Ahead of upcoming performances at Roundhay Park, we speak to frontmen Axl Rose and Brandon Flowers. Kind of...
Axl Rose has showed up on time, Brandon Flowers is sporting a slight Bury St Edmunds accent, and Liam and Noel are trading off vocals on ‘Live Forever’ rather than hurling vegetable-based insults at each other…No, you aren’t reliving a particularly weird trip at Leeds 2006 – you’re in Roundhay Park.
Taking place each year just before Leeds Festival, Roundhay’s Fake Festivals offer up the highest calibre of tribute bands in the country, guaranteeing all the hits you can shake a stick at (with none of the boring ‘deep cuts’ in sight). As festival prices escalate to the price of a small flat deposit, it’s a great option to make sure you get the experience of a weak pint and a big old singalong with your mates without breaking the bank. After all, when the music’s this good, do you really need the real deal?
For Gavin Felvus, Axl Rose has become a vital part of his identity. Having formed Guns 2 Roses when living in Hollywood in 2002, he moved to London and has been performing ever since, with a revolving line-up that rivals the trials and tribulations of the real band themselves. “This is the one and only tribute band I have been in, but there’s been a few issues along the way - hiring people we knew little about to find out they had some sort of repressed anger or mental issues,” He quips. “All good now though!”
A quick scroll through Guns 2 Roses’ facebook page (13,000 likes and counting) makes it clear that Felvus takes his role in the world’s premier Guns N Roses tribute very seriously – they’ve headlined Glastonbudget twice, supported the likes of Steel Panther on tour, and were even invited to India as personal guests of Lady Gaga.
Quickfire Quiz – Gavin Felvus, Guns 2 Roses
- Which Californian city did the band form in? "Hollywood. Their original manager Vicky Hamilton now represents us." (CORRECT)
Which British singer joined the band at the 1992 MTV Video Awards to play piano on ‘November Rain’? "Elton John" (CORRECT)
What was the strange name of Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist from 2000-2004? "There was 2 lead guitarists during that period. Buckethead and Robin Finck. (CORRECT)
How long was the gap between The Spaghetti Incident and Chinese Democracy? "15 years" (CORRECT)
- What is their best UK chart performing single to date? "Knockin On Heavens Door" reached number 2. (CORRECT)
For Trevor Hurley, life as Las Vegas’s favourite Mormon rockstar came about a lot more innocuously. “We all love The Killers, but we actually formed the band as a joke.” he admits. “There was no plan to do more than one gig and somehow we’re still doing it 10 years later.”
Performing under the name of The Fillers, Hurley and his bandmates all still hold day jobs but have experienced their own success touring the likes of ‘Human’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’ up and down the country with a level of demand that’s pretty impressive considering that the real deal have been pretty quiet until recently.
“We've had 5 years of not much new material coming out, which has allowed us to really refine our offering, but this September we’ll be working hard to learn the new album.’ He grins. “It’s exciting – the new single ‘The Man’ is my favourite to perform at the moment because of how fresh it is, but at the same time, it’s so difficult to sing. If you are a tribute to an active band and don't play the new stuff, you are just being lazy in my opinion. Of course, nothing compares to the reaction of Mr Brightside – people still go mad for it.”
Once somebody threw us their prosthetic arm, so our guitarist used it to play
Gun 2 Roses’s Gavin concurs. ‘My least favourite to play is undoubtedly Sweet Child O' Mine. It's just the one song you get tired of. But it does really get the crowd going – once somebody threw us their prosthetic arm, so our guitarist used it to play.”
Prosthetic limbs aside, both bands say that tour antics are reasonably tame, save for when they get a particularly special guest in the audience. Both The Fillers and Guns 2 Roses have that elusive nod of approval from the band they are tributing, and find that their heroes often like to pop down to a show.
“The drummer from The Killers kicking our drummer out of the seat and playing with us? That was weird” laughs Trevor. “We've met them all. They look out for us which is good of them. There isn't another tribute band that we know that has the support we've been given by The Killers, from backstage passes to going on tour supporting their side-projects.”
“They seem to really appreciate it” agrees Gavin. “We have met and even performed with multiple members of Guns And Roses, past and present. It's surreal and always a pleasure. Our connection with the band really helps when it comes to rehearsing new material and staying on the ball – we sometimes get leaks and it goes from there.”
Quickfire Quiz - Trevor Hurley, The Fillers
What religion is Brandon Flowers? “Mormon” (CORRECT)
Which teen show did the band appear in as a club band in the 00s? “The OC” (CORRECT)
What was Brandon Flowers solo album called? “Flamingo” (CORRECT)
Name three characters including in the lyrics to Hot Fuss? “Jenny, Natalie, Andy & Michael Valentine if you have the deluxe edition” (CORRECT)
What is their best UK chart-performing single to date? “Going to guess at Brightside? (INCORRECT – SOMEBODY TOLD ME)
With new releases in the immediate future for both bands, it looks like demand is going to stay high for both outfits. But what can gig-goers expect from Roundhay? “Leeds crowds are always fun and it's been a while since we have been there. They can expect the closest representation to the recent Guns N Roses tour of 2017” says Gavin confidently.
“Leeds is a hotbed of Killers fans” says Trevor. “We saw them here when they played a warm up show at the Academy back in 2012, and we hope to live up to that level of show. Who knows – maybe one of them might show up!”
Roundhay Fake Festivals takes place Saturday 12 August. Tickets and further information are available here.