The Beathovens – the only band in the UK whose members are all on the autism spectrum and living in full-time care – have released its first single in time for Christmas.
Nearly 20 years after their formation, The Beathovens have released Warm Hearts and Wine, which is available now on iTunes. Also available are two further singles, Growing up in the Seventies and My Life.
The Beathovens write their own songs – described as a twist on rap-rock – and regularly play live. Over the years, they have played with Jools Holland twice – at Cambridge University in 2006 and the Savoy Theatre in 2008 – and appeared at a Welsh music festival with Bob Geldof in 2003. In 2007, they won a regional battle of the bands contest. They've even played at Glastonbury.
The 7-strong band meets weekly to practice at a church in Bromborough, Wirral, under the guidance of performing arts specialists from charity Autism Together, which supports around 500 people on the autism spectrum across the Northwest.
Warm Hearts and Wine was written by the band following a conversation about Christmas and the winter months. Once the lyrics were on paper, band member Paul Earl wrote the melody very quickly.
Growing up in the Seventies was originally penned as a poem by band member Amanda Jenkins and recalls with humour and clarity the era of glam rock, strikes and chopper bikes.
The band was originally formed as the Rolling Beathovens with the aim of allowing anyone with an autistic spectrum condition to communicate and interact through the shared experience of music. As bass player and founding member Earl said: "The thing about playing songs is expressing our feelings."
Lead singer AJ (Alan Jolliffe) added: "Having autism means I find it difficult to communicate with anyone. When we are on stage we communicate with everyone. Music lets me be who I want to be. Having autism makes you not be able to do some things, but in The Beathovens we are saying we are here, this is who we are."
Autism Together activity manager, Dean Ravera, who manages the band, said: "Getting iTunes distribution is a huge step forward for us. This is a group of people who've come together through a love of music and created their own, unique, art form - and it's genuinely carrying a message about what's achievable by people with autism."
The singles can be purchased on iTunes for 99p each or £2.97 for all three tracks. A limited edition CD can be purchased for £7 from Bromborough Pool Garden Centre (3 & 4 The Green, Bromborough Pool Village, Wirral). The CD features Warm Hearts and Wine, My Life and two other tracks.