Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds: Crown of Thorns' and the Plasmatics' Jean Beauvoir

With his distinctive blonde mohawk, Jean Beauvoir struck not just a memorable visual presence in the '80s, as his hard-charging singing and playing shone first as a member of notorious punks the Plasmatics, then Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul and finally a solo effort, 1986's Drums Along the Mohawk. His "Feel the Heat" ended up as the theme song from the Sylvester Stallone cop flick Cobra.

And then, Jean Beauvoir just disappeared - or so it would seem to U.S. audiences. But over in Europe, he kept busy releasing solo records, efforts with his groups Voodoo X and Crown of Thorns, and also writing and producing for other acts.

Beauvoir has since hooked back up with Little Steven, whose Renegade Nation multi-media empire includes a record label (Wicked Cool), two satellite radio stations, a syndicated show - Little Steven's Underground Garage, heard in Houston Sunday nights on 93.7 the Arrow - film division, and even a talent agency.

Beauvoir and Crown of Thorns are now touring behind Faith, the first record by the group available in the U.S. and the debut release of the Lost Cathedral label, which hopes to do for current hard rock and metal acts what Wicked Cool has done for modern garage bands.

Rocks Off recently interviewed Beauvoir (who also serves as Renegade Nation's Managing Director) via e-mail from France.

Rocks Off: So do I have this right - you're the CEO of a company that is releasing your record on one of its labels. How cool is that?

Jean Beauvoir: That's correct! I thought it would be the best place as I could keep a close eye on what's happening with the record, we have a good team and any success benefits the company.

RO: Tell me a bit more about what you hope helps Lost Cathedral stand out as a label, and what future releases are planned.

JB: We are still prospecting and discussing what the exact future plans will be. The industry is changing by the minute, so we are looking at different ways to get music to the audience. We always look for great, cool bands! That comes first.

RO: What did you want to accomplish musically with Faith that perhaps you haven't with any other record?

JB: Hmmm, interesting question! I always try to find the right balance, do things you feel were not accomplished before - just because that's the theory doesn't mean it happens! I love hard rock, yet we love melody, harmonies and interesting chord changes. I try to blend it as best I can to create something that's ours.

RO: What made you decide to write several songs incorporating voodoo spirituality and themes?

JB: It's just a part of me, my upbringing so it comes naturally [note: Beauvoir's uncle is noted voodoo priest Max Beauvoir]. The songs I write or co-write are always based on my life, experiences, what you see others around you, close to you experiencing and what moves you. This is one of those things...

RO: The material veers from hard-rock numbers to slower, more atmospheric ballads. Is it important for you as a writer not to have all one kind of music on there?

JB: Yes, I try to take the fans on a journey, touch different parts of their senses and emotions. Give them subjects that mirror what they might be going through in life so they don't feel alone. Give fantasy, love, mystery, and aggression so that in the end they feel they've been moved.

RO: You've been friends with Little Steven for a long time. Tell me something about his personality that might surprise even his most hardcore fans.

JB: Well, he loves sweets, I can tell you that! If we go out, I eat steaks and he'll go for cakes.

RO: Why do you think you've had more success in Europe than America?

JB: I think it's due to me/us really. We were embraced by Europe and Japan early on as a band so we toured extensively there. After the first [Crown of Thorns] album didn't come out in the U.S. on Interscope as were the big plans, due to some management complications, we never shopped for a new deal and only released albums in the rest of the world.

RO: Does it bother you that the Plasmatics are still remembered by most casual rock fans more for Wendy O. Williams' look and behavior than the music?

JB: Not really. The band was about a making a statement, and the music was more of a soundtrack for our antics and outlandish, rebellious stage show. Pretty trippy childhood for me, and it sure gave the audience a night to remember. Took them out of their everyday ruts. It was what it was. When I left and wanted to start more of a musical career, singing no less! The record companies all wanted to know if I'd blow up some cars. Only then, would they consider signing me.

RO: Any specific memories of Houston?

JB: Actually, I remember playing Houston on my solo tour with the Eurythmics - we were there for a few days and had a blast. It's a great city. I had a Swedish keyboard player and he kept asking me, "Jean, why's everything in this town 'Astro!'" Just the way he would say it with his accent stuck in my mind till now.

RO: What are the future plans for Crown of Thorns as well as yourself?

JB: Well, we will be broadcasting a live show that we did at St Paul's Church in NYC on on August 5 [tonight] at 9:30 p.m. EST and August 6 at 3 p.m. EST. We will also be debuting a very wild video for "Rock Ready" very soon. Keep checking for more info. Tour dates are coming up as well.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero