INTERVIEW: Fab Faux bring Beatles’ Apple years to NJ

The Fab Faux will perform Nov. 11 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of the band.

The Fab Faux are a group of talented musicians who expertly display their love of all things Beatles each and every time they take the stage. The cover band is planning for a special concert Saturday, Nov. 11 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The evening will be a celebration of the Beatles’ Apple Records years, encompassing songs from The White Album, Abby Road and Let It Be.

Whereas other Beatles cover bands dress up as Ringo, Paul, George and John, the members of The Fab Faux focus their efforts on sounding the part, rather than looking the part. Their knowledge runs deep, and they try to showcase albums on stage with an air of authenticity and appreciation.

The band consists of guitarist Jimmy Vivino (Conan), bassist Will Lee (The Late Show With David Letterman), singer and drummer Rich Pagano (Roseanne Cash’s band), guitarist Frank Agnello (Marshall Crenshaw’s band) and keyboardist and guitarist Jack Petruzzelli (Joan Osborne’s band).

Recently, Lee spoke with Hollywood Soapbox about the upcoming concert in New Jersey. Lee is not only a founding member of The Fab Faux, but he also played with all four of the original Beatles. Here’s what he had to say:

On what audiences can expect at the State Theatre …

“Well, first of all, whatever music gets played is, of course, pure Beatles and our version of pure Beatles. … What we try to do is bring the records to the stage literally, as far as the music, not dress up and pretend, hey, look we’re the Beatles. It’s not that at all. It’s way more reverent than that actually, so we just have a great time putting a great set list of songs together. And often people want to know what they’re getting, so we try to put together themes. And this theme is really based on the years that the Beatles had really developed into amazing songwriting craftsmen. Of course, they always did, but they just kept getting better and better, and in the later years, once they started their own label, Apple Records, they put out albums like The White Album, the Abby Road album, Let It Be. So a lot of the music, almost all the music is from those three records basically. Consider ‘Back in the USSR,’ ‘Dear Prudence,’ ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,’ those kinds of songs, ‘Blackbird.’ Everybody knows the songs from Abby Road — ‘Come Together’ and ‘Something,’ ‘Here Comes the Sun.'”

On his favorite time period of the Beatles …

“I’m such a fan that I have a lot of favorite albums and favorite times. … As they were developing, they were just as excited about the next best thing each time, so there was a certain level of excitement about what they were doing that was unmatched by anything that had happened before.”

On his early days experiencing the Beatles’ music …

“In fact, when I was 11 years old, growing up in Texas, this sunbeam came over a dark horizon from England and changed the way music felt. They came and reshaped everything that was happening in the music world just because of their take on it. It’s funny because when they were interviewed, they would say, we’re just doing our version of what we hear coming from America basically, but when we heard it, we didn’t recognize it that so much at all. We recognized it as something brand new, and it was. Of course, they put all their creativity and flavor on it, so it was brand new.”

On how they research the original songs …

“We are more analytical of the actual notes themselves. … By reading or by getting bootleg versions of everything — we have been bootleg kings since we began the band — we did every trick in the book to take apart these songs so we could put them back together. In order for us to do that, our focus is so much on the details, such as what instruments were used, and we try to get that exact. We try to find out what recording techniques were used and even more basic than that.

“Imagine you’re hearing a studio. You’re hearing a Beatles record, and you’re hearing a sound you don’t know what it is. We would consider it to be sound C, and we would love to know what sound A and B were that went into making sound C, if it was a mathematical scenario. We’re fascinated by digging deep enough to try to find out what exactly made that sound.”

On his years working with Paul Shaffer on The Late Show With David Letterman …

“I guess [we] would easily be categorized as the most seen cover band ever, the most heard cover band ever because that’s what Paul’s concept was, was to do covers as the music for the show. So every time we go in and out of commercial, we’d be trying to recreate some record, even though we weren’t singing. We were doing it instrumentally, but I learned from him the art of listening hard enough to go in and really pick apart a record and take the parts and put them back together again. So that’s kind of what The Fab Faux is made from.”

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

The Fab Faux will perform Saturday, Nov. 11 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Click here for more information and tickets.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications.

E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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