Interview with Mike Binder
Written by Peanuts - "The Host of the North Coast"
Blues music has always had a strong following in the state of Ohio. We've touched on many bands over the years, but the KingBees are an act flying slightly below the public's radar when it comes to the gendre, because they mix other styles of music into their work. Now out with a new 11 cut disc "Beware The Dog," Cleveland guitarist Mike Binder traded thoughts with OhioOnline music correspondent Peanuts on how to walk through the music business without being bit

OO: What first got your attention about music?
MB: "I was always fascinated by musical instruments. As a child, I was always getting a new harmonica for Christmas. I would spend long periods of time fiddling with any instruments that came into my path. After trying piano and violin, I started on guitar when I was 14 and never put it down."
OO: What Ohio bands were you in before the KingBees?
MB: "I was in a band called Archer in the early 1980's. The foundation of that band came from Sinners Fate, my old high school band at Valley Forge High in Parma Heights. A great guy by the name of Dave Bocanelli handled business of Archer. He had some great regional acts like Clearlight/Masque, Crystal Dawn and PF Flyer. I laughingly reminisce that we were the group that drove him out of the business. After Archer, I spent an 11 year period playing acoustic solo jobs."
OO: How did the band get its name?
MB: "We took the name the KingBees from the old and short lived rock group from the early 1960's called David Jones & The KingBees. Over the years, we've discovered we had chosen what is probably the most overused band name in history."
OO: What national artists have influenced your songwriting?
MB: "Loudon Wainwright has always inspired me as a songwriter. Another favorite of mine is Lyle Lovett. I enjoy his blend of Big Band, country, folk and Texas swing. As for more current writers, I enjoy John Mayer and the Counting Crows are interesting."
OO: Now since I didn't hear a lot of tradition blues names, describe the band's music?
MB: "I'd call it a real eclectic mix of styles with strong pop, folk-rock and jazz influences. There's also a theatrical element, both lyrically and musically.""I'd say modern blues/swing/funk. Typically, my songs are tongue in cheek, play on words, story songs. Unfortunately, I have yet to learn to bare my soul and compose any highly cerebral."
OO: What national band would the KingBees match up with?
MB: "I can see us in front of any national blues act. Groups like Rod Piazza or Roomfull of Blues would make good match ups."
OO: Any band in Ohio catch your ear?
MB: "Blue Lunch has always been one of my favorites. They are all great players. They remain very authentic. We've used their trumpet player, Mike Rubin, on both of the KingBees discs as well as their former sax player Norm Tischler."
OO: Where was the new disc cut?
MB: "Magnetic North Studios in Cleveland. It was produced by Chris Keffer. For this cd, we worked out of the MetroSync Room in the back of the downtown Cleveland Agora. You can't underestimate the value of having a talented experienced hand like Chris at the helm when you're trying to put something together."
OO: Favorite Ohio venue to play?
MB: "The Savannah in Westlake. As much as I hate to pick just one, the Savannah has been supporting an eclectic mix of live music for many years."
OO: Long term plans?
MB: "Just to stay in the game. I've always revered a guy like the late Robert Lockwood Jr., who was able to perform until his final days. I hope to follow his path. At this point in my life, I probably won't get rich or famous from my music, but I've never gotten bored of it. It's opened doors I'd never imagined. It's probably left me a little screwy, too."


Peanuts is a longtime Ohio music critic and writer.
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