“Shout” turned out to be rather prophetic because it’s really about the idea of being stuck in a place; stuck in a place that you can’t get out of for a period of time, that you don’t know how long it’s going to last and I think that a lot of us are feeling that way right now.”
Alan Chapell has traveled far and wide to build his musical history and on this journey, which began in his native Connecticut, then to time spent in India, then from coast to coast in the U.S. and points beyond; he never wavered on doing things the Chapell way; even when he considered giving music up while attending law school.
Now with the release of his fifth album, aptly titled “Cinco” he has taken his music in a different direction and with singles like the aforementioned “Shout,” “Spin” and “On The Rooftop” already out and doing well, it looks like much success awaits this attorney by day and musician for life.
“I’m the chief privacy officer to a bunch of tech companies,” explainingwhat background history has led him to where he is today. “I went to law school back in the late nineties; I kind of blame Kurt Cobain for all of this, you can blame him for a lot of things (laughs). I’m a keyboard player and all of a sudden when that Nirvana album came out there was no work for keyboard players literally for years in New York City; everyone just wanted guitars. So, I went and started a band in Bombay India and did that for a while and after my time in India I came back and said, alright, maybe the music industry isn’t for me and that’s when I started at law school. I got out of law school with a degree in “Human Rights” and sort of fell into the whole internet world and I’ve been working with these new media and tech companies for a number of years now focusing on privacy issues; what data can they collect? How can they use it? How is that going to impact you and your life?”
India? What kind of project does a musician from the New York City market start in India?
“It was really an east west fusion; 80’s influenced modern rock with Indian classical instruments; think of the “Graceland” album except instead of an African influence there’s more of an Indian influence. We played out a bunch with that band and we were called Kalki. We were recording an album; things were going really well but ultimately it didn’t work out and I came back to New York and figured maybe I won’t do music for a while. Over time I had a bunch of friends who said, “Listen, we know you don’t have the time to do this because you’re back in school but just come sing, just come sing backing vocals” and little by little I got back into it and boy I really loved it.”
“The next thing I know I’ve got this band in New York City with people from the likes of Bon Jovi and Avril Lavigne and we’re playing shows to 300 to 500 people pretty regularly or at least we were pre-pandemic and we’re having a great time and we’re able to win over crowds that haven’t heard us before because I think we’re bringing a message of love and fun even if some of the lyrics are a little deeper. I think when people go out at night, they just want to have a good time and we really bring the party.”
Chapell’s path began at a young age but when he was a teenage boy, he met an “Iconic” producer and later on some “Talking heads” who helped shaped not only his career but the person he has become; even if he didn’t realize it at the time.
“I didn’t know what I had because I was 15, I thought I knew everything because everybody who is 15 thinks they know everything and I was fortunate enough to work with Jimmy Ienner who is one of the more iconic and talented producers out there,” he stated with an appreciative tone. “The Jerry Harrison story is an interesting one because I met him when I got to be friends with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth from The Talking Heads back in the early 90’s and when I was looking for someone to produce the first Chapell album Chris turned me onto Jerry and since then Jerry and I have become really close friends and he’s sort of a mentor. He produced the first album and then sort of helped with the other ones and I’ve probably learned as much from Jerry and his engineer Eric “ET” Thorngren as I’ve learned from anyone in the music space; I’m just grateful to have worked with them.”
When talking with him, one gets the feeling those prior thoughts of possibly stepping away from music never even crossed his mind. A well-rounded musician who does most of his performing as a keyboard player; he has changed things up of late, in part due to his incredible band mates.
“I’m just fronting it with vocals; I’ve done a bunch of shows with just me playing solo piano or we’ll do a trio and I’ll just sit in on keys but I’ve got a great piano player named Ali Culotta who does most of the playing and that allows me to just focus on having a good time with the crowd and singing and dancing a little bit; it’s fun.”
“We like to keep it pretty even. We used to be a seven-piece band; I grew up as a trumpet player and I love writing for trumpet. The first four albums had a bunch of trumpet in there but for “Cinco” I sort of pulled things back because it felt like I had a little too much going on and I just wasn’t feeling the horn anymore. So, we’ve got Lorenza Ponce who is easily the best rock ‘n’ roll violin player out there right now and she’s been playing with me for a number of years and she’s just wonderful; so if you hear a lot of strings it’s Lorenza and I can’t get enough Lorenza.”
“Cinco” has a mid-June release date and is a full-length album; Chapell elaborated a bit about his plans for the disc and the singles which are available now.
“The disc is 13 tracks, it’s on all of the digital platforms and so far, the sales from iTunes have been excellent. We’ve gotten something like 50 or 60,000 plays on “Shout” which was the first single and we’re getting there on the other two singles on Spotify and the album as a whole will be released to radio stations in the next couple of weeks and we’re hoping that we get another 50 to 75 radio stations putting it into medium to heavy rotation this summer.”
“In “Shout” I’ve got some play off of the violin and the synth. Lorenza is almost the Brian Jones of the band where on some songs she’s playing what I call a traditional rock fiddle and on a lot of other songs; if you listen to “Spin” there’s a lot of stuff in there where you might be thinking; is that a violin or is that a synth? We use a lot of effects pedals and we get this kind of unique 80’s influenced synth sound but played by a really, really talented violin player.”
“Anybody who lives in New York City, on a really hot summer day and this goes back for at least 50 years; you want to head to the rooftop. You want to get a little moonshine or whatever you happen to be drinking, you want to turn the radio or stereo up as loud as you can and just have a great party into the night and that’s what “On The Rooftop” is really about. I picked a particular era of musicians in the late 60’s and early 70’s who at the time were really battling to be heard; the musicians who were living in Soho and the West Village. I think that the theme here is pretty universal, all musicians want to do is get to play and all people want to do; there’s something very freeing about being on top of the roof and dancing all night and that’s really what that song is all about.”
With the music now available in some form; what does he plan on doing to get it out to the masses during a pandemic environment?
“It’s going to be released in early to mid-June and we’ve released those couple of singles from it; we’ve pushed the full release back a little bit in part in deference to everything that’s going on in the world. I think now that touring has been taken off the table, at least for a while; the thing that we are going to do to support it is some impromptu livestreaming. I’m going to do a whole bunch of radio interviews and hopefully figure out a way for me to perform live, maybe not in a studio but we’ll figure out something to do so we can support the album.”
Chapell’s music is fresh, lively and well-produced which lends to a feel-good vibe no matter what your taste in music and is a nice addition to anyone’s collection.
To discover more about Alan Chapell, please visit https://thisischapell.com/.