Interview with Bill Roberts of “Fab” (Beatles tribute band) – – Part I

By Dave Carew

Fab is—hands down—one of the finest Beatles tribute bands in the world. Comprised of premier, Nashville-based musicians and singers, this collection of serious-minded-yet-fun-hearted guys presents a more-or-less-monthly performance of great Beatles tunes at 3rd & Lindsley that no Beatles fan—make that no music fan—should miss. As the non-Liverpool Lads prepare for their show this Saturday night (March 19) at 3rd & Lindsley, Fab keyboardist Bill Roberts granted Underground Nashville the following exclusive, two-part interview. (Part II will be presented later this week.)

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLEYou guys have played at clubs like the old Boardwalk Cafe and 3rd & Lindsley for more than a decade. When did you originally form Fab and what was the original idea behind it?

BILL ROBERTS: I was at a Christmas party in December of 1998 when Woody Bomar approached me and said, “Hey! Let’s form a band to play the Beatles!” That was it! Woody is currently president of Green Hills Music after being VP & General Manager at SONY/ATV Publishing for years. The entire idea was to take a break from the music business and have fun. We had zero expectations—just wanted to play the songs faithfully and in the spirit of the Beatles.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  I recently read that The Beatles are among the Top 5 favorite bands of EVERY demographic, from 20-somethings to 60-somethings.  As a musician, what do you think accounts for this unprecedented popularity, even among people who have no memory of The Beatles as a band?

BILL ROBERTS:  Every music producer in the world would like the recipe, wouldn’t they? It seems that strong or beautiful or unusual melodies, and interesting harmonies and lyrics, resonate with the human species somehow—The Beatles just did it better. Their melodies and harmonies grab the ear, yet are original and unique—very creative. Their song structures are varied, yet they all work. Their musical and lyrical range was incredible—from gentle songs like “I Will” and “Julia” to the raucous “Helter Skelter” and everything in between. There’s something for everyone. Most of the lyrics are timeless and range from adolescent innocence in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to fairly sophisticated social commentary like “She’s Leaving Home” or “Revolution.” Perhaps, as Paul said, it’s because most of their songs were about “love, peace, and understanding”—their optimism is appealing. Stylistically, they successfully grew and changed with nearly every album release. They weren’t afraid to be corny or sentimental—right alongside with their edgier stuff. Again, [they offer] something for everyone. Certainly the individual Beatles were/are charismatic in their own way. Many of their chord progressions move in unexpected directions—even “wrong” if you will—yet again, they work perfectly. I’m still blown away by the intro to “If I Fell.” In short—I don’t really know why!

Don’t miss Fab at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville this Saturday. Show time: 7 p.m.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

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