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Bumblebeez - Busy Little Beez

Author: Chris C.
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Finally it’s here. After a long pollination process, Bumblebeez have finally dropped their massively anticipated debut LP. 3D’s Cyclone caught up with main bee Chris Colonna.

Bumblebeez have long been waiting to become Australia’s “next big thing”.
The combo, centred around Chris and his sassy sister Pia (aka ViLa), have finally delivered their rambunctious debut album proper, Prince Umberto & The Sister Of Ill. It’s the sonic equivalent of a fractured fairytale, a Tim Burton fantasy, as the Colonnas indulge their whimsical alter-egos.

However, Chris, worn-out from a day of interviews, posits the album as more about the “process” than any concept.

Indeed, Bumblebeez are a new gen garage band, perversely switching from grinding electro to rockin’ hip hop to punk-rock. They’re already wowing fans with the dirty anthem Dr Love.

Bumblebeez are not readily defined.

“The core is definitely me just making songs,” Chris explains. “I guess, ’cause my sister’s my sister and she’s always been around, I’ve got her to either rap or sing on songs. Then the other people have just been friends who I’ve been hanging out with and we’ve done stuff together. That’s why I’ve never really been concerned with what [Bumblebeez] actually is, ’cause it never has been like a four-piece rock band – it’s more just this thing that does... things.”

Bumblebeez’ early output was lauded by the now defunct UK hipster mag Jockey Slut.

“The English latched onto it a lot quicker than the Australian market,” Chris says. But Bumblebeez have struggled to be heard.

They aligned themselves with the US label Geffen, the major issuing two EPs as the album Printz, only to be “dumped”. “Quite a lot of shit went down,” Chris rues.

Today Bumblebeez are with the progressive Modular, which transformed Wolfmother into global stars. Few realise that, in fact, they’ve been associated with Steve Pavlovic’s label for years, signing around the same time as Cut Copy.

Chris originally studied visual arts at the Canberra School Of Art. He was offered a scholarship that took him to New York. Eventually, Chris gravitated towards music full-time. (“I was doing a lot of sound installation pieces.”) Still, he completed the artwork for Prince Umberto. And, in future, he wants to diversify into film.

After the Geffen saga, the Colonnas returned to their hometown of Braidwood, NSW, to record the bulk of Prince Umberto, liaising with producer James Ford, who even tended the cows.

“It’s a small country town,” Chris says of the offbeat spot. “We decided to do the album back there – it felt right.

“We’d worked in studios in LA and it just didn’t feel right. Even though, yeah, they’re nice studios and shit, we didn’t really care about that.

“We’d rather be somewhere cosy and somewhere you could reclaim something – and just do it.”

Bumblebeez are confirmed for Homebake. Nevertheless, with Pia a new mum, Chris is unsure if she’ll tour or not.

“She’s still heavily in the group and she’s still doing interviews and stuff,” he assures. “She just keeps going on about how Gwen Stefani can do it – she’s got a baby. I’m like, ‘Yeah, she’s got a lot more money!’ But she’s keen to come back as soon as she can.”

WHO: Bumblebeez
WHAT: Prince Umberto & The Sister of Ill
WHEN: Out now through Modular/Universal
MORE: modularpeople.com