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Interview:
Buzz is building for Kingbees reunion
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Jamie James credits "happenstance" with the resumption the Kingbees, the short-lived band best known for its hits "My Mistake" and "Shake Bop."

The group had been dormant since about 1981, following the demise of its record label. James continued his own career, including a pair of solo albums (1993's "Cruel World" came out on Ann Arbor's Schoolkids Records) and played in bands with actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dennis Quaid. Then, a chance hookup with Omnivore Records led to the re-release of the Kingbees' two albums, for which James and bassist Michael Rummans began doing record store shows that led the group back into clubs and events such as the Make The Music Go Bang Festival in Los Angeles.

"It's out of this world, man. It feels better than it ever felt before," James, 62, says by phone from his native Toronto during a recent visit (he resides in Los Angeles). "I had resigned myself to leaving that music and (the band) behind me. I never would have imagined there would be interest in (the Kingbees) again, so it's been great."

The modest scale of the reunion appeals to James as well. "That's kind of what the Kingbees was about -- small stuff, small gear, no effects, no anything," he explains. "We recorded that way, played that way, just plug in and let it rip. I'm loving it."

James is also happy to report that the Kingbees' repertoire feels anything but moldy -- at least partly because of the group's long time away.

"The songs make me feel 25 again -- but if I have to look at my reflection again, I'm so sadly mistaken," he says with a laugh. "But they feel really refreshed, as if it's kind of rebirth -- if there is such a thing in rock 'n' roll. But the songs feel new and fresh and exciting. I'm committed to every syllable, which is great.

"I never wanted to have one second of dishonestly with an audience; rock 'n' roll doesn't work that way to me. It has to be honest and straight from the hip. We can't sit there and rely on mega dancers, mega effects. It's just eye to eye, heart to heart, band to audience -- and it's still that way for us."

The question now becomes what James and Rummans do next. The old songs -- including those that were part of the 1980 film "The Idolmaker" -- may feel fresh, but they're also 35 years or more old. Not surprisingly, the re-energized duo has plans to for more music in the near future.

"Before all this even took place, Michael and I had been hanging out a little bit," James says. "I've been writing new songs and Michael's been writing some new songs. I said to Omnivore, which has been reissuing the old stuff, 'If this thing picks up a little bit and gets legs, would you be open to listening to some new songs and having some new Kingbees thing?' And they said 'yes' in an instant.

"We've got some songs we actually went into the rehearsal studio and started recording a couple of them, and we're gonna keep going. I cannot wait."

The Kingbees and the Scrapers

Saturday, Oct. 17. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

Tickets are $15.

Call 248-540-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.


Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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