Orlando, Fla.’s Beebs And Her Money Makers began their summer-long stint on the Vans Warped Tour in June, bringing their colorful, funky and fun approach to concert-goers around the country. The band is led by kazoo-wielding mistress Michelle Beebs, who was featured in Fuse TV’s “Warped Tour Roadies,” which followed the experiences of her up-and-coming band during their stint on last year’s tour.
But this was no typical “Behind the Music” documentary. Beebs emerged as an affable heroine, as she mixed with her musical heroes, met her brother for the first time and reignited her relationship with her father.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Beebs around the release of their latest effort, Würst Album Ever, to discuss the band’s approach, her love for funk and how the band may have once saved a life.
You grew up doing theater, and studying dance, but when did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
I did all that stuff when I was really young. But later on, for six years I managed bands, tour managed, and had my own booking and promotion company doing all the behind the scenes stuff. One day I decided I was tired doing it for everyone else and resolved to do it for myself and see how far I could take it.
I just wanted to be an independent artist after watching so many bands work so hard, or not work that hard to have awesome opportunities. I just had a drive in that way, and I thought that I knew enough about the music business to make it happen without worrying about being signed to a major label or anything like that.
I’m still young. I’m only 25, so I’m in the game and excited about it.
With many of the major labels signing “360” deals with artists, taking a cut of their merchandise sales, touring and everything else, it can’t seem that desirable to go the major label route these days…
Most musicians aren’t business savvy. They care about making music and focus on that. I understand how bands can get caught up in that because the music business can be overwhelming. Handling your own publicity, and touring, and merch is a lot of work. It is running a small business. So I can see how it would be appealing to someone without fully understanding what they are getting themselves into.
I think some of that theater legacy has leached into your approach in terms of creating a mythology and backstory for the band, right?
It’s true. That’s all true. We’ll leave it at that…
We just don’t want to take ourselves too seriously, and realize the only person that cares about whether or not you are “cool” is you. When you stop caring about how “cool” you are, how impressive other people think you are, then life gets a lot easier.
2013 and 2014 have been huge years for you and the band. Not only did you spend the summer on the Van’s Warped tour last year, and get invited back this year, but you were featured in Fuse’s Warped Tour Roadies reality show. Did you know going into the tour that you’d be featured on that?
I got a call two weeks before the tour saying that we would kinda, sorta be on the show. I didn’t know that I was going to be followed the whole Summer.
So, how much of reality television is scripted and how much of what we saw with you guys happened in just that way?
None of it is scripted. It all happened.
Did you really meet your brother on television for the first time?
Yes. I already had that planned all year. I’d been talking to him for five years, and then when we were added to Warped Tour, we agreed to meet at the Detroit date. We had this big, huge countdown and were emailing each other, “60 days until we finally get to meet and see and hug each other!” So it just so happened that while the show was following me around they ended up documenting it, and to me it’s really special.
Although you may be recognized predominantly as a ska band by some, you sound also has aspects of rock, funk and hip hop. Which of those worlds are you most comfortable in?
We’ve always had some ska influences in our sound, but I think our sound has been predominantly funk and soul and blues influenced.
Did you know that I’m calling you from, Dayton, which is the “funk capital” of the country?
I listen to Earth, Wind and Fire, Ohio Players…all I listen to all day is Motown, funk…I actually had an opportunity to record with George Clinton a few years ago and it was probably one of the coolest days of my whole life.
You guys have a history of doing some pretty great cover songs including Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and TLC’s “Waterfalls”. Do you choose the songs for the way that they speak to you artistically or because of their influence on pop radio and recognizablity?
The Miley song we did just because it was popular. That’s why we did TLC’s “Waterfalls,” to redeem ourselves for the Miley cover (laughter). I love TLC and have been a fan of them for a long time.
In the Spring did you do a tour to raise the visibility of an anti-bullying campaign?
We are always on a crusade for anti-bullying by teaching people to not give a crap what other people think of them. We want to teach people to be themselves, and to be comfortable in their skin, and that if someone says something about them, they don’t have to care.
Actually, for the Spring tour we went out with an organization called Love, Hope, Strength who register people for bone marrow donations. There is a three percent chance that someone could be a match, and it is a way that you could possibly save a life. You just get swabbed at the show, and if you are a match they call you. They actually found a match at our show in Ohio on that tour, which is amazing! We were super excited and proud that they would a match at our show!
(Visit Beebs and Her Money Makers here: http://www.beebsandhermoneymakers.com/.)