Manhattan band making its mark


submitted photo

Ultimate Fakebook is (L to R) Bill McShane,Eric Melin, and Nick Colby

Ultimate Fakebook and Lawrence are practically synonymous.

Though the band originally hails from Manhattan, Lawrence has long laid claim to the power-pop alternative trio. With its headrushing three-minute masterpieces and raucous live show, UF has minted a "Lawrence sound" in recent years, a sound that has become the standard to which all other bands are compared.

Given Fakebook's steady diet of roadwork and its recent signing to a major label, the Little Apple rockers could be on the cusp of serious national attention.

Singer-guitarist Bill McShane phoned in for an interview during a rare week off from the group's hectic touring schedule to talk about life in the big leagues.

"We've been on the road all summer," McShane said. "We love it, we totally love it. We travel in the same van we've toured in for the last three years. It's coming to the end of its road. We put about 170,000 miles on it and most of that's in the last year and a half. We had to rebuild the transmission on this last tour, and it was just a huge nightmare."

Working hard

Ultimate Fakebook (McShane, drummer Eric Melin and bassist Nick Colby) has earned its success the old-fashioned way, hitting the indie club circuit and expanding its audience via word of mouth. The band's willingness to play anywhere and everywhere has given them a rock-solid fan base that is slowly seeping across the nation.

Who: Ultimate Fakebook CD release party for "This Will Be Laughing Week", with Ashtray Babyhead and the Creature Comforts.When: Friday night.Where: The Bottleneck, 737 N.H.Ticket prices: $5-$6.Ticket information: Call 841-5483.

"We play clubs, but all sorts of different venues, too," McShane said. "We'll play a record store. Sometimes we'll play a bar or a full-on rock club. Kids will throw shows at community centers and stuff -- they'll just rent out a little space and have a show. So, it's been the whole spectrum of things.

"There's a definite underground, all-ages club circuit that's really been hot, and there's a lot of good bands touring it. The Get Up Kids are a band that really kind of helped us out as far as opening us up to that whole scene, so that's been really cool.

"Everybody keeps asking us nonstop about the Kansas City and Lawrence music scenes. They're hearing about all the bands like the Get Up Kids, The Anniversary, Appleseed Cast, Reflector, The Creature Comforts. It's really cool. It seems like a lot of people are really starting to poke their ears over this way."

Ultimate Fakebook's third effort, "This Will Be Laughing Week," was originally released in March 1999 on local indie label Noisesome Records and reissued by 550 Music (a division of major label Sony/Epic) with a couple of new songs in June of this year.

"We were playing New York City quite a bit and a lot of industry people were apparently coming to our shows," McShane explained. "550 was really interested. They checked out some shows and ended up flying to Kansas City to see a show and offering us the deal. We had a couple other labels wanting to do stuff, so it was kind of a matter of sitting down and finding the best offer."

McShane talked about the group's decision to include a couple of updated gems from its earlier releases on the new, improved "Laughing Week."

"We re-recorded two songs from our first album and put them on this one as well," he said. "We had to think about making this re-released version, and we wanted to think about all the people that had already bought it around this area.

"At the same time, we didn't want to go too far with a different sound or too many new songs. So, the compromise was to re-record a couple of songs off the first record and put them on this one. Obviously, the first two records didn't have that much distribution, so we thought we'd go in and get a couple of new versions of those songs.

"Still, it's an album that we feel holds up and we're still really proud of it, so we're excited that it's finally gonna get some national distribution."

Lawrence ties

Fakebook has had a longstanding relationship with legendary Lawrence producer Ed Rose, who has worked with the band since its inception.

"Ed's really, really laid-back and when you're in the studio with him it's a fun experience," McShane said. "He's very focused and an expert at what he does, but he's also really good at getting everybody to loosen up and just get in there and have fun. " We bring in the songs and everything, but he's the guy that knows how to put what guitar sounds where, what kind of harmonies to throw in where."

Being that Fakebook is a band that built its local following in clubs like The Bottleneck, it makes perfect sense that the group would chose that venue for its album release party.

"Lawrence has always been kind of like part-home to us," McShane said. "We've always been on that I-70 stretch between Lawrence and KC."


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