The Bees chat to

The Bees from Ventnor, Isle of Wight, UK, have so far released four albums: 2002’s Mercury Prize-nominated Sunshine Hit Me (which was acclaimed by critics for being recorded in frontman Paul Butler’s own garden shed), its 2004 major label follow-up Free the Bees (which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios), and 2007’s Octopus. Their fourth album, Every Step’s A Yes, was released on 11 October 2010.

The first two albums featured songs that have been used in British television advertisements, which are partially responsible for the band’s recognition: Sunshine Hit Me’s “A Minha Menina”, a cover of an Os Mutantes track, appeared in a Citroën car commercial and also an advert for Magners Irish Cider, whilst “Chicken Payback” and “Wash in the Rain”, both from Free the Bees, were incorporated in adverts for Sure Deodorant for Men and Sainsbury’s, respectively. The official video for “Chicken Payback” featured the band in an arcade-type dance game slot-machine in a Japanese video arcade. The lead character, apparently a rock and roll dance diva, dances so quickly that his shoes catch fire. The song was used in a 60-second flagship advert produced by Karmarama commissioned by Age UK to launch the charity’s 2011 “Thank You” campaign. It was performed by 81-year old Joy Graham[1] accompanied by a Jazz Orchestra and was directed by BAFTA winning director Becky Martin of Channel 4 sitcom “Peep Show”.

The Bees supported Oasis in 2005, and Madness in December 2007 during their Christmas tour, and supported Paul Weller in the UK on selected dates of his “Winter Arena Tour”. In 2010, The Bees performed a set for The Sun, covering “We Speak No Americano” and playing songs from their album, Every Step’s A Yes. Paul Butler appeared on stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 2010 with Devendra Banhart, after performing two sets of their own. In 2011, The Bees supported Fleet Foxes on their UK tour. One of the influences the Bees have cited is the mind-altering drink called ayahuasca. Butler came to drink this plant medicine with shamans in Peru after being introduced to it by Banhart. “The whole thing has brought a lot of joy into my life. I think this kind of cleansing helps with your natural rhythm. Everyone has a song within them or a rhythm that is individual and personal only to you … and this kind of activity unlocks that.”

Our Sponsors

01 How did The Bees get started at the very very beginning?

The Bees formed in 1999 in a garden shed after about 5 years of releasing under the name of Pnu Riff and The Exploding thumbs on the underground label Hoilistic Records. There was a major swing in our sound and song writing , we’d spent most of our teens making tripped out electronica, rare groove inspired and world music fused sounds. It was the warm up for The Bees.

02 Where does your direction and inspiration come from?

We are heavily inspired by alot of different genres and their techniques, also by performance in the studio. We’ve spent periods absorbing styles from across the world of music from different decades. Total absorption has been essential. Seeking out timeless music that hits the button is the quest.

03 Who ware your major influences and passions and who do you despise?

The first major inspiration for us was Aphex Twin. He inspired us to delve into making music for purely for fun. It then became James Brown, then Fela Kuti, then John Barrry, then the Beach Boys, then Jamaican Roots… These were all initially the back bone of what forms our influence, everything else has branched out from there. I don’t really like Rizzle Kicks.. ha ha!

04 What current projects are you involved with?

Paul produced Michael Kiwanuka’s album, that project is going well. There’s some other exciting projects in the pipeline.

05 What can someone who has never read or seen your work before expect and how may this change in the future?

We cover a broad range of music on our records. Its a melting pot sound. Its juice.

06 How do you begin your Songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with? Is there anything that you feel you would steer clear of?

The songs are born from the desire to make a timeless one. Thats always been my goal to create a song that will live on for ever more on the radio. I wouldn’t say we’ve got there yet. So we’re keep keeping on… I never want to follow a format and being creative is the best thing in the world to me. The environment is a massive inspiration for a song starter and then i love to work with metaphors, which always opens it up from there. I steer clear of being lame!

07 Does your personal world view tend to shape your work and if so how do you include this into your finished pieces?

Yes this happens. We’re doing it for ourselves firstly any way, thats the beauty of being creative. We’re not ego driven at all. The music is smothered in our views.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

Getting the notes and words in the right order! Its great when you don’t have to think about it. Thats the trick.

09 Do you feel the British Media in all its forms needs a shake up?

Shake it up! (Editor says: Well one tries old bean!)

10 Tell us about your work as the Bees Sound System?

The Bees Sound Selection is what we do when we go and play records. We try to cover what we love and what moves you.

