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Boss tribute band rocks Club 23

Observer Scene | Monday, February 21, 2005

After drawing a massive crowd earlier this month at Legends, the Bruce Springsteen Tribute Band, otherwise known as The Heroes We Thought We Had to Be, played for an equally enthusiastic and energetic audience this past Saturday at Club 23. It was easy to see why it draws such devoted fans. Each band member played with incredible passion – from the talented lead vocalist to the animated percussion duo. The band’s dynamism demonstrated its devotion to the Boss and created an environment in which it was difficult not to dance. The band formed last fall with original members Paul Appleby, Reid Rector and Dan Block, but has recently expanded to a nine-piece band with a wide range of instruments. The band consists of Paul Appleby on keyboard and lead vocals, Mark Coughlan on saxophone, Reid Rector on guitar, Erling Wu-Bower on drums, Greg Ujda on bass, Megan Rackish on violin, Michael McNamara on tambourine and backup vocals, Dan Block on maracas and backup vocals and Dan Watson on trumpet. Photographer Claire Kelley managed to ask the founding members of The Heroes We Thought We Had to Be a few questions in between sets Saturday. Thoroughly engrossed in their performance, these band members seemed to walk a contentious line between their true selves and their alter egos.

Q: Why do you love Bruce Springsteen?A: Paul: Because he is the most significant recording artist in the last 76 years. Mark: I’m the Clarence Clemmons he thought he had to be.

Q: Why are you named “The Heroes We Thought We Had to Be?”A: Paul: It’s a line from the song “Backstreets.” Reid: But we don’t actually play that song. Paul: Shh … don’t say that. We’re working on it.

Q: What sort of musical backgrounds do you have?A: Dan: We have a limited amount of talent, particularly the backup vocalists. Reid: But Paul is amazing. He is probably the number one tenor in the school. He is a music major, and he’ll be appearing in the Opera Les Mammelles de tirese.

Q: What challenges has your band faced?A: Reid: We’ve had some technical difficulties. Our equipment is cheap because we’re poor. Mark: Also some academic difficulties. Paul: We had some trouble at Legends with the sound system. Our favorite place we played was Boat Club.

Q: You seem to play the lesser-known Springsteen songs. Why don’t you play the really popular hits?A: Paul: Most of them are swill. We don’t go by the charts… Dan: … we go by what gets us in the heart.

Q: Do you identify with Springsteen’s working class New Jersey background that inspired so many of his songs?A: Reid: I think most of us in the band share many of his political views, and we support the ideals that have driven his music.

Q: What do you do to get ready to play the tambourine and maracas?A: Mike: I do some wrist and grip exercises. I practice tapping my toes. You just really need quick wrist action.

Q: Which Springsteen album is your favorite and why?A: Reid: I don’t think we can decide that as a group. I think the best is Born to Run. Paul: I’d say Tunnel of Love.

Q: Were you born to run?A: Mark: I have bad hips actually.