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Interview conducted June 8 2022
Interview published July 15 2022

"If I look in retrospect, I should've probably stuck to one band and continued."

After a career including writing the leading soundtrack for the '80s movie Cobra, working and co-writing with Kiss, the Ramones, the Plasmatics and many more, as well as doing solo stuff and the bands Voodoo X and Crown Of Thorns, it's pretty remarkable that Jean Beauvoir, the man with the mohawk, still is kind of an underdog in the music industry.

Metal Covenant met up with this lightsome fellow at Sweden Rock in June in order to sort his career out a little bit and to find out what he's up to at the moment.

Tobbe: You've aged well, man.

Jean: Well, thank you, thank you. I try to keep it together, you know.

Tobbe: So, let's get to it. I think many people don't realize what great impact you actually had in music, like, 30 or 40 years ago, right?

Jean: God damn! I don't know, I don't know. [Laughs] You know, I think I made some contributions. You know, I always wanted to try to keep some independent careers, like as a producer, as a writer, as an artist. It's just personal challenges and personal goals to see, "Can you do that? Can you have 3 independent careers, that can work together, but can also stand on their own?". And I'm a bit of a workaholic, I have to say, so I end up just doing a lot of stuff all the time.

I don't know what it is and it's like I wonder sometimes, "When are you gonna relax a little bit?". [Laughs] Even during the Covid, I was writing a book [Bet My Soul On Rock 'N' Roll: Diary Of A Black Punk Icon]. And then I wanna make a new album now. And I'm doing this, and I'm doing that. I guess it's just the way I work. You know, just to try to do as much as possible.

Tobbe: If we go back a long time ago, to 1985. The song Feel The Heat did some great stuff for you personally, right?

Jean: Yes, it did. That Stallone thing was really helpful, because, you know, it wasn't that it was just a song on the record or in the film, but he used it for his campaign. And it came as a surprise, you know. We were finishing up the solo record and Feel The Heat was gonna be the first single.

So he was in Burbank, at Warner Bros. Studios, walks in and sees Mary Lambert, who actually, I think, did Pet Sematary. She's a big director, and she was editing my video. He saw it and said, "That's the song I want as a campaign for my film.". And a lot of people don't realize it that at the time he had the biggest advertising budget and the biggest release in, I think, 2300 theaters, of any film in the history of film. He broke his own record of Rambo.

And Cobra really went on to last. It's a cult movie now. So it was a big deal, because every theater played the song for the commercials all the time. And it was everywhere, so it was very helpful. It was. A good luck. It's what it was.

Tobbe: And also other stuff for Kiss and for the Ramones. That also did some good, I guess.

Jean: Yes, yes. Those were busy times actually. That's right, 'cause I had Kiss, Nona Hendryx, John Waite. There was a few people, all at the same time, because I would just go from one thing to the next.

Tobbe: About writing and producing music for other artists. Haven't you ever felt that other guys get the attention that you actually deserve?

Jean: Aaah. [Laughs] You know, sometimes. Sometimes you feel that way. Even though when I went into it I never really looked at it as a competition. I looked at it as an honor and also almost like you get brought in to be a member of that band for a moment. So writing with Kiss, or playing bass on Kiss records, or something else, to me that was a great thing. I was a big Kiss fan when I was young. And I felt, "Great that I can make that contribution.".

So I never felt like, "Oh, I wish Uh! All Night was made for me.". I know that is for Kiss. It's written for Kiss. And the same thing with the Ramones. When they took me into the studio, you know, you tried to be that 5th Ramone and trying to get the most out of them, and combine your thing into them. But I don't look at it like it's me, even though, you know, sometimes I played a lot of the instruments, and you sit around and go, "Wait a minute! This is really me, with Joey singing.". [Laughs]

You know, and that makes me think sometimes. But I don't look at it like, "Oh, I'm mad about it.". I just kind of look at it like, "That's pretty wild!". You know, it's good for me to know that you can accomplish this. And that's why I wrote a book. I realized later that it was a good idea to put everything in a book so that people can actually know later up. You know, before I die, to be honest. You know, I have friends dying left and right. I'm not lying. You know, that's crazy. And started sort of thinking, "It's time to maybe let people know what you did, so that it lives on.".

