Appetite For Destruction, the New York-based popular Guns N’ Roses cover band, will be performing at the world-famous Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY with a heavy-metal Bee Gees band, "Tragedy" and an all-female Motley Crue tribute band called "Moxie Crue" for their debut performance on July 28.

Honoring Guns N’ Roses

Cover bands have become very popular in recent years and the original bands are honored that they have such a following. ”Appetite For Destruction” is named after the Guns N’ Roses album which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – and the tribute band, AFD is also celebrating their own 19th anniversary entertaining G N’ R fans everywhere.

The original Guns N’ Roses played a concert at New York’s Apollo Theatre on July 20 exclusively for Sirius XM subscribers who won tickets from a promotion and to celebrate the launch of the limited Guns N’ Roses channel 41 on Sirius XM. The band is also on tour and will be returning to New York to play three shows at Madison Square Garden on October 11,15, and 16.

The cover band’s current line-up is Rob Pfeffer as Axl Rose, (lead vocals), John Ricotta as Slash, (lead guitar) Mike Ficalora as Duff, (bass) Andrew D’Amato as Izzy, (guitar) and Shawn Callahan as Steven (drums).

Appetite For Destruction speaks

I spoke with three of the band members, Mike Ficalora, Shawn Callahan and John Ricotta and they gave me some insight on the band’s history and why Guns N’Roses continues to inspire them to keep going.

Suzanne Rothberg: I was on your website and I’m very impressed with it. You’re really passionate about playing Guns N’ Roses music!

Mike Ficalora: We just celebrated our 19th anniversary. The first show we did was 19 years ago but we started the band 20 years ago with a year of rehearsals to fine-tune our stuff.

It was quite a different band back then – me and John who is “Slash” we have been here since the beginning.

Suzanne Rothberg: Have you ever met the real Guns N’ Roses or performed with them or have they ever seen your YouTube videos?

Mike Ficalora: We actually met most of the members of the band throughout the years.

We’ve played with Dizzy Reed, we did a show with him about a year ago. It was a pretty cool video. We did a Blabbermouth Magazine show and we played with former guitarist Gilby Clarke a couple of times. We’ve met Duff about two years ago. They seemed excited about that we’re a G N’ R tribute band.

Suzanne Rothberg: They don’t seem to mind that you’re passionate about their music and you’re a G N’ R tribute band playing their music live.

Mike Ficalora: They seemed very appreciative of the whole thing. Obviously, we’re not as one percent as popular as they are – they have a lot of big fans that we try to keep happy around here.

Suzanne Rothberg: Performing with you, there are two '80s tribute bands featuring a metal Bee Gee band, a female Motley Crue band.

So, it’s a “blast from the past.”

Mike Ficalora: It will be our first time at the Capitol Theatre. We’ve always heard of the place and it’s a great opportunity to play there, especially with the bands we’re playing with.

Suzanne Rothberg: I was listening to G N’ R radio on Sirius XM. They were saying that G N’ R were inspired by the “punk movement” and also classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Is that the band’s musical influence?

Mike Ficalora: Definitely. We were inspired with everything that G N’R did. They showed us what they could do and they talked about what their influences were. We were introduced to a whole bunch of bands. The Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones. Hearing them do “Jumping Jack Flash” years ago introduced me personally to The Rolling Stones.

And then hearing, “Mama Kin” and then it’s interesting hearing “Aerosmith.” And John and Shawn would listen to The Stones and the punk influence.

Suzanne Rothberg: You have quite a following for a tribute band. I was watching your videos on YouTube and you played BB Kings and played out on Long Island and you have a gig coming up in Stratford, CT.

Mike Ficalora: Yes, G N’R fans are everywhere. The fans want to hear more G N’R music. They’re coming to New York City, people are excited about that. But when they’re not playing, we love doing it. Some members of our band went to the Apollo show and said it was amazing!

Suzanne Rothberg: Mike was telling me that you met some of the real Guns N’ Roses members.

Are they impressed with you and think you sound like them?

Shawn Callahan: I think they’re impressed. I met Steven Adler personally a couple of years ago and told him about our band and he seemed very excited about it. And we also met Duff at a book signing. They have seen our videos and seem to be behind what we do.

Suzanne Rothberg: Rob was featured as the voice of Axl Rose on the Howard Stern show. That must have gotten a lot of attention he sounds exactly like him you can’t tell the difference.

Shawn Callahan: Yes. He did song parodies and some of the songs were featured on Howard Stern. He’s a dead ringer for Axl!

Suzanne Rothberg: You guys nail it I saw some of your videos on YouTube. Very impressive!

Shawn Callahan: Yes, we really try to recreate both the look and the sound as much as we can. And doing as many shows as we have done over the years, we really try to get it down, note for note. We’re the closest to recreating the G N’R show that anyone’s ever seen!

Suzanne Rothberg: What does the real Axl Rose think about your band.

Shawn Callahan: That we don’t know yet! Hopefully we’ll find out from the elusive one that we haven’t heard from or met yet!

Suzanne Rothberg: This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Appetite For Destruction” which is also the name of your band. Any songs from that album that resonate with the band the most?

Shawn Callahan: We do a lot of stuff off of the “Use Your Illusion” albums but every track is significant to all of us.

We love doing them all live. For me personally, “My Michelle” and “Rocket Queen” are the songs that stand out for me. All the songs are fun to play live. The album, “Appetite For Destruction” in its entirety is great.

Suzanne Rothberg: What inspires you the most about Guns N’ Roses?

Shawn Callahan: When I first got into them I was thirteen or fourteen – so to me, it was the look and the sound and I had never heard anything like that before. I was always a fan of theirs and when I joined the band to recreate their music and their stage show it became a real passion.

Suzanne Rothberg: The band has seen Guns N’ Roses live? Were you at the Apollo show?

John Ricotta: I almost went to the Apollo show but never made it unfortunately.

The majority of the band saw them at Giants Stadium last summer. We were all very impressed that they’re doing really high-quality shows at this point in time.

Suzanne Rothberg: How often is the band doing gigs?

John Ricotta: On the average, we’re playing two or three times a month. We’re all weekend warriors with our day jobs but we try to play as often as we can. The majority of us are from Long Island and our singer is from Brooklyn.

Suzanne Rothberg: As the guitarist, you’re obviously a huge follower of Slash. Have you met him?

John Ricotta: I never personally met Slash. I held him very high in terms of guitar players that I listen to and a lot of my style is from his influence. There are other influences but he’s the one that comes up the most.

Suzanne Rothberg: They seem to appreciate that you’re honoring them and out there playing their music and now they’re one of the biggest bands in the world.

John Ricotta: Well, the band was born at a time where they were hiding like ’95-’96 where they were kind of ‘off the map. In ’98 we started playing shows based on the fact that Guns N’ Roses were kind of in hiding. So, we felt that we had to fill the void and go out and play their music that we enjoy so much.

Suzanne Rothberg: The fans that come to see you they come out in droves?

John Ricotta: Oh yeah. The shows that we’ve had in the last couple of years, we’ve been lucky enough to play some very nice venues to some very big crowds.

Suzanne Rothberg: And do the fans view you as the ‘younger version’ of Guns N’ Roses in their heyday?

John Ricotta: We’re not as young as we used to be when we first started. But they think we sound like the real band so that’s a plus! We pull it off pretty well!

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