Before the French tour of The Analogues, Rolling Stone went to meet them in Amsterdam in order to understand their meticulous approach.
Geoff Emerick, mythical sound engineer of the Beatles, said when he left a concert of The Analogues that he would never have thought to hear it again once in his life. The famous Dutch tribute band begins its new tour of France in September via the Salle Pleyel. Their approach is that of classical musicians who are hyper-respectful of the work, who abandon wigs and costumes to concentrate on the execution of the six studio albums never played live by the “Fab Four” (who abandoned the stage after a final concert in San Francisco, August 29, 1966).
“We try to play the songs as they would have played them on stage. For us, it’s like Bach or Mozart. Except that here we have the original musicians playing on the albums – it’s great!”, confirms Bart Van Poppel, bassist and musical director, during the balance of the “Abbey Road” concert, at the Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam. To reproduce the sound of the Beatles down to the last note, the unstoppable trick of these Batavian virtuosos consists in using exactly the same instruments (Rickenbacker guitar, Höfner bass, Vox amps, cell microphones, etc.), even if it means giving their show a little traveling museum side. “It took time to find all the instruments. Luckily there are eBay, Marketplace, and books detailing the material used for each piece”reveals Bart.
But the gear is not everything, it is also necessary to identify each part with precision. Bart does it himself, by ear. “It’s a big job, especially for strings and brass, because I don’t have a classical education. I listen carefully to the violins, one by one, then I play the parts on a MIDI keyboard. If the whole thing looks like the Beatles, then it’s good!” Yet it’s not just a question of notes, it’s also a matter of feelings. “There are differences between what’s on the tape and what’s playing. Sometimes we listen again, we guess that there are not four horns but five, or we say to ourselves: ‘That’s what people hear, so we have to play that.’”
Basically, The Analogues are a bit like forgers in paint: when you look at the final result, you don’t know how many coats it took to get there. And for the resemblance to be perfect, you have to redo the whole creative process. Ironically, sometimes you also have to play the wrong notes – the Beatles had a lot of them. “For example, in ‘Let It Be’, this chord which is not the same on the organ and on the piano. Every time I’m scared, but that’s how it is: we have to play it!” Felix, the singer guitarist, confirms: “John’s guitar is behind the tempo of ‘She Came In Through the Bathroom Window’, but we force ourselves.”
What about weird noises, backwards sounds? “We never use samples! loose Bart. The weird noises in the middle of ‘Blue Jay Way’ or ‘I Am the Walrus’ have been recreated by reversing tapes. We’re a little crazy, but we can’t reveal our secrets…” Fred, the drummer, started the Analogues adventure in 2014. Ex-CEO at Tommy Hilfiger, this Fab Four fan had had the idea for years. He called his mate Bart, who had already made a few hits with Dutch bands, who brought the others together. From the first concerts, nostalgia played out and the success was overwhelming. “The first time I played with these guys, I felt like I was inside the record itself! The sound was exactly that, and people in the room were crying!”remembers Felix.
The band then rolled out the albums, from Magical Mystery Tour at let it be. Today, they go further, and dare the unthinkable: the Sideshow Album, 13 original titles that look like they came straight out of Savile Row! They are already testing one or two on stage, and it works very well. “The idea was: we are in 1972, how do the Beatles continue their work of composition?” Imbued to the core with the sound of the Fab Four, their melodic grammar and their harmonic logic, the Analogues have given life to a musical uchronia that goes well beyond the Beatlesque current (Badfinger, Klaatu and the others). Here, we flirt squarely with science fiction, it’s a slightly magical waking dream: the spirit of Liverpool is there, the choirs resonate, the inspiration and the British touch take you on board. It’s as if we had a new Beatles album in our ears!
Find this paper and many others in Rolling Stone n°145, available from your newsagent and on our online store.
The Analogues are on tour in France from September 20th. Seats are available.
The dates :
- September 20: Sébastopol Theater (Lille)
- September 21: Salle Pleyel (Paris)
- September 23: Labor Exchange (Lyon)
- September 24: The Cepac Silo (Marseille)
- September 25: Acropolis (Nice)
- September 27: Femina Theater (Bordeaux)
- September 28: Palais des Congrès (Tours)
- September 29: Nantes Congress Center