Tim Goldrainer, lead singer for the long-running band, The Menus based out of Cincinnati Ohio, is arguably one of the most well known musicians in the greater Cincinnati area. He is known for his crazy antics on stage and the personal attention he gives to everyone who sees him perform. Born in 1964 he is now 50 and could easily be confused for a 25 year old. He’s a guy who’s is easy to like and the hour he spent talking with me was surprising, insightful and inspiring.
Tim – I knew what I wanted to do when I was 11 years old. My Dad won tickets to see Elvis on WSAI radio station. He told my mom to be ready at 6PM when he got home, told me we were going somewhere, I thought I was going to see a Stingers game. He took me to see Elvis in a box seat, it was about two weeks before Elvis passed away in 1977. I was already in performing arts, ballet and vocal. I told my Dad on the way home “I know what I want to do, I know what I want to be” I felt it and I had already performed on stage I knew what I was going to be. My dad said “make them remember you, you gotta make them remember you”.
There was a band playing at the swim club I went to. I would pester them on their break. I’m like, “Hey guys, let me sit in!” I was in a Speedo rocking out, the band was Ooh La La and the Greasers. I pestered them enough to let me sit in, they were a hot wax group and I knew all the material and they did Elvis. They let me sit in for 3 songs. My mom and dad were like kinda strolling around having a cocktail and they peeked around the fence and saw me up with the band doing Elvis, but when the band let me sit in and I knew I had some kind of a niche. And then I trained myself to become something big, something big in my own city.
My mom is a seamstress, she taught me how to sew when I was a kid, I started out in shorts and a t-shirt and that turned into a Target bag and a Speedo. I get read the wrong way sometimes, but mostly after the initial wince and gut laugh at the same time, and that’s what it is! They eventually get it, they see that I have a wedding ring on and they realize I’m here just here to entertain and then they can see why they paid $10.00 to get in to this joint and they embrace it. Then they come back with 10 more people and that builds and builds until eventually you have a full house. That’s all I’ve believed in. My dad said “Play good music, make people like ya, play good music first and make them remember you.” Thats what I’ve based my career on of 31 years, of just bringing people back and having them bring back their family members and friends. We don’t have fans in the Menus, we have have friends. People say oh I love my fans, I love my fans. We don’t have fans we have friends. I host a Menus Christmas Party every year and I don’t have fans coming I have friends. I think that’s very important to let people know you are not some pion fan, your a friend. A lot of people can say fan but not a lot can say friend. I think it’s real and It’s something I keep in my heart. The word fan just rubs me the wrong way.
I’m the epitome of my father. My father was not a singer he was of the lip synch era of the 80’s. He would do these lip synch shows and win all these contests. He sold produce for a living, that was his gig, but he had the charisma to walk in any room and people were just drawn to him. He looked like Jim Garner, he was a gorgeous man and people just had to talk to him. I guess I tried to emulate some of that. If I had half the cool my dad had I would’ve been an international star or something big. He just had that charisma and I tried to emulate some of the tricks I learned from him. He wasn’t an entertainer but then again he really was.
JLK- What do you remember about seeing Elvis in concert in 1977?
TG – Pilled-out, fat and bloated but it was the coolest thing ever. We were in a box seat and I was looking down from a box seat and I was looking at him with binoculars. The coolest thing was him handing out the scarves and controlling his band. It was mesmerizing. I had his records and he was the first guy I ever covered. I was very enamored by his his music and how he went to gospel and he would go back to rock and country and he could just do it all.
JLK- Whats your take on todays music scene abroad?
