Brisbane musician Jimi Beavis rooted himself firmly in a blues stance with his debut album Gentleman Giant, however his new album Post Apocalyptic Love Songs draws upon an ever expanding range of influences from his growing obsession with the fringes of doo-wop, pop and soul. Natalie O’Driscoll fired a few questions off to the innovative artist in the lead up to his album tour.
Post-Apocalytic Love Songs is a fascinating concept. How did the idea come about?
At some point before recording my first album while writing songs for this one I found that there were two types of songs: ones that were built around characters and were often quite morbid and on serious topics and ones that dove a little deeper into the grotesque world of the nastier things in life. I put the more grotesque ones aside and concentrated on the others. The character based ones were actually still ghoulish at times, even though they were more upbeat, and they formed the basis for this album. I had written half the album before I noticed myself providing back stories in my head for the characters in the songs, and that sometimes influenced the lyrics. This was around the time I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and started watching The Walking Dead and shows like that so I purposely provided imagery and ideas that linked with those ideas. I am extremely interested in the idea of the apocalypse and the aftermath, I suppose because of the concerns that the world won’t be able to keep us in the future due to environmental degradation or worldwide conflict. In particular I am interested in what people will do to each other when there are no longer laws governing our actions.
With titles like Got No Hands, Got No Feet and I Want You To Eat Me, audiences couldn’t be blamed for expecting quite dark music, but in fact many of the tunes are pretty upbeat. How do you approach marrying the disparate styles?
The principal inspirations for this album are blues, soul and gospel and that music has often embraced sadness and hurt and then trying to make music that transcends that. My first blues loves were the electric blues of the 1950s, which was played by people that often tried to unwind from the horrors and mundanity of life by singing about drinking and sex, as well as the pains, but doing so with dance music. So to me it isn’t too odd to mix the sadder side of life with upbeat tunes. I also have a perverse delight in seeing people dance along to songs about death. That’s what life is – a dance with death.
Normally when you listen to an artist you can hear shades of inspirations / peers, but I struggled with that for you. Who do you think you sound most like, and who has most influenced your sound?
The first album was very much blues but this album is a mix. The biggest influence is probably The Band; and also Mavis Staples and her gospel roots mixed with the 60s/70s soul and the funk and hip hop rhythms of the modern world. But there is a healthy dose of Stax and Hi soul, the Rolling Stones and bits and pieces from here and there. For example the opening song “At Least It’s Better Than Home”, has a mix of 60s soul but backing vocals inspired by Wilco and the Beatles. Whereas elsewhere I started trying to do a Tom Waits style song and eventually it ended up as a New Orleans inspired song. But I try to sing the way I sing rather than trying to sing like an American, so it is going to end up a little different.
Jimi Beavis will be hitting the stage at the Currumbin Creek Tavern on 1 July.