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The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

An interview with the world’s only Bees Neez tribute band


Two guys dress in their 60s Bees Neez tribute band outfits.Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano (She/Her) / Mass Media Staff. 

Hello my funky friends, it’s musical mastermind Mick “Nick Jagger” Collins back for another interview with some of your favorite musical guests. Last week I interviewed John Lennon—he went into depth about how happy he is now that he doesn’t have to listen to Yoko sing anymore. This week is a special one, though, as these two gentlemen surpass any of my previous guests by a long shot, and I’m glad to call them my friends. They are the founding members of the tribute to the classic rock band known as the “Bees Neez,” Kyle Makkas and Joe DiPersio.

Nick Collins: Welcome guys. Now, I like to consider myself a music connoisseur, but I couldn’t find any background information about the Bees Neez anywhere.

Joe DiPersio: People ask us all the time, why be a Bees Neez tribute band? Then they usually follow that up by asking if the Bees Neez were even a real band. That right there, my friend, is the reason why we do it. That’s the baffling thing about the Neez. Here you have one of the most influential and progressive bands of the 1960s being collectively forgotten about by the entire world. It’s like that movie “Yesterday,” and me and Kyle for whatever reason are some of the only ones who remember the Neez. I guess you could say we have an obligation to uphold their legacy; to spread their music to the world.

NC: I’m fascinated by your efforts to keep the story of the band going. I’m sure many people wish that “Yesterday” was based on a true story because unlike the Bees Neez, The Beatles should’ve been forgotten.

Kyle Makkas: Here’s the thing about the Neez. They wrote for the common man. Too many artists, then and now, try to write about things that are too…thought out. I don’t want anything above my intelligence, I want words I can understand. “Penny Weeny” is a song I can get behind. When they sang about playing bongos in the sand in “Environs of Geneva,” I felt that.

NC: You do make a great point. Playing bongos in the sand sounds like something that can bring peace to anyone’s mind. Simplicity in lyricism is something that should be ideal in songwriting, otherwise it just feels like you’re listening to this odd English language that people can’t grasp well.

JD: One of my favorite Neez songs lyrically would have to be “Under There (Under Where?).” It’s this song about a guy who comes upon some rough times financially so he sells his beloved cow to another man in the town. The guy turns out to be a butcher so it doesn’t end well for the cow. The guy who sold the cow is so hung up with guilt that he murders the butcher and hides his body under the floorboards of his house, kind of like a “tell-tale heart” situation. I mean, Edgar Allen Poe, am I right? Literary references are the mark of quality song writing. People always talk about Lennon and McCartney; not enough people talk about Den and Rat.

NC: I’m assuming you’re referring to the duo of Lennon and Shears, but nonetheless, I see the point you’re making and can completely get behind it. I mean, the guy’s last name was Dagger so it’s all the more poetic that he loved Poe. Moving forward, I wanted to ask about what separated The Bees Neez from other bands. It seems like about 88.597557 percent of the population here at UMass Boston have desperately been trying to crack the code at mastering the art of music, but you guys have it down pat. How would you attribute that success to the influence the Bees Neez have given you two as musicians?

KM: Most people go on and on about the Beatles and the Stones, but I’m less interested in hearing about bands across the pond and more into the dirty water we got right here in the harbor.

JD: The Bees Neez should be synonymous with Boston. You shouldn’t legally be allowed to mention Beantown in a sentence without mentioning the Bees Neez. They wrote about things that all Bostonian’s could relate to like friendship, love, partying and the tragic disaster of the North End molasses tank explosion which they detail in their hit song, “Boston Molassacre, 1919.” Of course, I should mention that the song caused quite the controversy upon release.

NC: I’m surprised by the controversy it stirred up. Were they always known to be a controversial band, or was the song about the molassacre just a one-off thing?

KM: They were just controversy-prone, and they weren’t even trying. People would go on and on about the lyrics being stupid; how they ripped off other peoples’ songs; the criminal acts they committed; their lack of talent; how they exploited a five-year-old child; how they took a picture of one of their bandmates while he was in a coma and put it on an album cover; how they wrote an entire song about not knowing what an enchilada was and how they somehow let a cult leader into the band—I guess he wandered onto the tour bus one day and everyone assumed somebody had invited him to join. Whatever! The point is, they really knew how to shake things up in that Beantown way. We just want to honor that.

NC: And it’s an honor to be a part of it by conducting this interview, just as much as it’s an honor to know that I share a hometown with this amazing group. F— Boston…the band, I mean. The Bees Neez are the one true band that encapsulates what it means to be from the city on a hill. I would love to learn more about Dagger, though. He sounds like the epitome of what a frontman should be. What’s it like to play a character like that?

JD: Dennis Dagger had a pretty wild personality and a stage presence that was next to none, so getting into character can be difficult at times. Dressing for the role helps and Dennis’ wardrobe was a real smorgasbord of ’60s fashion. His looks included Beatles knockoff, bee costume, beatnik intellectual, flower kapower, tortured vagabond, wild-wild-west, Iggy Pop wannabe and of course, his iconic black and yellow three-piece suit.

KM: As a tribute, we really strive to be authentic and along with the ’60s regalia, that includes trying to reproduce the dynamic of the band members themselves. It’s no secret that things could get pretty contentious in the studio with Den and Ratsy butting heads almost constantly. On stage we plan on recreating some of these fights—both verbal and physical—to give the audience what they really paid to see. Some people think we’d be crazy to fight each other during the shows, but I have faith in what we’re going to do. Accuracy is key for us. So, while it may have caused rotten fruits to get thrown at me more than occasionally, I do the voices just as the original singer did them. Now’s probably a good time to tell you that we haven’t actually played any shows yet as the Neez.

NC: Wait…you guys haven’t played any shows? Do you want to speak to that?

JD: Well, I think the main reason that people don’t want to book us for gigs is that they don’t know the legacy of the Neez. It’s unfortunate really, people don’t know what they’re missing. Just imagine this: blaring guitars, crashing symbols, Dennis Dagger comes gallivanting out on stage, smacking a tambourine off of his bare chest. The spotlight shines on Ratsy, illuminating him as he shreds in true Ratsy fashion. Dennis spins his mic stand around like a bo staff and starts belting out the chorus to “Lollipop Lil.” That’s the experience we offer.

NC: This sounds kind of fun. Can I join?

KM: Fine. Sing every verse of “All of my Hands” right now!

NC: All of my…hands?

JD: You’re hired!

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor