A Rock Steady Reincarnation:
Reinventing Abbey Road with Yellow Dubmarine
Words by Alex Napoliello — New York City
With music, there are albums that are played out, some that grow on you over time, and maybe a few that become instant fan favorites. For many, The Beatles churned out classics fans cradled like a baby for eternity; you sing along with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, play air guitar to George Harrison’s sharp licks and bob your head to Ringo Starr’s drum fills.
Then a band like Yellow Dubmarine comes along and recreates a feeling that you thought could only come from the Fab Four. The Maryland-natives are not just a typical Beatles cover band equipped with fresh pressed suits and mop-top wigs. Rather, they offer a new way of appreciating a classic band, staying true to the Beatle’s vision, but altering it just enough to create a unique sound they can call their own.
“We do our interpretation out of the love for the original versions,” says Aaron Glaser, Yellow Dubmarine’s key vocalist and bass player, as he pulls into a gas station to avoid driving while talking on a cell phone. “We try to maintain all the original sentiments of the song — a lot of the signature parts.”
Glaser describes his band’s debut album, Abbey Dub, a reggae recreation of the famous Beatles’ record, as a “celebration” of the music. Whereas Easy Star All-Star’s Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band offers little hints of the original arrangements, Yellow Dubmarine’s take on Abbey Road is more of a homage.
“I think that we’ve evolved to have something special and different to offer than what Easy Star does,” Glaser says. “I think that we really are a true tribute band whereas Easy Star is making their own personal statement.”
Yellow Dubmarine breathes new life in all 17 cuts of the original record. On tracks like “Octopus’s Garden,” horns emerge where there was once the voice of Starr, and replace Harrison’s vocals on “Something.” A steady ska beat slows down the fast-paced “Saw Her Standing There,” while “Come Together” lends itself more to bass heavy dub. Then there are tracks that mimic the originals more than the others do like “Here Comes The Sun.”
“We picked Abbey Road because of the great flow to the album,” explains Glaser. “Everyone knows that it has a signature flow to it because of the medleys. It’s an album that everyone loves and we’re trying to celebrate this music with people, so we wanted to pick one that people do love.”
“The Beatles catalog has a lot to work with. It’s endless, we have not decided what we’re going to do next, but we have a lot of fun talking about it.”
Glaser’s love for reggae came after his love for The Beatles, he says. He grew up on the Beatles and started listening to reggae in high school, and describes The Wailers, Bob Marley’s backing group, as an “eye opening band.” After listening to The Wailers, Glaser dug deeper into the reggae roots and discovered The Heptones and The Skatalites, among others.
After a mutual friend of the band passed away, Glaser and Yellow Dubmarine (not formally a band yet) decided to play some Beatles tunes at a memorial service for her, but make them a bit more upbeat. “We wanted it [the memorial] to be a celebration of her life instead of a dark memorial,” he says. So they picked a few songs like “Let It Be” that, he states, “really spoke to the situation.” Yellow Dubmarine kept the momentum going from that night, continued to grow, and then were discovered by Kenny Liner from The Bridge. Liner – also a Maryland native – manages the band and helped produce Abbey Dub.
Yellow Dubmarine is on tour right now to support their debut LP, including a stop at the Stone Pony this Dec. 2nd, and has no real clear image of what the future may bring. “We’ve tossed around some ideas – it’s exciting to think about,” offers Glaser. “The Beatles catalog has a lot to work with. It’s endless. We have not decided what we’re going to do next, but we have a lot of fun talking about it.”
Glaser implies that the focus of Yellow Dubmarine is solely on Beatles’ material. But there’s so much talent floating around the band, it’s hard to believe original material won’t break out sometime. “There are several songwriters in the band and we write for our own personal growth and fun. Right now the focus is definitely Yellow Dubmarine because we think we can just have a great time [with it],” Glaser assures.
People fear change, and in the case of Yellow Dubmarine, there are purists that don’t want their beloved Beatles songs messed with. “A lot of people either are intrigued or question what we do and are not so sure it’s going to be great because they don’t want anyone messing with The Beatles’ songs. All those people who may have doubts before we play end up coming around and enjoying themselves,” says Glaser.
He continues, “We’ve had people review our album and be harsh on it because they are coming from The Beatles purist point of view. I don’t know if they’re just being nice, but every time in the end, they come around and they say they did enjoy it.”
For most fans, however, Yellow Dubmarine provides them an outlet to sing the songs they love and dance to them like they’ve never danced to them before, says Glaser.
“One of my favorite parts of Yellow Dubmarine is that we are accessible to all ages just like The Beatles,” he concludes. “It’s really cool to see people of all ages singing these songs together, and I think that’s something that’s been lost in most music these days.”
TheWaster.com | Rock Steady