SOLENT SU, 09/12/15
Q: What made you want to be a Foo Fighters Tribute band?
Tom: I think they're just an awesome band. They have a lot of different material so it doesn't ever get dull - from the real punk rock/grunge songs to huge anthemic commercial hits. Plus I’ve always had a bit of a man crush on Pat Smear so to play his role is so much fun!
Mike: Just have a massive love and passion for the Foo Fighters and the music they make. Also the more we play the songs live the more the performance/show grows addictive!
Mario: It had never really crossed my mind to be honest. Then a couple of years ago Mike saw me play in a local hard rock covers band, said he thought I looked and sounded a bit like Dave Grohl and would I be interested in putting a tribute band together. I’ve always been a big fan and remember thinking ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ we started jamming and its grown organically into an extremely treasured project for us all.
Tim: The love for Foo Fighters, the feeling you get when you perform the songs!
Aaron: Likewise. I think the fact that we are all really into the band and their songs shows. And with them being one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, it just seemed to me like a great idea.
Q: What do tribute bands offer rather than the actual band?
Mike: A good imitation of their favourite group at a fraction of the price.
Mario: Yeah, cheaper tickets for sure. And regular shows all year round on home turf. It’s not like we have the option here to see the real thing that often. Maybe once or twice a year at most, if you’re lucky enough to get hold of tickets that tend to sell out in minutes.
Aaron: And some people like the more personal, intimacy of small gigs rather than the big stadium, which is pretty much all we can expect from them now, such is their popularity. So we try and give them the Foo Fighters in a smaller venue.
Tom: Not everyone can see the band. It makes going to a live show more accessible and to experience some of the energy you might not get through a CD.
Tim: The up close and personal experience that you don't necessarily get from the original artist, and much, much more song choice!
Q: Do you take yourselves seriously, or just do this for fun?
Tom: We take the band serious in the sense that we work hard to keep an authentic image and sound. But we keep it very fun, it's never felt like a chore.
Mike: A bit of both really. We take learning the songs very seriously and really break the song down until each part is nailed. Then the fun comes naturally whilst playing and emulating one of the best live bands in the world! And with some great friends too!!
Mario: Exactly. It’s always gonna be fun to play such great songs with some of your best friends on a regular basis. We laugh so much it hurts sometimes. We try to get together once a week, but minimum fortnightly for rehearsals and look forward to seeing each other. But yes, we take it seriously in that we are all motivated and subscribed to the goal of making this the best tribute it can be… to have it all down in look, sound and feel. We want to play as many shows to as many people in as many places as we can. There is scope with such a global brand as Foo Fighters to take our show abroad, as many of the more focused, organised and professional tribute bands do to great financial success. This is very much part of our plans for the future.
Q: Do you know a lot of other tribute bands?
Tim: Yes, Nearvana, Paramore (or less), Queens of the Clone Age, Pearl Jam’d, Cydonia Knights and Kings O’ Leon who are all fantastic and we often work closely together.
Mario: Yes, too many to mention really… but through a long-term association with the company ‘Classic Rock Tours’. They bill the best of the country’s tribute acts together for festivals in the UK, and even two week rocker’s holidays abroad. They haven’t seen us yet but I hope they might consider adding Foo Forgers to their large roster of acts in the near future!
Q: Do you just play shows with tribute bands?
Aaron: No, We'll pretty much play anywhere that wants a good Foo Fighters tribute.
Mike: But it seems to work best that way. We have played a couple of festivals where there have been some original bands playing. People know what they're getting with tributes so that's why it works out that way I think.
Tom: Usually it is other tribute bands. For example we do independently put on grunge themed nights where the other bands are grunge tributes or kind of 'alternative' music. But sometimes it is down to the venue or promoter to decide who is on the night. It could be anyone.
Tim: Of course a lot of the time we play on our own. I like it though because it means we wind up playing a longer set, even if I’m exhausted come the end of the night. It’s a good workout!
Mario: Absolutely. One of the hardest things to work out when playing on a bill with multiple bands is the set. The Foo Fighters have such a wealth of material that they tend to play two and a half hour shows these days. We hate having to cut anything out and if you’ve only got fourty-five minutes or an hour there never seems to be enough space!
Q: Have you met any of the Foo Fighters, and what would you say to them if you did?
Mario: We’re not worthy!!! Haha. Seriously though once I’d composed myself I’d want to quiz Dave about his voice, his gear and his production techniques.
Tom: I've not, no. I think I would be very shy and quite star-struck. I think I would ask about the future of the band and how they find playing England compared to the rest of the world.
Mario: I would hope you would be asking Pat for some fashion tips Tom?!?!
Aaron: No but would love to. Don't know what I would say but that I’d be nervously shaking… so I would imagine something like. “Dzfytfgrdeghgdddghjjhfddsffvgheee”
Mike: I think I would be slightly lost for words and just want to give them a massive hug!
