What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I wanted to play guitar when I was about four years old; my grandfather ended up making me a guitar around that time (he could build anything with wood); however, I didn’t really learn how to play anything then. Around second grade I was mesmerized by the electric guitars in a friend of my dad’s house; after telling my parents I wanted to play guitar they bought me a little acoustic and I began taking lessons. I began writing my own songs, as I was never very interested in playing others’ songs, and from there I just continued writing songs and poetry. In highschool, my brother Carter and I formed an alt-rock band named JilFlirter, and we recorded various demos before releasing our debut record, which garnered a good deal of press in addition to charting in college music radio. JilFlirter released three following records. I’ve had various artistic directions since then but I’ve always been focused on music and have been pretty prolific: being in various bands, working on different projects, solo and otherwise, and being on the production side of things as well. At the end of the day, I’ve always found great power in music; it can be a mysterious conduit to the Imagination and that which is beyond or underlying all we commonly see….To me music has always been a mystic art, and a truly magical element of life, and for this semi-spiritual reason I’ve always been enthralled by it. (If you need more info, please look to my bio section at www.beardbates.com).
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
My recently released solo release “The World is Blown” is a collection of various songs I’ve worked on over the past six years or so. The record also includes a few collaborations with a few different artists–including The Icarus Line, The Real Spooky Wilson, and Jonny Polonsky–and it is quite diverse genre-wise, yet I feel it still has a cohesive thread that is uniquely me. Creatively, if left alone, I have historically ended up exploring various sounds and manners of creation, and since this record is a collection of tracks from a span of years, it is quite diverse. The title of the record is the same as a track on the record entitled “The World is Blown.”
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
My main influences have always been tied to either those artists or figures who transcend boundaries and push limits…the iconoclasts and visionaries who elicit mystery, beauty, or offer a mystical glimpse into the nature of reality. I’ve always been very impressed by Hegel, Nietzsche, William Blake, The Romantic poets, and on the music side of things I grew up enthralled with everything from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen to Soundgarden to Howlin’ Wolf to Johnny Cash to Parliament to Van Morrison to Peter Tosh to The Velvet Underground to Aphex Twin…
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
My sound, at least on this upcoming record is pretty divergent genre-wise, yet as I said I feel as a whole the record is still very “me”….You will find me musically taking chances–being raw and vulnerable yet at times also paying fine attention to nuance. Why should you listen: well, I don’t exactly have an answer for that…I make the art that for whatever reason comes out of me, the art that I feel passionate about making. At the end of the day, perhaps it might resonate with you; perhaps it might cause you to think or motivate you to create….I like to let the music create itself; in the same way I’d prefer to let the listener discover his or her own reason for listening. Defining my sound in a few words: well, what is Beck? Alternative? He’s historically been all over the map like I enjoy being…I guess you could say I’m a mix of Alternative Rock, Anti-Folk, Dark Americana, Electronic and Garage Rock.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Albums: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks, Soundgarden – Superunknown, James Brown – Live at The Apollo
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I enjoy both activities, as I find the studio to be a very creative place especially if I’m left alone and can experiment and let the process carry me away…it’s a completely different activity from playing live. However, playing live is what is ultimately important I feel – it’s playing live (especially when spontaneous) where one feels alive, the music connects with others, and where the artform truly lives.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
I’m an ordained minister and have married lots of couples, including Pat Smear (The Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and his wife….I was also in a rowdy band called The Virginia City Revival and we were to attend the NMA awards in Los Angeles, and so we decided to arrive playing a metal death-march on the back of a flatbed truck. I was actually singing from a La-Z-Boy recliner affixed to the top of the truck’s cab. However, upon arriving, our publicist forgot our tickets/passes and so we just tried to rush the venue’s doors but were not allowed and so we just continued to play until the police escorted us out.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Of my new tracks, I think “Lions, Sheep, Birds” is pretty unique insofar as the minimal and raw productions elements, the chord progression in the chorus, and yet the classic and welcoming feel that is also there….However, a song like “The Unicorn” is really odd in some ways and is very unique….Actually, “Netherwold of Love” might be my most unique new track, as it has a very unusual structure and is thoroughly experimental….hmm: that’s not exactly a definitive answer!
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I’m in the process of putting a new band together and after playing in support “The World is Blown,” I plan on recording another more band-centric record.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
If you are run over by a bus, and find yourself outside of your body, what do you recommend doing?
Try to be calm, realize that you still outside of your body, and when you see a pinprick of light above you, go there….If you are confused and feel lost, pray to whatever higher power you might have an understanding of and ask to return home.
Photo credits: Lourdes Vondrian (1st one), Henrik Christoffersson (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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