Harrison Marcello graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a Bachelors in classical music composition and is now devoting himself full time to his band Tempt. Their debut full-length album is being released June 17th on Derek Oliver’s Rock Candy label. It was mixed by Michael Wagener, who mixed Dokken and Ozzy, and by Mario McNulty, who did the last couple of Bowie records. His bandmates and he have also been busy writing the next record and he has been producing the tracks himself.
What Harrison says:
The WiC sounds great. No sound is compromised, and in actual time there is no delay whatsoever. I know with a lot of units people have worries about delay, and I have experienced that with other units I’ve tried in the past. These guys are actually perfect.
A few years ago, Harrison Marcello became one of our first endorsing artists. Since then, his band, Tempt, has had a continuous stream of successes. With such a young, impressive line-up, Tempt is on track to change music history. Recently, I talked with Harrison to catch up on the latest of their achievements.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your latest projects?
I went to Boston Conservatory and studied Classical Composing, and you know, conceptual stuff. I started working with my band, Tempt, during the last three years I was in school, but it really picked up after the other members and I graduated. We just released a new single called “Roses”. The production on the single is sort of a power-rock, Killers vibe. The first album was very derivative of 70s and 80s arena rock, like rock music with a pop chorus. It was a modern extension of that type of music. Since the first album, we’ve really found our niche and started to develop our own sound. We’ve also gotten better at producing, and we’ve improved as songwriters.
How did Tempt get together?
Our lead singer, Zach, was working on demos with Jack Ponti who was friends with Bon Jovi in the 80s; he worked with a lot of rock artists and worked on a little bit of R&B later on. Jack wanted to help Zach to find a writing partner his own age, so Jack actually found me on YouTube. We met up and immediately hit it off. Our first record was in 2016, and we wrote most of the album in a span of a few months. We wrote and played a few shows here and there, and figured out our influences, but once we were out of school, we really solidified the band. It’s pretty crazy; we both knew Nick, our drummer, in high school, but not each other. Nick moved back to New York, so we asked him to try playing with us and do some writing. Nick already knew Chris, our bassist.How do you guys go about the writing process?
We all write together. A lot of people like to ask about the writing process, but we just kind of use a “mish mosh” of writing techniques. Someone might come in with part of a song done, or with just a beat or a riff, or we might come in with a full song already done. We like to be relaxed with how we write- no egos. I don’t personally like writing on an instrument, because I feel like I am restricted to what I know or muscle memory on a guitar. I like to come up with a chorus or a melody first. If I am just singing, I have nothing guiding how I write and it’s much more creative. My best writing is done naturally like in the shower or on a walk. I actually wrote the chorus to hideaway, which isn’t released yet, in the shower.
What kind of venues do you typically play in?
Mainly club venues, places with amazing sound systems and real stages, but small enough to pack the crowd. We’ve played at BB Kings, Hardrock, Mainstage, most of the main clubs.
You mentioned your lead singer Zach worked with Jack Ponti who was friends with Bon Jovi in the 80s. Is that how you got the gig at Madison Square Garden?
No actually, it was a totally by chance that it was for Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi was selecting local bands to open for some of his shows by holding competitions through local radio stations. There were two or three rounds, and there were a lot of other bands similar to us in size and style, so it was awesome winning and getting that opportunity.
It’s a huge deal to get to perform at Madison Square Garden. What was it like to play on that stage?
It was pretty amazing, a real bucket list moment. We got to meet John backstage before the show, so I was way more nervous to meet him than I was to actually play. He turned out to be really nice and down to earth, which was surprising because I kind of just expected him to let us take a picture and then kick us out, but he actually took his time talking to us. Sound check was our first taste of that kind of stage. It was a little more nerve-racking just because of the chaos of Madison Square Garden, but after we were done, we got it together and were ready to rock. I’ve done a lot of shows, so I don’t usually get nervous before anymore. It’s more of just the anxiety of wanting to get out on stage and start playing already. The show was great. I think it was really a defining moment for us, because it was really natural to be on that stage. That was good news, because we definitely don’t want that to be our last time performing at Madison Square Garden.
What was the reaction from fans after that performance?
They had set up a meet and greet after we opened for Bon Jovi, and surprisingly there was a line of about 100 people. It was awesome that these people got out of their seat at Bon Jovi and risked missing the beginning of his show to come say hi to us.
What else have you guys done to build your fan-base?
It’s kind of crazy; we got way more new followers after Def Leppard retweeted our cover of “Woman”, than from the MSG show. Def Leppard retweeted our cover without us even knowing. Zach was just scrolling through twitter and saw the notification. We got an insane number of followers from that. Last year, we were at about 5000 likes on Facebook, and now we are at 21,000. We also used to do all kinds of covers, from Taylor swift to Starboy by The Weeknd.
What’s the band’s next step to follow up opening for Bon Jovi?
The Bon Jovi show was back in May, and since then we released our new single “Roses”, and now we’ve just been taking a break, working on setting up a tour in the northeast. Right now, we are talking with booking agents and really working on getting tours going. That’s our next step. We really wanna go everywhere, because we aren’t gonna get the kind of reach we want just playing in local clubs.
What got you into music in the first place?
I’m lucky that I grew up in a musical family. My Mom’s into 80s stuff, like that’s where the Def Leppard influence comes from, and my Dad’s into 70s glam Bowie stuff. I had dabbled here and there on the guitar and kinda just taught myself how to play, but I started playing seriously when I was 13. I listened Randy Rhoads, the guitar player for Ozzy Osbourne, and that’s when I decided I wanted to play for real. I finally got a teacher to clean up my playing, like I found out I was holding the pick wrong and my hand position was wrong. I still sometimes watch lessons on YouTube. It’s a continual journey; I’m always trying to learn something new.
How would you describe your style?
I think I would describe it as melodic, in the sense that I don’t play a lot of bluesy stuff. I like a lot of tension and release. A guitar solo should elevate the song; I think people tend to have a guitar solo in a song because they think you need it before and after the bridge, just dumping in random notes. It’s gotta bring the song dignity, not distract from it.
How many musical instruments do you own?
I have about 6 or 7 guitars, maybe a few more with the acoustic ones. I also have a piano and keyboards.
Do you prefer electric or acoustic/what is your favorite guitar?
Electric, because it fits better with the nature of our style. My favorite is my Suhr, because it’s really well made. I got mine 5 years ago as a graduation present. I also love my Jeff Beck Strat.
What was your first guitar?
My first guitar was a baby, mini Strat Cherry Squire. I think it had like 14 frets. My actual first guitar was the Jeff Beck Strat. My dad bought it for me, I think kind of an excuse to buy a nice guitar and just say it was for me.
What piece of gear do you never leave home without?
Uhh well I don’t really have to worry about bringing stuff with me, because I have all my gear everywhere I need them. At the studio, I have a PRA unit and my AX2 effects pedal that I’m using with a Matrix power amp. Then, at my house, I have an AX8 mini effects pedal and I also have a PRA unit there.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with PRA Audio and the WiC Wireless System?
I use it everywhere as much as I can, if I remember to charge it. I don’t remember the last show I didn’t use it. It’s so easy to use. With other wireless systems, I had to find a frequency and then match the frequency in the transmitter to the frequency in the receiver. At that point, I would just rather plug into a cable… But the WiC is cool, because it does all of that for you.
Before we wrap things up, are there any performance or events coming up that you are especially excited for that you wanna share?
I’m the typical artist with no idea what’s happening, but I think we have a show coming up on the 21st in New Jersey… Touring is really our next big step, so I am getting pretty excited about that.
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