Question: There are a lot of great rock ’n’ roll bands to emulate that have come and gone, why the Beatles?
Answer: To me, the Beatles have always been in a class of their own. Even when I was 7 years old, I knew there was something different about the Beatles. The other great classic rock bands —The Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, etc. — although unique, they could always be categorized as “classic rock.” But the Beatles crossed so many boundaries and had so many different sounds and styles.
Q: Doesn’t picking such an iconic act to cover, particularly with such scrutiny as you guys allegedly use, bring extra pressure than, say, covering a less legendary act?
A: You bet it does…. I guess we like a good challenge. But we are not necessarily trying to re-create every last nuance of the original studio recordings. I would say we hit at least 90 percent of it (enough to appease the purists), but we like to allow some room for interpretation. That’s the “LIVE” part of Abbey Road LIVE! We like to imagine what the Beatles might have sounded like if they had done a concert tour in 1969. They played their last public concert in 1966, so much of their later material was never performed live.
Q: Who exactly is in this band?
A: Tim Conley’s on guitar and vocals. Dave Domizi plays bass and lends vocals, Andrew Hanmer is on drums and vocals and me, Michael Wegner, on guitar, keys, sitar, clarinet and vocals. We are all in our 30s.
Q: Is there a John, Paul, Ringo and George or are the division of powers different in this band?
A: With a few exceptions, we do stick to our roles when it comes to lead vocals — mainly because we each have a natural tendency toward an individual Beatle personality. Dave (our bass player) has a lot of pop sensibilities, and he sings most of the Paul songs. Meanwhile Tim is more left-of-center, the artist of the band, and he sings the John songs. Being the “quiet one,” I sing the George songs.
Q: As the years pass and more of music’s best-loved leave us, tribute bands have multiplied. Why play so much of someone else’s music?
A: I personally find it both satisfying and joyful to play the music of the Beatles. The fact is, (John) Lennon and (Paul) McCartney are some of the most talented songwriters ever, and there is a lot to appreciate and learn by playing their compositions. We write our own music, too, and play in other bands, but playing the Beatles music is satisfying in its own way.
Q: Do you think the fans see past their memories to appreciate what each of you do as your own? Does it matter whether the audience focuses on you versus the music?
A: That has always been an interesting question for me. We are not a look-alike band and have never tried to re-create the Beatle experience with wigs and British accents and such. Musically too, we try to add a creative element, even as we stay true to the original recordings. We have noticed that our fans strongly appreciate when we put our own stamp on a particular song.
Q: Is performing the solo work from the Beatles following their split allowed by Abbey Road LIVE?
A: Sure, we have experimented with some of the solo material. We would like to more as time permits. But we have spent copious amounts of time working up our signature albums — “Abbey Road,” “Sgt. Pepper,” “Magical Mystery Tour.” If we had the time, I would love to learn every Beatles song ever written, and the solo stuff too. It would never get boring, that’s for sure. But for better or worse, we do have lives outside of this band, so our repertoire will have some limitations.
Q: Has Abbey Road LIVE! ever been to the recording studios in London?
A: We have not been overseas as a band, but I did once visit Abbey Road studios. It was pretty special to be there. I got to play on the grand piano used on many Beatle recordings.