Today we have the distinct pleasure of talking with not one but four Beatles experts! Mike Muratore, Frank Muratore, John Auker and Patrick Gannon, the members of Hard Day’s Night.

Hard Day’s Night is rated among the top national Beatles tribute groups performing today, a full catalogue touring Beatles Tribute act focusing on performing songs exactly as the Beatles themselves did. The band has performed on national television, at America’s top Beatles festival, and at the Beatles’ own Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

We were eager to find out what goes into being one of the top Beatles tribute acts in the world and how the four members of the group think about the musicality of the Beatles.

We talk about:

  •  What exactly the band would do to learn a new Beatles song note-perfect
  • How performing as the Beatles compares to playing in a non-tribute band
  • And we ask, as four people who’ve studied and played the songs of the Beatles more carefully than almost anyone – why do they think the Beatles have had such a lasting impact over time?

It was really cool to hear about how each member of the group came to love the Beatles and perform in Hard Day’s Night, and how thoughtfully and carefully they approach their work in performing as the Fab Four. There’s a lot to be learned here about musicianship that goes way beyond tribute bands or Beatles specifics – so please enjoy!

This is The Musicality Podcast, and you’re tuned in to Beatles Month at Musical U.

Watch the episode:

Enjoying the show? Please consider rating and reviewing it!

Links and Resources

Enjoying Musicality Now? Please support the show by rating and reviewing it!

Rate and Review!

Hard Day's Night, one of the top rated Beatles tributes, puts in extraordinary work to deliver the most detailed & authentic Beatles experience possible.



I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this interview! But wasn’t that cool, to hear the behind-the-scenes stories and details of a top performing Beatles tribute act and understand how they think about, study and prepare the music of the Beatles?

Let’s run through the highlights from that conversation.

Frank, who plays Paul in the band, grew up with a lot of music-making in the household and he and his brothers got hooked on guitar when The Beatles hit the scene. He gigged through high school but playing more experimental and jam band music, not the kind of background you might expect a cover band lead to have! But he credits his well-developed ear as having been important in learning, or rather re-learning, the songs of the Beatles directly from the records when he joined Hard Day’s Night.

In one case of the devotion-to-detail in true-to-reality replication of the original band’s performances, Frank then relearned bass guitar in order to be able to play left-handed as Paul McCartney did. This kind of thing may sound like a minor detail but as we heard, it actually made a big difference to how John and Paul could share a microphone and the striking visual it created, with the guitar neck going up one way and the bass neck going up the other.

Funnily enough, when I noted that relearning your instrument from scratch would require you to set your ego aside, Frank pointed out it was actually partly his ego which drove the decision, as he wanted to impress and be the best he could be. It provides a good example of how as musicians we sometimes need to be willing to take a step or two back in order to take a greater leap forwards, and that our ego voice can help or hinder us depending on how well we manage it.

The band’s “John Lennon” is played by Frank’s son, Michael. Growing up in that family it went without question that he’d go on to be a musician. It was U2’s “With or without you” which really inspired him to take that on though and he taught himself to sing, in private by himself out in the garage where nobody could hear. Getting into a studio was another pivotal moment as he quickly realised that his performing was not as perfect as he’d imagined, and listening back he could see lots of scope to improve and refine his craft. The music of The Beatles is particularly interesting for this, he says, because The Beatles never took the simple, obvious route from Point A to Point B, they were always finding new and interesting ways to approach a note or a chord or some aspect of a song.

I asked about the learning to sing and Mike offered the helpful advice that it often boils down to confidence – not arrogance of thinking you’re amazing or pretending you do, but practicing to develop the skills so you can be confident you have them – and that confidence is a positive feedback loop as you learn because the more relaxed and confident you are, the better the muscles of your vocal tract can perform.

Pat, the group’s “Ringo” was bashing on pots and pans from an early age, graduating to an actual drum kit at age 12 and taking six months of lessons. He identified with the character in the movie “Drumline” who wasn’t great at reading music but had a good ear, and that’s how he continued to learn and improve. Like Frank he points to this ear as being really helpful to reproduce the music of The Beatles accurately enough to be convincing to an audience, which naturally goes above and beyond just playing a technically-correct rendition of the song’s notation.

