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Old 04-10-2003, 11:53 PM   #1
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Tribute Band : USA's 'Elevation' Interview

By Devlin Smith

What do musicians do in their spare time? For Daniel Barrow, a professional drummer, Greg Flamm, a professional guitarist, Dave Ambrose, professional drummer and percussionist, and Chris Lambrou, a singer/songwriter, being U2 is their favorite past time.

Since the time of U2’s own Elevation tour, this tribute band (which has gone through a few lineup changes since its inception) has been performing songs from U2’s entire catalog in the St. Louis and Chicago areas, basing most of their act on the Boston Elevation DVD. Once the quintet hits the stage as Elevation USA, their individual past’s and personalities no longer matter and they become U2, Barrow is “Danno,” tackling Bono, Flamm is “Gredge,” resident guitar hero, Ambrose is Larry, complete with spiky hair, and Lambrou is Adam, adopting the signature camo pants and smirk.
Interference did a little one-on-one with Elevation USA and learned what makes a U2 tribute band tick.

Photo courtesy of Elevation USA

Q: When did you first become a U2 fan?
Danno: A friend lent me War, I really liked it. I am a professional drummer so at the time I was into more drum-orientated music, i.e. Rush, Yes, Led Zeppelin; but Larry's cadence on “SBS” caught my ear, as well as the amazing guitar sounds of Mr. The Edge and I was hooked by the spirit of the music right away.
Greg: When I saw "Under a Blood Red Sky" on HBO when it first came out.
Dave: When I heard the Under a Blood Red Sky live album.
Chris: When I saw them perform at Live Aid.

Q: What made you decide to be part of a tribute band?
Danno: Well, it kind of chose me; really, little did I know I would grow up to be a very close look-alike to Bono (once I dyed my natural blonde hair) and sound like him, too. I started Elevation about a year-and-a-half ago. When ATYCLB came out I stood in line to get the 12:00 am release and fell in love with the record, I was blown away by the lyrics, the melodies, the songs. The positive, uplifting spirit and honesty won me over so much so that I ended up seeing nine shows on the Elevation tour, the Las Vegas show resulting in a “Good to meet ya" greeting from Bono from the stage, as well as meeting Bono and Larry at the airport in the wee hours, and having Bono sign my jacket, "I am Bono 2001." Once Bono signed my jacket I felt like I got a bit of a mantle or blessing, now is the time to dream out loud.
Greg: I started a U2 tribute band back in '87 called The Unforgettable Fire ('87- '90) based out of Chicago, I thought it would be a good way to get experience playing live, meet more U2 fans, and use it as a springboard for future original projects. I saw Danno play in Chicago [and] felt I could do a better job sounding like Edge and the rest is history.
Dave: I never liked tribute bands and never wanted to play in one, but when I went to see [Elevation USA] one night and experienced the feeling and energy that came off that stage, I said to myself, "Now that's something I want to be a part of.” I have been told that I looked like Larry of U2 from past band mates whenever I got that close buzz hair cut so when the opportunity arose for a job playing the role of "Larry" and being able to bust out some of the best grooves and songs ever created, I thought, yeah, this is the job for me, I gotta try out.
Chris: Being in a tribute band can be a successful way to show your talent and pay homage to your fave group.

Photo courtesy of Elevation USA

Q: How do each of you prepare for performances?
Danno: How can you prepare for something that is so spontaneous yet very structured? It's a fine line and to do this job you have to know where that line is, when to cross it, when not to. As far as musically I’m always playing guitar, trying to wear it as good as Bono. Watching a few bootleg vids of the Elevation tour doesn't hurt either. Mostly just get very sick before I go on.
Greg: At this point we’ve played together so much it's a matter of learning a new song here or there.
Dave: By mostly trying to stay calm. The fans are really great, they get you so anxious to get up there and put on the greatest show of your life. It's quite an experience.
Chris: I always run through the songs the night before a show and eat light before show time, other than I'm my normal irresponsible self

Q: How much does your playing style differ when you're being U2 versus being yourself?
Danno: Well since most of the other avenues I pursue in music are usually from behind the drums, I’m not sure how to answer that one. I will say that being a drummer/vocalist and now frontman/guitarist is a big change, I feel a little like Dave Grohl, whom I admire very much as a drummer, songwriter and leader. I've always felt a little confined behind the drums, I always played air guitar and gravitated towards the charismatic frontmen of rock ‘n roll, as well as being very interested in lyrics. I’m not sure what my natural style is, probably it'll sound like Bono or U2 I would guess.
Greg: One of the reasons I started playing in U2 tribute bands was honestly my style of playing was similar to Edge’s, I was into using delays and effects like he does. What appealed to me the most was Edge was not trying to be a "flashy" soloist, I wasn't into the "guitar masturbating" that was going on in the 80's with the metal bands, I've always got more from less. I'm more interested in feedback than how many notes somebody can play in a nanosecond.
Dave: It differs greatly. I'm actually a progressive rock drummer but U2's style keeps changing my style every day. U2 has been changing the way I write in original bands so much, learning all the U2 songs as close to note for note helped me quite a bit in understanding a lot of things about great music composition and arrangements.
Chris: With U2 the octave of the bass note is crucial, they obtain much more of a full sound than a normal 4-piece group and a lot is due to voicing, normally I don't worry about voicing as much.

