Beard Bates is man of many talents, and more than a few tangents. He is a singer-songwriter and producer, a visual artist and designer, an author and maker of various grooming products for facial hair. Because that beard. Musically, he’s done straight-up rock ’n’ roll, psychedelic country, dance music and honky-tonk from hell, much of it subversive if not downright funny. He once fronted an outfit called The Virginia City Revival (possible highlight: “Drink for Free,” from 2007’s “Jackass: The Game” video game), released an album of spontaneous iPhone recordings, dabbled in field recordings and a couple years ago gave the world the single “Coachella 2015: Girls in Amish Undertaker Hats.”
Bates’ new single “Lions Sheep Birds” is no musical bagatelle, though. Inspired by a near-death experience, the song offers a tapestry of buzzing effects, guitar and gently rolling beats supporting Bates’ take-no-prisoners baritone. It’s chilling. Bates the storyteller backgrounds the song:
“I almost died while scaling the wall of the Bronson Canyon cliffs in Los Angeles. I shouldn’t have been scaling loose rock walls in cowboy boots, but I was perturbed and in a rebellious state of mind,” he explains. “Upon getting home and feeling more alive than ever, I ended up cranking up an old analog synth and then I sang over a random raw track I had recorded for client but which had never been used or fleshed out. What I wrote and recorded essentially documented the idea of someone who incurred a great loss, a great fall, and was now trying to connect to the afterlife in hopes of rewriting the events that transpired, so as to bring a loved one back, or at least connect to the lost one (or all that was lost).
“It’s foremost a reflection on the universal nature of loss which makes up part of our human experience, and regardless of whom it is that is lost, whether another or your own self, the experience is intricate and similar in its emotional nature.
“I also lost my mother a few years back — actually on the same day as the release date of this track — and so I was also connecting to both the experience of being helpless in the face of reality when it postures as a breaking wave, and the desire to rewrite the past. The mention of ‘Goodnight Moon,’ refers to the children’s book of the same name which I used to love so much and which my mother would to read to me at bedtime.”
Bates has a full-length in the works.
||| Stream: “Lions Sheep Birds”