By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Beeman need not be so modest. The recordings have a certain loose, off-the-cuff feel, but the songs themselves are carefully crafted and showcase his adherence to classic pop dynamics: ebullient choruses, clever turns of phrase and songs that are, above all else, memorably melodic and charmingly catchy.
Songwriting didn't come naturally to Beeman. Growing up in California, he played drums in bands until his early twenties. After a spell where he was, in his words, "not doing well," he moved in with his parents, who had relocated to Ballwin. He began waiting tables at a fine-dining restaurant and spending all his free time trying to tackle pop music.
"I had no friends; I had nothing," he recalls. "I bought a digital twelve-track recorder, and my brother had some guitars. I had kinda played guitar — I knew about three chords. I couldn't sing worth a damn, and I couldn't write anything."
Taking what he terms a "blue-collar" approach to songwriting, Beeman began planting the seeds for what would become Old Lights material. "I read for four or five hours a day, and I played guitar and sang and recorded for another five or six [hours] every single day for about a year and a half. I still didn't make anything cool, but I thought it was great. It's horrifying to listen back."
Such workmanlike dedication to his craft — and his no-bullshit ability to evaluate his own work — helps Beeman treat his role as a songwriter and bandleader like a discipline and not some passing fancy.
"I think that's one advantage of being a drummer," he says. "I wasn't a little kid when I started writing songs. I had enough sense to know that I sucked. It was apparent every single day. No matter how cool I wanted to be, I couldn't play it or sing it. So I had a lot of work to do, and that stuck with me."
Instead of celebrating the release of Every Night with the usual album-release show and a string of gigs, Beeman has already begun work on what he hopes will be two future Old Lights records. To do so, he called on another industry connection: singer-songwriter Richard Swift (another Secretly Canadian artist), who invited Beeman to record in his studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon. The connection with Swift is a match made in indie-rock heaven: Both men share a love of piano-based pop, wryly observant lyrics and a high, yearning voice.
"I've always loved the way his records sound," Beeman says of Swift. "I just approached him and said, 'What do you think about me coming up there and reading, writing, fly-fishing and making records?' He's totally down with that."
Beeman and pianist Kristin Dennis (who's also his girlfriend) are there now recording. When they return to St. Louis, hopefully with two records in tow, don't expect Beeman to sit still for too long. As a once and future road warrior, he hopes to embark on a national tour in the near future.
"I love the freedom in it," Beeman says of touring. "It's a complete bitch, and nobody understands unless they do it, but it suits me.
"Other than playing music or recording music, all I can do is bartend. And I don't like that," he continues, laughing. "It just feels like my proper place. It's an adventure, and I like that about it."
Every Night Begins the Same is available via www.scdistribution.com starting October 20.