Music

Interview

Kram on the Beatles and 50 years of Abbey Road

It’s been 50 years since arguably the greatest band in the world released, what has become known as, their magnum opus.

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After the tumultuous studio sessions that saw the creation of what became the Beatles’ final release, Let It Be, the band headed back into the studio to give it one last crack.

There was only one way to properly conclude The Beatles’ legacy, and at the insistence of Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the Beatles found a sense of camaraderie that hadn’t existed since Beatlemania was first gripping the world.

Recorded in early 1969, Abbey Road proves that the Beatles ended things at the height of their musical powers. Compromise was the flavour of these final recording sessions, and the result is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Featuring one of the greatest opening tracks ever, two absolute George Harrison gems, and that magnificent 16-minute medley on side-B, who knows what could have happened if the Beatles had stayed together to create another couple of albums?

While the band never took the record on the road–their touring days wrapping up three years prior–Australian fans will soon have the chance to experience Abbey Road in all its live glory when the Australian Rock Collective (or ARC as they are more commonly known) bring Abbey Road to the stage in one heck of a birthday celebration.

A group of friends can do something really special, beyond what an individual can do, when everybody’s personalities – whether it’s John Lennon or Ringo [Starr] – equally contribute to the cast. I’ve always really loved that about The Beatles.Kram (Spiderbait)

An Australian supergroup of the highest order, ARC features Kram (Spiderbait), Mark Wilson (Jet), Davey Lane (You Am I), and Darren Middleton (Powderfinger). The countdown is well and truly on until Abbey Road Live heads around Australia, so we sat down with self-confessed Beatles’ superfan Kram to hear about his love for the fab four and just what we can expect from the tour.

“The two bands I discovered at the same time through a tape that a teacher gave me were The Beatles and The Sex Pistols. Both bands had a huge effect on my music and on my life. The Beatles’ songs have really stayed with me for a long time,” Kram says.

His love affair with the Beatles’ discography has gone to one to build a solid foundation for the way he has gone about his own musical career.  “One thing that really stayed with me in the way I write songs is the concept of variation. The idea that one band can have multiple singers, all different music styles, just as long as the songs are really good and interesting,” the Spiderbait drummer and vocalist says.

“There’s a real sense of the dynamics in the band really contributing to its longevity, and also to the richness of the work that keeps it just as popular today as it ever was. I’d never really heard a band like that before, that had so many shades and all of them are equally as great.”

Ultimately, aside from a killer catalogue of hits, the element that transcends generations of Beatles fans is less about music and more about human connection. “One of the really big factors that I love about the band is that it’s a group of friends,” Kram says.

“A group of friends can do something really special, beyond what an individual can do, when everybody’s personalities – whether it’s John Lennon or Ringo [Starr] – equally contribute to the cast. I’ve always really loved that about The Beatles.

“ARC really has the same energy – it’s very much based on friendship and a test of quality, and everyone feels like they’re an equal part of it. I know it’s a supergroup, but often with supergroups, they’re great on paper but they don’t always work so well when the egos get involved. That’s the opposite of us. We’re very much about the collective. It comes out in the music and that’s why we’re trying to approach this project in a very collective way.”

For Kram, there is a lot to love and celebrate about Abbey Road – not only as a collection of great songs, but also as a patchwork of all the shades that made the Beatles great. “We’ve got a situation where the band has decided to break up, and to give themselves a crack at doing something really special,” he says.

“Playing in a band for a long time, for me, is an emotional experience. You go through a lot of highs and lows, and no one would know that more than them. Becoming the biggest band and the first band in the world to have that kind of insanity surrounding them, and to be able to focus together as a collective, as a group of mates, even after all they’ve been through, to put together such a masterpiece is as much a testament to the record as anything.”

We’ve all been there, trying to decide which Beatle fits our personality most – are you a perfectionist like Paul or a jokester like Ringo? Serious like John or more mysterious like George? Kram sees a bit of every member in himself.

“Because I’m a drummer, I can understand Ringo so much better. It’s weird being a leader singer and a drummer, you’re the head of your band, but you’re also at the back. I like having a little bit of a foot in both camps, you can understand where both groups come from. I’ve always loved his personality and humour, and I always felt he was a very underrated drummer. When I first started drumming everyone I knew loved really flashy players that did big solos. Eventually, he became my favourite because he was the one that didn’t want to do a solo, they had to force him to do it,” Kram says.

“I also really understand John’s fire, and his leadership, that someone in the band has to be the person who really gets the fire going, and I always thought that worked for him. I also really loved Paul’s sentimental side – I’m an old sentimentalist in that way, so I can really feel with him. George is quite the tripper, he’s the spiritualist at the end, the deepest and most meaningful of all four of them, and that’s where I feel like my headspace is going these days. The answer is that maybe I’m a little bit of each of them.”

Kram alongside the rest of ARC will perform Abbey Road Live around Australia this February. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.