Here’s a little about the musicians who play on “Bees.” Timothy Sellers (that’s me) plays guitar and sings. I wrote the songs in 2007 as short pop compositions which could be performed by one person with a guitar and a cup of coffee. Luckily, I had just found a decent Gibson Epiphone acoustic guitar for $100 at the El Monte pawn shop. This guitar has survived some abuse — such as being stepped on beside a campfire, whacked into many a doorjamb, and, uh, played by me. But it still sounds great.
The next person to hop on board was Daniel Leyson. Some people may have heard his other band, the Eternal Triangle, in which he is the main funky jangler. Dan and I both love Pavement, but Dan has the distinction of having being criticized in public by his idol Steve Malkmus. “You don’t sing, you just shout,” said the legendary crank. (I dispute that.) For the “Bees” songs, Dan opted to play his acoustic mini martin guitar, which has an almost ukulele-like resonance.
Then I called up theremin player Steve Collins, who you may have heard swirling on previous Artichoke songs such as “Galileo Galilei.” Steve is an easy addition to any song. I just listen for a bridge or instrumental area that could benefit from some spacey spice. Steve waves his arms around and — voila!
On drums you can hear David Hurlin. He has since returned to his home in Iowa, but while he was here in Los Angeles he did an amazing job in our greeen records studio. David played drums on “Bees” as well as “Historic Highland Park.”
Bass player Christian Gonzalez completed the rhythm section. For “Bees” he played an acoustic bass with a pickup for that nice midrange flavor. If you ever have a question about the Beatles, Pixies, Frank Zappa, or any other pop artist on our side of the musical tracks, Chris would be the guy to ask.
From the start of this project, I knew that the “Bees” would need female vocals (in addition to my vocals) in order for the subject matter to make sense and come to life. Most honey bees are female workers, after all. Luckily, we found Antonia Romeo to sing with us. It is still amazing to me how much more subtle and melodic the record became with Antonia’s vocals.
Finally, Anna Hollingsworth contributed her accordion playing. I had no idea these songs needed an accordion! But they did. Sometimes the accordion adds a melodic line, sometimes Anna chimes in on a few chords like a little bit of sunshine.
And now a little about each song’s, shall we say, manifest content: “The Commune” introduces the life and jobs of a worker bee. Insects in general do not sleep in the sense that people do. “Vulcha Beesting” is one human’s perspective. Yes, I was thinking of the Pixies “Subbaculcha.” “Bee B Movie” is a plot summary of “Invasion of the Bee Girls” from 1973. “Robber Bee” is sung by the guard bees of one hive to attacking desperados from another. This kind of crime really happens! “Kaibob” is about bees in the Grand Canyon, where the Kaibob National Forest is. I have read that bees like to fly from A to B as close to the ground as possible. Therefore in the Grand Canyon, or “upside-down mountain,” they would have to really get down. “Melissa” is the story of young Zeus, raised and protected from his father Chronos by Melissa, a beekeeping shepherd on the island of Crete. “100 Flowers” is the inevitable innuendo song. When I was a kid I was impressed by how a bumblebee might bend a flower nearly to the ground when landing on it. “Funny Motherfucker” is a song of mourning for several workers. “Windowsill” is the story of a worker’s brush with death. It has a happy ending. “The Swarm” conveys a little of how bee nations move. “Exile of the Drones” describes the useless male bees being driven from the hive to die in the fall. “Cold House” was written by Dan and recorded in glorious mono in one take. “Honey” is not really about honey. Or is it?
- The Commune — Artichoke
- 100 Flowers — Artichoke
- The Swarm — Artichoke