Now, nearly four months after the marathon recording session, Brimblecom is completely hairless. Taped to his chest under a tight-fitting, vintage Stevie Wonder T-shirt is an IV sunk in his jugular vein. You won't hear him complain, though. In fact, Brimblecom's life seems to be powering forward like a solo by the Led Zeppelin drummer whose three-circle symbol is tattooed on Billy's right biceps.
"My life is changing every day for the better," he says. It's one of the rare days when the chemotherapy isn't crippling his taste buds, so the cold, fresh beer he's drinking at Harry's in Westport makes life even sweeter. "Talk about perspective, man. My past, my present, my future are clearer now than ever."
Brimblecom says that in the 18 years he's been drumming, he's never been more excited about making music. He's best known as a member of the Creature Comforts, a Lawrence band that made a five-year run. Then, after a brief stint in Be/Non, he signed on with Los Angeles glam-pop band the Start and toured with the Offspring before the Start's lack of internal camaraderie prompted him to quit. Now he says he's playing good songs with good friends -- namely Jim Suptic of the Get Up Kids and fellow ex-Creature Comforts cohorts Brian Everard and J.D. Warnock -- in a band that won't be looking for a drummer anytime soon.
"Once I got the official diagnosis, my first thought was, I'm fucked," Brimblecom recalls. "I finally found this band, and we were just getting started -- this was going to be our job."
So he was relieved when his bandmates assured him that Blackpool Lights was as much his as theirs.
Though Brimblecom has health insurance, it's one of those monster-deductible deals, so his debts are piled pretty high. But Be/Non leader and karaoke artist Brodie Rush and Brick owner Sheri Parr have organized a benefit.
The Belles, Buffalo Saints, the Golden Republic, the Stella Link, the String and Return and Be/Non are a few of the acts that will rock out from 3 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, July 3, at the Brick to raise money toward Billy's clean bill of health (expected next winter or spring, if all goes well).
Unfortunately, Brimblecom will just be coming out of a five-day chemo session. "I'll be there, but I probably won't be able to taste anything," he says.
We'll just hand him the money we would have spent on the Jagerbombs.