Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
In a different life and in a different place, The Beat Strings lead singer Adam Bolts would be the point-and-shoot, bull's eyed tabloid fodder that former Libertine Pete Doherty is over there in the UK. He wouldn't necessarily have to be a heroin addict to accomplish this - though that always helps. Here in Iowa, it could be meth, but we'd recommend staying away from the stuff, for the music and his teeth would suffer a great loss. He could be that talked about gentleman artist who can't stay out of the doghouse or little scraps of trouble for any amount of money in the world.
He'd be comfortably out-of-control, with a mind full of haywire and a body that listens to it. The boozing would love him and he'd love it right back. The drugs could be there for him to experiment with and abuse, should he have enough free time for all of them. He could squat in a grotesque house in a big city and somehow be able to collect himself enough in the squalor to throw together these slices of irresistible glam rock that make all of the she wolves howl at the bright moons. He could be that guy, irascible and shifty, full of the kinds of midnight-black stories that are terminally far-fetched, but believable, passable as frames from his life's reel.
The songs that he's already writing are here to show that he can be that guy, but he's got the life he's always had in a place that he's very familiar with. The unglamorous college town that he calls home doesn't produce many of these kinds of gloriously wrecked individuals. It might produce a wide receiver for an Arena League football team or a skilled mathematician, but someone with a take on the bad seeds and maybe more than a taste for alcohol tends to just become gutter rot. That's only if they've not got music to channel their leanings into. Bolts doesn't necessarily have the back story to be one of those It guys, but he does what he can to bring as much of that dramatic abandon to every song he writes. When he was in town, he had to make an important phone call to his pizza parlor employer - forgetting that he was supposed to work that night, delivering pizzas.
Before he dialed, he thought out-loud whether or not he should just tell the truth or make up a bold-faced lie and take the easy way out. He told the truth - nothing like the him that he puts in his songs would probably ever do. It's just not colorful enough for the big arena rock-sounding debacles that he writes and sings about (one in particular involves a queen who sells her skin to have her husband, the king, killed by an assassin). He'd need something more to make it "real" material for a Beat Strings song, which can bend into the kinds of places that Duran Duran, Bowie and .38 Special take us at different times - essentially spacey, buoyant tales of women and being alive. There's a decadent frost to the feel and intention of most of the five-piece band's work and it reminds you of the days of big hair-dos and the 1980s infatuation with synthesizers (not the infatuation that the Get Up Kids inspired in the late 90s) and rock and roll that set out to get tail. The Beat Strings likely respect the hell out of Def Leppard as much as they respect the hell out of someone like Tom Waits. They respect an absurd life that gives you the opportunity to understand it better through brazen drunkenness or the imagining of what that could be like.
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