Ocean Adams is an individual who adopts the philosophy of all or nothing. He got into music seriously at the age of 19 writing songs, and recalls starting to sing at the age of 16. He originally came from a Scottish rural hamlet and then left home to pursue his musical aspirations, seeking out some of the opportunities afforded by the culture-driven hospitality of the big city. Finding his singing voice after composing his own songs and attending some singing lessons with an operatic performer, then carving out his vocal melodies to fit his audio creations, Adams began his journey into the world of music which resides on the precipice of something greater. In Scotland, there is an excited buzz surrounding this new modern rock band and here at Screamer Magazine we can introduce you to the developing early days of Alavano.
Scottish alternative rockers Alavano began their life as Ruff Angel in May, 2011, when front man Adams utilized the UK’s highly popular classifieds website Gumtree. Adams was writing and demoing his own songs by himself and it was his Mum who came up with the idea of Ruff Angel as a band name. “Then I put an ad on Gumtree for a band, so we just did that, took a few months to get a line up sorted and then we just kind of evolved our sound. We just kind of started looking at everything and we just thought nah we’re not too sure about Ruff Angel you know, think we need something a little bit better than that. So we looked at it again and changed the name, last summer I think it was.”
When quizzed about the origins of the name Alavano, Adams clarifies “I thought it was a random name that meant nothing, but at our gig last weekend, or the other weekend, an Italian guy came up to me and he said that it means fireplace in Italian apparently.” Out of curiosity and in the name of clarity, this journalist found after further research into the direct translation of their band name, that the word fireplace in Italian could be caminetto, focolare or camino, but there was no hint of Alavano. To impress upon how difficult it was to conjure up a suitable name for the band, Adams with a tone of sheer relief when recounting the challenge expressed says, “Although the lyrics and all that always seem to come easy to me, see the band name, it was an absolute nightmare, it was just like a brick wall every single day trying to think of something.”
Joining Adams in Alavano is rhythm guitar player Max Donaghy, Stephen Brown on lead guitar, keyboardist Alan Gen Ferg, Tom Glasgow providing bass with Craig Harkness making the beat on drums.
It becomes apparent that Adams is the focus of Alavano, so what pulled him into chasing a lifestyle in music? “Take Away the Pain, that was one of the first songs that I wrote. That was just like the break-up of a sort of first girlfriend thing you know, and that was really a heartfelt thing, it just came out of me naturally.” Adams continued with his flow of thought, “I just thought I’ve got to do something with this, and because I don’t have, I don’t have any qualifications or anything like that, I didn’t really seem to have taken a shine to anything else, that’s why I’m really all or nothing for this.”
Regarding his song writing, Adams shared an insight into a couple of the songs and their backgrounds. “What I’ll do is I’ll sort of, for instance Lion’s Gone, that’s about Alan’s (keyboard player in Alavano) Dad passing away a couple of years ago.” Then Adams reveals his technique, “I tend to look at situations and imagine myself in that situation, and sort of write based on that, you know? A song like Hollow, that’s, I’m not a hollow person.” At which point he giggles as he realizes how peculiar and awkward that could sound. “But at the time, at that moment I just kind of go down the rabbit hole for a little bit. I suppose it’s a wee bit like acting maybe you know? Immerse myself in the feelings.”
Knowing a little bit about the main songwriter and getting a feel for the background of Alavano is one thing, but when it comes down to the bands that have influenced them, you won’t instantly get a connection. Bands like Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Kasabian are listed quite openly as being major influences on Alavano. “Red Hot Chili Peppers, that’s like from the guitarist’s sort of point of view you know, but from a writing point of view that’s those bands that got me into it. What I like about those bands, what they all have in common is big catchy choruses.“ With that observation made clear, Adams then elaborates, “That’s what I’ve always, not saying that’s what I do, I try to do that you know. I think that’s why they appeal to me. I have my groove like they’ve got their own groove.”
Adams describes the sound of Alavano for those who are new to the band. “Kind of, like rock with elements of melodic sort of pop. I dunno, I had a fantasy of trying to get a cool genre title out there but I kind of dropped it, but I used to say ‘HEMrock’ which was like hard-edged melodic rock.” At which point Adams giggles again as the thought these days sits in a comedic place in his thoughts.
People drop by to read the many great articles in Screamer Magazine from all over the globe, but for anyone unfamiliar with the environment of Scotland when it comes to being an up and coming band, what does Alavano think of their country with regards to gigging? “Glasgow’s got a good music scene. It’s one of the best in the UK like, you know, especially the best in Scotland. Good responsive crowds. It’s hard when you’re starting up though, you go to loads of venues with not many people there or whatever, but now Glasgow is a good place.” Adams adds as an afterthought, “So it’s a good city with lots of good opportunities if you want to try to get a band going in Glasgow.”
Bands always have daydreams of supporting or sharing a stage with their idols, so what would be an ideal band to do a show with? “I know it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure here but, I really do love Bon Jovi, it would be with them. I just, I love them you know.” During the conversation, Adams also shares his love for Guns N’ Roses, making references to the band and their music more than once. It’s an interesting observation to see how much of an impact bands like these have had on new bands that are raising their game and putting their names out there.
The debut album at the time of this article hasn’t been released, and is currently untitled. But the songs that are gradually surfacing show a smooth radio friendly style like first single Lion’s Gone and other examples like Where You Go or Hollow. Then on the other hand, Alavano have a song like On the Rocks exhibiting a more up-tempo modern rock side. What can fans expect from the first studio album by Alavano? “On the album I suppose it’s a wee bit disjointed ‘cos we’re finding our sound,” and then Adams considers the diverse styles that will be showcased. “We’ve got one song on there that Screamer Magazine readers will like, Never, which is really classic rock; it’s got a solo on it. We’ve got another song that is more alternative, more Nirvana-esque with another up-tempo guitar solo on it.”
The untitled album contains ten tracks and the impression given by Adams is that there are many more songs being held back for a possible second release later. With the focus on this debut album being intensified with the potential of more singles being released later, the activity clearly shows confidence being invested from the record label and people behind the band. There’s certainly commercial appeal, personality and a quirky vibe to Alavano that may well put them top of many lists once they have more songs out there.
Whilst Alavano make steady progress in Scotland gradually getting their name out there, Adams considers the hardest aspect of being in a new band, and he shares his thoughts based on his own experiences. “I think it’s more to do with finding people that are as hard-core as you are. You know, or even, similar in that approach. That’s all it is. Finding folk that believe that they can actually maybe achieve something.”
With Alavano, it’s not so much a case of having an appetite for destruction, but more of an appetite for big catchy choruses. That can’t be a bad thing can it?
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