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To Bee Or Not To Bee: An Exclusive Interview With KILLER BEE Vocalist BRIAN "BEE" FRANK"

By Philthy Phil, 8-Foot Viking
Sunday, January 29, 2017 @ 10:15 AM

"I don't think all musicians write and start to play music to be rock stars. If you do you're probably barking up the wrong tree."

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Live Photo By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography

KILLER BEE have been killing it on stage, in the studio and on video for more than a quarter of a century, and yet you may never have heard of them. Since the release of the band’s seventh studio album, Eye In The Sky in October, the Swedish band with roots in Canada have been making a lot of noise with their back to basics, raw sound reminiscent of early SCORPIONS, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE and winning over a new generation of fans.

The current line-up is comprised of Brian “Bee” Frank - Vocals and founding member, Anders “LA” Rönnblom - Bass and founding member, Andre Hägglund - Guitar, Chris Sjöström - Guitar, Shawn Duncan - Drums & Percussion and Denny DeMarchi on keyboards.

“Bee” checked in from his home in Sweden:

KNAC.COM: Still rockin’ after all these years, eh?

FRANK: Yep, it doesn't want to seem to give up for some reason.

KNAC.COM: I’ve got to tell you, the new album, Eye In The Sky is very good, straight ahead, hard rock, your vocals sound great...I like it a lot.

FRANK: Thanks alot, glad to hear you like it. Thanks for the compliment.

KNAC.COM: Describe your music for our audience.

FRANK: Well I like to class it as traditional 70s type of rock but I've seen a lot of reviewers classing it as 80s style rock so i guess it's kind of a crossover between early, mid-80s with a 70s twinge to it.

KNAC.COM: A lot of people, if they missed out on what KILLER BEE was producing in the early 90’s are going to think, “Is this a brand new band?” Why do you think that is?

FRANK: Well, because they haven't heard of it. I mean, we did a lot of our work in the 90s over in Europe and unfortunately due to some unfortunate incidents that happened at the end of the 90s we took a long break and therefore what we were just on the way to build up fizzled out to nothing again. Coming back now after 12, 14 years of a break it's like we're a whole new band with only 3 albums out. Okay, that's fair enough, I can accept that. It's good when they can actually follow back on the band's history and find out 'wow, there's a lot of other stuff in here'. I think we all did that back in the....when we bought our first albums when we were kids and we found an album and thought that maybe it was the first album from a band and it was like the fourth and you go back and find stuff, you know? It's kind of cool.

KNAC.COM: When you think back on 1985 when you met bass guitarist Anders “LA” Ronnblom, and you decided to find your your way together on the metal highway, you guys endured a lot of turmoil that might have discouraged most young musicians from continuing on. Talk about those days a little and explain how in the world you two kept your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road that ultimately brought you where you are today.

FRANK: Well it all started in '85, I had been in a band in the 80's called RAPID TEARS from Toronto, which was basically an underground metal band that started in the 70's. In '84 I left that band and in '85 Anders came over and I got a call from a recording studio called The Sound Kitchen and the guy said, 'Hey man, I got a band over here from Sweden and they don't have a singer, you wanna come in and do some tracks?' I said sure, I don't know, so I got in my car on a Friday afternoon and went out there and we recorded 4 songs and these guys went back to Sweden and I stayed in Canada and we just kept in touch. So in '87 I came to Sweden for a couple of weeks and recorded the equivalent of an album that never got released and went back to Canada again. We just kept in contact for a couple of years and in 1990 we were both like in the intersecting calling, it was like we both read each other's minds sort of in the same week and we contacted each other and I called him and said 'Hey man, we should get together' and he said 'I was just about to call you man. We gotta do this.'

So I moved to Sweden and never looked back. I got off the plane and said 'This is where I live'. We put together a band called DESERT RAIN, did a record with that and did a lot of shows in Scandinavia, Russia, Moscow, etc, etc. That band kind of fizzled out a little bit because some of the members weren't quite as serious as Anders and I and we put together KILLER BEE in '93, put out 3 albums and got involved with a guy in Switzerland who turned out to be....there's a lot of good and bad people in this business, you'll run into both sides and you just have to be careful. Well, we weren't really careful, we went for the high life, he was treating us really well, got us in all kinds of festival things, staying in first class hotels, a tour bus and trucks, you know the whole entourage. The machine was rolling and then we realized the guy had debts for like 6 or 7 millions francs, all over. That's a lot of money man.

