Interview: The Real Beavers’ Bill Rivers speaks about online divisions and the misuse of the word ‘spirituality’

Portuguese quartet The Real Beavers spoke with Joyzine about their new EP Watch It Burn last week, and John Clay caught up with frontman Bill Rivers once more to speak about his inspirations for writing, identity and spirituality.

I see the Bhagavad Gita as integral to most things that I write about, that we are all Arjuna, faced with many challenges, and in Arjuna’s case, a great dilemma. ‘Watch It Burn’ takes this ongoing human ‘inner exploration’, expressing it through the medium of Rock/Pop songs and lyrics.

Themes are general, universal, avoiding being specific about certain external events, an internal dialogue trying to first see the cause of problems and then trying to find solutions to then make decisions : ‘Will you drown or will you swim, see a light shining or watch one dim? (‘Watch It Burn’).  Also, the question of identity is raised, this almost compulsive need to be identified with something and for that something to give you an identity and this will surely lead to a lack of authenticity: ‘They love me for the person that I pretend to be, but when I slip into myself, they ask what’s wrong with me’ (‘Lost’).

Spirituality is a word that is often misused, for some it is just another form of escapism, a la-la land to feel safe and avoid thinking for oneself, but if we are to use this term for the  sake of simplicity, in relation to these songs, I apply it to being aware, to recognise what is false within, to eradicate the BS so the light will come through. It is not something to search for, it is there: ‘You’ve wiped the dust from out your eyes and cleaned up your dirty mind and now you’re coming out’ (‘How Do You Do?). This light is clarity, and from clarity responsible action can be taken. Today, it seems polarisation is more rife than before, knee jerk reactions, uninformed opinions, blame etc. One of the main problems (economics aside) is status, as modern day Yogi Sadhguru points out, we are either looking up to or looking down on someone, never meeting in the middle. Has the cyber world made this seemingly unbroken thread of division clearer?

Social media’s democratic potential of opening the gates to everyone to have a voice has revealed that many refuse or are incapable of leaving their boundary, unwilling to learn, explore, listen, wrapped up in some ideology or ism. It is futile, a dangerous distraction, to be involved in discussions when such lines are drawn: ‘You can’t reason with the blind, you’ll just weaken while they climb’ (‘The Devil’s Loose’). Those who are open to the ‘boundless’ need to keep focused, even empathise with those lost, as we are all lost in some way or another, and to use the tools they have to communicate that simple thing that we are all made of the same stuff, existing in this time, this short moment and to embrace this opportunity, this extraordinary experience, this gift. It is a crying shame that it is wasted by the simple act of being unkind.

In essence, the urgent question the record is asking is ‘What do you want to watch burn?’ The future or the past?

‘Watch It Burn’ is out now.

Interview by John Clay

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