TG- I think the music is over produced. I think that everyone should get back to singing baritone instead of falsetto because singers can’t sing it live, they just can’t sing it live. One song that I like right now is “All About That Bass” its got this Amy Winehouse vibe and this Motown feel, its got horns and its got feel. My kids dig it! If it’s current and I dig it and they dig it then it’s a good song. I’m 50 and my little girl is 6 and if we both enjoy it then it’s a great song. Hearing a song 3 times and you know the lyric makes you think this is awesome! I really can appreciate Justin Timberlake. He can dance, he writes great material, he can sing and he can do it live. He’s a funny actor. Some of today acts are just trashy and I don’t correspond with that. I do some trashy things on stage but I keep it tasteful. I mean I wear a thong on stage to work every night, if I show my butt it’s tastefully done, and I work out and I got a nice can.
JLK- Whats your take on the Cincinnati music scene?
TG- Nowhere to play and nobody wants to spend any money. There is only a handful of clubs and this is why I go north like Toledo, Columbus or Cleveland. It’s a better scene. Nothing against my own city I love Cincinnati, I had a great run in Cinci with clubs and outdoor events. But it just seems like nobody wants to give you what your worth. I’ve spent a lot of time, a lot of years and a lot of hard work doing what I do. I want to be able to cover the guys in the band, our sound company and to cover everyone for what they’re worth and to do that it’s expensive. The cats in Cincinnati don’t want to pay musicians what they’re worth and that’s sad.
JLK- Who would you like to meet living or dead?
TG- I want to see my dad again, he’s my biggest star. I would kill to have a conversation with him. I would love to talk to him right now (long pause as Tim tears up thinking about his dad). Sorry tearing up. He passed right before I got married in 2001. I got married in 2003, we’d sing together and we would goof a lot. A lot of comedy, he was funny, witty, off the cuff, nothing ever planned and that’s who I am. I see more of me in my dad every day. Every time I get on stage I see more of my dad in me.
JLK- if you didn’t have music where would you be?
TG-Gutter, right in the gutter! I wasn’t college material, I make a living off of ADD. I have four thousand songs in my head but I can’t give you change for a dollar. Kinda guy I am. I read everyday but I don’t read fast. If I were doing something else it would probably be comedy or acting of sorts, I can be very dramatic. It would be in the realm of entertainment. I started out working at LaRosa’s pizza. Waiting on tables was a riot to me because every table was a different show. I didn’t look at them like customers or patrons, they were people to entertain and bring food to. God forbid someone have a birthday, it would turn into a show. I would dance, I would do tap dancing or something, I majored in ballet at the school or creative and performing arts so I have some moves. Something in entertainment though.
JLK- You’re going to planet Mars for three years, you can take one book, one album and one movie.
TG- Book -Slash; album – Frank Sinatra, The Sands; movie – Spinal Tap, I think that’s a given.
JLK- If you had enough money not to worry about money what would you be doing?
TG- I would still do music, I would make sure my family and closest friends were taken care of and I would donate to as many causes that I could, probably to the point I was broke. I would like to find a cure for strokes, that’s what my dad died of so I would like to find a cure for that.
JLK- What do you think it would take to make Cincinnati Ohio another great music city like Austin or Nashville?
TG-I think medium-sized venues, not huge, not small but 500-seaters where bands could work during the week and have earlier shows like happy hour to 11PM. Where people could still get to their jobs the next day and not be trashed. I think that’s what lacking for the music scene is places for bands to play and make decent money and for people to go and enjoy them. On weekends it would be nice to have two bands in the same night at the same place. A place where you could see maybe a country band and a rock band. You never know what will work till you try it and I think that could work. The right venues are what would make the music scene happen.
JLK – What inspires you?
TG – My kids and my wife inspire me very much, they make me know when I wake up I’m going to have a great day. My band mates inspire me, my family, brothers and sisters. My prayer every day before I get on stage is: Dear father thank you for my wife, my life, my beautiful boy my beautiful girl, let the crowd be strong let the band be tight, let me have a good voice tonight. That’s what I live every day. Stage for me is every day life. It’s hard for me to get off stage, my mind is constantly working.
You can see where the menus are playing at: www.themenus.org
by Jimmy King