When Beautiful Dudes’ frontman Tom Bevitori wrote the songs for their sophomore album Radio, he found himself finally confronting the demons of his past while also facing larger social ills through this personal lens. Covering his own relapse, feelings of disconnection and abandonment, the opioid epidemic, and facing America’s upswing of reactionary politics; Bevitori and the Dudes captured these serious topics the best way they knew: heavy riffs, catchy hooks, and an eye on catharsis. A deep dive, though, reveals acutely vulnerable lyrics that contrast wildly with the band’s brazen sound.
“The intention behind what we are doing is not just about having a good time and getting fucked up. It’s about being okay with having emotions, getting pissed, and being real,” shares frontman Tom Bevitori of the Nevada City, California-based quartet. “My life is great right now, but I had this emotional pain I hadn’t talked about before. On this album, I felt ready to talk about it.”
The Dudes are Tom Bevitori, Robbie Landsburg, Art Echternacht and Zach Peach--all born and raised champions of Nevada City, California. Their playful band name commemorates a night out at a local bar when a woman called the group a bunch of “beautiful dudes.” Tom actually started the band ten years ago, but put the project on hold upon moving to Portland, Oregon. While there, he married and enjoyed a successful career in the folk and country scene. Things took a painful turn, though, when he endured the one-two punch of being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and suffering through a bitter divorce. Throughout that time, Tom’s struggles with substance abuse caught up with him. Alongside Crohn’s disease, the result was very nearly fatal. To get healthy, he opted to move back home to Nevada City. It was then that he resurrected Beautiful Dudes as a rock & roll catharsis.
Beautiful Dudes’ self-titled debut album captured a time when Tom had remarried, had his first child, and truly enjoyed returning to his musical home. “Our first album was uplifting. It was about my new life,” Tom acknowledges. “During the last album cycle, though, I relapsed, and this album talks about the shame I felt, and it addresses other residual shit that I began to realize I never quite shook off.”
Radio’s first single “The Shape I’m In” is singular and timeless, inviting comparisons to master tunesmiths that make hit songwriting look easy--think early Beach Boys, Ramones, and even The Jesus and Mary Chain. “That song is about sickness. Society being sick. Feeling that personally, and myself being sick, frail, and vulnerable. With Crohn’s Disease, since the gut is so attached to emotions, I feel like there’s a sense of inescapable sadness. With this song, I’m finally being open about that hurt,” Tom shares.
The band named “Peace Train” as a sort of dark joke in light of Trump’s America. The song’s mid-tempo and minor key moodiness captures the widespread feeling of ominous helplessness like an anthemic dirge. The extremely personal “Lose My Head” epitomizes the vulnerable, shame-filled lyrics vs. brazen sound paradox. Anthemic garage-punk is paired with courageously candid storytelling. “That’s about my relapse. It’s about trying to get away from what is going on and changing my headspace, but every time I say ‘fuck it,’ I get myself into trouble,” Tom shares.
Tom has been able to put his life back together and get back on track with the music that was so formative to him coming up. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m married with a kid, and my band is on a rad label,” he says, marveling. “Personally, this is the pinnacle of what I’ve done with my music, so far, and I want to keep progressing and keep the music accessible to people who want to hear it.”