Named after a species of bee discovered in Buckfast, England, Buckfast Superbee won a 1998 San Diego Music Award for "Best New Artist." Their debut album, You Know How the Song Goes, was released in 2001. The songs “A.M. Argument” and “Faker” are heard in the video game MLB SlugFest.
“If somebody throws something at us, or pisses us off, we’ll do ‘Cornbread And A 40’ on them!” warns guitarist Timothy Joseph, aka TJ. “It’s a three chord progression, and everyone in the band takes a turn saying rude things about someone, in three or four verses, all ad libbed And it has to rhyme. Like, ‘I know this guitarist named Nick, and he has a little dick.’ ”
Why “Cornbread And A 40”? “I was at a party, a barbecue, and some guy was drinking this forty ouncer of beer. And there was this big tray of cornbread that nobody was eating. I was just stringing it all together and, well, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just something to chant between verses when we run out of insults. We usually only do it at parties.”
The song made a rare club appearance in Lake Havasu Arizona, when the group played a series of afternoon sets at London Bridge Resort. “Our drummer, Matt, walked out of the door with a beer. And this guy at the door, Kokomo Joe, he’s like seventy years old, real uptight. He said ‘Hey, you can’t take that beer out.’ Matt tried to tell him that he was with the afternoon band, but the guy says ‘I don’t really give a shit what you play.’ ” Joe also reportedly grabbed the drummer’s all access pass, saying “If you ever come back, I’ll have you arrested!”
“So the next time we played,” says TJ, “we bashed him into the ground with ‘Cornbread.’ We were singing ‘Send him to a geriatric home, ‘cause the guy’s real feeble and he’s got old bones.’ ” The bar owner was not pleased and told the band that they were not to insult his employees. Said employee, Kokomo Joe, was not even present to hear his sonic roast, though he heard about it later. “He came up and said ‘I hate your music, you guys suck and if I had my way you’d never play in Arizona again!’ It was pretty funny. We still played there again the next afternoon.”
Buckfast Superbee reemerged in 2006 with their second full-length, self-titled record. Their 2008 release is entitled Turn of the Radio Age.
As of 2011, guitarist Timothy Joseph is running a Mission Gorge–area recording studio called Phaser Control, which he co-founded with Jim Austin. It is part of Studio 350, a complex of 17 band practice rooms that opened in 2010. Able to comfortably house a five- or six-piece band, the main studio is an exercise in weird geometry. The ceiling curves up, and the walls meet at funhouse angles. It smells like new wood. The heavy studio doors feel like airlocks on a space craft. Inside, the very atmosphere is different.
“I’m amped at the tones we were able to find in there,” says Roland Ware, a veteran record producer, owns Rdub Recordings and was the first to record a complete project at Phaser Control.
For now Phaser Control is direct to digital. But first, vintage microphones funnel tones through the 1974 electronics of a Soundcraft 8000 mixing console that spent a decade at the Belly Up Tavern before it was brought out of storage and refurbished. The ancient electronics in the console, says Joseph, enhance the raw sound.
Most of the paid recording business is filtering into the studio via the musicians who rent the practice rooms. Joseph says they get half off when they book recording time.
Buckfast Superbee staged a return in early 2016, including an April 30 Casbah gig and a new video for the song "Chorea," their first new music release in nearly eight years. The lineup featured original members Timothy Joseph, Derek Dutt, and Kevin Stram, backed by drummer Danny King (the Palace Ballroom). A new album was released later that year by Walking Records.