Tobbe: And are you still as active as you were before with writing songs, and producing, and recording stuff for other artists, or have you slowed down a little bit?

Jean: You know, no. To be honest with you, I did slow down while doing the book. But I still ended up doing stuff. In the past, let's say 5 years, I had 2 K-pop big hits, with Swedish and Norwegian writers actually. I was signed to Universal publishing in L.A. and a guy named Pelle Lidell, who was the head of Universal publishing in Sweden, told me, "Come over here, and come do some work.". He was a fan from back in the day. He says, "We're doing a lot of this. And with different artists.". And I always like adventure, so I came here and did that.

So, we have those, plus I have something with Lordi, that Paul Stanley and I wrote. Like A Bee To The Honey was a song that Paul and I wrote in 1989, and Lordi was doing a special record where they were thinking, "What if we had a hit in '89?", even though they didn't exist. And we were writing together.

We wrote 7 songs together in, like, 3 days. Not fully written, but you know, the melodies, anything. And I told them I have got this song. They listened, they said, "This is great!", and they put it on the album. It was a single for them, which gave them the highest charting album in Germany. Then it just got released on the album [Humanimals] that has 7 albums at the same time [Lordiversity]. That's crazy. [Laughs]

I got to say that guy is a hard worker. He doesn't stop, you know. So that was one thing. And LustfingeR is a German band that asked me to come in and do something. A collaboration for their 40th anniversary. So we did a new version of My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down and we did a great ballad together, as a German/ English duet, which is pretty unique.

So that's going. And then I'm gonna start working on a new album. And I'm in the middle of speaking to a company now about doing a new video. So I would do a film to follow the book. And of course, more records, and touring, and everything else. So, I still keep busy. I do.

Tobbe: For the last 30 years you have kind of jumped back and forth between your solo stuff and Crown Of Thorns. Is it hard to make up your mind to what to put your effort in, like, in a certain point in time?

Jean: Yes. To that point there is a little bit of what you asked me before, "Do you feel that other people are getting credit for your work?". The first Crown Of Thorns record was for the most part a group effort, 'cause I had Tony Thompson, and you know, Micki Free. And some other people, but really those two. But I did the lion's share of the work on that record. [Laughs] Most of the guitars, and all the vocals, you know. So it was a lot.

And then at the next records, a lot of times I did everything. I played all the instruments. I did everything myself. And then I started saying, "Well, this is not right.", because I'm giving credit to something that… And people would say, "Get the original guys!" or "Get this band together!", and I'm like, "But it's just me in the studio.". [Laughs] So I started feeling a little strange about that.

And that's when I decided that I was gonna stop and put everything into my name again. Because that was the most successful thing I had, to be honest, the solo record [Drums Along The Mohawk]. For some reason, I don't know if it's 'cause I wanted to hide behind something a little bit, or to be in a project name instead. I'm not sure if that was the reason or what, but I just said, "I think that I'm short-changing myself here.". You know, 'cause people would say, "Look at Jean Beauvoir. I don't see anything." and then I see this and I see that.

So I finally said, "Let me bring everything back under my umbrella and try to do something that has a little bit of everything, that maybe shows a little bit of the big picture.". Songs you wrote, a Kiss song, or a Ramones song. I was pretty surprised actually that the Ramones songs went as well over as they went here.

Tobbe: I loved them.

Jean: See. I wouldn't really have expected that. I was like, you know, Pet Sematary, I was thinking, "Oh, I don't know. Is that right?". Because the truth is nobody else is playing it. The Ramones don't exist. Who's playing it? Shocker? Nobody plays it. Kiss are not gonna play… So these songs have gone into the abyss, so I might as well do them, you know what I mean? So I just started thinking, as an idea, "Let me try to combine all of these things and maybe it makes an interesting variety of a show.".

Tobbe: You also made that Beauvoir/Free album in 2015, American Trash, and in what way do you look at that collaboration today?

