In this interview spotlight, we chat with Kevin Beadles about his newest project, influences, navigating the digital world and more.
Full Q&A along with links and the video for All Down For Austin below.
Where are you from?
I live in Berkeley, CA but grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. When I kid, I remember looking up my hometown in the Auto Club travel guide. Glendale had exactly one starred attraction and that was our cemetery, Forest Lawn. Clark Cable, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson–practically all the big stars–are buried in my hometown. So I kinda think of them as my neighbors.
Glendale was also briefly the center of the rock ‘n’ roll world when local boys, The Knack, had a #1 hit with “My Sharona.” Of course, that was 1979 and their career is long since buried (though not at Forest Lawn).
What style of music do you create?
I fall into that grab-bag of styles dubbed Americana. My usual spiel is that my music “unites indie pop-rock with the back porch drawl of gospel, blues and alt country. What you get is roots music with plenty of branches.” I wish I could say I wrote Swedish Death Metal or something that really paints a sharp picture but my songwriting is too undisciplined to focus on any one style.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I was watching the Winter Olympics a few years ago and got sucked into one of those soft-focus biographical sketches that usually annoy everyone. But this one really spoke to me. The subject was a speed skater attempting to win her fourth or fifth gold medal. They showed photos or home videos of her wearing ice skates at age 3, 5, 8, etc. and as each one was shown, they read a quote from a little letter or school essay she’d written. Each one ended with “and I love to skate.”
And I thought, “Wow, that’s how it really is! You fall in love with something at a young age, and if you’re lucky, life’s trajectory is set”. For her, it was skating and for me, it was music.
I also remember staring at the sheer bulk of this woman’s incredibly muscled thighs – each one bigger than my torso – and thinking, “Damn, she could CRUSH a man with those.” [please feel free to delete this paragraph in the interest of good taste]
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
“All Down for Austin” is practically my only song that was written straight from life. It tells the story of my band’s adventures playing in Austin during the South by Southwest Festival for the first time. We travel 1700 miles to get there and then find ourselves playing in a dive bar on 6th Street where we can barely hear ourselves over the roar of the party outside. What a bummer! But then we stumble into a dentist’s office–everything becomes venue during SXSW–and get to meet The Iguanas and legendary drummer, Brady Blade (Dylan, Emmylou, Dave Matthews). So now we’re elated!
Well, a year later and we’re back in Austin, this time sharing a bill with Brady, so I ask him if it would be okay to include a shout-out in the new song my guitarist, John Foster, and I just wrote. To our surprise, he now only agrees but says, “Hell, I’ll play drums on it if you want me to!” So that’s Brady you hear on the recording and if you listen closely, you can even hear him grunt during some of the fills. Normally, I’d edit out that sort of thing but this was just too much fun. I also love that Robert Powell, who’s played for Peter Gabriel and Jackson Browne, provided a killer lap steel part.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
On the upside, I love that you can ask anyone in the world to record on your songs. You’d be surprised how receptive many artists are if they like your song. And all you have to do is upload the files and let them overdub at their convenience. Couldn’t be easier.
Besides Brady Brade & Rob Powell, I’ve been lucky enough to have people like Bonnie Hayes (Springsteen, Billy Idol), Jef Labes (Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt), Nick Budda (Taylor Swift, Jewel) and others bring my songs to life in a way that I never could have if it wasn’t for digital technology.
The downside–if you can call it that–is that there’s so much good music out there that’s hard to stand out. But “All Down for Austin” has been getting played on over 500 stations a week just in Europe alone and a lot of that success owes to getting it placed on digitally syndicated Americana program.
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
kevinbeadles.com has a bunch of video links, my bio, lots of shameless boasting, and links to purchase my music via iTunes or CDBaby. I’m also hoping that some of your readers will subscribe to my YouTube channel because my neighbor teases me that his kid’s video review site has more subscribers than I do. Let’s smoke that little brat!
Anything else before we sign off?
Continuing with the theme of an earlier answer, I’d just add that having the support of webzines/podcasts/streaming stations like Middle Tennessee Music is an invaluable resource to indie artists, so thank you for your continued support.