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Q&A: Backbeat

First Published 3 October 2011, Last Updated 10 February 2012

When faced with performers playing the original line up of the greatest band ever to have graced the universe, it seems only right to delve into their own musical background and their relationship with The Beatles.

So Matthew Amer asked Backbeat stars Oliver Bennett (Pete Best), William Payne (George Harrison), Daniel Healy (Paul McCartney), Andrew Knott (John Lennon), Nick Blood (Stuart Sutcliffe) and Ruta Gedmintas (who plays German photographer Astrid Kirchherr) to come together and help him on a magical mystery tour through their musical past.

What was the first piece of music you ever bought?

Bennett: I’m ashamed to say it was Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden – the recklessness of youth!

First album was Stereophonics’ Just Enough Education To Perform. But first single was probably something like Craig David. My musical taste has since developed!

Healy: Greenday – Nimrod.

Knott: Billy Ocean – When The Going Gets Tough.

Blood: Kiss – God Gave Rock And Roll To You. From WH Smiths.

Gedmintas: I think it was New Kids On The Block.

What musicians (past or present) inspire you?

Bennett: Bob Dylan. The best in the business, the hardest working man in show business.

Payne: My hero is Jeff Buckley. His music really inspired me to be myself, especially being a teenager when I had no real idea about who I was or what I was going to do with my life. The usual teenage angst stuff.

Healy: Paul Stacey and his one time marching tickertape moon band. Paul Stacey inspires me because, well, quite frankly, I want to be like him.

Knott: Bob Dylan, Lennon, The Smiths, The Stones (both Rolling and Roses), Paul Stacey.

Blood: The Pogues – raw passion and energy, amazing storytelling, unique character. Stone Roses – guitar music you can dance to. Friendship – best new band at the moment. The Clash – best band ever? Nirvana – my formative years. Wu-Tang Clan – first album was the scariest album I’ve ever heard. Beastie Boys – sense of humour and consistently good for 20+ years.

Gedmintas: Bjork, because all her music inspires and encourages imagination. Radiohead, because every album has marked an era of my life, and every one is different from the last but just as amazing. Jeff Buckley, as the album Grace never fails to move me.

What is the hardest thing about playing someone from musical history?

Bennett: Having to copy their musical style and make it your own somehow.

Payne: It’s a lot of pressure playing someone that so many people love and admire, so the hardest thing for me is really trying to capture what people loved about him and making sure that I don’t just impersonate him, but really embody everything that he was.

Blood: Learning to play an instrument!

Gedmintas: The hardest thing about playing Astrid is finding the balance between her true life, and our dramatic story.

Are you anything like your character?

Bennett: I hope not, he got fired, but he does seem like a decent guy.

Knott: Nope!

Blood: I can’t play bass very well or sing very well.

Gedmintas: I share her visual passion and her love of rock and roll.

What is your favourite tune in the show?

Bennett: You Really Got A Hold On Me. Amazing, long, tender and witty.

Payne: Good Golly, Miss Molly just because it’s a lot of fun to play, and the scene we perform it in is a bit crazy!

Knott: You Really Got A Hold On Me. It’s a beautiful ballad about a love-hate relationship. Powerful stuff!

Blood: Money. I like the riff and it fuels the following scene so well.

Gedmintas: Twist And Shout has always been a favourite along with Dear Prudence. It was one of the first Beatles songs I had heard. Now after working on Backbeat, all the songs have a new relevance and meaning to me. When I listen to Twist And Shout, I now hear all the sweat, pain, tears and hard work that they went through.

Backbeat takes The Beatles to Hamburg’s insalubrious red light district. Which is the most insalubrious place you have visited?

Payne: Great Yarmouth. The swords being sold on the street and the old man in a wheelchair covered in gold chains and gold rings did it for me.

Healy: McDonalds.

Blood: My friends’ flat in Hammersmith nicknamed The Palace.

Gedmintas: Any nightclub I went in from the ages of 15 to 21.

What is your favourite Beatles song?

Bennett: Old Brown Shoe for the drum beat, or Julia, which is just heartbreaking.

Payne: Something. George wrote it!

Healy: Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Because it has everything.

Knott: Rain. My daughter is named after it.

Blood: In My Life. For personal reasons.

Gedmintas: In My Life. It hits my heart.


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