Gary James' Interview With Bernie Bollendorf Of
The Rolling Stones Tribute
The Glimmer Twins
The Glimmer Twins. Now there's a name that sounds familiar. It was given to Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It also happens to be the name of the Rolling Stones Tribute Act, The Glimmer Twins. Bernie Bollendorf, who portrays Keith Richards in The Glimmer Twins, talked to us about his group.
Q - Bernie, one thing I've noticed is that most Stones tribute acts include a Mick Taylor guitarist, not a Brian Jones guitarist. Only The Chesterfield Kings had a Brian Jones guy. Now, why is that?
A - Mick Taylor was the most versatile guitar player they had. That's when they hit their stride, with Mick Taylor. He brought a different element to the band. This fabulous Blues lead guitar player that they had never had before. Brian Jones was a multi-talented instrumentalist, but Mick Taylor, like Ron Woods, was like a breath of fresh air. Mick Taylor, fabulous player, but looked like a microphone stand onstage. Ron Wood comes in, not as versatile, but a great player and he's jumpin' all over the stage, jumpin' on Jagger's back. A whole new life. Mick never really interacted with Keith onstage. Keith had his back to the crowd. He was tryin' to stand up the whole show. (laughs).
Q - Are you one of those guys that tries to learn everything you can about Keith Richards? When his autobiography came out, did you run to the store to buy it?
A - My girlfriend bought it for me. I started it. I haven't got through it. I'm very early in the book yet. She got it for me before it even hit the stores. She ordered it online for me. There's a couple of chapters I've read. I've been into The Stones for so long. These stories are starting to come back, but I'm sure there's tons of stuff in there that I don't know yet I'm a horrible reader. I'm intimidated by a big stack of pages I think. (laughs)
Q - Maybe you'd be a better E-book reader.
A - Or audio books maybe. At least if I fall asleep I can rewind the tape.
Q - What would have happened if none of The Stones moved onstage? Would their appeal have been as great?
A - No. Obviously they've got tons and tons of great songs that millions of people love, but like Keith said, a band's only half a band unless they're touring. That's when you go out there and make your bread and butter. That's when people get to see you 'live' and make that music come to life. The average person listens with probably 70% to 80% of their eyes. In other words, there's only one Rolling Stones and when a tribute act is out there to do it, you should really get the music right. If you can get some people who look the part, you'd be surprised how, I don't know for whatever reason, it takes you to another level in people's mind. If you've got a handful of people coming out, looking the part, it's something that makes people dig you more than the tribute band they saw six months ago doing the same songs.
Q - I once saw a Doors tribute act where the lead singer looked more like Jagger.
A - See, and that's something where you're sitting in the crowd and that's going to bother you the whole show. It would bother me. You're listening to these Doors songs and the guy looks like Jagger. It's kind of like your mind is going; what the hell is going on here? Everybody's different, but part of your listening experience is with your eyes.
Q - The Glimmer Twins have eight pieces in the band, plus a sound tech. You must command some serious money when you go out on the road.
A - Well, if I had a gun I could demand more. (laughs) The tough balance is trying to bring that many musicians onstage to complete the sound, but also keep it to a point where somebody can afford the act. So, it's kind of a fine line we walk. I'm not ready to retire, so don't get me wrong. (laughs)
Q - This band has played some 3,000 seat venues. That's pretty impressive.
A - Yeah. We did Jones Beach last year (2010) and there were over 5,000. We're going back this year. We've played in front of big crowds. They're fun. Those big crowds are easier for me to play in front of. The smaller crowds, I go out onstage and shake a little more for a few more songs. The bigger crowds, I seem to shake everything off half way through the first song. It's more intimidating when you have 75 people in front of you and you have direct eye contact. You're gonna see those eyes again when you have 5,000 people in front of you. You might only see those eyes one time. I just kind of look out on it and above the crowd. I couldn't imagine not doing Jagger.
Q - You've got Keith's laugh down.
A - It's all the smoking I do, I think. (laughs)
Q - So how far does this band travel?
A - We'll go to the moon if the price is right. Furthest I think we've been right now is Tennessee. Wait, I guess Daytona Beach, Florida would be further. One weekend we went from Rhode Island, on a Friday night, and Saturday night we were in Daytona Beach. Sunday we we're back in Newark Airport landing to come back home. It was quite a week.
Q - How often do you perform?
A - The Summer is generally the busier time. We could play a lot of rooms in the Philadelphia area, but with a tribute act you have to travel to keep the show fresh. You can't just play local clubs. It tires out pretty quickly. If you're able to pop in your neighborhood a couple times year, that keeps it fresh.
Q - So you shy away from those bar gigs.
A - Yeah. We did a few of those when we first started a couple years back. You have to be careful there also because if you go into playing small bars enough, people at the festivals say "This guys getting you for $1,500. How come I can't have you for that? It's another end of that business mine you have to be careful walking.
Q - Who put this band together and how long did it take to get it organized?
A - It's funny, Mike and the piano player Mike as well, were in another Stones tribute band. Me and Keith were in another Stones tribute band. We weren't really happy with the members that we had in our respective bands. Keith was in touch with Mike 'cause we knew that he was in the tri-state area here. It'll be three years this December. The band that me and Keith were in, the guy didn't want to book the show anywhere local. We had a lot of requests from family and friends that had never seen the show 'cause we were traveling. Keith got in touch with Mike and he said "Why don't we put something small together and we can just go in and play some of the local rooms?" So, we went to Mike's rehearsal space in his house and I mean three songs into the thing, I'm going "what a feeling! This is it!" You know it right away. Some of the other players in the other bands weren't Rolling Stones fans, so they never really brought the full 100% effort into the project as far as I'm concerned. When you have fans of The Stones that also want to play the music, that's a giant hurdle that you've cleared. We just have so much fun together. At rehearsals we're laughing. We're rehearsing on a weeknight for three or four hours. We have a great time together and that's an important thing when you're on a stage. When you have animosity on a stage, people don't have to know it, they can see it.
Q - Have you always been in tribute bands?
A - I actually used to do Mick when I was 21, which is dating myself 19 years. I was in a band called Tumblin' Dice. I did Mick for about a year or two. I can't remember how long it was. It was quite a workout.
Q - Easier to be Keith, isn't it?
A - A lot. (laughs) Once in awhile I get a sore first finger from the open G chords. (laughs)
Q - Have you ever met any of The Stones?
A - I shook Mick's hand and I shook Keith and Ronnie's hand at the Tower Theatre back in '02.
Q - At the end of the show, right?
A - It was just me and Mick standin' there about ten feet to my left. He was just gettin' ready to walk off the stage. I said "Hey, Mick." He stopped, came back and he came back and grabbed my hand with both of his hands and I said "Thanks, man!" He said "No. Thank you." I was like, that was really cool. (laughs)
Q - And you got to shake hands with Keith Richards as well?
A - Yeah. During the performance he came over and gave me a (guitar) pick and Ronnie came over and gave me a (guitar) pick too. Pretty cool. Good time. I'll never forget that night.
Q - The Glimmer Twins is modeled after the 1972 Stones tour. Why would that be?
A - That's generally in that era where we get the version of songs we do. We tend to lean more towards that era because that's when The Stones were pumpin' on all cylinders. That's when they earned that moniker "The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band In The World", that '72 tour.