Interview with Anders “LA” Rönnblom of KILLER BEE

Anya : What can you tell me about the new album?  

Anders :Yeah. Well, what can I say? We’ve always been into the traditional hard rock all the time. We grew up with it. Alice Cooper, Uriah Heap, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy. It’s been very natural for us play in this kind of genre. We never changed whatsoever given all these years went out. This has been our sound all the time, and we have tried to keep it as close to our heart. Basic as possible. We don’t use all these digital sounds that you hear nowadays. Not even close to what we are doing. You can hear it’s very rough sound to the songs. The title track “Eye in the Sky” is about all the surveillance that nowadays. Basically “Big Brother.”

Anya : Especially with what’s going on in the world, the title is pretty fitting.

Anders : If you look the album cover, actually, you see that we have been using clowns for the last three albums. Now it was a coincidence that these clown maniacs are running around and scaring people and killing people on the road. If you look at the album cover you can see it’s the clown is on a spring. It’s like a Jack-in-the-Box coming out. You’ve got the Earth. It is basically what is going on in the world. It’s the Jack-in-the-Box, it’s a clown popping out everywhere and a Nordic Viking Axe he’s holding. The clown is based on we all put on a mask from the day we’re born. We never speak original. We basically are copies, all of us. You see people with their iPhones…iPads. They are stuck in this viral world right now. It’s not what it used to be.

Anya : Speaking of the album cover, the band has worked with Love Bone Apparel in the past. Did they do the cover art this time?

Anders : They’ve done it for the last three albums. They have been doing a lot for us. We appreciate them,they really grasp the idea that we did with the t-shirts and everything. I really like what they do.

Anya : I’m sure you have been asked this question many times. The band took a break from 97’ to 2011. Is this the reason why you all have been putting out albums consecutively since then?

Anders :We were always playing in the 90’s when we released the albums. ’93 and the first one and then it became singles. The upcoming album in ’95 and then we released singles from the ’95 album leading up to the album ’97. There was a lot of touring during that period of time. You can say that we…probably had a lot of song ideas and everything was just stored somewhere in the back of your head. We got a new album already in the tube to we can start recording. We have always been very driven and creative when we do things. We want to keep the momentum up.

If you look at the 80s, 90’s, if you had an article in a magazine, you could basically live on that article for three to six months because that was like a paper magazine. Nowadays, when you get an article, social media goes so fast that pumps out news all the time. Same thing with the music. No bands can do everything themselves. Upload things, and you’ve got iTunes, [and] Spotify. It’s not like back in those days when you read the newspaper and you see October releases, November releases, December releases and you could see who’s coming out with albums. There was more focus on each artist.

We’re based in Sweden, but we have members in North America, we have been able to tour so much. To keep that momentum the band is still out there due to the social medias. We’ve been putting up the videos and single releases and trying to keep things on a roll all the time. That’s why we’ve been putting out all the albums. We have been constantly in people’s face, or at least trying to be.

Anya : You mentioned the music industry then and now. In your opinion and experience how has the music climate changed since then?

Anders : The good part of it is that you can get things out there, but the downside of that is that, before when  bands  went out on tour before, they went out and supported a physical album. There was a different income for the artist and the labels who could actually support touring acts, due to the sales of their albums. Now,  you can download, They hardly ever put out any singles. If you take the commercial sounds, you have for instance, Elton John. He  put out a single and then you bought the album. You didn’t listen to the rest of the songs. You bought the album due to that single.

Now,  if I’m listening to an album, I can go, “uh-uh I don’t like  this and that. I can pick up three songs. I can buy those three from iTunes and there’s seven other songs that haven’t been sold. You can buy the album, but you have the opportunity to pick the songs. Which means less income for the bands and for the labels, which makes it harder to go out on tour. Everything is still the same price, it’s still expensive. The studio still cost the same. They are following the price trends. The producer is still the same. The gasoline, the tour buses. The revenue dropped from sales. That has gone down drastically. That’s why you don’t see many touring bands. If you look back to the 80’s, you always have these huge acts. Basically all that goes out now are arena bands that get the media hype. You have bands going out, but there’s absolutely nothing to generate, there’s basically a plus-minus on everything.

