For over 30 years Reverend Beat-Man has practiced and preached the gospel of blues trash. His gospel is not limited by the decadence of sex and drugs; rather it’s a philosophy that celebrates rock n’ roll and how it bridges cultural divides to connect people in a worldwide community. For Beat-Man, rock n’ roll music provides the same power of belonging that helped break down walls for American black and white teenagers in the mid-20th century. Furthermore, he believes that rock n’ roll is not just for the fashion rockers or mods. It’s for people who see that rock n roll was and still is a relevant, worldwide music revolution. Beat-Man says, “It’s a music for old and young, for black and white, for everybody and it’s not polka or Mozart. It’s now music.”
Throughout his life, Beat-Man has been a lifelong devotee to the musical world. As a musician his relentless touring and out of this world performances leave a mark on all who witness them. Not only that, but he also runs his own label for like-minded music fanatics. Beat-Man founded Voodoo Rhythm Records in 1992 and has since then provided a home for the strange and risky music not likely to air on the pop-centric controlled radio stations of the world. Some impressive and unique acts to be found on Voodoo Rhythm Records include The Jackets, The Sex Organs, ET Explore Me, The Giant Robots ,and The Devils.
His passion for the weird and obscure also fuels his record collecting. Armed with a storied library of records, Beat-Man occasionally DJ;s at bars and venues. His sets vary from Rhythm & Blues groovers to music more on the eclectic side. He hopes that his selections of music will introduce inspiring sounds to patrons looking to explore music through another dimension. “I know people want to party and they want to dance, drink and get wasted, fuck on the toilette.” Beat-Man says, ““I’ve had that so many times I want something different. So, I make strange music DJ sets.” During these DJ nights, one can hear bands such as The Shags, Yoko Ono, Free Jazz or even Talk records from the 1920’s. When not DJing venues, Beat-Man posts his sets on his Mixcloud.
Beat-Man’s talents for music really shines when he performs, such as playing as a solo artist, with the Monsters, collaborating with Nicole Isobel Garcia and more recently recording with the one-time project Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave. With The New Wave, Beat-Man released the one time album Blues Trash in 2018 through Voodoo Rhythm Records.
Blues Trash combines many different sounds and genres within its grooves. Some tracks betray recognizable notions of primitive garage punk. Other songs carry styles invoking a distinct layering of darkness with the emotional heaviness of the real folk-blues.
The process for recording the new record provided a challenge for the musicians involved. Prior to recording, Beat-Man had all the songs written and ready to go. All he needed to complete the project was a backing band. To complete this album, he assembled a group comprised of some of his favorite musicians. They were Mario Batkovic, a classically trained accordionist, the drummer Julian Sartrius, and the multi-instrumentalist Resli Burri.
The rest of the band were not privy to the material before recording. Beat-Man wanted them to feel it out as they went along. “I wanted to see what they do with what I give them,” Beat-Man says, “I gave ourselves two or three takes, but first I played it with my guitar only. I explained them what’s going on in this song and told them the feeling that you have to get if you hear that song.”
Songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “Then We All Gonna Die” stand out on the album. “I’ve Had Enough” is a kind of political song. Beat-Man was influenced by being fed up with the constant bombarded of ads from politicians and insurance companies trying to sell him something. Beat-Man says, “One day I just had enough. After over 53 years living in such a profit-oriented community as we are living in, one day you just see this is all a big lie.”
“Then We All Gonna Die” is a song Beat-Man spent 15 years writing and re-writing. It’s meant to be a kind of hymn sung from the perspective of Sensenmann. In the song, Sensenmann sings about what their victims did wrong in their lives. The mood of the song is heavy, with a kind of apocalyptic tone , mixing with a folk-blues trash feel.
To promote Blues Trash and Baile Bruja Muerto—an album he worked on with Nicole Isobel Garcia—Beat-Man embarked on several tours between 2018 and 2019. Beat-Man is no stranger to hitting the road to perform. His dedication to his music has taken him beyond the snowy mountains of Switzerland and all over the word. He says, “I want to explore, I want to see the world and the connections we all people have with each other.” Historically the Swiss are known for remaining isolated; however Beat-Man seeks to move past the limitations of national borders and meet others who are like-minded.
