Hailing from Castel Goffredo, a small industrial town in North-East Italy, the psych-garage rock trio Bee Bee Sea can be easily called the Italian Oh Sees.
Sonic Boomerang, their sophomore record that came out via Dirty Water Records USA (cassette, digital) and Wild Honey Records (vinyl) last November, is a cohesive collection of catchy gems filled with unapologetically loud, grimy, yet beautifully textured guitars, swaggering rhythms and cheekily joyful vocals, that catapult you into juvenile euphoria, and remind you of the reasons why we should all love garage punk.
In their homeland, they toured with the likes of Black Lips & Thee Oh sees, their songs were featured on TV commercials and series, and all the music press is talking about them. Now, after extensively touring in France, Germany and Switzerland, they have also finally been playing some shows in the U.K. where their tunes have been enthusiastically received.
I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Damiano Negrisoli (a.k.a. Wilson Wilson), bassist Giacomo Parisio and drummer Andrea Onofrio while they were in London for Test Pressing Festival and we discussed their writing process, European audiences and what they would bring on a desert island.
How would you define your music?
DAMIANO: Garage rock influenced by the ‘60s classics and contemporary artists such as Thee Oh Sees and The Black Lips. We have made lots of cool songs, with a lot of delays, some reverbs and some fuzzs.
How did you guys meet?
DAMIANO: We all come from Castel Goffredo, a small town in the Mantua province, so we knew each other, but weren’t hanging out together. Then through a mutual friend, Giacomo and I started playing together in a band that split up before even playing a gig….
GIACOMO: But the two of us kept playing together and were looking for a drummer, so we put an ad on Facebook and Andrea, who had only been playing drums for a couple of months replied.
Talk about the production of your second album Sonic Boomerang, when it was written, where it was recorded and so on.
GIACOMO: We started writing the songs as soon as our EP 3 Songs & Jacques Dutronc was released in 2016. It was then recorded at the T.U.P. studio in Brescia, produced by Brown Barcella and Alessio Lonati. It was recorded live off-the-floor and all digital.
How does your creative process work?
DAMIANO: It all starts from jamming together, usually from a guitar riff that we develop together and then I create the melody and lyrics.
How much is your music the result of spontaneous jamming together and improvising, and how much you deliberately sit down to write?
DAMIANO: We mainly work spontaneously on songs, rather than sit down and decide to write.
Do you ever write the lyrics before the music?
DAMIANO: Yes, but I never end up using them. Usually, we first have the general structure of the song with maybe some lyrics for the chorus or a verse, then when the music structure is completed, we finish all the lyrics as well.
How much do your lyrics mirror the music?
DAMIANO: Sometimes I actually like them to clash, like writing sad lyrics for upbeat music, or viceversa. I like creating that contrast.
Your music is pure rock ‘n’ roll made of guitar, bass and drums. Are there ever any sounds in nature or elsewhere you would like to incorporate in your music?
DAMIANO: Yeah, I would like to incorporate something like a radio noise in the background.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
DAMIANO: Meg White
You come from a small town, yet you’ve managed to create a music scene around you and to curate a local music festival.
DAMIANO: Yeah, initially we just wanted to throw a music party in our rehearsal space, which is a really small room, but instead of just the few people we invited, all the youngsters in town turned up. So we had like twenty people in the room, which is the maximum capacity, and then other eighty people or so outside. Later, we carried on organising gigs like that and we ended up having people from other cities a couple-of-hour-drive away, like Bergamo, Vicenza and Parma.
How do you think the psych-garage scene has evolved over the last few years?
DAMIANO: I think that after the big boom of the last decade or so, by now it has almost run its course. There are still some interesting new psych bands coming up, but the bubble has already burst. It will definitely carry on, but it is already in decline.
What is your ideal environment?
GIACOMO: The Horst Club in Kreuzlingen, in the Northern part of Switzerland, near Costanza. It is actually a squat occupied by a community of skaters just opposite the Town Hall, with a 150-200 people capacity. We have played there four times and there is something there that makes it so special. The skaters created all this cool environment with lots of ramps, and basically you are soundchecking and people are skating around you. Everybody is so relaxed there, you can drink whatever you want and the audience is just so enthusiastic. Whenever a concert starts, all the people immediately go inside the stage room and they then really get lost into the music from the first till the very last song.
By now you have played in a few European countries. Do you feel any difference between the audience of different nationalities?
DAMIANO: Italians are probably the coldest. Sometimes they can even be afraid of coming to the front.
ANDREA: They are very cold at smallest gigs for sure, but they don’t have any issues going up front at bigger shows I think.
GIACOMO: Yeah and if someone has the guts to go to the front first, then they will all go.
DAMIANO: Germans are the opposite. They seem cold at first, but then there is always someone going completely mental.
You are also set to play in the States this summer. How do you expect their audience to be?
DAMIANO: A cross between the Brits and some crazy Germans
What would you bring on a desert island?
DAMIANO: A football.
GIACOMO: Tons of tobacco and rolling papers.
ANDREA: A battery-powered record player and lots of records.
If you could go back in time, what would you change?
DAMIANO: The cover of our first record
What is next?
GIACOMO: Make another great record. We are trying to write in between gigs, but I think it will probably take us another two years or so to release it.
Bee Bee Sea are playing at the Old Blue Last, London on the 30th May.