An Interview with Frank Agnello from The Fab Faux
Posted on 11/19/2019
The Beatles music has left a lasting impact on many, if not most, rock and roll lovers. Talented guitarist and singer Frank Agnello from The Fab Faux would agree! Agnello joins us to chat about The Fab Faux's formation, their upcoming tour, The Beatles movies and its music, side projects, and more! Don't miss The Fab Faux at State Theatre New Jersey on November 23.
READ THE TRANSCRIBED INTERVIEW BELOW
with Kelly from All Access and special guest Frank Agnello from The Fab Faux.
Kelly: And Welcome to All Access with State Theatre New Jersey. This is the show that takes you behind the scenes and behind the curtain of the legendary State Theatre in downtown New Brunswick. Now we have a lot of favorites, throughout the year, annual favorites of performers that come to the State Theatre year after year. One of those favorites are the Fab Faux, The Beatles tribute band, they will be at the State Threatre on Saturday November 23rd at 8 pm and they are performing The Beatles movie music, super exciting. And, with us today is one of the guitarists and singers for the Fab Faux, Frank Agnello, welcome Frank!
Frank: Very glad to be here Kelly. Hi everyone.
Kelly: Hello, hello. So yes, Frank so looking forward to seeing you guys on Saturday November 23rd at the State Theatre an 8pm show, and this year you are bringing The Beatles movie music tell us all about what to expect from this show.
Frank: Well, ok it’s pretty wide variety of music to choose from with The Beatles film music, because they were involved in five major films of course they were A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, which was a TV film for Granada TV in Britain, and then of course the cartoon, Yellow Submarine, and finally, the infamous Let It Be. So, we had a lot to choose from and were looking forward to bringing it to our State Theatre fans.
Kelly: Yeah, I mean this is definitely a very interesting theme, every year you guys go with a theme of an anniversary of an album and this was really, really cool putting this together. How did you guys come up with this, was it something that you just realized it was something you hadn’t done yet?
Frank: Yeah, its an interesting concept one of the things I find most interesting about The Beatles movie music, I think can be found in the very first one in A Hard Day’s Night, because if you look at the original Parlophone album, John Lennon wrote 10 of the 13 songs and it was the first album where The Beatles wrote all their own songs and did no cover songs. So, it was really kind of like the young John Lennon in full flower, I mean McCartney wrote some great songs on it like “And I Love Her” and “Things We Said Today,” but Lennon really came up to the plate and delivered quite a statement with the 10 songs that he wrote.
Kelly: Yeah, sure, for sure. Hey, now each of these movies has its own kind of vibe and feel, and obviously it’s all Beatles music, but when you guys were in rehearsals, and were putting this together, did you feel that you were, kind of I don’t know, going through a time warp, or you know from one end to the other kind of thing, they are all so very different.
Frank: Yeah, we always do with Beatles Music, sometimes we find that we are surprised by it, some of the ones we think would be the more, easy ones to tackle tend to be the more difficult ones. Sometimes the really early songs are the hardest to perfect and we find ourselves gravitating more towards the later period stuff. So, it’s always a challenge and we just try to give it all equal love.
Kelly: Sure, who better to give equal love to Beatles music than you five guys. You guys, I would say are Beatles aficionado. When I hear you talk in interviews and you guys are on stage at the State Theatre, you guys really love the music and really know a lot about The Beatles universe and that’s just really something that shines through in your performances. After 20 years together as the Fab Faux, you guys must love what you do and touring all over with this.
Frank: Yeah, oh for sure, we’ve always loved it, we always respected the music and what it takes to bring it to the stage. As my band-mate Will Lee is always fond of saying, “without the audience it’s just a rehearsal,” so it really takes everything to put it all together and make it what it is.
Kelly: Yeah, I got to go back, so when you guys first formed it was what, 1998 approximately?
Kelly: When you guys first got together there was one song that you had said that if you could play this song, then you know that you could perform the Beatles catalog and it was “Because.” Why was it “Because?”
Frank: Because, there are very precise harmonies going on, and there are five people trying to recreate nine vocal parts. George Martin, to John, Paul and George and tripled their vocals to make that sound, and also you have to be making precise arpeggios on you instrument. For the music geeks out there, an arpeggio is breaking the chords into separate notes. So you have to play those patterns while singing very precisely and trying to project bigger. I think it’s the hardest one, that and for different reasons “Revolution 9.”
Kelly: Ah yes, yes, yes, I can only imagine. Now Frank, you’re a busy guy, you’re all busy guys, and you have in addition to Fab Faux, you have a lot of work that you guys do on your own. Tell us what else you have going on right now.