In April 2018, Beat-Man played Slovenly Recordings Debauch-A-Reno, as well as touring the United States. On April 22nd, 2018 Beat-Man and Isabel Nicole Garcia graced Salt Lake City, Utah. Beat-Man appreciated that Salt Lake City was kind of familiar to his home country. “I first thought, ‘I’m in Switzerland.’ It’s all very clean and people are pretty organized—even the homeless looked kinda healthy.” He says, “It’s small and probably everybody knows everybody. I like that. It opens your own horizon in your musical taste if you know people from the electro or hardcore or art scene.”
The show itself was a welcome surprise. The Garage On Beck had a pleasant feel of authenticity for Beat-Man. He says, “It was a club what the European American Fans try to rebuild in Europe but mostly fail.” However, what struck him most about the show was the opening acts, Jacob T. Skeen and Los YaYaz. “There were two opening bands. First there was a One Man band, that was fucking amazing— very unique sound and great songs” says Beat-Man. “Then the garage fuck ups from Los YaYaz . They were super cool. Just like garage punk has to be. They are terrible on the instruments and they love rock n’ roll.”
The remainder of 2018 was busy with gigs and touring. This constant playing extended into 2019 when Beat-Man found himself playing with psychobilly outfit The Monsters for another Slovenly Recordings event. This time for the We’re Loud Festival in Vietnam. The Monsters are bit different from the New Wave or his collaboration with Nicole Isobel Garcia. They are a trash rock n’ roll band, with a primitive-bluesy, yet with sonic-splitting abrasive sound. Think of them boasting a wild, caveman stomp psychobilly style, but with definitive blues trash flair.
The festival was a hit. Although rock n’ roll was admittedly not as popular in Vietnam, there were many local acts to play the festival. They included hardcore and metal bands from Vietnam and Indonesia. “This was a blast.” Beat-Man says, “Pete from Slovenly tried to attract as many local persons as possible.”
After a brief tour in Japan with The Cavemen, Beat-Man was back in Switzerland. Not long after, the Covid 19 pandemic began occurring worldwide and lockdowns began happening in cities all over. Keenly aware of the worsening pandemic in Italy, the Swiss government quickly acknowledged that without a cure for the virus, measures needed to be taken. On March 19, 2020, a lockdown order was issued for the Swiss population.
While the population was ordered to be sheltered, the Swiss National TV began reaching out to local musicians to participate in the Living Room Showcase series. Beat-Man says, “It was a job from the Swiss National TV, they told me and many other Pop Starlets and mainstream Artists in Switzerland to contribute 15-minute showcases from the living room.” What the Swiss National TV did not quite appreciate was that Beat-Man isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as his mainstream counterparts.
Prior to the Beat-Man man’s performance played on air, he caught the interviewer by surprise. He suggested that the lockdowns caused by a virus could give humanity a chance to slow down and think about its collective future. “I had a live interview in front of my clip and I said that the virus is more a blessing that a punishment,” says Beat-Man. “Anyway the interviewer —I heard he is very famous in Switzerland— was very upset and as well the guy who placed me in the show.”
Beat-Man’s clip was allowed to play on National TV, but was then stopped after two minutes. Not to be deterred, Beat-Man then released the full clip online. That way everyone could see it. In the clip, Beat-Man performs in his living room, changes into various outfits and plays unique renditions of his material, including “I’ve Had Enough.”
Beat-Man, being fully aware of the wider implications of the pandemic, sees that Covid 19 is an extreme virus that can severely affect the elderly and those with health conditions. Unfortunately, the economic consequences of the shelter in place means businesses ,like Voodoo Rhythm Records brick and mortar shop, have to temporarily close their doors and musicians like Beat-Man’s performances are currently on hold. Needing to pay rent, Beat-Man’s ability to bring income is challenged. He says, “For me its financially very bad. I play about 200 shows a year, 70% of my income is because of my shows, and 30% is from the label.”
During the lockdown, there are ways to support the label, which include ordering records and merchandise online, through the Voodoo Rhythm Records Facebook Page, or donating here: https://voodoorhythm.ch/. Speaking of the support he has experienced from the wider rock n’ roll community, Beat-Man says, “Everywhere I go on this planet I see those people. It’s a good virus and it’s that virus we need at the moment.”
Not to be deterred by the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beat-Man remains busy with his label. When things open up again, Voodoo Rhythm Records is expecting to release records by Bad Mojo’s, The Sex Organs and Trixie and The Trainwrecks. On May 14th, Voodoo Rhythm Records will cautiously open their doors. The idea is to start allowing a limited number of people at a time into to shop. For him, this is a hopeful sign that things will begin to return to a sense of normality.