Tim: I have met Dave Grohl, I couldn't believe it, I was a bit star struck, which I never thought would happen to me!.. but come on, he’s my hero! You know I can't honestly remember what we talked about, apart from the fact I asked him to phone my wife Rosemary because she wouldn't believe me otherwise, he did and had a chat with her!
Q: Do you think tribute bands will always be relevant?
Aaron: I think so. If you are a signed band it can't hurt having an awesome tribute act that's also playing your music. I would find it quite lovely.
Tom: As long as people still watch live music they will watch tribute bands. We still watch tributes of bands from the 60s. But if today's music is going to stand as strong 50 years from now is hard to say.
Mike: I believe they will be. There will always be a demand from the people who listen to and love live music not to let it die and burn away. Many venues have suffered in recent years from low support due to the economy but now we’re seeing signs that the industry is on the mend.
Tim: Yes, not just because the original artists won't be around forever, (and people will always want to get as close to seeing and hearing the real thing as possible) but the cost of getting tickets/travel and accommodation to see the artist, everything is so expensive and won't get any cheaper.
Mario: I’d like to think that as a tribute, we are actually good ambassadors for the band, in that we maybe spread their music a little further. We have often had people confess having watched us that they didn’t know much Foo Fighters material, but would now be going out to buy the back-catalogue!
Q: How do you profit when there are issues of copyright and royalties to care of?
Tim: Ummmm, run and don't get caught!!!???
Aaron: As long as we don't record and sell the songs we’re in the clear and not in breach of any copyright. With the live performance the venue will hold PRS and PPL licenses therefore paying a percentage to whomever.
Mario: That’s right. The PRS collects royalties for the artists covered. Representatives for the organisation quite often turn up at gigs and make note of the songs performed. So technically, over time the Foo Fighters should make some big money out of us! Haha.
Mike: We profit from our performances alone, but we invest a lot of that back into the band whether it’s for new gear, rehearsal space and marketing. In many ways the love of playing is what is most important to us and the rest is a bonus.
Q: What are your favourite Foo Fighters songs to perform?
Aaron: We could go back and forth with this all day… personally some of my favourites are ‘Congregation’ and ‘Cheer Up Boys’. The bass-lines are really busy and melodic... but the one we’re all agreed on is ‘Winnebago’, right?
Tom: Should have known you were gonna say that Aaron! Agreed though!
Mario: Yeah, there’s something about Winnebago that really gets us all fired up and jumping. It was the B side to ‘This is A Call’ - the first single, and even though it’s not very well known, it’s pretty much a unanimous decision to squeeze it into the set somewhere!
Tom: Would have to say ‘Monkey Wrench’ for me. So much fun to play because I’m only playing one chord for a lot of it! ‘Bridge Burning’ is a favourite too. It rocks and I love the way we all come in one by one.
Tim: ‘Weenie Beenie’. It’s so heavy and really, really…what’s the word? Great lyrics too. I’m also really into playing ‘Something From Nothing’ at the moment.
Mike: I’ve always loved playing ‘New Way Home’ because it’s really epic. And maybe ‘All My Life’ and ‘My Poor Brain’… all big crowd pleasers for the real fans.
Mario: I think we have similar choices really; ‘New Way Home’, ‘Come Back’, ‘Wattershed’, ‘My Poor Brain’… Maybe they stand out as a bit special to us because they are not often heard in their live shows these days. Maybe ten years ago they would be, but there are just so many big hits now that it’s rare to hear any of these album tracks live. So it kinda makes us feel like we’re speaking to the real old school fans when we play them. But honestly it’s also a great feeling when you’ve got the whole crowd singing along with you to the big anthems like Best of You, My Hero, Everlong and Monkey Wrench too!
Q: What would happen if the Foo Fighters broke up, would it affect you guys?
Aaron: That would be most un-awesome. But on the up side more people to our shows maybe…If they haven't killed themselves with grief.
Tom: I think it would make people possibly want to see us more because they can't see the Foo Fighters again. It would mean we would never have new material to learn but there is a huge list of songs… over a hundred and fifty I believe, so even though we’ve made a big dent, we aren't gonna be short of songs to work on for quite some time!
Mike: No I don't believe it would. We would carry on as normal. Look at other tribute bands that are playing where the bands they are being tribute to have either disbanded or similar. Like Queen, Guns ‘n’ Roses, the Eagles etc. Tribute bands for these acts all have huge followings still.
Tim: Yes and no, we would be heart broken, I personally think I would be quite upset. We would never have any new material to learn, but we would never stop, people will always want to see and hear us, probably even more so if the real thing no longer existed.
Mario: We may be dealing with the possibility of that right now, as on the recent release of the St Cecilia EP, which was free and dedicated to the victims of the Paris Terror attacks, Grohl’s covering letter on their website also announces a hiatus. Hopefully that is all it will be, and not for too long. We loved the anticipation of the Sonic Highways album and knowing we would have a whole batch of brand new songs to sink our teeth into! Having established themselves as one of the biggest bands in the world they maybe have considered the phrase “quit while you’re on top’’…but let’s hope they’re not so cautious and that there is still plenty more to come from this awesome group that mean so much to us all!