Band members Frank Royster, Julian Volpe, Bill Nance, Tommy Hamer and John Singleton say they “play everything from early mop-top, bearded Beatles and solo Beatles,” and they must do it well, because they will, again, be performing at this year’s “Abby on the River” Festival, the world’s largest Beatles inspired tribute festival.
“It is a great big honor and one of the coolest experiences of my life,” said Royster. “It’s for the diehard Beatles fan, who will attend every day, and the casual Beatles fan, who might spend the afternoon.”
What can people expect from a Sgt. Submarine’s performance?
Five guys who have an unbelievable love for the Beatles and play those songs to the best of our ability, EVERY time! It’s what we truly love to do.
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How did you become Sgt. Submarine?
Frank and Julian had been threatening to form a Beatles band for years. Any time any club needed a Beatles tribute band, they would call Frank, and he would have to put together the musicians he thought could do the job. We finally decided to put together a lineup of the best possible musicians and start doing it on a more frequent basis.
Why the Beatles?
The Beatles are which all other bands are measured by. Why cover any other? And the fact that we all are in awe of the Fab Four!
What audience does your music typically appeal to?
Generally the 40+ crowd. However, the Beatles are really timeless. We have many fans that are in their 20s and younger.
Do you all agree on your favorite Beatle?
Nope! And we don’t even try! They all are amazing for their own reasons. It what made the Beatles earth-shattering!
Do any of you have day jobs to support your music careers? If so, what are they?
Let’s see … Julian and John are in the computer field. Frank is also a videographer as well as a music teacher, Tom and Bill wind up playing more for other bands as well as Tom is also a barista and Bill builds his own amps, enclosures and electronics … known as Bilco. We all gotta do what we gotta do!
What advice would you offer aspiring musicians?
Play for love. Money may or may not come. As long as you love what you do, the best possible outcome will unfold. Success in anything is 80 percent love for what you do and 20 percent skill.
Where is your favorite place to a play a gig?
Hmmm. I’d have to say Art’s Bar and Grill in Mt. Pleasant. Something about that little corner of the bar we get stuffed in to play. Great vibe and everyone there is really appreciative of live music. All-time favorite place would be the old Cumberland’s on Cumberland Street, downtown Charleston. It was like our own little “cavern.”
If you weren’t musicians, what career paths would you pursue?
Half of us would be in the networking/computer field. The other half would most likely be porn stars, or something creative…
Other than one of the “Fab Four,” if you could have anyone, living or dead, join your band, who would it be?
WOW… good question. Maybe Rick Springfield… or Jason Falkner, and maybe Buck Owens. It would be a well-rounded group of people for sure.
What would people be surprised to learn about Sgt. Submarine, individually or collectively?
I would have to say that the fact Julian, Frank and Tommy have been playing music together for 30 years. I wish I could even remember ALL the bands we’ve played in as kids. We all taught ourselves how to play and cut our teeth so to speak together. People seem amazed when we tell them this.
Do you have a song that you play at every gig?
Absolutely! We ALWAYS play “I Want to Hold your Hand” and “8 Days a Week.” I’m sure there are more but those two stand out for some reason.
How do you respond to audience requests for something other than Beatles’ covers?
Haha, this ALWAYS happens. There is always someone who walks up to the stage, all confident of what they want to hear… “Can ya’ll play ‘Wagon Wheel’ ”? We just inform them that we only play Beatles songs and watch them with a completely stumped look try to think of something. Then we usually say to them … “Just sit down and when you think of one come back up and ask us.”