Anya : Friends of mine, who’ve played in bands in the 80s, they always [say] it was a  moment in time, and it was a lot easier for bands to get signed. Finding band members was a lot easier too. Heavy music today is dominated by bands with guttural locals. If you want to do anything that’s hard rock oriented, it’s very hard to find like-minded musicians.

Anders :Yeah that’s true. When it was easy to find members, and when I grew up you could see that everyone wanted to learn an instrument, they wanted to start a band. They really got into it. Now, I don’t know, you can just see a lot of guys out there playing. They’ve got a lot of side projects all the time. Why do you do that? Is it because of the band that you’re actually in? Is it because they’ve got to generate the money or the income, that you actually need all the side projects? I started to play in the early 80’s. Everybody, in the town where I’m from,  played in a band. Totally different music climate than it is today. You can pick out, you can buy an app or something that you can actually… a music program and write music. You don’t have the same gathering that you have with the band, you go to the music hall and you spend hours there.

Anya : Everything is so easily accessible. You don’t have to go to a store to purchase music. You don’t even have to go to a show. You get videos and livestreams on the internet. You can buy merch through the band’s website. All from the comforts of your own home.

Anders : I read a lot of posts on Facebook, where it’s like I got to see all the cool bands. I saw Rainbow, I saw [Deep] Purple. I got to see Queen. You had such a good point, cause you said, you had to go there to get that tour t-shirt. You couldn’t buy merch online or in stores or anything like that. You could buy a Rainbow t-shirt in store if you were lucky, but you knew this is not a tour t-shirt. You wanted to really leave, because you had to go to that show to get it.

Anya : I born in ’84, so I missed all the really cool bands with the original lineups. AC/DC with Bon Scott, and Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott.  When bands like that tour through my area, people say to me “Oh, that’s not the same.” I wouldn’t know because I was either not born, or too young to know. In the scheme of things I want to see bands live from that generation before they call it quits. I always say I was born in the wrong decade.

Anders : My daughter, she’s 14, she says the same thing. Another cool thing was that the last summer we went on the road, and we went with Bullet Boys, and we played with Gunzo Tracii Guns’s project. He was  on the road with Rudy Sarzo; that was the bass player for Ozzy, Mad Men, and Whitesnake ’87. That was unreal for me because I’m sharing the stage with, touring for five weeks with the guy that was part of the circuits that I grew up with. That was great. That’s why me playing while we do things and we get good reviews we’ve been receiving, many of them appreciate we’ve got the organic sounds, we’ve got the rough, it sounds like it’s basically, it’s not digitally recorded. It’s analog everything. It’s because that’s where we are from. We’re from that era and this is what we want to sound like.

Anya : You haven’t changed your sound that much. It still sounds like Killer Bee.

Anders : Yeah, we sound the same all the time and we’re really proud of it. Sometimes people will be saying, “Well, all of the sudden you’ve got one song that really sticks out because it doesn’t go hand in hand with the rest of the album for instance.” That was one song. Not from this one, but you can always have one song that can be a little bit different. AC/DC, Iron Maiden. They are like a James Bond movie. You always know what you’re getting when you buy their album. Queen. You couldn’t say from time to time what was coming out. It was Another One Bites the Dust, or it was Tie Your Mother Down, or it was We Will Rock You, and Radio Gaga. There was such a span of songs. We still have always stuck to what we believe in and that’s the traditional hard rock.

You don’t get a surprise when you hear what we are doing. Its nothing that is like a new invention, we haven’t invented the wheel again. It’s more like, we are sticking to the music we really love and we’re always going to play that and keep doing what we are doing

Anya : That’s really honorable. Not compromising, sticking to your guns, knowing what you want.

Anders: We don’t. So many times I’ve been asked and people say, “Anders, you guys gonna tune down for the next album, maybe get a little bit heavier?” I go, the way Jimmy Page or Richard Blackmore tune it down, I might considering doing it, but they will never do it because they have made such great riffs throughout the years. You don’t have to tune down to make a song heavy. It’s the way you play it and the way the riff is built. That’s what makes it heavy. It’s not that you tune it down. If you have to tune it down to make it heavy, then you don’t have a good riff.

Anya : You all don’t live in the same country, going back and forth, how much time do you actually have to record together, or is everything done separately and collectively it’s sent to one person and then it’s put together? Does it make things difficult?

