What is your favorite song to cover?
Wangs (Wings/Paul McCartney tribute band): The middle breakdown part in "Mrs Vandebilt" where everything drops out and we're all yelling in non harmonized falsetto. That part rules.
All Tomorrow's Petty (Tom Petty tribute band): It's pretty impossible to pick a favorite, but we do have a special kind of love for the all-instrumental "post-rock" version of "Free Fallin'" that we sometimes do. That's the one song we kinda refuse to do in a way that's true the original, just because it's so inescapably famous, and because Cameron Crowe allowed a powerful Scientologist to pee all over it in one of his movies.
Arron "Al" Bergstrom of Steeling Dan (Steely Dan tribute band): I'd have to ask all the other 12 members for a consensus....but my personal fave is "Throw Back the Little Ones" off of the album Katy Lied. But in the end, all Steely Dan tunes have unique & cool twists to them....which make the band a fun one to cover.
How do you choose what you'll cover?
Wangs: We take it to the streets and ask the women what they want. Turns out, they want Wangs. So we go on stage and give it to them slow and deep.
All Tomorrow's Petty: The set list is always pretty democratic, mainly radio/MTV hits from various records. Thus far, we haven't dealt too much with anything after the late '90s. We also try to pull in guests/friends when we can to mix it up. It's just down to wherever the Petty love is greatest on any given day.
Steeling Dan: Sometimes we get song requests from our fans (we have actually received sheet music before!), sometimes i have a particular song or entire album I/we want to do, sometimes the band as a whole chooses the set list, etc. I try & mix up the ways to choose to keep everyone interested & fresh on the material.
As a cover band, how would you define "success"?
Wangs: Playing the First Avenue mainroom.
All Tomorrow's Petty: Playing someone else's music as a collective platform for generative social fulfillment, for love and money. Or just the time when we played a wedding and the bride got to take a guitar solo during "American Girl."
Steeling Dan: We've been playing music together since 2002 & [had] very little band turnover, so I'd consider that a success. Another thing would be the very dedicated fan base we have & to them we owe any success we could possibly have.
What’s your claim to fame?
Wangs: We took pictures of each others Penis's and made a collage out of it. WANGS.
All Tomorrow's Petty: Of the many bands that involve JT Bates, this is the only one where you might hear him on lead vocals.
Steeling Dan: I personally dig our horn section & I'd like to commend our horn chart writer /arranger Jim Hann for doing such an excellent job with arranging the complex material. Not to say the rest of the band is lame or anything (kudos to the rest of my bandmates for their commitment to the band & their ability), but I really like our horn section. It gives us a lot of unique arranging options, all you need to do is just listen to them - pros all the way.
If you could turn a potential fan onto your music in one sentence, what would you say?
Wangs: We play Jet.
All Tomorrow's Petty: "We play Petty, you're human, do the math."
Steeling Dan: If you like jazz, r&b, funk, rock/pop &, in general, music of the 70's, you will definitely enjoy the music of Steely Dan. It's like a fine wine.
You boast a very long list of (possible) members. How did all of you Petty lovers meet and start making music?
All Tomorrow's Petty: We're all friendly via original music endeavors — various bands you've seen or heard or at least heard of. ATP came about after Jake Hanson and James Diers separately watched the epic Petty documentary Runnin' Down A Dream, which is pretty definitive in showing how Petty is such a huge figure in commercial rock music. Watching the film reminded those two guys how many great pop songs Petty wrote, and they thought it would be fun to get some folks together once in a while and play some Petty tunes live in a very non-calculated way — i.e., not trying to "re-create" anything or do them totally note-for-note, but rather just grabbing the basics, keeping it loose and just having a good time playing them among friends. The first ATP "show" was just Jake and James playing duo in the corner at a holiday craft sale. Other players gradually just kinda recruited themselves, cuz who doesn't wanna hang out and play Petty jams. It's as much a social affair as it is a band, which is partly why there's a growing posse of people who participate.
How does it feel to be the deemed Best Cover Band 2014 by City Pages? What brings you to this point in your cover stardom?
Wangs: There are a lot of good cover bands this year but I guess we're just the best looking one. #JET
When covering Steely Dan and Donald Fagen are you looking to recreate their sound as closely as you can? What kinds of artistic license do you allow yourselves?
Steeling Dan: When covering Steely Dan (Donald Fagen/Walter Becker) or Donald Fagen's solo material, we always try & pay attention to the finer details of the music. It is very difficult music to properly recreate. There are certain songs which I have everyone play spot-on as possible, generally the hits, but I definitely allow for improv within solo sections of certain material. We may tweak certain things here or there arrangement-wise & we definitely search out live arrangements / performances for guidance on extensions of parts or endings or whatnot. I personally definitely learn a lot by learning their music...