Gary James' Interview With Serge Tremblay Of
The Bruce Springsteen Tribute
Serge Tremblay is Bruce Springsteen in Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Experience. And for good reason; Serge is a dead ringer for The Boss. We talked to Serge about all things Bruce and Glory Days.
Q - Serge, I'd like to start off by asking you about Glory Days technical rider. You list what you'd like in the dressing room. You have one case of premium cold beer, Corona preferred. What if the buyer or promoter of the show puts a case of Budweiser or Miller beer in the dressing room. Would that be considered a breach of contract?
A - It would break the contract. The problem with that particular case of beer is we get drunk too quickly. No. I'm joking. (laughs) Of course promoters often do put in "different brands" if you will. We request that brand because that's our favorite drink. We're certainly not stuck with another brand of beer. For example, we played for a Budweiser concert in the States not too long ago and of course they're going to feed us Budweiser beer 'cause it's the promoter's choice. So, yeah that's just something we put in there.
Q - It also says in the rider that the promoter must provide hotel rooms for the band. Now, why can't you book the rooms and just add it onto the cost of your show?
A - For the most part that is on the rider because we travel distances. For example, we performed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. But we don't really know the lay of the land so usually the promoter would know his environment a lot better than us. So, getting a room close to the venue makes more sense to them to do that leg work rather than us getting online and finding rooms 'cause we travel all over America. Not knowing the lay of the land makes it a lot easier for the promoter to take care of that for us.
Q - How did you get started doing a Springsteen tribute act? Were you a fan first?
A - Of course. I've been a fan since my teenage days. A huge Springsteen fan. I've been performing with numerous acts for many years all over Southern Ontario (Canada). Somehow along the way I evolved into looking like Bruce Springsteen. I was touring with a band called Sonny Boy Mick at the time and the musicians involved in that tour confronted me and said "You know what? You look just like Bruce Springsteen." I said "Well, I don't think I look just like Bruce Springsteen." Fair enough. I went home that evening and my wife and I decided to go and look at some pictures on the internet. This was four years ago now, and by gosh Bruce is looking very much like me these days, as he's grown older. At that point I said "wouldn't it be a treat to imitate one of my heroes!" I investigated it a little bit further and called out some agencies and certainly there was a market for it. It was a no-brainer for me. It kind of just all fell into place. Being a big fan, being able to imitate Bruce on the weekends, it was just a perfect formula for me. So I went for it, and it fell together rather easily.
Q - Bruce Springsteen still performs today. I take it the agency told you there would be a lot of work.
A - Certainly, the agency. I think it was just after the Superbowl performance and he had just started touring again. So, that alone told me that he was certainly in demand as far as concerts were concerned. All of his fans were waiting patiently for him to start again with the E. Street Band. So, it was just logical. I guess that for the agencies of course, there is a lack of Bruce Springsteen impersonators out there, so there certainly will be work out there. And sure enough, there's all kinds.
Q - You don't want to be referred to as an impersonator, do you? You want to be known as a tribute act, don't you?
A - That's correct. We are a tribute act. There's no question about it. We're a tribute to the E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen. But I've gone online and educated myself some more in looking at all the other tribute acts. I'm pretty much the only guy who looks like Bruce Springsteen also. (laughs) So it's kind of a bonus feature for the act, to have someone who looks like him so I can imitate his moves and his wardrobe. It just brings that much more flavor to the show.
Q - When people see you in a grocery store, do they think you're actually Bruce Springsteen?
A - It happens almost on a daily basis. It's that ridiculous. I've heard people whisper "I think that's Bruce Springsteen!" I turn and go "No, I'm not Bruce Springsteen." People yell from across the street "Bruuuuuce!" So that happens all the time.
Q - How long did it take you to find the right musicians for this band?
A - Fortunately, I'm surrounded by professional musicians because I'm in the industry, so it wasn't a big deal for me to find some aficionados or hardcore fans because all of the members in the band are Bruce Springsteen fans. So I made a few phone calls to some of my favorite musicians and they were all gung-ho about the project, so it was really easy. It's not a hard thing to fill a line-up for an act like Bruce Springsteen. I mean, the guy's music is phenomenal. He's a genius and everybody loves him.
Q - So, when you first hit the stage, what do the audiences typically say? Are you able to hear any comments coming your way?
A - Oh, of course. The one common thing that happens at most of our shows is the audience chanting "Bruuuuce!" It's hilarious actually. True Bruce fans know this chant and it seems to be his trademark banter in the audience if you will. Then of course I get a lot of fans approaching me after the show, wanting my autograph or pictures with me.
Q - Pictures and autographs?
A - Oh, yeah. It's out of control. They all want to join the fan base. They want to know where we're performing next. The response is incredible and lots of people who are true hardcore fans say they can't believe the similarities and the production is so close to the actual show. So, very complimentary, very positive feedback.
Q - How many times have you seen Springsteen in concert?
A - Unfortunately I have never seen him in concert.
Q - Wow!
A - I know that really sucks. I hate it because now it's getting worse with the passing of Clarence Clemons, the chance of him touring again obviously with the E Street Band will never be the same. It's a great loss. I do own his whole catalog of videos and CDs, so I certainly have seen him through media.
Q - Do you think he knows about you and your band?
A - I really don't know. A few summers ago, Max Weinberg was performing here in Toronto and the promoter had contacted me and said "would you like to come out to our benefit and perform a couple of songs with Max Weinberg?" I said "of course I would." So I went to the venue for sound check and introduced myself to Max. Then I showed him my business card, the Glory Days business card with my picture, looking like Bruce if you will. And he looked at the card and said "Oh my gosh. This is really scary." Then he took the business card and very delicately placed it into his wallet. So, I know he wasn't actually gonna throw it into a side pocket and get rid of it. So, the way that he kept the card told me that it potentially could get back to Bruce, but I don't know if that actually happened. It's probably more wishful thinking than anything. But it was interesting that Max found that much interest in just the picture, and then I went and performed with him that night and we had a great time. Max was all smiles. We played "Born To Run" in front of a huge crowd and it went over extremely well and that's the closest that I've been to an E Street member. I don't know that Bruce knows I'm out there.
Q - How many gigs a year do you typically do?
A - Well, we're a touring act. We mainly perform in the summertime. So we do probably forty shows in the Summer festivals and bigger venues. Then in the Fall it slows down and in the Winter we take a little break.
Q - And picks up again in the Spring?
A - Yeah, well actually every year it seems to be getting a little closer to the late Winter rather than Spring.
Q - You travel all over the United States?
A - That's correct. All over Canada and the United States.
Q - What personal satisfaction can you get from playing someone else's music?
A - Well, having been a fan since I was a fan in my teens, being a hardcore fan, it's one thing to go watch your hero if you will, but imagine the next level you can take it to as a fan to be able to perform his material in front of a crowd. Musicians are musicians. We love to play because it's a passion, and top that off with playing the music of a genius note for note and then imitating his character on the weekends. I mean, that's a high on its own. It certainly isn't my material, but it's a really good energy release of love for an artist.