” Williams, the drummer for The Wailers, an offshoot of Bob Marley’s backing band after his death, Williams said he’s been playing drums since he was two years old. “I didn’t grow up Rock and Roll,” said Williams, “my dad was a rastafarian and my mom’s christian as fuck. It’s all about being yourself, and it doesn’t matter what your background is, if you’re honest when you come together you can create an energy that is insane.” To that Beavers added, “I don’t have to act like something else to mesh with [Neko].”

Tim & Neko

On the recording, the first thing I noticed – besides the seven minute runtime – is that there was a bass guitar. When I asked who was playing, and if they were planning on having a player live, Beavers admitted that he was playing on the recording, but that live they won’t have anyone, and that they’re going to have to get creative. “I’ve played maybe 30 minutes of bass in my life before this. The hardest thing was just trying not to play it like a guitar,” said Beavers. On how they planned to fill out the sound live, Williams offered some creative solutions, saying, “we’re gonna try to split the responsibility, Tim’s got an octave pedal he can use, and I have a midi pad.” 

The obvious question to this roundabout way of approaching filling out their low end is: why not just hire a bass player? They had clearly thought about that, as Williams immediately responded with, “It feels good. It’s more raw like this.” Seemingly aiming for as few obstacles as possible between them and the music, he added, “we have the exact same intentions because we know each other so well. If we bring in another person and add another variable, it becomes so different.”

Tim & Neko
Tim & Neko
Photos courtesy of Tim & Neko

A lot has changed in the three years since PBR broke up, not the least of which being that both Beavers and Williams have transitioned into being full-time fathers as their children continue to occupy more of their lives. How does one balance the challenges of fatherhood with being a rockstar, as both Beavers and Williams refuse to miss out on their children’s lives? “To me, it just made me work even harder. I wish I had this mindset now when I didn’t have a kid, because I’d be rich as fuck,” said Williams. “I’m on the road each week, touring with whoever calls me, but I also got to be a full-time dad. My son will come to me in the middle of all that and say, ‘let’s play bumper cars,’ and I’m like, ‘hell yeah, let’s do it.’ I don’t want to be left out, but I’m still gonna pursue my dreams. It just makes me want to do it that much harder. Some people stop playing because they aren’t real musicians – I’m gonna be that harsh. It’s a weight,” Williams explained.

Beavers noted some of the ways that one could adapt the lifestyles to each other. “Some people switch to the studio if you gotta be home all the time,” he said, then adding “we both have kids, so we have the same challenges… sometimes we have to be weekend warriors.”

People’s Blues Of Richmond in Raleigh, NC 2018

Both Beavers and Williams opened up about how fatherhood has affected their personal habits. “I used to do 28 shots in a night, but I can’t be that kind of guy anymore,” said Williams. Beavers shared his own struggles with addiction, saying, “I came into this shit… and I got caught up man; I’m an addict through and through. I lost my fucking way completely man. There were times where I thought I was doing an impression of myself to keep people from finding out how lost I was. I want my kid, when she grows up, if that compulsion hits her, to see what I did, and find some help, or avoid [drugs] altogether. I didn’t have people dealing with addiction in my life. I knew people who were addicts, but no one who was not just getting killed by it. I’m trying to carve that path for myself right now so it’s there when she grows up. I want them to be better than we were,” he added. Williams expressed his support for Beavers, saying, “PBR was a vibe, so I know people think we were just crazy as shit. I like it when people go, ‘wait, Tim works all the time for his daughter?'” The pair fistbumped again.

Then, of course, we had to ask the real question: how is Tim & Neko different from PBR? Williams said, “It’s a fresh slate. When I joined PBR, they already had a platform. We had to tour and promote their first album, ‘Hard On Blues,’ before we could create something new. But with Tim & Neko, we have a clean slate. Although the world has expectations of PBR, we’re not those guys anymore. We’re fathers, we’re sober, and we’re happy as hell. We can still rock out and cause a ruckus, but we don’t have to be sad and depressed. It’s important to show the world that.”

Tim & Neko
Photos courtesy of Tim & Neko

Beavers made a direct plea to fans, saying, “This is in y’all’s hands. We’ve invested a couple of grand in studio equipment and merchandise, but we have kids to support and can’t keep doing that forever. So if you like what we’re doing, please come out on April 1st and support us. Your support will help us spend more time on our music and less time on our day jobs!”

Despite everything they’ve been through, the changes in their lives, and a pared-down lineup that allowed them to break down barriers, Tim & Neko represents a whole new world for these two versatile musicians. Check out their single and catch them live at the block party on April 1st at 22nd and Main in Shockoe Bottom, right near Shockoe Salon. Gates open at 2 pm, and they’re set to perform at 9 pm.

Tim & Neko

Follow Tim & Neko @tim_and_neko
Follow Mighty Good Times @themightygoodtimes

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

But you may call me Bones. I'm the Associate Editor of RVA Mag, and a writer and musician living in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, an album of original music, and perform lead vocals with the band Pebbles Palace.

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