By: Kyle DiRaddo
In music, timing is everything. From time signatures and key changes to show times and tour schedules, timing means everything to a band and its potential success. That doesn’t mean, however, that all timing has to be perfect timing in order to make good things happen.
Several months ago, I had the opportunity to video chat with Tim Beavers II to discuss his new band, The Mighty Good Times. As some of you may recall, Tim had a show scheduled for New Year’s Eve of 2019 and no band. After putting some feelers out, he was able to recruit a group of musicians and The Mighty Good Times was born. The gig was a success and the band was ready to get things moving except that a global pandemic blew up the entire world and everyone’s plans went to shit.
The band, like everyone else, adjusted and made lemonade out of some pretty jacked up lemons. Belly Laughs & Broken Bones, the band’s inaugural album, is a seven-track offering that was recorded over a single weekend in the Jackson Ward section of Richmond, Virginia at a studio called, suitably enough, The Ward. Tim and his bandmates, bassist Jake Lawrence, violinist Tara Dillard, drummer Ryan Bowman, and keyboardist Brittany Potter, put together an album that deals with addiction, rehabilitation, love, loss, and political unrest making it both very personal and affectively universal at the same time.
The Mighty Good Times formally introduces themselves to the world with a driving rock and roll tune called “Right??”. This song really sets the tone for the rest of the album as it shows off what a full and unique sound the band truly has. Touching on “patriarchal bullshit”, as Tim put it, “Right??” really shows off Dillard’s chops on the violin as she takes a very prominent role in this quick and to the point introductory ditty.
With an opening that would make the most die-hard Beats Antique fan drool, “Call Me Lefty”, clocks in second and is definitely my favorite song on the record. “Lefty” doesn’t allow the band to take their foot off the gas and might even push it down a little harder. Driven by a pulsating beat and the natural angst in Beavers’ voice, “Call me Lefty” takes a fresh look at relationships gone wrong and when I asked him about it, Tim said, “I would never make a song that was a big ‘fuck you’ to a person…but I do have a lot of ‘fuck you’ in me.” If there is a better description for this song, I certainly don’t care to know what it is.
Having struggled with addiction for well over half of his life, Beavers opened up about the next song on the album entitled “Incarceration Blues”. Following a relapse during his nearly decade-long battle with heroin, he was arrested after overdosing in his car. He was taken to the hospital and stabilized and then taken to jail. He had this to say of the incident:
“They put me in jail and I figured somebody would bail me out. Nobody would bail me out though because I really needed to like, straighten up and so…my friends and family wouldn’t bail me out of jail until I agreed to go to rehab. I agreed, but it took about a week to find a place with a bed open…so I sat in jail really sick, dope sick, and that was the worst week ever. They were like, ‘Why don’t you go to the detox place,” and I said, ‘They have a detox place? I didn’t know that…it’s my first time in jail!’ I went and asked the officer on duty and they really don’t give a shit about you. There’s no clocks in there and they won’t tell you what time it is or they’ll lie to you about it…I said, ‘Can you send me over to the detox unit,’ and they said, ‘No, you have to go in there on intake. We can’t transfer you over there.’ So, I had to sit in there and tough it out for a week. When I got out of there I was clean and I had just been through the worst shit I’d ever been through and when I got to rehab that was the first time I’d had access to a pencil and paper and I’d been just working those lyrics all the way there on the drive from jail to rehab…and I just downloaded all that shit onto paper.”
The song is a very raw look at how a flawed system would rather punish than rehabilitate. In the week he was in jail, Beavers met and talked with many people in for a myriad of reasons and he came to the conclusion that not all punishments fit their respective crimes making the final line of the song, “…rehabilitation is a joke, I hope you choke when you say liberty and justice for some” all the more fitting.
Batting clean-up is the album’s title track, “Belly Laughs & Broken Bones” and was written in honor of Tim’s best friend, Jared Murphy, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving a large hole his large presence had filled for so many years. Adding to this difficult time was the fact that Tim fell in love at around the same time Jared passed so the song is a complex look at two of the strongest conflicting emotions one can experience: grief and love. The juxtaposition of those feelings can be heard throughout the song as it is an upbeat tune with a heaviness surrounding the words that can feel like two waves colliding. This song is powerful and raw and anchors the entire album with its honesty, despair, and looking to a hopeful future.
Coming off a song so laden with emotions, The Mighty Good Times turn up the heat a little bit in the break-neck “What I Want”. This frenzied middle finger to the 1% as they continue to reap the benefits of a society geared toward them while most people work just as hard if not harder continue to struggle with living paycheck to paycheck. At its core, “What I Want” is a look at what millions of people deal with every single day. They have no way of improving their situation and those in a position to help sit back and do nothing. “I ain’t got no million bucks/I ain’t got no good luck/But nobody gives a fuck…”. That really says it all.
“One, two, one, two, fuck you” is the opening of a song appropriately titled “Rage”. Written at a time where it seems that no one in public office or positions of power are held accountable for their actions, “Rage” takes a look at today’s America as it appears to be on the brink of collapsing in on itself. Drawing from Rage Against the Machine and poet Dylan Thomas, Beavers’ vocals are guttural and a true embodiment of the anger the country as a whole is feeling. Police brutality, dishonest politicians, and fracturing legislation fuel this musical middle finger to a system that is truly broken while choosing to stand with those who would stand up against it.
The final track on the album, “Just Me”, is a departure from the rest of the record and from “Rage” especially. While the narrator fully admits to struggling with being self-conscious and feelings of doubt, he chooses to search for a silver lining where one might be difficult to find. He asks for trust, belief, and love and chooses to believe that “Everything is gonna be alright/Just make it through one more night”. As close to a ballad as you are going to find with The Mighty Good Times, the change of pace and feel from the other six tracks makes “Just Me” a perfect way to close out the album and acts as a kind of cliff hanger. It leaves the listener wanting more and wanting closure that we rarely find as human beings. There is hope, yes, but there is also the knowledge that just because we want it and ask for it, doesn’t mean we’re going to get everything wrapped up in neat little bow.
The irony isn’t lost on anyone that a band called The Mighty Good Times would start up at a time that most people would call anything but. However, from these polarizing, lonely, and scary times we live in came a band that wasn’t afraid to say exactly how they felt without a bunch of flowery metaphor leaving their lyrics open to interpretation. “Belly Laughs & Broken Bones” is honest and whether you agree with them or not, you can feel everything they’re saying. This is a band that has a very high ceiling and this album proves that out of turmoil and strife can come really good, powerful music that can make its voice heard through the din of a very loud time in history.
Keep your eyes open for more from The Mighty Good Times because according to Tim:
“We have a bizarre amount of new tunes already as a new band and this is…chapter one in a fucking novel of new albums we’re about to put out.”
“Belly Laughs & Broken Bones” is available NOW through all of the major music streaming platforms including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Music. Hard copies will be available in mid-March. For those you who are interested in potentially grabbing a vinyl copy, if they can generate enough support, they will press a limited amount of copies so be sure to hit them up on social media @themightygoodtimes or shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about the Kickstarter!