Thursday, 10 February 2011
INTERVIEW: THE BEATBACK BROTHERS
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! One of the great pleasures of running ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] is that not only do I get the opportunity to interview and comment upon my musical heroes and their musical cousins; Yours Truly KJS also gets to highlight and spotlight great local [and beyond] acts who operate within The Beatles and ELO genres. Last night I wandered over to Coseley - the home town of our beloved Kelly Groucutt - to interview Craig Whale and Adam Willetts a.k.a. The BeatBack Brothers thus:
KJS: Craig Whale and Adam Willetts are The BeatBack Brothers. How did you come up with this inspiring band name?
TBB: Craig came up with a list of names. We narrowed it down to two names and then made the final choice. We obviously wanted to have a reference to The Beatles and we liked the idea of being hypothetical brothers! Also; the first ever gig we attended together was a 'Blues Brothers' [Jake and Elwood] tribute show. And we had a great night! So it's a bit of everything really!
KJS: I have to thank one Frances Pope for introducing me to you via Facebook. It appears that you have a growing collection of followers both on-line and locally. How important are those fans to you?
TBB: A friend of ours [James Fisher] started a group on Facebook and we now have about 130 fans. Now this may not seem to be a lot; but they are all valuable to us and we really appreciate every comment and every person who attends our gigs. If people didn't watch us; it wouldn't be worthwhile playing. Nothing means more to us than entertaining people and if somebody enjoys one of our gigs; then it makes it worthwhile for us and it's the best feeling! It's why we do it! Also; we must make a special mention of Geoff Cook - who is very supportive of us and so very helpful too!
KJS: Your parents are indeed "instrumental" in encouraging and supporting the band. Please tell us about them and what they do for The BeatBack Brothers?
TBB: Malcolm and Jackee are the third and fourth 'brothers' in the group! Without them it wouldn't be possible. Malcolm plays a massive part in setting up the gear at our gigs ... leads ... lighting et al. He is our 'musical ear' for help with sound checks and he transports us everywhere. Jackee is Craig's costume director! She is always getting clothes ready and helping with our appearance and 'look'. They both help with the promotion of the band and we genuinely appreciate everything that they do for us. We couldn't ask for a better 'Road Crew'!
KJS: How did you two meet and join up forces musically?
TBB: I met Adam when I went to his secondary school in Kingswinford after moving there in Year #8. We didn't have a lot to do with each other until Year #10 when we took GCSE Music together. We then started to play in class together. After that we participated in school productions and came second in the school 'Battle of the Bands' competition. We performed Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" with Adam playing piano and myself on drums - which is where I started. I only stopped playing drums and moved onto the guitar because we were 'neighbour friendly'! As a result of that 'Battle of the Bands' contest; we were asked to play at the school leavers prom in which we performed six songs. Post-school; we met up to jam every few months. Then, about three years ago, Craig's Auntie Gill [Jackee's sister] died. In memory of her; we decided to run a benefit night to raise funds for the Linda McCartney charity. This was as a four piece. After that the four-piece called it a day due to 'differences'. Later; Adam and I were asked to help out a charity gig at the Goodrich Social Club. We did a dozen songs to support a band on the night and didn't think it went well at all! We came off stage and felt ready to pack it in ... until the manager approached us and asked if we could do our own show instead of being a support act! We booked two more gigs that very night and the rest is history!
KJS: Who are your musical influences?
Craig: As a kid growing up; I loved Kelly Groucutt. He was my hero. He was a friend of my mothers along his brother John. He used to get us tickets for ELO Part II shows and take us backstage. And as I grew up; I listened to The Beatles' "Number 1's" album. It was that compilation that got me into The Beatles! To cut a long story short; I then moved onto Wings and Paul McCartney's solo material. He is my hero alongside Kelly. I also love Marc Bolan; Roy Wood and many more!
Adam: I have very similar musical tastes to Craig; mainly due to the exposure that he has given me in the various artists he loves. More than anyone else however, and by far my biggest influence is Billy Joel. I grew up listening to his music and respect him immensely as a singer; songwriter and, above all else, as a rock pianist.
KJS: And how did those musical influences shape The BeatBack Brothers?
TBB: Obviously; The Beatles and ELO influence our set list. We have a repertoire of around fifty  songs that we perform. And of that about 35-40% must be Beatles stuff! And it costs us a fortune getting a hold of Paul McCartney's guitars! We would love to do more ELO songs but it is difficult to reproduce their arrangements with just two guys!
KJS: Your set list includes The Beatles, Marc Bolan, Paul McCartney and Wings and [of course] ELO. This is a wide ranging sampling of British musical heritage. What other artistes and songs do you interpret live on stage - and would like to - in future?
TBB: We cover many other artists including David Bowie. I am quite a fan of some of his work especially the 'Ziggy Stardust' album which I think is great. We do a bit of Little Richard; Roxy Music; The Searchers et al. We try to have a wide range of songs to please a varied audience.
KJS: What ELO songs have you performed live and which tracks are you planning to attempt in the future?
TBB: We have performed in our time: "Evil Woman"; "Do Ya"; "Confusion" and "Turn To Stone". We regularly perform "Evil Woman" and occasionally "Do Ya". We are looking to introduce new songs to replace the older ones such as: "All Over The World"; "Hold On Tight" and maybe "Calling America". They are all great tracks!
KJS: There is an unmistakable link and common thread between ELOBF and The BeatBack Brothers. What are your fave Beatles and ELO tracks?
Craig: A difficult question! I love so many Beatles songs! I love "All My Loving" as McCartney's bass is exceptional ... also: "In My Life"; "Got To Get You Into My Life"; "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"; "Tell Me Why"; "The Long And Winding Road" and "Blackbird" ... horrible question ... must move on ... too many to list!
Adam: My favourites are "The Long And Winding Road"; "Back In The U.S.S.R."; "She Loves You" and "Revolution"!
KJS: How can folks find out where The BeatBack Brothers are playing live or contact them to enquire and/or book their services?
TBB: You can contact us on  102177 for enquiries and/or bookings. Also; please feel free to visit our web site on MySpace or our Facebook page so that you can catch up on what we're up to; where we are playing and even listen to a couple of clips:
My thanx are extended to Craig and Adam for their time and participation in this interview. ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends The BeatBack Brothers to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.
Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 10-Feb-2011