ALEATORY #17: Collections of Colonies of Bees

Ten years ago, Collections of Colonies of Bees was a folk and bluegrass duo. Today, they boast five members and (accurately) describe their sound as "where Rhys Chatham and Arnold Dreyblatt meet pop." Somehow, this little experimental traditional-bluegrass-meets-modern-technology project by two members of jazzy post-rockers Pele had become, over the course of the weirdest decade of personnel additions ever, a sonic maximalist superpower, evoking yes Chatham, yes Dreyblatt, but also Do Make Say Think, also jazz and Steve Reich and the minimalists and the maximalists of contemporary composition.

Four of the five Bees filled out the Aleatory: guitarist Chris Rosenau, baritone guitarist Dan Spack, and drummer Jon Mueller. Much thanks to all of them for participating! And if you're going to be in Japan this February, be sure to catch them as they roll through with special guests Toe.


3. Favorite key to write in?
Rosenau: Seems like C. Not really intentional, just seems to happen that way.
Spack: B.

7. Favorite composer?
Rosenau: Steve Reich.
Spack: Reich.
Mueller: Phill Niblock.

12. Favorite band when you were in high school?
Spack: Rorschach.
Mueller: Swans.

24. Favorite historical time period?
Spack: late 1800s.
Mueller: 1920s.

37. What do you consider most important about a song's structure?
Spack: Keeping it free, so to say, but locking into rhythm patterns from any of the other players.
Mueller: Its ability to take you out of reality.

40. What was your best/worst subject in school?
Mueller: People.

43. What's the road ahead look like?
Rosenau: Great. Finishing a collaboration record with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver in November, touring Japan again in February, then writing and recording the new Bees record for most of 2009... looks like fun.

53. So far in your career, what's been your biggest regret?
Rosenau: Not documenting things musical. Songs, practices, shows; either in pictures or video. I enjoy revisiting things I have been involved with many years after they end, and it bothers me when I know the only way I have to remember a limited number of these things that I do not have documented is my fading memory.

55. You're curating a festival. If you could choose any two bands to open for you, who would they be?
Rosenau: Melvins | Big Business band c. 2009 + Spike Jones and his City Slickers c. 1942. Of course, there is no way I would play *after* either of these performances. . .And as long as we're putting this show together, let's tack Johnny Cash c. early 1960s on the bill as well.

66. Worst song you've heard recently?
Rosenau: I just heard "Turn Me Loose" by Loverboy about 5 minutes ago at work. That's the worst song I've heard recently.

77. What was the hardest part about recording your current release?
Rosenau: The hardest thing about recording the current Bees release (a collaboration with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver) has hands-down been coordination of schedules between everyone that is involved.
Mueller: Getting the mix nailed.

78. Your life has been reduced to a bumper sticker: what does it say?
Mueller: Eat healthy.

80. Worst run-in with the law (to date)?
Rosenau: Franklin, WI.
Mueller: Tea, South Dakota.
Spack: Billings, Montana.

82. Current pop song that you would file under "guilty pleasure"?
Mueller: Anything by Natasha Bedingfield.

84. Most disappointing concert you ever attended?
Spack: The last shorty show. Only because it would be the last.
Mueller: The Kiss reunion tour.

85. What's the biggest mistake you've made that you inadvertently learned a great lesson from?
Spack: Marriage.
Mueller: Dating.

87. Ultimately, you will want to be remembered as …
Mueller: I'd simply like to be remembered.

100. Even with the gradual decay of the B-side, most artists still have vaults of unreleased songs. What's in yours?
Rosenau: I have 32689059028 hours of finished and mixed four track songs that will, I am sure, never be released except to good friends in drunken 2:20 am emails.