From dancing with the guy who sang Chocolate Salty Balls, a two-finger salute from Jonny Rotten and stopping the Gallagher brothers squabbling for a minute, it was a rock ‘n’ roll life well spent.
His Britpop band moshed in Glastonbury’s mud, rocked Reading, supported the Sex Pistols’ 1990s comeback and was an undercard for Oasis in their early days.
Legendary DJ John Peel once said “in the mid-90s every town had a teenager who only ever wore a 60ft Dolls T-shirt” as the Welsh punks became the face of ’90s rowdy rock.
Blowing £10,000 on a bender was perhaps at the extreme end, but you get the picture that Dolls drummer Carl Bevan enjoyed indulging in the excesses of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
“There was a lot of gigs, a lot of laughter and stuff got broken and brain cells sacrificed in the name of rock ‘n’ roll,” recalls the son of a preacher man.
“I was fresh out of church where I learned to play – dad Ray was a pastor, the rocking reverend who had a record deal in the ’60s. I got corrupted by two naughty older brothers. It was a blur but had a blast.”
Getting booted out of a Los Angeles club for splitting his slacks dancing with Isaac Hayes – the Oscar-winning musical legend behind Soul Man, Theme from Shaft and Chef from South Park – was a feather in the cap for a 20-something who worked hard but played harder.
“It was an LA party and I blagged my way into Isaac’s dressing room and said ‘me and you, dance floor, now’,” recalls Carl.
“I pulled off a Cossack which I know impressed him. But my trousers were tight and split from crotch to ankle so the bouncers grabbed me and threw me out.”
Sound engineers used to say he was one of the loudest around – just what founding members Richie Parfitt and Mike Cole were looking for in a drummer – but the musical menace in which he beat his drum has taken a toll.
His wrists and arms pay the price for decades of drumming so after taking the “terrifying” choice to quit music, those creative hands are taking a more relaxing route.
So from being in a chaotic collective of “three lads from Newport” playing in front of thousands, his life is rather more solitary – just acrylics and artistic inclination, with occasional interaction from dog Billy.
“I’m a naive self-taught artist that just paints the greatest hits of stuff I like,” said the 47-year-old part-time IT technician.
“I don’t know if I’m doing anything right or wrong. I just try and be better with every painting and people seem to like them as virtually every one has sold – and that’s mind-blowing.”
After dabbling in what he calls his life’s “B-side” for about two years and with his art GCSE, he started seriously earlier this year, giving him a “focus” and already his work is either being placed in galleries or sold.
“Painting has been amazing for my sanity, especially in lockdown,” said Carl.
“I always thought when I’m done with music, I’d try art. The place I work had an art competition for two years and after initially dismissing it, at the last-minute I drove to Hobbycraft and bought £20 of paints – and won. It was my light bulb moment.
“Drumming had stopped being fun. Finishing music was painful as it was my life but art quickly filled any void so I didn’t miss it.
“I’m one of these people who find other people overrated. I’m happy in my own company.”
He had a funny way of showing it.
For the best part of a decade he revelled in relentless touring with his raucous rabble – crowd surfing, smashing up drum kits and all-night sessions on the 60ft Dolls party bus.
Bevan shared joint custody of an “imaginary spider monkey called Leeky” with Ash frontman Tim Wheeler, was drinking buddy with Pavement singer Stephen Malkmus during a tour in Japan and helped give BBC presenter Lauren Laverne’s Kenickie a break when they supported the Dolls in the mid-90s.
The noise from guitar bands reverberated from the legendary TJs venue – and that’s where they first met Liam and Noel Gallagher.
“Oasis had been recording in south Wales and played TJs so asked us to support,” said Carl.
“I remember walking into TJs during their sound check and I was met with a wall of noise – you could tell these were something special.
“Liam’s swagger is very real. Both brothers were good as gold and absolutely lovely, among the least arrogant rock stars I’ve met.
“We then toured with them and played in a Knebworth warm-up show. Every time we played, they watched us which was a compliment and really nice because not all bands do that.”
The Dolls shared bills with the Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop, playing festivals like Reading, T In The Park, Phoenix and Glastonbury after their critically-acclaimed adrenalin-fuelled record The Big Three.
“How else would you want to spend your ’20s?” he recalled.
“We were thinking about reforming a few years ago but I don’t think it was for us.
“We were destined to burn bright and quickly fizzle out. It was pure energy, chaotic tension and vanity-free rock ‘n’ roll.
“If I was to do that now, I’d last 10 days before they took me home for an early bath and cup of cocoa.”