Gary James' Interview With Frankie Reno Of
The Eagles Tribute Band
Eaglemania bill themselves as "The World's Greatest Eagles Tribute Band", and it's easy to see why. It's simply a stunning performance of all the songs that made The Eagles such a popular band. Eaglemania member Frankie Reno talked with us about his group.
Q - Frankie, you have quite an impressive background in music. You work with Disney and ABC-TV producing music for their TV and film projects. Why did you bother to put an Eagles tribute band together? I would guess the money has to be pretty good. Is that one of the reasons?
A - That is one of the reasons, but I write for television all day long. I'm in the studio every day. I love it. I love what I do. I've written in Nashville. I've been writing forever now it seems, but I love performing 'live' and having done this now for thirty-something years 'live', playing in bars, the whole bar circuit, it got old after awhile. So I tried to come up with a project that would appeal to a wider demographic and be music that I really enjoyed because when you do a Top 40 band or a Classic Rock band, you play songs you really don't enjoy playing sometimes and I got tired of all that. I got tired of the bar scene. So I thought let's see if we can put together a project that we can move into theatres and tour all over the country with. We've been very fortunate in that it's worked out that way for us. We all love The Eagles. It's music we've all grown up with. So it makes it enjoyable for us too.
Q - I'm glad you brought that up about clubs because I noticed you're not playing clubs. You're playing opera houses.
A - Right. We do a lot of performing art centers. We do a lot of theatres, anywhere from 400 to 1,000 seaters. We probably do a about a half a dozen that are 2,000 seaters. So it's really taken us to another level as far as performing 'live'. It's very different playing in a bar or a club as opposed to playing in a theatre.
Q - You get treated better. You get treated like stars!
A - You do. You're treated much better. The people that are there pay good money for a ticket so you know that the interest is there. They're not just there to get drunk and act stupid. They're there because they want to see a show and they want to see your show. They're paying forty, fifty bucks a ticket for that seat in the theatre, so it sort of helps us. We elevate our game. We know there's high expectations. A lot of these theatres we're in there's very well known national acts playing in. The expectations from people coming to these theatres are you're going to be as good as some of these national acts are. So it's important to us that we elevate our game and satisfy the people that are coming to see us and paying all that money. It's different than a bar or nightclub.
Q - When you have an Eagles tribute group, how important is it that every guy in the group look like the guy in the original Eagles? Or doesn't that enter the picture?
A - I guess that's a matter of opinion. There are a lot of tribute bands out there that try and look exactly like the band they're paying tribute to. For us, that was never important. We never set out to do that from the get go. It was more important to us to sound as much like The Eagles as we could. When I put this together, it was a painstaking process of auditioning numerous vocalists, guitar players and you name it. It took me well over a year to find the right guys with the right blend of voices, the right harmonies, the ability to sing lead, play guitar. All the stuff that's necessary. To me it was more important that we sounded as much like The Eagles as we possibly could and the look thing wasn't important to me. Again, to some bands it's very important and to some people who go see tribute bands it's very important. It's a matter of opinion.
Q - How do you weed out the guys you can't get along with? Don't they have to be in the band first?
A - That's all part of the auditioning process. You can get a pretty good feel for people, although as you work with people other sides of their personality do tend to come out. I was very fortunate with the group of guys that I put together in that we're like a big family. We get along. They're like brothers to me. We get along extremely well. Everyone's on the same page. We all have the same goals and the same expectations, so I was very, very fortunate.
A - I used to play with another band that used to warm up for bands like that. We took the stage with them. I was an agent at one time. I used to book a lot of those guys. So, I've done a variety of things. Some guys I've written with. Some guys I've filled in and played a few songs with them. Being around so long and being around some of those acts, through attrition you tend to do different things.
Q - What agency did you work for?
A - I was an independent agent back in the '90s. So, I used to book a lot of those national acts as they were coming through our area.
Q - So, you weren't associated with William Morris or I.C.M.?
A - No, but I used to book their acts. They used to send a lot of acts through us.
Q - Where did "The World's Greatest Eagles Tribute Band" come from?
A - Somebody said that about is. I thought about it. I look at the competition and there's a lot of great bands out there. There's a lot of great Eagles bands out there. The one thing we have that everyone seems to tell us is vocally it's really hard to distinguish us from The Eagles. We have a guy that sings lead that if you close your eyes you'd think Don Henley or Timothy B. Schmit or Randy Meisner was right in front of you singing. He makes a huge difference in setting us apart from all the other bands that are out there. Then also, we're very meticulous about how we arrange those songs and how we put everything together. We try to learn everything off the record, note for note, as The Eagles played it and as The Eagles recorded it. So we don't take any liberties with the songs. If there's a guitar lead, it's note for note the way it was recorded on the record 'cause that what people want to hear. They don't want to hear our interpretation of The Eagles. They want to hear The Eagles. So we try to do do the best job we can to come as close to the recordings as possible. And according to a lot of the people that come out to see us, that's one of the most common comments we receive, that if we close our eyes we would think we were at an Eagles concert.
Q - Since Glenn Frey's passing, has that led to a greater interest in Eaglemania or not?
A - I think so because after Glenn died The Eagles announced they were no longer going to tour. I think there's still a market for this music. People still want to come out and hear it. So now that The Eagles aren't going to be out there anymore, people are looking to other avenues to find their music and to find 'live' entertainment. It's not The Eagles, but it's the closest thing you're gong to get these days.
Q - I take it when The Eagles were performing you did go out to see them.
A - Oh, yeah. We did. I'll tell you one of the other things that we hear from people too, that the ticket prices are so expensive to go see The Eagles. That also helped fill theatres for us too. If you can't afford to spend $300 or $400 a ticket to go see The Eagles at Madison Square Garden, you come out to see us for thirty or forty bucks. It's not the same thing obviously, but again, it's second best.
Q - How long has Eaglemania been together?
A - This is our fourth year. We started it five years ago. We've been playing for four years.
Q - How often to you play out? Once a month? Twice a month?
A - No. We tend to play almost every weekend. Every Friday or Saturday. Sometimes just on a Saturday. In the Summer we're much busier. We do a lot of outdoor shows, music festivals. For example, this Summer we were out five nights a week almost every week. Then we were doing shows on the weekend. The theatres we do primarily in the Fall, Winter and the Spring. In the Summer the theatres tend not to do as much because there's a variety of music festivals and outdoor shows that take place. So that's where we tend to gravitate to in the Summer.