What happens when you’re a musician who is also obsessed with The Simpsons? Well, if you’re Adam Carter, you gather some musical pals (Adam Carter: vocals, guitars
Andrew Bartle: drums, Andrew Rous: bass, Arturo Fuenmayor: guitar) and start a Simpsons tribute band. The Be Sharps are a Hamilton / Toronto project that focuses on ‘golden era’ Simpsons songs. The songs are, for the most part, faithful recreations with a rock/metal leaning. While they only have three songs recorded and available on Bandcamp – The Be Sharps’ live repertoire is extensive.
The thing about the Simpsons is that if you’re of a certain demographic you will no doubt know the words to many of the songs. The Simpsons were (and still are to some people) a major cultural phenomenon that found a way to influence everything from food to music. Test your Simpsons song lyric chops this weekend by seeing The Be Sharps perform at This Ain’t Hollywood on Saturday.
We caught up with frontman Adam Carter to learn more about The Be Sharps and to brush up on our Simpsons knowledge.
1 – What propelled you to start this band?
This project was always at the back of my head. I am obviously a huge fan of the show and I think that music is one of the best parts of The Simpsons. I think that a large reason the reason the music on The Simpsons was so amazing was due to legendary composer Alf Clausen – who worked with a 35-piece orchestra to come up with all of the best songs the Simpsons had. The Simpsons were one of the few sitcoms that used an orchestra. He lost his job this summer no doubt because of cost cutting and the fact that making music in that way is really expensive.
I did some acoustic sets (in Newfoundland) where I covered Simpsons’ songs and it went over well enough that I thought “someday…I’ll turn this into a real band”. Then Okilly Dokilly came out and I thought, “Shit!”. It was last Christmas that I decided to go for it. It’s funny because when I was a kid I wasn’t actually allowed to watch The Simpsons. It was forbidden fruit and a show that my parents thought was very bad and vulgar. All this did was encourage the interest even more. I watched the Simpsons while my parents were out of the house and now many years later I play in a Simpson’s cover band.
2 – What’s it like playing these beloved songs at shows?
We haven’t played too many shows yet but we did one in Toronto recently and the audience was interesting. It was a cross-section of people who knew what to expect from a rock show and people who did.. not. There were some folks sitting down in chairs in front of the stage. It is an was a mix of live music fans and also Simpsons fans.
As a singer, I do almost no work. It’s not a struggle to get audience participation at a show like this. Songs like ‘The Union Strike Song’ (Lisa Needs Braces), and the Stonecutters’ song always get a lot of lyric shouting. People also know if we screw up straight away and we tend to get comments about the songs we didn’t play. There are just so many to chose from and we are working our way through the catalogue
3 – Your EP on Bandcamp is called “Please Don’t Sue Us Fox” – how concerned are you about any potential copyright issues you may face?
Fox are notoriously litigious. You can see the way they’ve gone after even small-time offenders. There have been Instagram Simpsons art and merch accounts that have gotten Cease & Desist orders from Fox, so this is something that we are definitely aware of. This band specifically chose not to charge for the music because of this issue. Our music is free and we are not profiting from The Simpsons through merch or things like that. We’re also not on streaming sites like Spotify. We hope that’s enough to keep us out of trouble.
4 – There are probably some young people out there who didn’t grow up with The Simpsons and don’t know where to start with the show. Do you have any advice?
I would start with classic episodes like, ‘Monorail’, ‘You Only Move Twice’, and ‘Treehouse of Horrors’ (season 2, 3). Those early Treehouse of Horror episodes are a good gateway drug to get into the show if you haven’t watched it much.
5 – When can we expect more recorded music from The Be Sharps?
We’ve just recorded a few songs recently and would love to do more at some point. We recorded at Catherine North in Hamilton with Dan and Scott and had a great time. Those guys are professionals and that space is amazing. A fun fact about our recording of ‘Canyonero’ is that audio engineer / producer Scott Peacock took his belt off and whipped the console and we ended up using that sound in place of the bullwhip crack the original song featured.
Don’t miss The Be Sharps this Saturday, October 14th, at This Ain’t Hollywood.