WILLIS EARL BEAL’s story is the stuff of legend: born and raised in Chicago, Beal was “discovered” by FOUND magazine publisher/This American Life contributor Davy Rothbart while living semi-homeless in Albuquerque, NM, a period which found Beal posting fliers and self-portraits around town with his personal phone number, seeking friends. Beal left his CDRs and zines in coffee shops and the like, simply hoping to connect, and connect he did: Beal’s boundless imagination and charisma are such that he quickly ascended from Albuquerque oddball to a known quantity back in Chicago; from there, he went on to TV appearances and sold out shows in the UK and the European mainland.
Beal was signed to XL’s Hot Charity imprint, releasing a handful of albums and EPs in quick succession; his most recent LP with Hot Charity, Nobody Knows., even saw him collaborating with Cat Power’s Chan Marshall and members of TV On The Radio. From there, he went on to star in the Tim Sutton film Memphis, a hit at Sundance 2014 which is currently streaming on Netflix.
Creatively restless, Beal bowed out of his contract with XL/Hot Charity last year, releasing his last record Experiments In Time himself (via CDBaby). Ever advancing into new sonic vistas, Beal’s work becomes increasingly dream-like and individual with each recording and performance, recalling everything from Tom Waits to something straight out of Twin Peaks.
“A born seducer, part of Beal’s routine is to draw his listeners into dark places, lower his eyes, jingle a set of keys, and grin.” -Mike Powell, Pitchfork
“…Alien and disconnected from any particular era or culture existing outside of his own frenzied imagination.” -Fred Thomas, All Music Guide