Queen machine

Mar 10, 1999 at 12:00 am

Queen Bee, by the band’s very nature, is the stuff of legend. That is, the kind of legend that three people, focused on making a difference for performance-starved rock audiences, can concoct to explain the sexy, stompin’ brew they embody on stage – an androgynous fantasy trio of sexually-charged rock animals. Turn back the clock a moment and you’ll find bassist Karen Neal in between rock-upations after the demise of her and future Queen Bee drummer Terry Bradley’s former band, Thrall. Neal, a tape full of song starts documented but no band to fill them out in flesh, invents Queen Bee. "The one thing I learned from (Thrall frontman) Mike Hard was that you have to really put on a performance."

With Bradley enthusiastically enlisted, Neal was at a loss for a guitar player when Mike Kish – whom Bradley met through his former day job as a teacher – completed the gender-blending trio.

Neal’s onstage persona, Queen Bee, if you will, adds precisely the right showwomanship visual element to an already powerful glam-rock wallop. Bradley and Kish are glad to fill out the worker drone roles onstage – even though the band works collaboratively on its material. "Mike and Terry just love putting on my makeup!" says Neal.

With its live shows gaining momentum every time the hive steps to the mic, a 7" on San Francisco punk label Alternative Tentacles, the recent self-release of a 5-song CD EP (produced by Neal’s former DirtEaters cohort Warren Defever) and a record of dance-floor-friendly remixes (yes, really!) being readied for an April show with supervixenrockfriends Stun Gun, the world’s Queen Bee’s honeycomb. Better still, Neal’s persona has garnered the ultimate compliment an alter ego can receive: "Yeah, people are coming up to me now and saying, ‘Hey, Queen Bee!’ And I’m responding!"