Beatles Tribute Band Resurrects Fab Four…
The Return looks like it could very well be the best Beatles tribute band ever. They have not only captured the intricate sounds of The Beatles, they have studied the band’s mannerisms to absolute perfection: from John Lennon’s on-stage bubble gum chewing to even using expertly crafted replicas of instruments and gear that The Beatles used.
During the performance, the band will go through three wardrobe changes, from the band’s early years to their final performance, all while having the songs down pat — note for note — and even maintaining the proper combing of the signature mop tops.
The Return started in 1995 when a group of friends decided to get together and learn some of their favorite songs from Beatlemania. From there it expanded into a full blown professional tribute with a touring schedule and an agent. The band has now performed all over the United States and the world, including some well known places in England.
And, frankly, this is the closest you will ever get to an actual Beatles performance. To get the full effect of this new wave of Beatlemania, go to their website: http://www.thereturnonline.com and see if they are coming to a town near you.
I spoke with Micheal Fulop who performs as George Harrison:
How did you guys get started and how did you decide to cover the full spectrum of The Beatles?
The way we got started was back when I was in high school, me and a couple of my friends who where in various original bands thought, hey we really like The Beatles and a couple of us got together for fun and jammed on some Beatles songs. We never actually intended to perform out live or intended to dress up like them or any of that stuff, it was just something to do for fun. And over about the next six months we really only got together about once a month maybe and a mutual friend’s band was having an album release party and they found out what we were doing, and so they asked us if we would come open up for their band at their album release party. After some twisting of the arms we decided we would do it. But then once we got to talking about it we decided what would be really cool is if we all had some black suits and combed our hair down and actually tried to talk with British accents and actually be The Beatles instead of just cover Beatles songs. So for that one and only gig we went to a thrift store and bought black suits, figured it was a one time thing, and it would be fun. We had so much fun, and the people really enjoyed it so much, that somebody at the party asked us if we would come and play at their bar in a few weeks, and we said sure we would do one more, and it kind of went that way for the first few months. Every gig we played we got another gig out of it, and then before we knew it we had a little something going and here we are now trying to keep it going.
Why did you decide to perform as George?
Years ago when we started I was the best guitar player in the band, so I played all of the lead guitar stuff. There was one guy who was a good singer so he sang all of the songs, and then one guy played bass and one on drums, of course. And then when we decided on that first gig, we said, okay, we have got to figure out who is who now. Since George played most of the lead guitar it was kind of a natural choice for me to play the George Harrison parts.
Have you met either of the surviving Beatles?
The closest I have ever been is something that is not such a big deal anymore because you can actually pay to do this now. You can pay to see Paul McCartney do sound checks. But about five or six years ago, I was able to go into a sound check before they were doing that because a friend of my wife from high school was actually working for Paul McCartney as a light tech. He got us into the sound check, and it was basically a handful of people in Phillips Arena, just sitting there in front of Paul just watching him play. I didn’t get to shake his hand, but he did actually speak to us from the stage and that was really neat. Other than that, Pete Best, the original drummer for The Beatles who basically got sacked right before they got famous. We have done quite a few gigs with him and spent some time with him. It has been really cool to meet a lot of people in the inner circle back then.
You played a show at Abbey Road studios. What was that like?
You know what, at that point I had been doing this for about eight or nine years maybe, and we kind of got to the point to where you don’t get bugs in your stomach anymore. At this point we had played in front of huge crowds. So it was one of those things where I had thought I had seen it all, never got nervous anymore. When we walked in Abbey Road studios it was like I was a kid. It was a concert for a small tour group, and we started playing. I was more nervous than probably the first show we ever played and was thinking to myself where is this coming from, this nervousness? I still remember when the show was over we ran into the bathroom because there was no dressing room or anywhere else to go [laughs], so we kind of met in the restroom, and I told the guys that my heart was beating like 200 beats a minute, and I had butterflies in my stomach, and everybody else said they felt the same way. It’s like, as we were setting up and getting ready to play, we realized that we were at Abbey Road studios the place where it all happened. It was kind of wild when you think about it.
Our site deals with a lot of religious and spiritual topics and in every interview we usually ask a question related to spirituality. Do you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person?
I am. My family and I go to church together whenever I am on the road. I cannot speak personally for the rest of the group, but yes I am.