She’s the Louisiana livewire with hair like a pilot light. He’s the hermit-bearded Cornish guitarist who founded Brit-blues could-have-beens The Hoax. It’s tempting to call Greta Valenti and Robin Davey the archetypal odd couple, but their yin/yang as Beaux Gris Gris &The Apocalypse is the perfect fit.
Back in 2019 the alt.blues duo pricked up our ears with their debut release Love & Murder (which ranked at No.13 in Classic Rock’s Albums Of The Year countdown, no less). Now, follow-up Good Times End Times is here to play us out as the world burns.
They predicted the apocalypse
Long before the first PCR test, when lockdown was a term reserved for unruly prisons, Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse foresaw judgement day.
“We were already writing Good Times End Times before the pending end of the world,” says vocalist Valenti. “There was Trump, Brexit, global warming, the metaverse, bitcoin – all these bad things – so the album was heading that way already, and then things just got worse and worse. It’s a dark party album. I figure if there is gonna be an apocalypse, I want to be one of the survivors. I’ll do it Mad Max style.”
They don’t believe in genre
In an elevator pitch, you’d call Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse an alt.blues band, and point to stroppy stompers such as Trouble Is Coming. But that doesn’t square with the ghostly jazz-reggae chop of Bungalow Paradise, or Watching The World Fall Down, which borrows ABBA’s stacked heels from Eurovision ’74.
“People are always coming up and saying: ‘I have no idea what sort of band you are, but I love it’,” Davey says. “Fleetwood Mac, the Stones, y’know, these bands that started with very traditional influences then developed a pop sensibility, that’s where we’ve found ourselves.”
Their songs don’t pull punches
Valenti would rather leave her lyrics to listener interpretation, but she’ll give a few pointers. “Is This The Blues is pretty sarcastic. Growing up in the American South, there’s a big debate over what the blues is. I think that song came out of frustration. We see a lot of rich white kids playing blues music, but also being racist. So that was us kinda calling that out.”
They helped keep America stoned during the pandemic
Valenti and Davey have always been hyperactive. Alongside Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse, they also helm rockier project Well Hung Heart and run their creative agency.
“Six months before the pandemic, I took a job as head of marketing at a cannabis company in California,” says Valenti. “We were deemed essential workers and we were one of the only things open. It was insane. While people were panic-buying toilet paper, they were also panic-buying cannabis. So then we were able to build our own home studio. Thank you, cannabis money!”
They were under attack by giant rodents
In keeping with the doomsday vibe, the band set to work in their home studio (in Orange, California), only to find the album sessions interrupted by a plague of rats.
“We were sitting outside,” says Davey, “and we saw a big one go across a wire into our attic. Then we saw two more. So I went up there and it turned out there was a whole family of twelve rats. And we got each of them out, humanely. So we had this rat drama going on. They didn’t bite through the guitar leads, but we were worried they’d take our internet out, for sure."
They’ve got the work ethic like Jagger
As a renowned session man, Davey’s most memorable commission was an eleventh-hour call-up for the Rolling Stones frontman in 2004. “I was asked by Dave Stewart from Eurythmics to come into the studio at the last minute for the Alfie soundtrack. I’m trying not to fuck up, but also trying to get the most out of the situation and just listen to this icon sing.
"He was just so professional, and to me that’s the ultimate rock star, because that’s what it takes. The crazy people fall by the wayside; the pros are consistently fucking fantastic. That’s what I learnt from Mick Jagger. And that’s why we have the work ethic that we do.”
Good Times End Times is out now via Grow Vision Music/Devil Hills Entertainment.