I know of only one man in the entire world who can gather members of Yes, Focus, Gong, Utopia, the (original) Mothers of Invention, the (original!) Alice Cooper group, and even the late, extremely great captain’s Magic Band all together upon the same compact disc – often on the same song even – and somehow not only make it sound right, but make it sound great. That man is the one, the only Billy James who, doing business since 1987 as ANT-BEE, has concocted some of the most delightfully challenging ear honey since, well, Robert Fripp lost his sense of humor for starters. Yes, “prog” is no longer a four-letter word in Billy’s hands, and Electronic Church Muzik, the first ANT-BEE album in too-many years, is finally here.
It contains sixty-four full minutes of audio which, quite frankly, defy description. So I’m not even going to try. Instead, on behalf of us all, I thought I’d simply sit The Man / The Ant down to tell us, as only he can…
1. “Munsters” or “Addams Family”: Which one’s for you, and why?
That is an unanswerable question as both shows have particular merit and cannot be fairly judged against each other without grave consequences – I like them both.
2. Who in the world, living or dead, would you most like to play a game of Twister with?
Wild Man Fischer: “Merry go, Merry go, Merry go round – doot, doot, doot!”
3. How many Sid King & The Five Strings records do you own?
None – how many do you own?
4. Got any good Hawkwind stories?
I only have two Hawkwind related stories. The first is that Hawkwind keyboardist Harvey Bainbridge made a guest appearance on my third ANT-BEE album Lunar Muzik. We were both signed at the time to the UK label Divine Records and that is how we were linked. He is a very talented musician whom I haven’t spoke to in over ten years.
The second Hawkwind story is that a few years back I was in touch with their management about doing PR for the band through my publicity company – nothing ever happened – exciting huh!
5. “Ginger” or “Mary-Ann”: Which one’s for you, and for how long?
Both – for as long as they would have me.
6. What single song, living or dead, do you most wish you’d written? And why didn’t you?
“Big Eyed Beans From Venus” by Captain Beefheart from the Clear Spot album – I didn’t write the song because I was only 13 at the time.
7. Whose Mk II Mellotron would you most like to be reincarnated as?
8. In 2011 words or less: your hopes, aspirations, and goals – musical and otherwise – for your life and your country?
Well, since I can’t see too far into the future and try to live ‘here and now’ – Now is the happiest time of your life, says Daevid Allen. So I’ll tell you what is happening at this point in time:
First, the new ANT-BEE CD called Electronic Church Muzik was released in March 2011, after a thirteen year delay. It can be obtained from www.barkingmoondog.com as well as CDRs of the entire ANT-BEE catalog.
Along with promoting the new CD, I am completing a book with original Badfinger member Joey Molland, as well as trying to re-release the book I wrote with original Alice Cooper group member Michael Bruce called No More Mr. Nice Guy. In 2009 I was filmed for a UK documentary called Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – In the 1960s. It was a top pick for Netflix and Blurt magazine awarded me MVP of the documentary. This past February I was filmed for two more UK documentaries on Frank Zappa, the first to be released in the summer. I also run Glass Onyon PR, a full-line music and entertainment publicity company. I am currently doing PR for music legend and original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson (a personal music hero), as well as Gregg Rolie, Steve Morse, Blackmore’s Night, Magma, Nektar, Amon Düül 2 and many other notable music artists.