Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Interview: Brian Frank and Anders Rönnblom of KILLER BEE

Photo: Ron Lyon Photo

Killer Bee have been flying around the international rock scene since the early 90s and they are back with a new long awaited album, Eye in the Sky. It has been over two years since their last release, and the wait has proven to be worth it, as this new record is quintessential Killer Bee. The writing team of Rönnblom / Frank has done it again, as they deliver their well-honed 70s style of rock – a la Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and the Scorpions.

Well known for their back to basics raw sound, Killer Bee have not swayed from their trademark style. And all the expected ingredients are included – hard and heavy riffs, signature vocals, and of course, the classic Hammond sound. I managed to catch the guys when they buzzed over to the UK on a rare set of dates. I grabbed vocalist Brian Frank and bassist Anders “LA” Rönnblom for a brief chat ahead of their soundcheck in the Rebellion Bar Manchester.

Killer BeeAntihero: Killer Bee doesn’t play the UK that often. How has the experience been so far?

Brian Frank: It’s been going great, with a lot of good places and it’s been nice to see that there are still places for us to play.

Antihero: You also played at the Hard Rock Festival in Wales.

Anders Rönnblom: Yes, we played at the VIP party there and that was good.

Brian Frank: We have not played the UK since the nineties. It’s been such a long time.

Antihero: Well, you guys did have a long break from the music business. Why was that?

Brian Frank: It was really frustrating in the nineties, we got ripped off by some people in Europe. There was also a backlash against us, so we decided to step back and regroup. However, that took fourteen years.

Antihero: How did you spend that time? Was it a complete break from the music industry?

Anders Rönnblom: We lived life, with whatever was around. Our life was already in Killer Bee. If we had done something separately it wouldn’t have been as important as what we do now.

Antihero: The band have always had a classic rock sound and you actually recorded an album with legendary guitarist Paul Chapman. How did you find the process of creating music with one of your musical heroes?

Anders Rönnblom: Our other guitar player couldn’t go out and tour with us. The drummer had moved to Los Angeles and knew Paul Chapman. He talked to him and he simply rang up, it was two weeks before the US tour. We got together about a week before and we had a lot of fun. He had a lot of stories. He seemed to be still in the eighties.

Antihero: How would you define what Killer Bee do musically?

Brian Frank:  Traditional seventies rock sound is basically what it is to me. I don’t know how else to explain it and I don’t like to make comparisons. Myself, I prefer people to make that for themselves. I don’t like to put a label on it.

Killer Bee
Photo: Ron Lyon Photo

Antihero: What was it that first introduced music into your lives?

Brian Frank: In Grade 4, they had a thing called a folk music group; like, we had acoustic guitars and we used to go around old folks’ homes and sing with a friend of ours called Max. We had these frilly shirts and we thought that we were so fucking cool. We were 9 years old with frilly leather vests and stuff, and then we started a band. It was really bad and it was based on the Guess Who’s music but yeah, that’s how it really started for us. That was really when I figured out what I wanted to be.

Antihero: You had indicated earlier that you have suffered some problems with the music industry in the past. How do you find the strength of character to overcome those sorts of problems?

Anders Rönnblom: Scream at each other, make up…

Brian Frank: Anders and I have been together for a long time, so we have to learn to take all the hurdles that come at you the best that you can. It’s not always easy of course, like any relationship. Basically, you try to get to the bottom of what has caused it and try to be rational.

Antihero: Are you able to sustain a full-time living purely from your music these days?

Anders Rönnblom: We work on the side, to try to find some sort of balance with things.

Brian Frank: We try to find a good employer, or your own type of business, so that you can steer your hours around it.

Anders Rönnblom: We do a lot of the self-promotion side ourselves, but we also hire people to do certain things. Especially when we want to do some sort of promotion for something.

Antihero: The band have been part of the music scene since the nineties. What would be the standout highs and lows for Killer Bee since you first began?

Brian Frank: I guess when I had an accident and I didn’t know if I would be able to sing again. I broke two ribs and my lungs collapsed. That for me was pretty scary. That was my personal low. From my side the high was years ago when headlining outside the Kremlin in Moscow, which was pretty cool, as nobody had ever done that before. They say to be the first band to play in Moscow was one thing but to play actually outside the Kremlin I think is quite something else.

Anders Rönnblom: The high like Brian said is the Russian thing in 92. The lows…it comes now and then when people are not straight with you. We go, “oh here we go again.” I cannot pick any particular time for a low point, maybe when we decided to take a break. It felt that we had reached a certain point when we couldn’t feed each other with any energy anymore. We can scream at each other like Brian said earlier, but we also know so much about each other that the band had lost its energy.

Killer BeeAntihero: In hindsight, I guess then that the break actually helped the band and gave it an opportunity to rejuvenate and re-energise?

Brian Frank: Indeed. Absolutely.

Antihero: You are in the UK as guests tonight to Bonafide. Your relationship goes back a long way with that band.

Anders Rönnblom: It was actually due to Niklas, their drummer, who actually played with Killer Bee. He played some shows in Switzerland with us. Coincidentally, we hooked up again later and we went on the road together.

Antihero: How do you both view Killer Bee’s back catalogue?

Brian Frank: Personally, I view every album that we do, as having its own place in my history.

Anders Rönnblom: I don’t see anything as bad, just the way that it was at the time.

Antihero: In conclusion, what’s next for the band?

Brian Frank: We want to finish promoting the new record. We are also working on new music now. We will also be touring a bunch more before we put the record to bed. It would be nice to tour some countries that we have not visited yet – Australia, South America, and Japan, where we have a lot of fans.

Antihero: I appreciate you chatting to me this afternoon and fitting me in around your schedule. Looking forward to the show.

About Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time. Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko

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