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The Music of The Hollies performed by The Hollywood Bees






The Music of The Hollies performed
by The Hollywood Bees




Dave Sibbald, Rob Quinn, Derek Atkinson, Kelvin Roberts, Vince Mason and Phil Marshall are The Hollywood Bees. They have learned their craft in a succession of bands and have supported The Hollies, The Moody Blues, The Searchers and many other leading showbiz names, achieving well over 15,000 performances collectively over the years. The members of the band have performed at some of the country's top venues including the Glastonbury Festival, Belfast Waterfront Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, Acoustic Festival of Britain plus many theatres and music venues. The aim of The Hollywood Bees is to bring their interpretation of those wonderful Hollies hits, along with some of the music that influenced them, to audiences who love the Hollies music. Powerful, distinctive, catchy melodies with trademark harmonies treated in our own fashion but true to the Hollies original recordings.

Here Digger talks to Vince Mason of The Hollywood Bees about the band and the music of The Hollies as well as about his new project - The Counterfeit Sixties.


Digger:  Morning Vince, how are you?

Vince: Iím fine thanks. You?

Digger: Great thanks. What have you been up to since we last spoke?

Vince: Playing a few gigs here and there.

Digger: Have you got the play lists sorted for the new band?

Vince: Weíre still deep in rehearsals at the moment but itís going pretty well.

Digger: Thatís good.

Vince: Thereís a lot to do.

Digger: With any project thatís worthwhile there always is Vince. Is it a rude question asking how old you are?

Vince: 58.

Digger: So youíve lived through it all.

Vince: Yes, I have.

Digger: Iíll dive into the questions.

Vince: I hope I can answer them all...

Digger: Of course you will. No difficult ones, I hopeÖ Can you tell us your musical background?

Vince: I started playing the drums when I was eleven. 

Digger: Who were your influences?

Vince: At the time it was Free and Led Zeppelin.

Digger: Impressive stuff.

Vince: Thatís what I was really into and the first band I started playing with was around about the time Freeís Tons of Sobs came out. Thatís the time when I joined my first band and we were playing all this stuff at the same time as Free were.

Digger: Were you listening to all of their albums and Whistle Test and all that stuff?

Vince: Yes, I loved Bob Harris.

Digger: And was there a big scene up there in the north east?

Vince: Yes. There was a big scene Ė The Animals...

Digger: Obviously Chas Chandler famously Ďdiscoveredí Jimi Hendrix. Hank Marvin of The Shadows was also from  Newcastle.

Vince: Thatís right.

Digger: And you did a lot of practice, I suppose?

Vince: A lot. I think at that time I was going through the stage where you think ďAm I good enough to do this?Ē and going through all the rejections and horrible venues. And some good venues too, of course.

Digger: But you started young and thatís important Ė an age when you were able to learn and absorb. I guess you must have put in your 10,000 hours by now to become an expert?

Vince: Well, Iím sort of getting the hang of it now. (Both laugh)

Digger: Are you still learning, even today?

Vince: I think you always do, yes. Even today, on every gig you play, you still learn.

Digger: The people that are coming to these gigs Ė is it a mixture of ages?

Vince: I think the people that come to the Hollies gigs Ė the majority of the audience I would say is fifty plus. Or maybe forty plus.

Digger: Does that mean that the Hollies stuff isnít attracting youngsters even though they are still a contemporary touring band?

Vince: I think a lot of young people are interested in them as well because a lot of youngsters are very much into the sixties. Itís a big thing.

Digger: Did you see Jools Holland this week Ė a great mix, as usual, including Gallagherís new band Beady Eye and Elbow.

Vince: He gets a lot of different stuff on and itís either really good or really bad. (Laughs)

Digger: Thatís right. I think Whistle Test used to be a bit like that as well.

Vince: Yes.

Digger: But we need something like that - it's a showcase and is on national TV because music and entertainment is so fragmented these days, isnít it?

Vince: I think keeping music live is very important.

Digger: Youíve got The Counterfeit Sixties running alongside The Hollies Tribute. Are they going at the same time?

Vince: Both at the same time although The Counterfeit Sixties is, compared to the Hollies band, more of a hobby if you like.

Digger: Itís going to be very difficult to replicate authentically all of the sounds from the various sixties bands. How are you going about doing that? Some sixties bands had some idiosyncratic stuff going on.

Vince:  We do pretty well. Gavin with the keyboards and weíve got a very good guitarist and everybody just seems to have the sounds. They seem to find it from somewhere Ė donít ask me where.

Digger: Tell us more about your history.

Vince: I joined my first band when I was sixteen Ė it was a Blues/Rock band but then I packed in when I got married.

Digger: Did she make you do it?

Vince: Yes.

Digger: I hear that a lot. (Both laugh)

Vince: I started up again when I was about 26.

Digger: Was it like riding a bike?

Vince: To a certain extent, yes. But I went into a completely different area of entertainment, which was comedy. I joined a comedy band.

Digger: Like The Wurzels or The Baron Knights?

Vince: A bit like the Black Abbots.

Digger: I see.

Vince: It was visual comedy. I was offered the job and I went for it.

Digger: What I enjoy when I go to see the band is some funny stories and interaction with the audience between the songs. I do enjoy a bit of banter.

Vince: Yes. Thatís the good thing about the Hollies band. Thereís a big, big percentage of audience participation. Thereís loads of jokes and laughter and we all have a good time.

Digger: Thatís important.

Vince: Itís not just a straight act.

Digger: People shouldn't take their music too seriously. What are your specific retro passions?

Vince: I find myself watching The Saint every morning if I can.

