Culture creators have eccentric personalities and engaging mindsets, here is your introduction to one of these figures, Reverend Beat Man. His resume crystallizes his status as a lifer in outlier roots/rock music – active international touring musician with his band (The Monsters, Die Zorros) and as a solo one-man band (Lightning Beat Man, Reverend Beat Man) for 30+ years and headman for established imprint, Voodoo Rhythm Records (120 catalog titles). Live, his performance borders on contemporary vaudeville with a demented, storytelling preacher persona, actively engaging with his audiences while serenading (or terrifying) them with dissonant, lo-fi one-man band trash rock. To give you an idea of what that sounds like, take savage sounding garage/punk rock and inject the derivative roots of rock music (i.e. blues, Southern gospel, and folk, jazz). It’s a job that has taken him to faraway lands from his home base in Bern, Switzerland and opens many doors of opportunities for himself, his label, and his associates.
Reverend Beat Man’s new album, Blues Trash, reinforces the notion to expect the unexpected from the guy. Crossing many genres and with songwriting that exploits the different dynamics he and his cohorts, whom he’s dubbed The New Wave, bring to the table. Blues Trash is 11 tracks of primitive roots music meets- lo-fi punk rock with crosses of free jazz, blues, dark cabaret, punk, and gothic ranchera. Part personal subject matter some of us can relate to, part testament to the absurdities the human race, and as he states – “some funny, stupid songs in there too.” One take away from this LP is the dark songwriting prevalent throughout, with subject matter reveling in areas like disillusionment (“Love Is Simply a Dream”), depression (“Looking Right Through It”), and unconditional love (“I’ll Do It For You”). One of the standout tracks, “But I Love You”, features a recent collaborator of Beat Man’s with Los Angeles based Nicole Izobel Garcia vocalist on lead vocals. It’s one of two tracks the two do together that touches on unreconciled feelings and personal loss. “But I Love You” harnesses a tragic feeling in part to Beat Man’s somber sounding electric folk playing style in line with Garcia’s Spanish-sung croon that weaves an ambiguous storyline of a person’s desperate pleas to preserve an unsustainable/one-sided romantic relationship with a disconnected lover. The two trade places on the vocal end with the more upbeat “If I Knew”, but the subject matter of distrust/disappointment is prevalent with lyrics echoing the sentiment (“I wouldn’t hold you baby if I knew you’d push me away/”I wouldn’t trust you, child, if I knew you’d cheat on me”). The darkest number belongs to “Then We Gonna Die” with its industrial funeral march feeling brought on by The New Wave combo of Resli Burri’s harmonium sparring with Mario Batkovi’s accordion leads, all while Swiss jazz drummer, Julian Sartorius’s layers the track with a wash of Avante garde percussion work. What makes a man write such a doom tune? Beat Man explains his revelation: “”Then We All Gonna Die””, it’s a song about how we destroy our world and feelings of what people must experience being trapped in a war-zone like Syria and experiencing your family being raped and murdered. But that feeling carries over to any war-like situation, especially the War for American Independence and all sides of WWI.” The four showcase their dynamics further with “You’re On Top”, a jumpy rhythmic track that highlights the complimentary playing styles the four exhibit with a mix of jazz percussion, edgy rhythms from a Fender Rhodes, and more accordion virtuosity. Abiding by his one-man band persona and ethos, the track “I Have Enough” has all instruments played by Beat Man himself and engrains the a classic sound he’s carved for himself with focused-yet-intense percussion and fuzz guitars and aggressive vocal delivery that gets his point across to everyone on the person he’s talking about/to, you be judge on that given the lyrics (” I have enough/from all your lies/from what you say/from who you are/from what you do/from what you tweet”).
” I am a one man band .. this is the main fact and i play my songs .. and if i do a cover of a song.. i will make it my song. This is the center of everything when i play my guitar at home and when i go on tour as one man band … but there’s another chapter in my songs, it’s when I’m recording. The thing is a live show work only at the moment, that’s why live music is so beautiful .. and recordings they get old. So my idea, is when i record, i wanna record something very special, nothing that i can do live and something that will live over and forever after i recorded it. For those songs, i had many different ideas to collaborate with the Bernese symphony orchestra, or with a black metal band, but then i had the chance to play many times together with Mario Batkovic, incredible Bosnian accordion player who raised and lives in my town (he’s on the Portishead label) and as well with Resli Burry, who became good friends. Then i was always big fan of Julian Sartorius, an improvisation drummer , he invited me to one of his improvisation gigs to play with about 20 other very great Swiss free jazz musicians and it was amazing.. Julian is the best drummer i ever worked with! Then in 2014, i meet Nicole Garcia while visiting my Daughter in LA and we became friends and we did a couple of LA shows and i flew her over the Europe to tour with me.. this was a lot of fun and it was great to make music with her … anyway at the end i thought.. why not recording the album with all my friends and see what happens.”- Reverend Beat Man
April 6 – The Hi Hat (Los Angeles, CA)
April 11 – Maltese (Chico, CA) w/The Goddamn Gallows, Koffin Kats, Against The Grain
April 12 – Bottom of the Hill (San Francisco, CA)
April 13 – Debauch-A-Reno III (Reno, NV) w/The Spits, The Oblivions, and more
April 18 – Slim’s Last Chance Saloon (Seattle, WA)
April 19 – Dante’s (Portland, OR)
April 20 – Tom Grainey’s Basement (Boise, ID)
April 22 – The Garage (Salt Lake City, UT)
April 23 – Beauty Bar (Las Vegas, NV)
April 24 – Green Room (Flagstaff, AZ)
April 25 – Yucca Tap Room (Tempe, AZ)
April 27 – *secret show*
April 28 – Alex’s Bar (Long Beach, CA)