So we come down from the hotel and got ready to check out and the bus has packed out all our bags on the ground, and the sound company, they're hitting the highway and the police are there saying 'Are you KILLER BEE?'. 'Yes, we are.' 'Well, the guy you're working with, (I won't mention any names), he owes a lot of money so you gotta pay these hotel bills and this, that and the other. The hotel was cool, they let us go and understood the situation but he burned a lot of people. We ended up booking a couple of tours through Germany and Austria and Switzerland to try and make up for the losses that the clubs did and did some free shows for a couple of months there to make up for all the losses that this promoter had caused for the people that were supporting us. That kept our name alive but that was a lot for us and we decided that we needed to take a little break. Being 40 years old myself at the time it wasn't something that killed my enthusiasm, it was just more frustrating to know that no matter how much you try, someone's always there to cut you off at the legs, cut you off at the knees, you know? We decided to take a few years off and it ended up being 14. But here we are!

KNAC.COM: Forming a band, Anders writing the songs, you producing the albums, as if that wasn’t enough, you guys formed your own record label. Clearly you were either crazy or you wanted to rip yourselves off….

FRANK: Well, it was kind of a funny situation. We started our label in '93, Anders and I had been writing together for about 4 or 5 years. We used to do a lot of our own recordings and stuff and thought we could go out and try to hustle an album but grunge was the thing happening at the time, and we were still doing the same sort of music that we're doing now and so we put together a label called Freedom Records in the 90s. It was really cool because we approached it with a different attitude, we approached it as if we were not the band, which was kind of a funny story. I went out as Brian Edwards and Anders went out as Lars Anderson and we sold ourselves to a bunch of labels and radios and they didn't really realize that we were the band and so it was kind of cool.

I remember walking in to a label in Germany and the guy just started laughing, he's a friend of mine to this day, he started laughing and said 'God damn, if I had know you were the band you would have never gotten this deal.' It was just funny the way it happened. He's a good frined to this day and we have a lot of fun about that because we were just able to push the business side of it and at that time it wasn't really cool trying to be a musician and sell yourself. I don't think it really is today either but it just worked for us.

Ripping ourselves off? Yeah, well we kind of set ourselves up for disaster in one way because we didn't have anyone looking out for us but all in all it went well, we played with some great artists, we played some great festivals, we put out 3 albums at that time and things were rolling along.

KNAC.COM: What is your assessment of how things have gone for KILLER BEE, and compare that to your dream of being a rock star when you got started?

FRANK: Well I think there's a little bit of a misconception. I don't think all musicians write and start to play music to be rock stars. If you do you're probably barking up the wrong tree. If you've got the talent it's gonna happen or you're gonna please yourself and if you can please yourself by doing what you do you'll probably please other people. This may sound crazy but to be a rock star has never really been the goal, it's more like just to get your music out and hopefully you can get somebody to understand what it is you're trying to say. Now, being able to play in front of masses of people, that requires you to have that status, as you call it, being a rock star. You've been in the business, you do interviews with a lot of people, don't you find that a lot of these so-called 'rock stars' are really down to earth people?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, most of them are. A couple of dicks out there sure, but yeah, most of them are.

FRANK: There's dicks in the welding industry too you know. The thing about rock stars, it's a little fictitious, I don't think anybody that's a rock star really wants to be that, nobody really enjoys that life of being hounded all the time.

KNAC.COM: Are you looking forward to touring in the UK in March?

FRANK: Absolutely! It's gonna be great, it's a pretty intense two weeks, there's a show every day but it's gonna be a lot of fun, covering a lot of ground there. It's gonna be a lot of fun. KNAC.COM: Ever re-visit that unreleased album?

FRANK: Which one? The World Order Revolution?

KNAC.COM: Well, the one you never released. The one you told me about early in our conversation.

FRANK: Oh that! Yeah, there's some songs from that that are on different albums. We draw from that a little bit. There's a song called "Summertime Feeling" that's on the, excuse me for not knowing my own albums, (laughs) I think it's on the DESERT RAIN album. There's a song called "Going Away" as well that was taken from those sessions back in the 80s. We actually, this a pretty funny thing now that you bring that up, we were just talking to the guy that introduced us in '85 about two weeks ago and he just sent over the tracks to Anders for 2 or 3 of the songs that we did. It's really cool to listen to it. We didn't know each other from Adam or Eve, we just kind of got together, said here's the songs, here's some lyrics, let's go do it. I said alright and it was finished, we didn't know who each other were. It was very, very funny.

KNAC.COM: What’s next for you guys? Rock till you die?

FRANK: Well, it's probably going to be the way it is, isn't it? You can't stop what you love. It's kind of like eating, you know? Eating and breathing, you have to do it, you have to play, you have to write, you have to play. I'm on my way to L.A. next week, I'm going to give away an award at the Pollstar Awards, so I understand from my manager, so that sounds interesting, that's going to be cool. I might stop into the Whisky or the Lucky Strike and try to partake in a little jamming there, see how that goes.

Check out the video for ”Shout it Out” on KNAC.COM HERE.

Purchase Eye In The Sky:

KILLER BEE website: http://killerbee.se

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