Frank: Ok, yeah well, we all have different projects that we do and sometimes we get to interface with a lot of cool musicians. We recently did a party for the 50th anniversary of the company that makes these mixing consoles called API. And we had the chance to support some great musicians, such as Steve Miller and this up and coming guitar hot shot by the name of Justin Johnson he’s based in Nashville, he’s really a great slide guitarist. He even hooked up Jack White Style, and even to a finer point he hooked up a shovel with three strings, and he is able to slide guitar on that, that was pretty amazing backing him up. We also backed the absolute master of what’s been affectionately called slydeco guitar which he played with zydeco master, Clifton Chenier, and that was none other than Mr. Sonny Landreth. So, we were able to play with all three of those artists just within the last two weeks. This is one of the things that makes the Fab Faux so much fun, you never know what kind of show you are going to get called in to do and its fun.
Kelly: Sure, I’m sure that you guys had people ask to come, special guests come appear with you guys because you guys are having so much fun. Do you find that people kind of ask to come join you or tag along sometimes?
Frank: Yeah, we have a lot of guest stars that love to come and play with us, and we love to have them come and play with us. One example is Rick Nielsen, our good buddy from Cheap Trick, he will come and play with us very often. Another person who we know and is a good pal of ours is Christopher Cross. One time in 2014 we were lucky enough to play a song with Dhani Harrison. Dhani came up and play his Dad’s song “Savoy Truffle” with us, with the band and the horn section and that was really a thrill. So yes, there are quite a few varied guests that will perform with us from time to time. We are always happy and excited to make music with them.
Kelly: I love it, I love it. So, Frank I always like to talk to musicians about who their influences were and obviously all five of you were very influenced by The Beatles. Growing up did you always know you wanted to be a musician, and who were your influences?
Frank: Yes, well growing up the first thing I heard where I thought wow this music is really great, was a Beatles song called “It Won’t Be Long,” my cousin had brought over the record player, I was about six years old and I had just known The Beatles as the band that shook their heads when they sang “ooh” and “yeah, yeah, yeah” and when I heard “It Won’t Be Long” I went wow that’s a really good song. And I said there is something to this music thing and I want to play guitar and sing. I just kept going from that and as I grew up, I of course liked other things too. I guess my other two rock influences was Brian Wilson and Andy Partridge of XTC. So, combined with The Beatles that’s a good portrait of what I have been into my whole life.
Kelly: Nice and I assume you followed The Beach Boys, Beatles back and forth that they had going on, enjoying each other’s music or not.
Frank: Yeah, I was aware of that, I was aware of the influence that each other’s album had on the next subsequent album. I would read about that and seen a lot of interview about that since. It makes sense because you can see things in the different songs, for example in the intro to “Here, There and Everywhere” the melody is kind of close to The Beach Boys song “The Warmth of the Sun” if you get a chance to play them both side by side you will see what I mean.
Kelly: Yeah, no, I always thought that was a fascinating back and forth. We actually had Mike Love from The Beach Boys on the show a year or so ago and he was talking a little bit about that because it was always very fascinating to me. Frank, so obviously The Beatles music endures. For years, generations and generations have been exposed to Beatles music and through The Fab Faux performances new generation continue to enjoy the music of The Beatles. Why do you think this is such a long-lasting music that people really just, they bring their kids they bring their grand-kids, and continue to do so?
Frank: Because it’s really good. I think that people recognize that and today the environment is different with music that is out today. It’s very painstakingly put together, it’s written by committee, sometimes up to 12 people but it’s very safe and it’s harmonically, again the music geek is coming out in me. I think, it sells, it hits its target very well music today. But a lot of it is harmonically narrow because it's, I don’t know. Back in the 60's when people were still finding their way, there was the opportunity to be more creative and I think that people listening today will recognize that in something as high-quality as The Beatles.
Kelly: Sure, so before you go Frank, I have a quick little lightning round of questions. Are you ready? It’s a quick answer so I know you’re going… it’s like picking your kids kind of thing. But I’m gonna do a lightning round with you. You ready?
Frank: Sounds good.
Kelly: Alright, favorite Beatles song?
Frank: “No Reply” it’s like a little movie
Kelly: Nice, favorite song to perform?
Frank: “No Reply”
Kelly: Haha, hardest Beatles song to perform?
Kelly: Ah. Lennon or McCartney?
Frank: Ah, oh boy, I guess that’s the eternal dilemma right there.
Kelly: Nice, I like it. And finally, favorite Beatles album?
Frank: Boy, Abbey Road flashed into my mind; I wonder if that means something. If I had though about it I might have said a different record, but Abbey Road did flash into my mind.
Kelly: Nice, nice, thank you so much Frank. Frank Agnello coming to us at the State Theatre in downtown New Brunswick Saturday the 23rd at 8, November 23rd at 8pm. Thank you Frank for being on the show and I think this was your All Access debut, we had Will on the show, we had Rich and finally we had you on the show, so thanks for coming on.
Frank: Well very glad to be here thanks for having me, I had a great time and look forward to seeing you at the State Theatre.