To learn a new Beatles song he would be sitting down and listening to the recording repeatedly, tuning in to a different part of the kit in turn, for example starting by listening just for what the kick drum is doing. Sometimes an official score can be helpful – but tends to only be about 90% accurate! You can also find some individual multitrack recordings for certain Beatles songs these days which helps you isolate the particular instrument.

He’s also a songwriter himself and finds interesting inspiration in the story of The Beatles and how even they gradually improved in their songcraft over time. Mike pointed to their formative Hamburg years when they were unconsciously soaking up a ton of music and developing their musical ears and sense of what works musically. Frank too could relate, particularly to the teamwork of Lennon and McCartney, an approach which he experienced himself writing songs with his brother growing up – not just great for creativity but for motivation too.

John, who plays George in the group, started out on violin and classical orchestra but early on wanted to focus on guitar and gradually made that shift, going on to major in jazz guitar and guitar performance at Columbus University. He has a really vivid memory of hearing Sargeant Pepper for the first time, like he was suddenly hearing in colour, with the richness of the sound of that album. He saw more about The Beatles over the years and was moved by their story, felt a real connection to the band, and that stuck with him to the point of joining Hard Day’s Night in the role of George.

Although George Harrison’s best known as a guitarist he did also play sitar, and in another example of devotion to authenticity, John studied sitar in order to be able to play Revolver straight through for a festival performance. He connected with a well-known sitar teacher who happened to be local, and in a three-month period managed to skill up to the point of performing George Harrison’s parts. He credited his background in music theory and how to practice efficiently for letting him learn so quickly.

I asked about what goes into a Hard Day’s Night performance, such as their great opportunity to play in the Beatles’ own Cavern Club in Liverpool. What sets them apart from your average Beatles tribute band is attention to detail, both in how they meticulously listen and check and practice every note of every song, and in the visual aspect of the performance too. There have been several guests on this podcast in the past who’ve made the great point that as musicians if we really care about the musical experience of our listeners we would be wrong to imagine that experience is not strongly influenced by the visuals on display. And naturally that goes double when seeking to replicate a band who had such remarkable flair as The Beatles.

From how the Beatles stood, moved and interacted on stage through to Hard Day’s Night attention to their equipment and clothes – using authentic instruments from the era and carefully selecting just the right wardrobe to match the style of the band at the time of the songs.

Michael noted a continuity of their lineup over several years has been key too, letting them make fast decisions in the moment on stage without a word being spoken and turn the performance into a really fluid show.

Since all four of them have played gigs in non-Beatle bands I was keen to ask what extra it takes from them to perform in Hard Day’s Night. Frank said there’s a lot less leeway, your task is tightly defined and the audience’s full attention is on you, with high expectations. Michael noted that bands playing originals can easily adjust songs at any stage and the audience don’t mind, or may even appreciate it. But The Beatles’ music is so ingrained in pop culture that people expect really high accuracy and, as he put it, relentless precision.

John likened it to being a particular personality. Different musical contexts draw out different parts of your personality, or allow for different degrees of your own personality to come out. And while it might seem like the Beatles tribute context must be a very impersonal thing relative to a band playing originals, or performing in a group where there aren’t such rigid expectations, he noted that the music of The Beatles in particular is so personal for so many of us that he can find a personal connection with each song and bring that personal emotion out in his performance of it. He said “The notes don’t change, but the feeling we put into it changes.”

So why The Beatles? Having listened to their music in such great detail I was keen to ask the band’s opinion on what made The Beatles so special?

Pat said having such a vast body of really great music is pretty much unparalleled. There are three or even four distinct eras of music there, all of which is worth of attention and study, and has a great public appreciation. And Frank added that it seems like everyone has a personal connection to The Beatles. We all have Beatles songs that really resonate with us. John said the band’s story and great success across generations keeps audiences large and keen year after year. For many of Hard Day’s Night’s younger audience members it’s the closest they’ll ever get to seeing The Beatles live.

Frank said he thought when he started that the tribute act might last for 5 or perhaps 10 years – but here 20 years later they’re still going strong. I think that speaks both to the longevity of the Beatles’ appeal and the superb job this band does at recreating the true Beatles experience for new generations.

Thanks for joining me for this episode. This was our final Beatles expert interview but don’t miss our next episode where I’ll be rounding off Beatles Month by recapping the major takeaways and sharing full details of that special new release we have to help you hear more and understand more in Beatles music – and all the music that brings joy to your life.

Enjoying the show? Please consider rating and reviewing it!