Q: What's been your most memorable Elevation USA show?
Danno: I'd say a tie between the Cayman Islands and the Cleveland Hard Rock Cafe shows, they both were amazing. We played to over 800 crazy Caymanians there under the stars with the Caribbean Ocean as the back wall. [In Cleveland] we played two sold out nights at the HRC, four-hour sets each night. Our most memorable one is still probably on the way to be honest; I’m hoping Dublin in the not too distant future.
Greg: The Caymans show was special, the soccer chants (“ole, ole”) between songs made me feel what it must be like to play in Wembley stadium.
Dave: The Cayman Island show under the moonlight on white sand with a 2,000-plus crowd swaying and waving their hands all together on "With or Without You" and sounding louder than the band.
Chris: One of my first shows at PJ Clarke’s was amazing, 1,300 people who were so into the music and the fun, I was speechless.

Q: What kind of reaction do you get from the fans at your shows?
Danno: For the most part it's a pretty amazing response because most fans get it. I was surprised to have some comments that we "tried to hard to be like U2," we [are] a tribute band, not a cover band, we're trying to raise the bar a little. I just think it should be taken very seriously, and believe me the fans know if you've really got soul and if you’re taking it seriously, from the look to the sound to the gear.
Greg: U2 fans are the best, it's great to see the club owner's reaction after some of the shows, they are amazed by the crowd’s participation. The fans are as big a part in recreating a U2 show as the music, it's our secret weapon when we play a venue.
Dave: The best I could ever imagine, there's nothing quite like it. It's always about the fans, they are the fifth member of the band. It's about the experience at the show so we try our best to recreate U2 moments, and that's what it's all about. They really feel like their at U2 concert when we do our show, they tell us all the time. When we hear that, it feels great.
Chris: Positive, a lot of fans appreciate the efforts we take to reproduce the show.

Q: What are some things you like or admire in U2 as a whole and the individual band member you portray?
Danno: As far as the band is concerned, I’ve always admired the amazing they've always had to recreate themselves without losing their core sound or their core members, I don't think there has been another band that has accomplished this ever, there may never be one. I admire the way they take chances both in the studio and live. They've always been a band of integrity, conscience, honesty. As far as the member I portray, he's won a ton of awards, medals, been honored in government, religious, social, music circles, is up for the Nobel Peace Prize, enough said.
Greg: I appreciate the longevity they have, anyone who has started a band knows firsthand that it's probably harder to just stay together than it is to play your instrument, I guess there's a lot to be said about U2 being a band before they could play their instruments. As for The Edge, he's the man, he's always introducing new styles like gospel and techno into the band's style. Then there's the toys - oh, the toys the man has.
Dave: I admire as a whole their ability to stay together and still create hit songs in an ever changing music business. I enjoy playing Larry's syncopated drum rhythms, they really are great drum parts. He has the ability to write rhythms that are so crucial to the mood of a song, he plays exactly what's needed for the song, you can't learn that from a book.
Chris: Some of the best songwriting since The Beatles. Adam: a fashion icon.

Q: What is your favorite part about being in a U2 tribute band?
Danno: The looks on people’s faces when we go on stage, when I bow down to cross myself before “Elevation,” the overwhelming energy I feel from the crowd. [The] most enjoyable part of this job is performing some of the greatest music ever written for people who express their love for us like they do for the band they love, they give it their all, and that's what we want to give them too, in sound, sight, and spirit.
Greg: The crowd reaction, being able to hear the crowd when I start "Streets" is amazing.
Dave: Definitely the crowd reactions that we get, it's really over the top sometimes. The crowd is so into it, and they love the band. It's great to be part of something that people really enjoy.
Chris: To see the fans’ reaction, no matter how unpredictable that may be.

For more on Elevation USA, including tour dates, bios and pictures, visit:

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Old 12-19-2003, 05:06 PM   #2
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I can't believe I just saw this.
These guys are great!

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Old 10-12-2004, 05:56 PM   #3
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ya may wanna update yer link listing...the newer ones are:
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