"If you’re thinking about what you’re playing or technique while you’re performing – you’ve lost the emotional aspect of the music, you are trying to play. All the technique, drilling and hard work has to be done offstage, in your living room, in the shower, or in your head while you’re driving. People don’t want to pay for a ticket to see someone studying, they come for an experience that going to match or surpass their feelings."
Bees Deluxe: Hallucinate Acid Blues
Bees Deluxe is a British/American band who have played with Ronnie Earl, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Matt Schofield, Roomful of Blues, Walter Trout and David Maxwell. A modern four-piece blues band celebrating the music of Billie Holiday, Etta James, Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Tinsley Ellis, Freddie King & Roomful of Blues with respect and a dash of hot sauce. Receiving positive reviews wherever they play from Maine to Florida - and everywhere between. Showcasing a catalog of originals and classic covers, many on CD played by National and International radio stations. Bees Deluxe delivers the musical goods everywhere they can - in concert halls, theaters, bars and Festival stages. The four-piece band is spearheaded by British guitarist Conrad Warre, and Carol Band on keyboards, harmonica and vocals. Jim Gildea on bass and vocals and Paul Giovine on drums and percussion provide the foundation of the band on stage and in the studio.
(Photo: Conrad Warre & Carol Band of Bees Deluxe)
"Hallucinate" (2023) is the new, all-original album by Bees Deluxe. Recorded between tour dates after the past twelve months and produced by Joe Egan, the album celebrates the band's distinct perspective on on what they call "acid blues." Hallucinate is a collection of contemporary tales about aliens, gasoline, French bread, guitars, gambling, and asteroids, and features the angular guitar pyrotechnics of the British bandleader Conrad Warre, the harmonica laments of keyboard player Carol Band and a slew of Boston-based friends and musicians who were coerced into adding their voice and their instruments to the tracks on the album. While respecting the traditional aspects of the Chicago analog blues in the 60s, Bees Deluxe tread where the other blues musicians fear to go. Lyrically and melodically the band stretches the edges of their compositions, instruments and voices into the uncharted wilds of the musical world.
How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started making music? What has remained the same about your music-making process?
I’ve see-sawed between using too many effects and toys and tempos and key changes – to oversimplification – right now I'm halfway between the two extremes. The more time I spend playing live onstage and even while recording in the studio – I now use fewer effects and I tend play less notes! But what has remained throughout my musical life is the inherent idea that the music I play and compose has to have a groove or a rhythmic flow – without that it’s just organized noise.
What's the balance in music between technique and soul? What is the role of music in today’s society?
If you’re thinking about what you’re playing or technique while you’re performing – you’ve lost the emotional aspect of the music, you are trying to play. All the technique, drilling and hard work has to be done offstage, in your living room, in the shower, or in your head while you’re driving. People don’t want to pay for a ticket to see someone studying, they come for an experience that going to match or surpass their feelings.
Currently you’ve one more release with Bees Deluxe. How did the idea of band come about?
Bees Deluxe is a collection of like-minded blues and modern jazz musicians who are based in New England, but are willing to tour from Maine, in the north, and all the way south to Miami in Florida. We’ve had a consistent four-piece line-up for the past four or five years which has released two singles, an EP, a live album recorded at the WUML Radio Station, and now two studio albums both produced by Joe Egan: “Mouthful of Bees” which was a mix of covers and originals and the latest, “Hallucinate” which is all original songs and tunes.
"I’ve see-sawed between using too many effects and toys and tempos and key changes – to oversimplification – right now I'm halfway between the two extremes. The more time I spend playing live onstage and even while recording in the studio – I now use fewer effects and I tend play less notes! But what has remained throughout my musical life is the inherent idea that the music I play and compose has to have a groove or a rhythmic flow – without that it’s just organized noise." (Photo: Bees Deluxe)
Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album “Hallucinate“?
We’ve experienced two obvious extremes in the recording process – from over production – I allowed us to be in a musical position to where the “producers” would spend an entire eight-hour shift tweaking the individual beats of the bass drum on one song, which had been recorded live with three different microphones – to the opposite, where we’ve recorded the entire band live and simultaneously in the same room face-to-face with no overdubs or drop-ins!
However: recording “Hallucinate” was a completely different animal – some tracks were initially built from just the drums, recorded by Paul Giovine in his living room, he would send me his percussion tracks in high-res wav format, then I recorded accompanying rhythm guitars and scratch vocals in my living room, and sent the files to our producer, Joe Egan, who assembled them and summoned Carol Band our keyboard player, to come to the studio to lay down her keyboard parts, we would take turns recording bass tracks – while some of songs were recorded as musical “basic” recordings of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards direct to tape – then we would pick the best songs and recordings and superimpose the vocals, trumpets, kaossilator and miscellaneous instruments. The whole album took about twelve months between recording and mixing, one song at a time between live shows, and rehearsals, whenever anyone could get to the studio – and we invited friends and musical guests to drop by and throw their different instrumental hats in the ring.
What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?
I was onstage in Germany and there was a young man sitting in front of me, between the monitors with his feet hanging into the orchestra pit – my first instinct was to kick him off the stage – but something in the back of my mind resisted the temptation to move him, so I left him alone all through the show – he would look up at me occasionally smiling with approval as we played the show. We finished the set, and ran offstage, then when we came back on for an encore – he was gone. We went back to green room to cool down, and there was the same young man standing on a pair of crutches – the audience had put him up on the stage for his safety! To this day I try not to take anything I think for granted!
One of my fondest musical memories is playing at night in a ruined castle courtyard in Austria, to a crowd of Hells Angels on their motorbikes, at the end of each song they would flash their headlights and sound their horns in approval.
"When I was young, I had to make a choice between the arts and music, I chose to study Graphic Communications so as not to get sick of playing and listening to music by overstudying it. So, I graduated as a graphic designer but retained my love of music." (Photo: Conrad Wade 0f Bees Deluxe)
Are there any memories from The English Beat, the Specials, and the Selector which you’d like to share with us?
When the Two Tone Label blew up in London, I was living in a flat in Notting Hill Gate, and would unplug my telephone from the wall at night in order to sleep. When I woke up in the morning and plugged the telephone back in – the phone would start ringing immediately and continued to ring all day. I was playing guitar, singing, playing in a touring band, and managing two bands, one an all-girl ska band “The Bodysnatchers” who became enormously successful very quickly. We were offered the opening slot on an Elvis Costello European tour, but would have to pay their management 10,000 pounds for the privilege so we turned the tour down. Meanwhile I was writing for three different music publications simultaneously: Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
When Jackson Pollock was being interviewed about a painting he was working on, the reporter pointed out what looked like a horse’s head on the canvas stretched out in front of them on the studio floor. Jackson asked him where he saw it, and once it was shown him, he obliterated if with a few brush strokes. He wanted nothing recognizable – I frequently use that story as a model for when I’m playing – if I think I’m about to play something I’ve played before - I break it apart immediately, and try to play something I’ve never played or heard before.
Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?
When I was young, I had to make a choice between the arts and music, I chose to study Graphic Communications so as not to get sick of playing and listening to music by overstudying it. So, I graduated as a graphic designer but retained my love of music.
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