Gary James' Interview With Chris Getsla Of
The Beatles Tribute Band
They are referred to as "America's Premier Tribute To The Beatles". Based out of Chicago and formed in 2001, they've been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Chris Getsla portrays Paul McCartney in the band.
Q - Chris, I take it that its kind of rare to find a guy in a Beatles Tribute who can play the left-handed Höfner bass like Paul McCartney.
A - It is rare, yeah.
Q - Are you in fact left-handed?
A - I am. I write left-handed. So I consider myself left-handed. I do certain things "rightie", but I play guitar leftie and it absolutely comes in handy when you're portraying Paul McCartney.
Q - What were you doing before Brit Beat?
A - I actually started the band in high school. I was 17, a Junior in high school. Really, before that I was in choir and an acapella group in high school. Then when I started this band, I did this Beatles thing exclusively.
Q - Why did you select a Beatles Tribute act? You're way too young to remember The Beatles.
A - I've been asked that question before. People have said how did you get into it? You're in your mid-20s. I said, we actually have the same thing in common and that's the music. We all love the music. I had seen other Beatles Tribute bands perform. When I saw them, it was always something I wanted to try out and I did at the high school variety show. It was a major success.
Q - Did anyone ever say to you, "Chris, you look a little like Paul McCartney?"
A - (laughs) That's a good question. No. I never really got that. I will say it's fun to portray the cute Beatle and be considered as the cute Beatle, but no one ever mentioned "you look like Paul McCartney, you should do it."
Q - Portraying Paul must be one of the harder Beatles to portray. He's singing lead on a lot of songs and harmony on a lot of others. You're working hard up there onstage, aren't you?
A - Absolutely. In fact, McCartney's range is extremely wide. He can sing very low and very high as well and be able to scream on songs like "Helter Skelter", but then back it off and be very mellow and melodic with songs like "Michelle" and "Yesterday". You have to be able to train your voice to cover all these different details in his voice. So, it is pretty tough. I think the bottom line is, as long as you have this high range, you can be able to hit those notes. Fortunately for me when I was in choir, I was actually considered a first tenor. So I sat almost near the Altos, the girls. So it was handy to have a high voice to sing.
Q - Was it hard to find the other guys in the group? Were they in the same high school with you?
A - Yeah, they were. The members have changed over time, so it's not the original members, although the "George" player is the George guy. His name is Danny, we rode the school bus together. That's how we kind of got to know each other and how we met. It's identical to how the actual Paul and George met. They rode the school bus together. We always like to tell that story.
Q - How many times have you seen Paul McCartney in concert?
A - I've seen him four times. I think twice in the original U.S. tour and then he did the Back In The U.S. tour and it was twice there as well.
Q - Have you ever seen him close-up?
A - No, not in person. I always hope some day I'll bump into him. Of course I'll probably not know what to say. (laughs)
Q - Have you seen any other Beatles in concert?
A - Yeah. I saw Ringo in '99. That was at the Park West in Chicago.
Q - Is that an arena?
A - It's actually a theatre.
Q - Where do you perform in Chicago?
A - We perform all around the Chicago land area. Throughout the year we perform at festivals, corporate parties, theatres. We also travel. We've played shows in Disney World, Sausalito, California. Just all around really.
Q - How many gigs a year would you say you're playing?
A - At this point, right around forty shows.
Q - When you introduce the songs, do you have that British accent?
A - Yes. From the point that the guys hit the stage to the point where we're really leaving the stage, the mannerisms, the voices, the movements onstage are just like a Beatles concert, a Beatles show.
Q - What do you like most about being in a Beatles Tribute band?
A - I think for us, what we enjoy is really seeing the crowd react to the show. For us, that is really why we enjoy doing it. We love to have people say to us, "You brought back memories." We like to see young people dancing at the shows and getting involved in the music and spreading The Beatles music. That's why we've done it in the first place. We're fans of the music. We enjoy being able to play out the role of the greatest band in Rock 'n' Roll.
Q - How long do you see yourself playing Paul before you go "That's enough"?
A - Well, that's a good question. In fact, as you probably know, there are a lot of Beatles Tribute bands in which the members are a little bit older. So for us, being in our mid-twenties, we feel like we've got a long way to go. I guess it's really when it stops being fun. Clearly, there are a lot of guys out there who are mid-50s or late 50s and they still put on the Ed Sullivan suit and they seem to rock it out. So, we're gonna keep it going. When there's Beatles Rock Band coming out and the CDs are being re-mastered, now there's the mono and the stereo box sets that's constantly breaking records all the time and they have the Beatles "Love" show in Vegas, this thing doesn't seem to be dying out. In fact, if anything, it's caught a fire that's growing. I think actually over time this is absolutely gonna get handed down from generation to generation. I don't see people stopping seeing Beatle Tribute bands. In fact, I think there's going to be an increased interest probably over time. Maybe when McCartney or Ringo get to an age where they can't perform anymore, that might also help The Beatles tribute community so to speak. People can see guys at least portraying them. Re-live it in that area.