You’re already familiar with Jean Beauvoir whether you realize it or not. He started out as a mere child playing with the legendary Gary “U.S.” Bonds and still incredibly young, punched a ticket to notoriety as an original member of one of the United States most endearing and influential punk bands, THE PLASMATICS. The Plasmatics inevitably blew up similar to the infamous onstage explosions they were known for and Jean moved on to work with other legendary acts like Little Steven, Bon Jovi and KISS. In the process he released solo albums and carved out bigtime success abroad with his band CROWN OF THORNS. We’ve wanted to talk to Jean for a while and were pleased he got back to us. Read on and please check out Jean’s new pledgemusic campaign here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/jeanbeauvoir
Legendary Rock Interviews: Thanks for talking to us Jean. I’m a big Plasmatics and KISS fan and you’ve been on our list of people we’d like to include for a while now. What projects do you currently have ongoing?
Jean: I’ve been preparing a best of Crown Of Thorns album, co-writing with some Swedish songwriters and also starting to put together ideas for a new CofT album. I also produced a couple of songs for the new posthumous Joey Ramone album which is pretty cool.
LRI: People can google you and see that even though you were young when you first hooked up with the Plasmatics you were already a seasoned vet! Were there any clues early on that the Plasmatics project would be something so unique that we would STILL be fascinated all these years later?
Jean: I knew the concept and band was unique at the time, that was the attraction for me. A band that would allow me to express individuality, self expression, something I always believed in. I guess I’ve always been a little left of center. I think that’s what makes the band memorable to this day.
LRI: Being a Plasmatic you had an opportunity to work in close contact with the late Wendy O Williams. Is there something about her that often goes unmentioned beyond the hype and spectacle of blowing up cars or being half-naked that would surprise many longtime fans?
Jean: Well, as crazy as she may have appeared to be to the outside world she was an incredibly dedicated, hard-working artist who lived for The Plasmatics. She ran 5 miles everyday, we rehearsed every day that we were not on tour like a real day job. She was a health nut and took great care of herself. She was, as we all were, dedicated to the fans who were truly fanatical. They were everything and I really believe her not having the opportunity to continue to be out there for whatever reason was her demise.
LRI: The whole punk scene you were involved with will probably never be equalled in the course of history. In our minds you guys belong in the rock and roll Hall of Fame. Was it interesting working with Neal Smith of the original Alice Cooper band on the second Plasmatics album? Did it change the sound of the band?
Jean: Yeah John, it was an amazing time!! Something truly spectacular and a pretty unique childhood for me! Neal was great. We really got along. He was a fantastic drummer but it actually took him a minute to adjust to the Plasmatics. The style was so different. People didn’t realize that playing at that speed was very difficult, probably the most challenging bass playing I ever did, believe it or not.
LRI: After you got off that ride you hooked up with the legendary Little Steven and continued to grow. How did you wind up getting involved with him and later with writing and playing bass with Gene and Paul in KISS?
Jean: When I left the Plasmatics, I wanted to be solo artist, singing. No one would have it! Every label turned me down and wanted me to blow up more cars! Being stubborn, I turned down offers from Prince and Billy Idol to play more bass. I met Steven through a mutual manager who was handling Gary US Bonds. Bruce Springsteen and Steven were producing a comeback album for Bruce. The manager felt Steven and I would hit it off, so he suggested they do pre-production rehearsals in my NY west 30th street loft.
Steven heard my demos and convinced me to join his project. He felt it would help me get credibility in the industry, since it was obvious that The Plasmatics and Springsteen couldn’t be further apart! I did that for two albums, then felt it was time to move on. I found a new manager who signed me to my first solo deal with Richard Branson’s Virgin records in London.
LRI: And the association with KISS? You wrote and played bass on Animalize and Asylum!!!
Jean: I met Paul Stanley in a dance club in NYC. He came over and me not knowing him without make up, didn’t recognize him. I was always a big KISS fan. He introduced himself and we immediately became friends. Paul and I really had a lot in common. That friendship led to us writing over Chinese food at his place one night. That was the beginning…
LRI: I have to ask a selfish question about one of my favorite songs. Please tell us what went into the creation of “Uh All Nite”. Was it a simple process?
Jean: It was just more wontons in hot sesame sauce! I believe that was our inspiration……….. food (laughs). Still get them sometimes actually…. It was a fun, casual process, we’d just hang on the couch with a couple of guitars and a 4 track machine and that’s it. We’d play around with melodies and chords until we felt we had it. We’d spend some days on the phone working on lyrics. Paul had specific ideas so we’d work it until he felt it was right. Desmond Child is a great lyricist, he came into the mix as well to help tighten everything up.
LRI: You have written with everyone from Lionel to Paul to Desmond and beyond and have a resume that is honestly more staggering than the public may be aware of. What is the one piece of advice you could give to an aspiring and hard working songwriter based on your own high level of professionalism?
Jean: Yes. Do something else! (laughs). Only joking… It’s very competitive and you have to be persistent, have tough skin and be ambitious. Talent, most of the time will rise to the top, but people have to know about you, so you have to try to make sure people do. At the core, learn the craft, it’s an art and it takes time. For some people, it comes easier than for others.
Once you feel you have what it takes, try to find an active publisher that will pitch your songs and get you out there. At the same time, with the internet age and the world at your fingertips, you can find outlets on your own as well. I have a program, www.realmusicopportunities.com for example that helps get new music heard.
LRI: You have recorded several solo albums and obviously enjoy the fruits of your long career and massive worldwide success of Crown of Thorns which has become very lucrative outside our borders. Is the thrill of having another artist achieve with your tune completely different from the thrill of live performance? Do you have a preference?
Jean: I like it all. It’s all balance to me. Just like I enjoy traveling and getting satisfaction from being in different places, I feel the same about my music career.
LRI: Flash back to the very beginning of your education in the music business. If you could tell young Jean one piece of advice at any point in his career when would it be and what would you say?
Jean: I’d probably say to be more open. At the beginning, I was very sure of myself, almost over confident and felt I didn’t want any help, I wanted to do everything myself. Now that I look at it that’s perhaps something I would do differently. I think back to my first experience with my first producer, I was 15 years old!!! Rob Parissi of Wild Cherry , the guy who did “Play That Funky Music”. I wouldn’t listen to one word he said, regardless of his success.
My manager called me to his office, pointed to a bunch of platinum records on his wall and said “When you have one of these, then you can open your mouth kid”. I suggest that an artist be extremely open-minded and learn from others, add that to your toolbox, you can never know enough, in the end, it will just make you that much stronger.
LRI: Thanks again for talking to us! Last question….you have been involved with numerous film collaborations on score and music. Have you given thought to really getting even more involved with that? Is that fulfilling to you?
Jean: You’re welcome! It is fulfilling actually. It’s worked out well for me and in both cases, yes, I’m still actually actively working on doing more music and score work for film and TV, possibly acting