The Beauvilles go over to the dark side

Full-length debut, Whispering Sin, ultimately finds hope.

Shawn Kyle Beauville maintains a reputation as one of the Bay area's most volatile rock 'n' roll frontmen. A scribe, painter, erstwhile glass blower and former solo acoustic act, he's the quintessential Uncompromising Artist. Among his more memorable moments was a time last winter at a filled-to-capacity Dave Aqua's Lounge in St. Petersburg. Beauville's quartet, The Beauvilles, took the stage in front of a crowd teeming with friends, fellow musicians, radio programmers, reporters and scenesters. The six acts on the roster had been chosen by the local-music support group BAAMO to play a showcase in Austin, Texas, on the eve of the South By Southwest Music Conference.

Disgusted with a first-song blunder by relatively new guitarist Christopher Tolan, Beauville put his arm around him, offered a kiss on the cheek and then pushed his band mate off the stage. The Beauvilles soldiered on as a power trio. Beauville led 'em through a grippingly fierce set marked by manic vocals and furious, intricate guitar solos. In order to operate the effects pedals, the irate musician periodically had to bend down and make adjustments with his hands.

A potential disaster had been transformed into a triumph. Beauville and Tolan made their peace soon after. In fact, Tolan's still in the band, along with drummer Craig Holmes and bassist Johnny Barker.

"I wasn't going to have a guy next to me playing sloppy and messing up our set," Beauville says. Later, referring to his overall philosophy, he says, "If there's separation between yourself and the art, you should get the fuck off the stage."

It's a recent Tuesday night at SoHo dive Tiny Tap Tavern, a bar from which Beauville had once been kicked out. Before ordering, the "20-something" Tampa-native notes that he hasn't had a drink in weeks. "I've just been so focused on the new record lately and thought it would be a good time for a break," he says. "But, I guess, tonight, I'll make an exception."

Beauville's attention for the past two years has been on The Beauvilles' full-length debut, Whispering Sin, which will be unveiled Thurs., Sept. 11 at Crowbar in Ybor City. In between a succession of cross-country van tours, the band recorded the disc at Beauville's North Tampa home and RedRoom Recorder, the Ybor City studio co-owned by Beauville's former collaborator, Porcupine Tree guitarist John Wesley.

Whispering Sin brims with precise fury and bold honesty. The music often swells to the point of becoming unhinged but never loses its way. Densely layered instruments never sound cluttered. Well-placed quiet moments abound. At the forefront, throughout, remain Beauville's strikingly passionate vocals. Jagged guitars and a taut rhythm section capable of navigating twisted time signatures drape Beauville's candid, artfully rendered meditations about emerging from the proverbial back alleys with your soul intact.

The disc includes the song "Lips (Fourteens)," which appeared earlier this year on BAAMO's nationally distributed compilation Cheatin' Heart: Tales of Lies & Love. On The Beauvilles' MySpace site, the track has been played more than 10,000 times. It opens with the line "many are the nights that nothing can cure, asking for less but wanting more." In many respects, the song encapsulates the overall theme of Whispering Sin. "That song in specific really deals with the nonfiction of being, I guess, like, never satisfied," Beauville says. "Lots of people have written songs about the subject, but I really felt strongly that people are constantly longing for something. They try vices and everything to satisfy themselves.

"Most songs on the record deal with what I was going through over the past couple years, being someone who is restless, traveling the country, meeting people and realizing that there are a lot of upset people in the world. We're in general state of unrest. We have more creature comforts than ever before, but people are still depressed and going crazy."

Beauville views the album as a journey by someone full of optimism and perhaps naiveté who finds himself entangled in the hedonism of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle but ultimately "finds personal salvation out of all these horrible and beautiful things," he says. Heavy stuff. Darkness does permeate the album. However, there's hope to be found, as well, in both the lyrics and cathartic charge of guitars.

The unleashing of Whispering Sin coincides with The Beauvilles embarking on a Florida tour that, in addition to the Crowbar date Sept. 11, will find the band opening for the Drive-By Truckers in Ft. Lauderdale and playing the Real Big Deal Festival in Gainesville. The Beauvilles have an East Coast tour planned for October. "We've played a lot of great shows but don't necessarily think that we've played our greatest shows yet," Beauville says.

Incidentally, despite consuming copious beer at the Tiny Tap, the combustible artist earned only one reprimand by the bartender and left, after a lengthy stay, of his own accord.

A previous version of this story contained an error re guitarist Christopher Tolan’s last name. The error has been corrected. 

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