Jean: Okay. I kind of got talked into that, you know, by Micki. [Laughs] Because, you know, when I did the first Crown Of Thorns record, Micki wasn't really… Micki is a talented guy, but he hadn't this stuff going on. I wanted to have a partner, I wanted to have somebody to share things with.

But, you know, people sometimes, when you give things, then they take advantage of it and, you know, then they want too much out of it. So he ended up getting fired out of Crown Of Thorns, because he just got to be just too much. His ego and stuff. But then when he kept bothering me, "Can I get back in the band? Can I get in the band?", I said, "No, but we can do something else. [Laughs] I don't want us to open that can of worms. But okay, let's do something.".

But to be honest with you, he wanted to get the money, he wanted the label. So we did that record. I think there's some good stuff on it, you know. But it further confuses people, probably. I think it confuses people, "Why a Beauvoir / Free record? Who needs it?". [Laughs] But you have to do things to learn, you know. And we had our shortcomings that we didn't get along for.

Then we got back together and we started, you know, hanging out again. And so we wanted to collaborate and work together, and we wanted to find something we could do it with, and I didn't want it to be the Crown Of Thorns 'cause at that point I had already gotten Crown Of Thorns back, I owned it, I owned the trademark, and I didn't wanna mix that up.

Tobbe: But haven't you ever missed being in a band that could have lasted pretty much your whole career instead of doing things on and off?

Jean: Yes. The thing is my solo career was the most successful thing. That's what sold the millions of records, you know. Crown of Thorns did not do that. Voodoo X did not do that. So every time, like even when I went to do the Crown Of Thorns record, I was signed originally by Interscope and a guy named Jimmy Iovine. Jimmy Iovine is a legend in the music business. He didn't want me to make a band record, instead he offered me a solo record. But I was feeling, "Oh. Ah. But I want…", you know.

Tony Thompson was a black drummer, who was a great drummer, and these guys had no outlet, even though he was off with Led Zeppelin and things like that. But he had no outlet. So I'd run into these guys all the time and they were almost like, "Jean. Jean. Can we do something?". 'Cause they saw I was already in that door, and they wanted to try to get involved.

So, I kind of got talked into… [Laughs] But I liked the idea at the time. But I realized that it started hurting me, 'cause even with this festival, I got a call from a guy, many years ago, who told me, "Jean. I'm a big fan of Drums Along The Mohawk and I'd like you to play the festival.". I said okay and we started having conversations. Then I said, "You know, well, I have Crown Of Thorns now, and I'm thinking of doing Crown Of Thorns.". As soon as I said that, I didn't get the festival for 5 years. [Laughs] It's just they weren't interested.

And every time I did that, it would give me pushback. I still like the concept of a band, but you can have that as a solo artist. Ozzy has Randy Rhoads, he has Rudy Sarzo. You can have a wonderful band. And I like sharing things with the band, 'cause it can be lonely being a solo artist, if it's you, by yourself, sitting in a studio doing everything all the time. But if you're doing that for the band… [Laughs] …then it makes no sense. [Laughs] And then the band comes in and says, "Oh yeah! We're a band!". So it's a balance.

But yes, I should have. If I look in retrospect, I should've probably stuck to one band and continued. But maybe that Crown Of Thorns music wouldn't have been the same, maybe the Voodoo X album [Vol. 1 - The Awakening] wouldn't have been the same, just because the feeling that you got from these different guys, who felt that they had a certain part in it. So it's confusing. There's a lot of times in the music business that you go back and say, "I should have done that. I shouldn't have done that.". And you lose years, 'cause mistakes cost you. [Laughs]

So, I think I'm gonna stick to the one thing. And I don't want people to think that that's gonna change the fact… 'Cause for example, I've got a few songs that I've written already for a new record, and it could be Crown Of Thorns, it could be Voodoo X. They're just really good rock songs, you know. So it's not just because it's Jean Beauvoir it's gonna get… soft. [Laughs] You know, I like rock music, I like melodies, so it's always a challenge of trying to find something that's a balance. And it's just what comes. I don't like to have a formula.

See also: a review of the gig the same day

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