Anders :We get together and record. We don’t do it like we could do it. Files. You record it all and I sent my files to the studio. Nope. We get together and we record it. The drums was recorded with me and guitars. We made the tracks and then we flew over to Canada. We were all there together when the keyboard and lead guitar were done and background vocals were done. Then we flew back to Sweden, we took that year break. Paul started to record all the guitars in Florida, so the band is not with us, but we are still around during the record process.

Anya : Do you think that’s what gives the band it’s unique sound, because you have Swedish and Canadian members?

Anders: Yeah. I think so too. Brian, who is producing a lot. He’s a huge fan of Bob Estrin, the producer who did Kiss and Aerosmith, Alice Cooper. He knows what kind of sound we should have. I grew up with the music from the 80’s. I know how the songs should be. The riffs and the tempo, and how I want the songs to go. Then we have blending everybody in this process and then we get the results. Its very important that everybody is a part of it.

Anya: What is your favorite song on the record, and which was the hardest to record?

Anders : My favorite song is definitely Eye in the Sky. I like the riff, probably because it’s I like all of the songs on the album, but I think Eye in the Sky is a really good opener on the album. It really smacks you in the face and it’s got a good chorus on it. It’s got a good hook on it. The hardest song to record, I think that was The Flight. The half balladish song. I think it’s track five or six. It’s called the Flight. There was a lot of work with that song. How to, in a production way, to build it up so you take it from very laid back and then you have this climax. That one was a lot of work.

Anya :Are the any touring plans in the works?

Anders : Yeah, we are going over to…this is not a tour. We are going off to do a couple of shows in LA, California the 28th and the 29th of January. Then we are going to the Pulsar event. In March, March 5th I believe, we start in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then we’re going to do a two week tour in the UK, and that’s basically everyday for two weeks.

Anya : You came through my area,  New York  in 2015, so I was curious if there was any talk about doing something on the east coast ?

Anders : We hope to come to the east coast. They are looking into dates in the Spring. Nothing confirmed, so far, but there are dates that are going to be done. That I know for sure, but I don’t have them 100% confirmed. I’d rather not talk about them, but something will happen. Were you at the show in New York?

Anya : I was actually. A friend of mine had a ticket to the show. I have to say I wasn’t familiar with the band in 2015, but I was told it was a “ cool hard rock band, you have to check it out, and their Swedish.” I love many  Swedish heavy metal acts  like Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquility, and Sabaton to name a few. I am always looking into new music especially from the European market. I also have a lot of heart for hard rock. I was really taken by how much energy you all had from start to finish.

Anders : Cool. That’s really good. That’s great that you say that, because what you record is what you get to hear. We don’t do recording if we can’t perform it. Sometimes bands are putting so much work to the songs that they cannot perform it, unless they’ve got prerecorded tracks in the background to fill things up.We play from the heart so I’m glad you liked it.

Anya : I always find it interesting when you buy a record and you listen to it and you really like it, but when you see the band play live, they sound absolutely nothing like the record. It could be a good thing. It could be a bad thing, but I have to say you are very true to the albums you release and not many bands can say that. They are either heavy or not as heavy as on the album.

Anders : That’s good to hear because I think that’s basically from what we grew up with. When you listen to the albums and you got to listen to the bands, they sounded the same live.That was a big disappointment. A big disappointment. That’s why we’re so picky with it. We want to deliver live what we deliver on the record.

Anya : Do you have any memorable moments from all the touring you have done over the years?

Anders : There’s you know, a lot of fun things, but it was very unreal when we played the Red Square in Moscow ’82.

Anya : What was that like, because the Soviet Union was starting to collapse around that time?

Anders : Exactly. There was a huge stage outside and they didn’t have a fence around the stage. They didn’t have a fence between the stage and the crowd. They had two lineups of military holding each other’s arms. One line facing the crowd and the other line back to back facing the stage. That’s how they separated the crowd from the stage. That’s weird, but that was a great experience to play Russia at that time. We did seven shows at Olympic Stadium and then we finished it with that show at the Red Square.

Anya : Thank you so much for your time I wish you the best for the new record and save travels for your tour.

Anders : Thank you very much for having me and thank you for your support.


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