TEMPT — “We Were Brought Up Listening To This ’70s And ’80s Rock”
August 13, 2014, a year ago
NYC newbie melodic rockers Tempt, according to its press release, celebrate the return of guitar driven hits on their debut EP, Under My Skin. The four tracks, which are teasers for their yet to be named full-length album, were mixed by well-known producer/engineers Michael Wagener (Dokken, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Skid Row) and Mario McNulty (David Bowie). Celebrating the official release, the band opened up for Cinderella’s Tom Keifer at BB Kings in NYC in July. Some of Tempt’s members aren’t even legally old enough to be in the clubs they play in and this can be a bit of a problem for the band’s main core of fans, which are mostly under the legal drinking age. Vocalist Zach Allen and guitarist Harrison Marcello, both 19, have good heads on their shoulders despite their young age. As a testament to the music style they love, Harrison proudly states the band wants to bring back that timeless melodic rock sound.
BraveWords: Your influences are pretty obvious, but how did you get into playing this ’80s style of music at your young age?
Harrison Marcello: “We’re pretty young. Our age range is 19 to 24. We all grew up listening to this kind of stuff, and not just necessarily ’80s but a lot of the ’60s and ’70s stuff, too. Both Zach Allen and my parents were super into music and we come from musical families so we were brought up listening to this ’70s and ’80s rock. We love it and I think a lot of people love it now, too. Obviously we’re going to appeal to an older crowd that grew up with this music, but there’s a whole new generation of kids that hasn’t heard this guitar-driven music. It’s almost kind of a new thing to them. We’re not trying to recreate the ‘80s and ‘70s, but we’re trying to put our spin on it and maybe move it into more of a modern context. Just try to revive that musical stigma; why can’t a rock band be in the Top 10 pop charts kind of thing?”
BraveWords: What do you think makes you differ from the rest of the retro rock pack? What do you bring to the table?
Harrison Marcello: “I think first of all we’re not trying to recreate this type of music. Obviously, you can hear on the record, it’s definitely influenced by ’70s and ’80s rock with a modern production because we worked with two really great producers. Now with our very first outing and as we continue to move forward and doing these songs, we’re getting our image together and getting what we’re about together. We’ve only been together for a year and a half. We’re definitely growing a lot after playing together for even just a year. Hopefully we’re going to keep progressing and keep at it.”
BraveWords: The track “The Fight” sounds like something I might have heard on the radio in 1988. There’s such a familiarity about it, how do you usually construct your songs?
Harrison Marcello: “Zach and I pretty much do all the writing. The songs “The Fight” and “Under My Skin,” originally we just had the chorus because we’re always thinking of really hooky, anthemic songs. That’s what we want to listen to. So we come up with the chorus and then work from there. Both of us are pretty in synch with each other about what we want to hear in the writing style. It’s pretty easy going. There’s no strict formula we have but it’s really fun writing together.”
BraveWords: Speaking of the song “Under My Skin,” it sounds like a White Lion song or someone around that same time period. You know, the huge melodies and vocal harmonies.
Harrison Marcello: “That’s what we’re all about. Like I said, the reason we love those ’70s and ’80s bands is because they’re fun songs to listen to. That’s why everyone who enjoys that genre and why it has so much success is because you can push over to a pop market because it’s something that has a hooky tune. The only difference to something like that and a Katy Perry is that it has two guitars on it!”
BraveWords: “Time Won’t Heal” sounds like it could be a cover song. And I mean that in a good way because it also has that familiarity to it.
Harrison Marcello: “Yeah, that’s one of my favorites and a lot of people like that song. It’s kind of your standard power ballad and it gets a big reception. Again, it’s a song that, and I don’t want to sound arrogant here, but I think it could be a little bit of a timeless song. It has a great hook and people have responded well to it.”
BraveWords: You mentioned you wrote several songs for the full-length album and the four that appear on this EP are also on the full-length. But how difficult was it picking these four that made the EP?
Harrison Marcello: “It was pretty difficult. You want to put out what you think are the best songs, but at the same time you still want to leave stuff for the album. It was really hard to pick out. I think we have a really solid four. I think those four songs represent the spectrum that’s on the album; the ballad, the kind of harder rocker and the more mid-tempo tunes. We really tried to focus on what we could put out there for the EP that will give an overall taste of all the content that will end up on the album. There’s definitely more epic stuff on the album, so I can’t wait to get that out so people can hear it.”
BraveWords: Given your age, how difficult is booking and playing shows?
Harrison Marcello: “That’s a huge issue and I never really realized that until we started doing shows. With the drinking age being 21, so many venues rely on the money they make at the bar for income. It’s hard to book shows that are 18-plus or even all-ages. If you think about it, bands that got big in the ’70s and ’80s, a lot of their fan base was able to see them when they were starting off in clubs because they were playing to 18,19 and 20 year olds who were in that age range where they want to go out and see bands and meet people. And they could do that back then, but now it’s hard to generate a scene. It definitely makes it more difficult, but it’s not impossible. I think as far as the music scene is concerned, it’s much harder with a more adult, 21 and up audience. I think it actually really hurts us when we play. Some clubs will let you play if you’re under 21. But Zach and I are 19 and we have a lot of friends that, of course, are 19 and under. So to get a lot of our friends (to come out) that do enjoy our music and people that relate to us in the same age range, it’s pretty hard. But we’re pushing through it and we’ve actually managed to build a pretty strong fan base in this past year and hopefully it won’t be an issue much longer.”
BraveWords: Not to mention the pay-to-play issue, either. But if most of your fan base is underage, how are you even going to sell most of those tickets to a club show?
Harrison Marcello: “That’s a big thing now, the pay-to-play. You got to sell like 50 tickets, or you’re buying them. People are always surprised to hear that there’s not really a music scene in New York City because it’s the antithesis of what New York represents in terms of a cosmopolitan culture or a hot-spot. But when you’re a local band, no one’s going out to see you because these clubs are charging you a lot more money and they’re not giving you the opportunity for bands that are under 21. Those bands have to pay-to-play at clubs even if they’re only playing in front of five people. The drinking age also factors in because no young kids go out to clubs because they can’t. They can’t go out and see live music. Even though a lot of my friends want to do that. That’s definitely an issue.”
BraveWords: Last one Harrison. Being a newer band and coming into the music business the way it is today, you’re pretty much going to have to scratch and claw your way to make it. Are you willing to put in the time and pay your dues?
Harrison Marcello: “The real kind of goal for us … everyone’s obvious goal is they want their band to be successful, rich and famous and blah, blah, blah. But I think the real goal for us is … there is such a void of rock music that’s around now. We’re just trying to focus on bringing back not an ’80s or a ’70s, not necessarily any specific genre, but maybe create a little scene with some other local bands and bring back that idea of melodic pop-rock that’s heavy but also enjoyed by listeners of all different genres.”