11 I believe you have built a rather special Studio in Ventnor, Isle of Wight? Please tell us more? Can folks hire you/it?

Our studio is very important to us, we’ve always invested in it and have always produced ourselves in our own spaces, apart from Free The Bees which we did in Studio 2 at Abbey Road. Which was amazing!! Our studio is in the process of being moved at the current time. Its not for hire unless we’re not in there for a period – which is rare.

12 We are almost neighbours, can we come around for Tea one day with our Video camera and talk about great old records?

Yeah, we can sort that out no probs 🙂

13 Talk us through your records to date and what the new LP may sound like?

The new album is on track, we’ve held a number of sessions for it and its shaping up nicely. We’re trying to keep it quiet on what it sounds like, as it always changes and you never know how its going to really be. We want to surprise our selves this time too!

14 Who would you most like to work with and in what capacity? Any heroes and zeroes?

I’d like record with Aphex Twin.

15 How have you included much modern technology into your working methods and finished works?

We use a computer to record to , the 2″ tape machine was a ball ache to keep going.

16 Tell us about your passion for the Isle of Wight?

Nice place – its the world to us.

17 Does living so near the Sea shape your sound in anyway?

It helps alot.

18 What special instruments do you add into your often unique sounds and songs?

The sitar featured heavily on the last album… umm i just got a Pixiephone, which is lovely!

19 You have been taking it easy with the live shows this past year or so, any reason for this?

The dynamic of the group has changed a little, we’ve had babies and moved away and are working on other projects too. We will have much more of a live schedule when the next record is complete. (congrats with the new arrivals folks!)

20 What next for The Bees?

Good question!


  • Paul Butler – lead vocals, guitar, piano, clarinet, mandolin, drums, various Percussion instruments
  • Aaron Fletcher – bass guitar, guitar, piano, drums, percussion, lyrics, vocals
  • Tom Gardner – drums, bass guitar
  • Tim Parkin – bass guitar, piano, rhodes, percussion, vocals
  • Warren Hampshire – hammond organ, celesta, acoustic guitar, percussion, jaw harp, vocals
  • Kris Birkin – guitar, vocals
  • John McMullan – guitar
  • Michael Clevett – drums, percussion, bass, Hammond, vocals
  • Darren Pink – mellotron


Studio albums

  • Sunshine Hit Me (25 March 2002; We Love You (UK) / Astralwerks (US)
  • Free The Bees (17 August 2004; Virgin (UK) / Astralwerks (US) – UK No. 26[5]
  • Octopus (26 March 2007; Virgin (UK)/Astralwerks (US) – UK No. 26
  • Every Step’s A Yes (11 October 2010; Fiction Records (UK) – UK No. 64


  • Every Step’s A Yes – Deluxe Version (30 May 2011)(iTunes exclusive)

Compilation albums

  • The Bees Present: The Sound Selection (2008)


  • You Got to Leave EP: “You Got to Leave” / “Elain” / “Whistle Chop” / “Jackel Head” (March 2002)
  • “Listening Man EP”: Listening Man (Radio Edit) / Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly cover) / I Still Got Your Number / Listening Man (Album Version) (2007)


From Sunshine Hit Me

  • “No Trophy” (7″ only release, January 2001)
  • “Punchbag” (June 2001)
  • “A Minha Menina” (June 2002)

From Free The Bees

  • “Wash In The Rain” (April 2004) – UK No. 31
  • “Horsemen” (June 2004) – UK No. 41
  • “One Glass Of Water” (7″ and download-only release, October 2004)
  • “Chicken Payback” (April 2005) – UK No. 28

From Octopus

  • “Left Foot Stepdown” (download-only release, November 2006)
  • “Who Cares What The Question Is?” (March 2007) – UK No. 53
  • “Listening Man” (June 2007) – UK No. 91
  • “(This Is For The) Better Days (Ashley Beedle Remix) (Available as download through ‘’, 2008)

From The Bees Present ‘The Sound Selection’

  • “Papa Echo” (UK download-only release, July 2008)/ (US Split 7″ with Mother Hips, 2008)

From Every Step’s A Yes

  • “Silver Line” (July 2010)
  • “I Really Need Love” (October 2010)
  • “Winter Rose” (December 2010)

Digital Only Release

  • “Go Where You Wanna Go” (February 2011)(As used in UK ‘Travelodge’ TV advert)


  • “Off The Lip” (Aspects and The Bees, August 2004)
  • “Bill Murray” (Gorillaz and The Bees, 2005)

Originally posted 2012-08-06 10:37:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker