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Beatallica celebrates its unconventional roots at Spoof Fest

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The four members of Beatallica, shown in their trademark Sgt. Pepper/Metallica fusion outfits. Photo via Beatallica.org.

There are some combinations that just go perfectly together. Peas and carrots, Oreos and milk, Charlie Sheen and crazy; you really can’t imagine one without the other.

However, a new pairing is rapidly taking the musical world by storm: the Beatles and Metallica.

Yes, Beatallica, a comedic hybrid band of the Beatles’ classic Brit rock and Metallica’s heavy metal, is a legitimate group looking to spread their genre fusion across the globe. The group, comprised of members “Jaymz Lennfield,” “Grg Hammetson III,” “Kliff McBurtney” and “Ringo Larz,” has toured across the world and released two full-length albums, featuring songs such as “All You Need is Blood” and “Hero of the Day Tripper.”

Before the group sets off for another tour of Europe and begins recording their third album, however, the bandmates are making a quick pit stop in Milwaukee for Club Garibaldi’s 19th annual Spoof Fest.

The $10 concert festival, which occurs April 1 and 2 at 9:00 p.m., showcases various spoof performers covering a variety of artists, ranging from Amy Winehouse to Kid Rock. While Beatallica itself isn’t performing at the club until a later date, April 15, the members of the group are still contributing to the event this weekend. According to Jeff Hamilton, aka Grg Hammetson III, members of the group will be acting out humorous takes on Boston and Huey Lewis.

Despite the parody elements, however, Hamilton says the musical performances stay true to the original artists.

“The people who put it together encourage the bands to play the original songs right and as best as they can,” Hamilton said. “But then do the comedy stuff, no matter how tasteless.”

Hamilton and his bandmates plan to earn the two-day festival’s 21+ restriction, with their parody of Boston in particular featuring darker material.

Beatallica’s presence at Spoof Fest this weekend, however, means more to the group that just a regular gig. Instead, it’s more of an anniversary.

The group met all the way back in 1993 during Spoof Fest’s first year. In those early years, the band members spoofed on popular groups, such as AC/DC, until 1999 when the idea for a Beatles/Metallica mash-up group began to develop.

“A couple of my friends who are current members of the band decided to do Metallica,” Hamilton said. “But the guitar player at the time was listening to the Beatles on the way over. He came up with the idea of dressing up as the Beatles and playing Metallica. Eventually, they got to the idea ‘Why don’t we combine the two?’”

The band followed through on the idea, performing as a Beatles/Metallica hybrid and handing out about 50 CDs to the Spoof Fest crowd. Unbeknownst to the group, however, one of those few CDs would become their ticket to spoof music fame.

“Somebody in the audience put the CD online without us knowing,” Hamilton stated. “He finally called the band after it got a million hits and downloads.”

The fan also informed the then-untitled band of perhaps his most important contribution.

“He said, ‘Oh, by the way, I named the band Beatallica,’” Hamilton said.

After some brief legal difficulties with Sony Music and a glowing endorsement from Metallica frontman, Lars Ulrich, Beatallica began its march to global popularity. They started touring as a band at a show in El Paso, but that grew into worldwide tours, including the home of the Fab Four themselves, England.

“It’s nuts there,” Hamilton noted. “They love it.”

While their eclectic musical stylings may catch the ear, Beatallica’s unique costumes immediately capture the eye’s attention. Their trademark outfit is a hand-stitched combination of the Beatles’ classic Sgt. Pepper uniforms with some Metallica-esque metal elements. They certainly look cool, but according to Hamilton, they’re anything but cool to wear on stage.

“The band was very young at the time, so we didn’t realize we got this canvas-like material that weighs 20 pounds,” Hamilton said.

Thankfully, the group members have other costume changes as well, including kurtas to represent the Beatles’ famed pilgrimage to India.

While they may be a band of renown in their own right now, the group members of Beatallica haven’t forgotten where they came from.

“Spoof Fest really is the thing that made the band happen,” Hamilton stated.

So this weekend, take a trip down to Club Garibaldi and check out the zany parodies Spoof Fest has to offer. You might get to see the next Beatallica.

Spoof Fest will occur at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior St., April 1 and 2 at 9:00 p.m. The show is 21+ and tickets are $10. Beatallica will perform April 15 at 10:00 p.m. For more information, call 414-483-6335.

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