Ultimate Fakebook Biography
Last updated: 12/18/2002 07:06:33 PM
Bill McShane - guitar, vocals
Eric Melin - drums
Nick Colby - bass
"'Cos I remember when/The backbeat wasn't programmed in/And heroes were still human..."
- Ultimate Fakebook
Ultimate Fakebook singer / guitarist Bill McShane was weaned on 80's pop anthems. From a young age he was entranced by the undeniable magic of pop melodies, big hooks and even bigger choruses. These days, McShane bounces around the stage like a child on a pogo stick, Fender Strat slung across his
neck and horn rimmed glasses struggling to hold onto the bridge of his nose - a constantly moving entity of manic rock energy. His sweet-as-sugar and smooth-as-ice vocal stylings recall the finer points of Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick¹s Robin Zander. His guitar work is a seamlessly executed blend of four chord power pop and stinging rock leads.
"I never intended to be a singer,"McShane humbly states. "However, I did grow up loving early Prince and 80's pop like Olivia Newton John... So singing evolved out of that I suppose. As for guitar, that's easy; I saw a Dokken video for 'In My Dreams' when I was a kid and that was it - I had to play the guitar in a rock band. Of course, once I grew up I moved away from the hair metal thing. But I can't shed the desire to rock out and play huge guitar riffs and solos, even though I'm really only interested in trying to write memorable pop songs."
While McShane's melodies and riffs are the bait that hooks the unsuspecting listener, it's UFB's rock solid rhythm section that provides the band's unbreakable backbone. Bassist Nick Colby walks the fretboard of his road-worn Jazz Bass with ease, as talented a solo player as McShane, and provides the vocal harmonies to their anthemic choruses. Colby makes Yul Brenner look like a pantywaist - the shaven headed, muscle bound counterpart to McShane's wiry frame, the yin to his yang at the front of the stage.
Of course, as Joe Strummer says, "A band is only as good as their drummer." Hooks and melodies alone aren't going to get your foot tapping and pulse jumping, the unflappable 4/4 backbeat laid down by drummer Eric Melin picks up the reigns in that department. Melin throws his head to and fro, his chin-length mane whipping about like flames reaching for the long lost spirits of John Bonham and Keith Moon. Taking cues from 'Led Zeppelin III', 'Who's Next', and Mac McNeilly's work on The Jesus Lizard's 'Goat', Melin plays the drums as though they are the paramount instrument, as though the guitar and bass only exist to back him up... And in some ways they do. Beating the skins with an exact, calculated intensity, using the drumsticks like baseball bats with a combination of Babe Ruth's accuracy and Al Capone's ferocity.
Since their beginning in Manhattan, Kansas on Halloween 1996 (they have since spread out to Lawrence and Kansas City, KS), Ultimate Fakebook has trekked across the entire U.S. many, many times over. Touring with such heavy weights as The Get Up Kids, At the Drive In, MXPX, Good Charlotte, Rival Schools, Sloan, Reggie and The Full Effect, Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, Hot Rod Circuit, Further Seems Forever, Nada Surf and Hey Mercedes, UFB have amassed a loyal and fanatic fanbase built solely on their live shows and top notch work ethic. After two full length albums on Noisome Records (1997's Kissing Parties, 1999's This Will Be Laughing Week), the second of which was re-released in 2000 by Sony / 550 Music, UFB's fans have been longing for over two years for their third, and what promised to be their best, album.
Open Up And Say Awesome does not disappoint, featuring the band's best work to date. Produced by Ed Rose (Get Up Kids, Reggie And The Full Effect) at Redhouse Studios in Eudora, Kansas, and featuring guest appearances by Matt and James from The Get Up Kids and Stephen from Descendents / All, this
twelve song tribute to the power of rock and roll gives new meaning to 'hooks' and finally puts 'power' at its rightful place, directly in front of 'pop'. If The Replacements perfected what Big Star attempted, then UFB has taken the next step - an edgy combination of Cheap Trick's songwriting and Kiss's cartoonish glory, a reminder of what we all loved about Weezer's first album. In many ways, as all great bands are, UFB are a tribute to their favorite bands. They wear their influences on their sleeve, and are poised to take their place among them, the timeless icons of rock and roll.