Madison Square Garden (MSG) has long been celebrated as one of the most famous arenas in the world — known as much as the home of the NBA’s New York Knicks as it is a prestigious concert venue.
So when TEMPT was given the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi at MSG a few years ago, the New-York-based band saw it as a bucket-list item.
“We were led through the backstage area past the black drapes and up the stairs at the back of the stage and then there it was in front of me, The Garden!” recalls vocalist Zach Allen of the band’s sound check. “Hanging from the rafters were the retired jerseys of New York sports legends as well as the championship and Stanley Cup banners and we would be performing there! Seeing it from that perspective was completely different than being there as a fan. It was incredible.”
Guitarist Harrison Marcello appreciated the professionalism and musicianship Bon Jovi offered.
“He went out of his way to greet us and put us at ease and his entire team did everything they could to make sure that the night was a success for us,” says Marcello. “It was a great example of how a well-run organization works and treats people. His band came out during our show and were cheering us from the wings. They even allowed us to leave all of our gear in place on the stage after our soundcheck and did theirs around us which is unheard of.
ED Magazine spoke with Allen and Marcello of TEMPT — courtesy of StripJointsMusic.com — about being musicians in the COVID era, how they’re reinventing rock music and their single “Living Dangerous.”
ED: Your bio says you’ve reinvented rock music for the modern age — in your own words, how have you reinvented it?
ALLEN: We have always been drawn to music that features incredible musicianship. Many of these artists were from the rock era of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, so naturally our music incorporates that same aesthetic into our performance and songwriting. The best feeling is seeing our friends enjoying themselves at our shows, having never been to a rock show before. Some of our friends have never heard a proper guitar solo, let alone seen them, so it really hooks people! Partying to a DJ is one thing, watching people actually play is another.
MARCELLO: For me, guitarists from Jeff Beck to Randy Rhoads inspired me just as the great drummers, singers and bass players from the great bands over the last few decades from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Rush to Def Leppard inspired the rest of the guys. These are the players that influenced us as musicians. At the same time, we also grew up listening to a variety of artists from Taylor Swift to Kanye West to the latest synthwave. All of this naturally came together in what we do. It’s good guitar-driven rock and roll with a modern sound.
“(“Living Dangerous”) represents what we are about as a band: having a positive attitude and unapologetically living every day to the fullest, which is how we strive to be daily. Each one of us gets to shine in this song, with Nick’s thundering drums in the intro, Harrison’s slick guitar work, Chris’ sweeping bass line in the bridge, and the soaring vocals throughout. It just seemed a perfect intro for us to the world.” — Zach Allen
ED: How did you link up with Dorothy for “Living Dangerous”?
ALLEN: As a new band, our record company suggested we have a feature artist on our first single to increase our visibility.
MARCELLO: With that in mind, it was important to us that we had someone who had some real credibility and authenticity and Dorothy has that! We had actually met her manager, Chris Nilsson through our producer Chris Lord-Alge and he made the connection for us. Not only is she a great singer but she is also dedicated. She put everything into the song and the video. We couldn’t have had a better person to work with.
ALLEN: Even though we all knew that Dorothy was a great singer and would be great for the song, we still were not prepared for when we got the mix back. We were blown away. She completely matched the energy and vibe of the song. In fact, upon first listen, I thought her voice was mine! I couldn’t even tell the difference.
ED: How did you arrive on “Living Dangerous” to be the lead single on your debut album? MARCELLO: It was really the strong consensus pick of the band, the label and our managers. It was a video of us performing the song live that was seen by legendary rock journalist Malcolm Dome that led to our being signed so it seemed a fitting pick to introduce us. It was also one of the first songs we wrote for this album, and it represents a point in time where we really became a band.
ALLEN: The song represents what we are about as a band: having a positive attitude and unapologetically living every day to the fullest, which is how we strive to be daily. Each one of us gets to shine in this song, with Nick’s thundering drums in the intro, Harrison’s slick guitar work, Chris’ sweeping bass line in the bridge, and the soaring vocals throughout. It just seemed a perfect intro for us to the world.
MARCELLO: It’s also a great starting point for the album as the fans will be coming along on a changing sonic journey with us as the album progresses.
ED: Have you found renewed importance in being a musician given what people are dealing with and how music can help people cope with all the nerve-wracking news in the world these days?
ALLEN: Absolutely. It is a privilege to be a musician. There is nothing better than having someone tell you that your music helped them through a tough time. We’re so happy to be there for our fans through thick and thin.
MARCELLO: For many people music offers comfort or escape or simply fun. It enhances experiences creating a soundtrack for their lives. That certainly hasn’t changed. It perhaps has become amplified during the pandemic but people are always facing challenges and triumphs. That, after all, is the human experience and music is, and will always be, an important part of that.
ED: During COVID, have you found you’ve turned to music more than normal — be it honing your craft, writing, or escaping, or all of the above?
MARCELLO: Being trapped inside for the entire start of the pandemic certainly left us with a lot of time to be creative and to work on music but also we undertook a lot of fun projects to try and stay connected to each other and the fans. We did a number of live concerts that we streamed and also did a series of video chats where we streamed interviews with music business professionals and where we played and talked about our favorite music. So we tried to stay upbeat and positive and still have some fun.
ALLEN: Music has been a steady source of comfort throughout these extremely unpredictable and challenging times. From the professional side, my bandmates and I have fortunately been able to work on lots of new material together. From the music fan side, I have enjoyed finding new artists/bands in addition to diving back into some of my favorite classic albums.
ED: StripJoints services DJs at gentlemen’s clubs nationwide, so, in your words, why would “Living Dangerous” be a good choice to play at a gentlemen’s club?
ALLEN: LOL. Well, the song is about living dangerous, and there’s always an element of the unknown when going to a gentlemen’s club! Besides that, the song has an infectious beat and always gets the crowd dancing at our shows.
MARCELLO: I can really see the drum intro starting and the song playing when the ladies all line up and make their entrance. It would work great. A new modern “Kickstart My Heart” (Mötley Crüe). In fact, I can’t wait to go see it in person.
For more information, visit stripjointsmusic.com.