Gary James' Interview With Jeremy O'Dell of
The Beatles Tribute Act
When Jeremy O'Dell was growing up, his idol was Ringo Starr. So he took up the drums. After awhile, he started looking for another instrument to play and he taught himself to play guitar. These days, Jeremy portrays John Lennon in The Beatles tribute act Because.
Q - Jeremy, you must have studied The Beatles day and night to put this group together.
A - Oh, yeah. Since I was really, really young. Third grade was when I picked up the drums. I'm originally a drummer and The Beatles are the only band, for some reason, that I can listen to every single day and never get tired of it. I love everybody, Stones, Beach Boys, Greenday, Offspring, Everclear, but they're usually like Summer wonders. You buy the album, you listen to it for a few months and it's on the shelf. The Beatles I listen to every day.
Q - That's because every song they recorded sounded different from the last song they recorded.
A - Yeah, that's true. There's just something about it. It pulls me in.
Q - After all these years. Isn't that great? How did this band form?
A - This band started out in very late 2002. I switched from drums right to guitar. I started a group and some of the guys are long since gone. We were just playing covers and a couple of original tunes and we did a high school revue where we did Beatles. We didn't have the suits. I had the guitar. It was an Eagle Scout gift. The Rickenbacker that John played is my favorite guitar. Besides that, we didn't hardly have anything. We had white, button-up shirts and ties and black slacks. That's it. And everyone loved it. I remember me and the guy who was playing George at the time and we played "All My Lovin'" and it must've been terrible, but when we did the background harmonies, 'cause Paul was singing, every girl in the high school started shouting. And we didn't shake our heads. And that was it. We looked at each other like, this is what we want to do. (laughs)
Q - That'll do it! I would think one of the hardest things to do would be to find guys that not only can play their respective instruments, but also look like the person they're portraying. That must be a very hard process of selection.
A - Very, very hard. I got to learn that very recently because we had a complete line-up change and even though a couple of the guys were crazy talented, super amazing musicians, it's hard to get not only the look, but you have to act. That's what I love about this project too; I'm playing in a band that I love to play (in), but you're an actor also. For all intents and purposes, as soon as that show starts until a couple of hours later, you're supposed to be that person.
Q - What do you do to get into character?
A - Well, we warm up vocally. I know it sounds funny, but once you put that wig on, that's it. The eyes change. Boom! You're somebody else.
Q - Some tribute groups will have a McCartney guy who plays a left-handed Hofner bass. Others will have a McCartney guy who plays a right-handed Hofner bass. Is that kind of detail important to you?
A - It is. It's kind of unfortunate now, not in a bad way, more of the tribute bands nowadays, in the last five years, you see a lot more left-handers. A lot of guys are taking the time to learn left-handed (bass) because of the look.
Rain, to me, is the all-time greatest band. That was the icing on the cake that made me really decide that I wanted to be in a Beatles tribute band. A lot of 'em are doing it now. It takes time. I can't do it, that's for sure. I can tinker on the bass upside down, right-handed. We had a Paul before this last guy a few years ago who learned that way and it took him months. He used to say he would sleep with his bass and hold it just to get the feeling. But the guy I have now, Scott Rodell, he's an absolute fantastic musician, amazing guitar player. This is the funny thing, he didn't learn just to play left-handed, he's really left-handed, but he learned to play the guitar right-handed. He writes left-handed, but he does everything else with his right hand. So, it was hard, but not as hard 'cause he's used to using that hand. It's really crazy.
Q - You pretty much perform on the West coast? Not out of state or overseas?
A - For now, yes. But those are definitely our goals. Our dream is to go to Tokyo or play The Cavern. We would definitely love to do those things. We're just now getting to our stride and we're at that level where we've just perfecting that and we're hoping that it will get to that point.
Q - You stick to playing the big events, don't you? You don't play bars anymore, or do you?
A - No. We don't anymore. Some fans, just like The Beatles, don't really like that, like we sold out or something, but it's not really like that. The whole point of doing bars and the hard work back then was to get what we're doing now. All the theatre shows and fairs.