The Fab Faux aren’t your local bar’s Beatles cover band. Late Show With David Letterman bassist Will Lee along with Conan bandleader Jimmy Vivino, Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello and
Jack Petruzzelli give life to the music The Beatles never got a chance to bring to the stage.
Albums like Revolver, Abbey Road and more are carefully composed and arranged through the use of horn sections, background vocalists, and any other necessities the material may call for, giving the seasoned Beatles fan an authentic glimpse into what could have been for The Fab Four.
On October 26, The Fab Faux will take the stage at New York’s Beacon Theatre to celebrate George Harrison’s 70th birthday, where they will draw from Harrison’s Beatles repertoire as well as his solo endeavors. We sat down with bassist Will Lee to talk all things Beatles, Harrison and the upcoming soiree at the Beacon. You can catch The Fab Faux at the Beacon this Saturday as well as at The Chicago Theatre on November 9 and New Brunswick’s State Theatre on November 23.
Let’s talk about The Beatles. Tell me about your history with them growing up as a fan and you’re introduction to their music
To say that I was a fan is quite an understatement. I was a kid growing up in Huntsville, TX at the time. It got to a point where my girlfriend said to me, “Alright, is it me or The Beatles?” I guess you could see what choice I made there. I’m still with The Beatles and she’s long gone. It was a choice I’m really happy about making because when The Beatles hit the Ed Sullivan Theater and the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964, that was a life-altering moment for many people.
It was the thing that sparked my career and made me decide, “Alright those drums that have been collecting dust in my bedroom that I never knew what to do with, now I know exactly what I’m going to do with those.” I’m going to get chicks with those. From that day on, I never stopped playing. Of course, I had already heard The Beatles’ music, but the reaction, you do this, the chicks go nuts and you move on. I thought that was the most romantic notion I had ever arrived at or seen happen.
That was it. The Beatles have been a thread through all my studio sessions, live gigs, every bit of music I had done after that was what would The Beatles do here? That kind of informed me. It would seem obvious that a guy like me would have a Beatles band, but it never occurred to me ever, in my entire career. I had seen Beatles bands and thought that’s not something I would want to do—pretend to be The Beatles—that’s corny. I never entertained the idea, until I met the drummer in our band Rich Pagano. We were doing a Hiram Bullock, small tour around Europe and I heard something in his playing and I was like, “how into Ringo are you?” And he was like, “I’m way into it.” Plus his singing voice sounded a lot like John Lennon to me.
How did the idea for The Fab Faux end up coming to life?
The idea came about with the thought—how much fun would it be to bring Beatles records to the stage with this guy Jimmy Vivino and a couple of others guys? I know it wouldn’t work as a four-piece because there were too many textures on those great Beatles records. Double vocals, percussion parts, keyboard parts. That was kind of a mistake that the lookalike bands have been making all those years. Trying to look like The Beatles when they only had four guys. They weren’t going to become a track act. They had to stick to their early stuff, and not do that great of a job recreating the records themselves, more of the live stuff.
When Rich said yes I started badgering Jimmy Vivino about this, I somehow managed to talk him into it after multiple tries. Jimmy Vivino is the bandleader for Conan and he’s been a bandleader countless times in the New York area. I’ve known him forever and I’ve known him to be a guy who knows about the details. He’s a historian and an archivist in the same way that Paul Schaeffer is. He knows all the stuff. I thought that would be a no-brainer to ask him to be in the band. Beyond that, I didn’t really know who the other two were, but I knew it had to be a five-piece. So then we went on a search for the other two guys, and it’s been the same guys since 1998.
You mentioned the other lookalike bands make the mistake of only having four members. Was it your knowledge of the catalog that made you want five guys and a fuller sound?
It was kind of a “guys night out bowling idea” at first. We never knew we were going to expand into doing all the songs that had horn sections and strings at the beginning. We knew the bare minimum would had to be the five guys so we could pull off more songs than Beatle bands were expected to do.
You guys stick to material that The Beatles didn’t get a chance to play live. That’s your draw?
That’s what we’re known for. We hit on just about everything, but that’s the stuff we’re specializing at. Take for example an album like Magical Mystery Tour. This band is totally made for that because of all the weird things that happen on all that album. All the different varieties of big productions stuff. We have all the goods to bring that to the stage. As diverse as The White Album as well. Down to one guy playing “Blackbird” versus the textures of something like “Revolution (9).” That’s what we’re known for as well. It’s crazy.