Mockstars are the new rockstars.
Give vocalist Paul Sinclair five minutes of your time and he can easily tick off a dozen stories about how his original band, Sinclair, came just inches away from making it.
There was the time in 1992 when Interscope president Jimmy Iovine flew in from L.A. to see the band play a gig at Conshohocken's Cool Breeze Café only to be turned away at the door when the woman accompanying him couldn't produce proper I.D.
And the time the band was offered a letter of intent from Enigma Records only to see it shredded after Seagrams bought the label.
Or when Hard to Handle management--which represented AC/DC at the time--showed major interest but became gun-shy when the band's manager suddenly decided the fly-by-night contract he had with the band was binding (after realizing some money might be made).
Oh, or the time Gene Simmons' manager Larry Mazer sat in on a practice intending to sign Sinclair, only to decide afterward they weren't quite what he was looking for. Not bluesy enough. Instead he'd go on to sign the shining beacon of all things blues, Skid Row.
Sinclair just couldn't catch a break. Like, in '88, when he took out a second mortgage on his home to put out the band's debut--on vinyl only. That was the year music stores pushed full tilt (or so it seemed at the time) into the digital age, replacing LPs with CDs.
|Mis-Led: (From left to right) Paul Hammond, Paul SInclair and Andrew Lipke sit in the control room of Fat City Studios.|
"I've got a million stories like this," says Sinclair, 43, while holding court in Fat City Studios--the recording and mastering space he shares with longtime collaborator, guitarist Paul Hammond--located in the basement of his Blue Bell home.
Eventually, all the near misses and the almost weres became a source of frustration for Sinclair. Add to it the revolving door of musicians joining the band only to quit months later--excited at first by the major label courting, headlining gigs at CBGBs and sharing bills with bands like Zebra and Foghat, but equally deflated when nothing came of any of it--and Sinclair started to give serious thought to turning the once-a-month Led Zeppelin cover gig he and Hammond, also 43, were doing at the Bridgeport Rib House into a full-time gig.
So that's exactly what they did, forming Get the Led Out five years ago, with the tagline: "America's Led Zeppelin!"
And now, ironically, unfairly (?), through performing the music of Led Zeppelin--the same music that inspired Paul Sinclair the man to start Sinclair the band in the first place--he's closer than ever to grasping rock 'n' roll's elusive brass ring. He's gone from rockstar to mockstar and back again. And in this day and age at least, the difference is becoming more and more slight.
In his book Like a Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of a Tribute Band author Steven Kurutz spends a year traveling with and covering two rival Rolling Stones tribute bands, Sticky Fingers and the Blushing Brides.
PW's Summer Guide 2014