Digger: I have interviews with Peter Wyngarde, Shirley Eaton, Annette Andre and Jane Merrow  on this site - they all appeared in several episodes of The Saint and other classic ITC shows like Jason King, Randall & Hopkirk and so on. I love The Saint. Jane is lovely.

Vince: Oh really.

Digger: Jane was in The Angelsí Eye Saint episode.

Vince: Iíve just seen that one.




Digger: And with Roger Moore pretending to spank Annette Andre in one scene or being found in bed with three girls in another ... it was funny that they were a little naughty for the time.

Vince: Yes, you didnít realise it but looking at them now some of them were.

Digger: All filmed on the same small back lot at Elstree.

Vince: I spent some time there actually, I used to do a lot of production work for big bands and I went in and out of Elstree a few times.

Digger: Sid Lawrence, Jack Parnell?

Vince: Yes, great. I loved Jack Parnell.

Digger: He was the main man as a bandleader at ATV for a long time. What would be a typical play list for The Hollywood Bees?

Vince:  Just One Look, Here I go Again, Weíre Through, Yes I will.

Digger: Do you do their big seventies hits as well?

Vince: We tend to concentrate on the older stuff, more so. Iím Alive, I Canít Let Go, Bus Stop.

Digger: The Graham Nash period?

Vince: Yes. We do a bit of Crosby, Stills and Nash in the show.

Digger: Iíd love to hear your take on Marrakesh Express. Have you heard the unplugged demo of that?

Vince:  No I havenít.

Digger: Iíll send you a link. Itís always good to hear the evolution of a song. Whatís going to be the play list for the Counterfeit Sixties shows?

Vince: I think itís right across the board Ė The Who, The Kinks, The Stones, The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five.

Digger: You shouldnít have too much trouble with the DC5 drum beat Ė that was quite straightforward.

Vince: No problem. Kelvin our keyboard player was in an offshoot of the DC5.

Digger: They were bigger than The Beatles for a while, especially in the States.

Vince: Iím just trying to remember the name of the guy that died...

Digger: Mike Smith.

Vince: Yes, thatís who I was thinking of.

Digger: Why is the sixties such a big thing in peopleís minds Vince?

Vince: I think if youíve lived through the sixties then you know what it was it like Ė it wasn't just the music, it was the clothes and the cars. I was a mod with a bit of rocker in me.

Digger: What was your first car?

Vince: My first car was a Morris 1000 and then Marinas.

Digger: That was a bad period for British cars, the seventies.

Vince: I had the one that had the same engine as the MGB GT.

Digger: The Capri was good looking.

Vince: Yes, but generally that was sort of a dodgy period for car designs.

Digger: We'd had some classics in the sixties.

Vince: I then had an Alfasud.

Digger: So you were a bit of a petrol head?

Vince: Definitely. Then a BMW 320. Iíve been through quite a few.

Digger: What do you enjoy most about playing in a Retro tribute band?

Vince: The thing is Ė Iíve always like The Hollies and itís the songs, they're just so nice.

Digger: And the materialís diverse as well. Most groups you listen to their stuff is similar but The Hollies always released very different songs. They went through lots of different phases.

Vince: When you speak to people about The Hollies itís funny Ė when they find out Iím in a Hollies tribute. And when they eventually realise how many hits they've actually had. They say ďGod I didn'tí realise.Ē

Digger: They were there all the time in the sixties and seventies. And Bobby was, and is, a great drummer, recognised by his peers. He doesnít get mentioned in that many lists apart from by those in the know.

Vince: Yes. I just read a little thing by Gilson Lavis out of the Jools Holland Band and he said in Rhythm mag that Bobby Elliott was one of the very best British drummers ever.

Digger: When I spoke to him he was very humble and down-to-earth and said ďI donít think I did that quite rightĒ or ďmaybe I was a bit too busy on that track.Ē I think he was great and understated when playing and underrated as a player.

Vince: I think every drummer is like that and when you come off you will say ďI wasnít quite happy with that little bit. ď(Laughs)

Digger:  He has no ego.

Vince: Iíd love to meet him.

Digger: Are there any other Hollies tributes?

Vince: No, I think weíre the only one.

Digger: Well, you should meet him. Iím sure heíd welcome you at a gig if you come round and introduce yourself. You can see how much time he has for the fans on Youtube. Heíd be delighted.

Vince: I donít think the Hollies management indulge tributes, which is a sad thing for us.

Digger:  The management are near to where I live here and Allan Clarke lives around here too in Northamptonshire. He said heíd retire and he certainly did.

Vince: He has, heís just disappeared and retired. Itís sad.

Digger: What about future plans? What do you want to see yourself doing in a couple of years time with both these tribute bands?

Vince: A lot more gigs.

Digger: I'm sure thatís going to come. Hopefully weíll get a good summer and people will be going to more shows.

Vince: The Hollywood Bees gigs are going very well and the theatres that weíve got in at the moment are selling out. The band is going down fantastic Ė we just did Alnwick Playhouse and got a standing ovation at the end.

Digger: That's marvellous. How far do you travel?

Vince: All over the country. As far as you like Ė abroad. I travelled all over the world with the last band Ė Estonia, Spain, India lat year where we played in Mumbai.  Iíve only been playing live with The Hollywood Bees for around a year on the road, but itís taken the best part of five years to get the right personnel and to do all the rehearsals. The hardest bit is getting the personnel for the Hollies. I think if youíve got a Hollies tribute it has to be as close as possible to The Holliesí harmonies and I think weíve done it.

Digger: Yes. That was one of their main fortes.

Vince: That IS The Hollies.

Digger: So many brilliant songs. And they wrote some good ones too.

Vince: They did.

Digger: Thanks Vince. I wish you all the best and hope to see you at one of your gigs in the midlands.

Vince: Thanks David.







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