The Beauvilles: Emergent rock stars hit their stride
Who they are: Shawn Kyle (vocals, guitar), Chris Tolan (guitar), Johnny Barker (bass), Craig Holmes (drums).
Their story: Mentions in Rolling Stone and other national media outlets, a headlining set this weekend at South by Southwest ‚Äî all of it was a long time coming for one of Tampa‚Äôs most hard-working bands, the Beauvilles, a majestic, intense and dynamic rock band with no convenient comparisons or gimmicks, just the artistic vision of frontman Shawn Kyle.
The goods: Click here to listen to the Beauvilles' single Snow. And keep reading for the full story on how Kyle went from lounge lizard to roots rocker to alt-glam hero...
Mentions in Rolling Stone and other national media outlets, a headlining set this weekend at South by Southwest ‚Äî all of it was a long time coming for one of Tampa‚Äôs most hard-working bands.
‚ÄúThe last 12 months have been very intense,‚Äù Beauvilles frontman Shawn Kyle says. ‚ÄúA year ago, I was not sure if I could keep doing this, not sure if I could emotionally finish our new record, Whispering Sin. Since then, the record sold out of its first pressing.‚Äù
In the beginning, the band‚Äôs identity wasn‚Äôt clearly defined. Kyle‚Äôs band started out around the turn of the century, playing in venues like the Atomic Age Cafe and Lounge in Ybor City, looking like some kind of retro lounge, wearing velvet jackets and wooing Bettie Page girls. A year or so later he and the ‚ÄôVilles began to sound a bit rootsy. And then there was a garage phase. The musicians expertly played and impressed others, but through it all, it sounded somewhat awkward.
Regardless, Kyle was a tireless perfectionist and went on long, brutal tours.
Fast forward to the middle of the decade, and the Beauvilles evolved into the group we have now: a majestic, intense and dynamic rock band with no convenient comparisons or gimmicks, just the artistic vision of Kyle, who, with bandmate Craig Holmes on drums, enlisted Johnny Barker on bass and Chris Tolan on guitars.
Tolan knew Kyle before joining the band. ‚ÄúHe had a bunch of the demos that I had given him,‚Äù Kyle says, ‚Äúand he learned them without letting us know, so that when he showed up to audition, he just pretended that he figured all the songs out on the spot.
‚ÄúJohn has also toured in numerous bands from the Bay area, and was also a longtime friend. He was the first person we called about joining on bass. He comes from a punk and ska background, but also has been a club DJ for a number of years and adds a different and more driving feel to the band.‚Äù
Indeed. Whispering Sin‚Äôs powerful oomph, teeming urgency and rhapsodic heartbreak finally showcased the Shawn Kyle who needed to bust out and find his proper outlet.
The band worked around the clock recording, touring and promoting the CD. A slick music video for the single Snow, sporting the gravitas of a firing brigade and starring a cigarette-drooping Kyle, got airtime on MTVU and other cable channels.
‚ÄúWe did a couple southeastern tours,‚Äù Kyle says, ‚Äúdid some opening dates for the Drive-By Truckers, were invited as an official artist to SXSW in Austin Texas, did another tour to D.C. and back, and we just played the Harvest of Hope Festival with Against Me!, the National and Girl Talk. It was pure madness.‚Äù
-- Story by Julie Garisto, photo by Luis Santana/tbt*