To say that we had a few concerns when Frankie Boy said that he had been in contact with John Lennon was, to say the least, a bit of an understatement. Thankfully, as it turned out, the John Lennon that he was talking about was Martin Dimery of Beatles tribute band, Sgt. Pepper’s Only Dart Board Band. They will be playing the Venus Flytrap Palais on both Friday and Saturday this year.
Belladrum is known for giving us acts with quirky names. Who dreamt up the band name?
We nicked it- or at least borrowed part of it from the famous Beatles pastiche “The Rutles ” which featured Eric Idle and Neil Innes. We wanted a name which sounded irreverent. It has brought us a lot of attention, but it is surprising how many agents and promoters don’t get the joke. If you’re not called something like “The Bastard Beatles”, they haven’t a clue.
Your website welcomes us to the “Web Site of the UK’s Most Entertaining Beatles Tribute Band” What sets you apart from the others?
The humour, I suppose. We do the accents and play on the fact that we are a tribute- and not pretending to be some ghostly visitation of the real thing. The Beatles were funny. Far too many copyists treat them with an undue reverence. That’s not to say we don’t take the music seriously. We’re probably the only UK Beatles tribute to have performed the whole of the “Sgt. Pepper” and “Abbey Road” albums live. We tend to stick with the “Pepper” costumes as a constant image throughout the show but mix up the set with lots of the older hits too. It’s the kind of set we think The Beatles might play if they were still going. Certainly they wouldn’t be doing their songs in chronological order and changing costumes throughout the evening, like some Beatles shows do.
Although you’ve toured widely and played at a number of festivals, does playing at the legendary Cavern Club come out on top?
Yes- certainly the first time we played there we were quite apprehensive. There is still a great atmosphere about the place, even though it was reconstructed. We also played at the club that currently occupies the old Regent Studios in Soho, which was familiar to the Beatles, the Stones and the Kinks, which had a similar feel. We enjoyed playing at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool too.
Amongst our fondest memories was headlining a “Beatles Party” at the Shakespeare Theatre in Montgomery Alabama. To take something from our culture to the cradle of the blues and country music, and go down well, was very special.
What can we expect from your set at Belladrum this year?
We’ll probably do some of the best bits of Sgt. Pepper” and “Abbey Road” alongside the familiar singles from ’63 onwards. We’re doing two shows, so we might throw in something different on the second night, but you always have to do “Hey Jude” don’t you?
As you are playing both days, will we be seeing you and the rest of the band around the site in full regalia?
Not if I can help it! Those bloody wigs are too hot! Also, the satin looking “Sgt. Pepper” costumes won’t take to a downpour. To be honest, it’s nice to take the gear off and enjoy festivals with anonymity. Nobody will know who we are offstage, and we like it like that.
You’ve been together since 1995, so do you all now have “naturalized” Scouse accents?
considering we come from places like Luton, South Shields, and Somerset, we seem to get away with it. even in Liverpool.
Finally, how is life as a John Lennon doppelganger?
I don’t know- you’d better ask one! Seriously, I am far too old, and far too bald to be a John Lennon lookalike. None of us are- which is a good reason for hiding behind the “Sgt. Pepper” image, because the costumes, wigs, moustaches- make for a very theatrical interpretation. Onstage, the stance and the voices help to suspend disbelief. Anyway, I have yet to be stalked by a celebrity tribute assassin.
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank Martin for taking some time out from his busy schedule to answer our questions.
Written by Frankie Boy
Sgt. Pepper’s Only Dart Board Band will be appearing at the Venus Flytrap Palais on both Friday and Saturday.