Once upon a time, Harrison Marcello and Zack Allen, two college friends, decided to start a band. And they declared that their band would be named Tempt. The band would not be a pop band, nor a screaming metal band, nor an alternative band, but a melodic hard rock band; catchy, guitar-driven songs with real guitar solos, such as were popular in the late 80’s. Even through by 2014 the genre was not particularly trendy, the friends did not care, as they were true to their craft. And they attracted the attention of a big-name producer, who carefully polished the sound, until an album of irresistibly memorable songs were ready. And only then did the friends release the songs into the world.
Alas, given the fickle nature of the music industry, their songs were not noticed far and wide, and the band sank into oblivion. But lo and behold! A great miracle was about to occur! Marcello and Allen did a cover of the song Women, originally recorded by the rock gods known as Def Leppard. And the rock gods heard the cover and trumpeted their approval through the medium known as Twitter. Having been blessed by the gods, rock fans around the globe thus began to finally notice Tempt after all these years. And thus, all was finally well with the two friends who had toiled so hard.
When asked to fill in the story of what transpired between then and now, Marcello explains: “So basically, Zach and I recorded the record about four years ago.” After being told that Screamer ran a feature on the band in May, 2014, Harrison concurs. “That last piece was 2014 or something like that, so it was a while ago. And we were both still in college at the time. It was just really hard for us to commit to finishing school and the band in a way that would make anything realistically happen. Because, as anyone finds out when they start or join a band, you have to be grinding on that 24/7 as your main job because there’s so many factors you have to deal with.”
At the time of Screamer’s original article, the magazine was given advance tracks to review. “You heard the record before it was officially released. We had done a distribution deal with Rock Candy, which is a great label. So the actual official release of that record was back in 2016, about a year and a half ago. In today’s craziness that is the music industry with everything being so kind of DIY and people figuring out totally different pathways to success, we were kind of just trying to test the water and figure out how to get this to as many people as possible.”
On March 2, the video to Under My Skin was released. The song itself is fun to begin with and the video just puts everything over-the-top-crazy.
“We did the video about a year and a half ago, at the end of 2016 in New York City. That took a while, too. There was a lot of prep for that video, lots of filming and editing so we kind of decided to wait as long as possible to release that. And the release of the Under My Skin video just happened to coincide with us doing a bunch of these YouTube videos. Of course, the Def Leppard retweet of our cover that we did gave us a huge boost, but the whole time we’ve been writing, playing and producing and we’re going to have a bunch of new songs, potentially. Another EP or full-length album coming out hopefully this summer.”
A band at the level of Def Leppard must get hundreds of emails a day from fans seeking contact and musicians looking for advice. Just the odds of getting through must be astronomical; not just the daunting numbers, but also the layers of management, publicity and website administrators that guard access. Harrison explains how they won that lottery, so to speak.
“It was totally random, actually. We were in a rehearsal for our latest show. And we got…I think either Zach or Nick [drummer Nicholas Burrows] had just seen them post it in their Instagram feed. They also retweeted it on Twitter and shared it on Facebook. We were like, ‘Whoa! Holy shit, they fucking retweeted our video!”
“We had tweeted it out a few times at them and sent them some direct messages. And funnily enough, the day before they did the whole social media sharing of our video…Rick Allen, the drummer in Def Leppard, is the only one that has a personal Twitter account. The rest of the band members just use the band’s Twitter. But he had responded to our tweet from four days prior, saying, ‘Very cool.’ And that was totally out of the blue and we thought, ‘Okay, wow. That’s awesome. He saw it. He acknowledged it. That’s that.’”
“And then the next day was like the full-on social media barrage from them and that was pretty amazing. Because I’m a huge Def Leppard fan. I’m a huge fan, especially of the production, of the songwriting. And to be able to kind of do that song and add something to it and have them appreciate that work that went into it was fantastic and just basically, I’m awestruck at that point.”
Because several years had elapsed between Tempt’s debut album and the video, many people might have logically assumed that the band had broken up. “We were kind of dormant in the sense that we were playing shows in the city and still building a fanbase here. But to be able to kind of get that social presence up and to have people who are now interested in the music because of that exposure and being interested in what’s going to be coming in the future, it feels like all this kind of behind-the-scenes planning and work that’s gone into everything is finally coming to fruition. It’s a great feeling, and we’re just going to keep playing shows and keep putting out more content. We’re actually working on a Queen cover. I won’t say the song but it’s going to be a good one. We should have it out in like a week or so. I think people will really like it. It’s going to be a cool cover.”
Along with the renewed interest in the band is a revamped lineup. The core is the same, with Allen on lead vocals and Marcello playing guitar, but the rhythm section is new: the afore-mentioned Nicholas Burrows on drums and Chris Gooden on bass. When it is mentioned that Burrows, with his below-the-shoulder length hair looks the part of a musician in a hard rock band but Gooden, a tall, skinny black guy who’s always wearing sunglasses looks like he’d be more at home in a R&B band, Marcello laughs heartily.
“Well, yeah, he’s a funny guy because he’s a genuine music lover of all types. He’ll walk into rehearsal with a Metallica shirt one day and a Biggie Smalls shirt the next day. So he’s somebody that just loves music. And, yeah, Nick looks the part. Everyone loves rock music, honestly, or you wouldn’t be in a rock band. But everyone has their own kind of niche tastes and that’s been bringing a lot to the new music we’re doing and I feel like our sound is starting to really…I mean, it was always kind of like a more modern take on that arena rock, ’70s/’80s aesthetic. But I feel like now we’re starting to develop a more unique sound to us that still has that hard rock edge but with some more different production elements and stuff, and they’ve been a huge help in that. This is the building of a real kind of band structure. It’s not just Zach and I on our own, constantly changing out drummers and bass players, and that’s given us a huge boost. It feels like a cohesive unit with everyone contributing, writing, helping with the production, so I feel like that this is the year that it’s really going to start taking off. We’re definitely looking forward to releasing a lot of that new music and excited to hear what people have to say about it.”
A hard rock band covering a Def Leppard song is a natural, but Tempt has also posted videos of songs that might cause a listener to do a double-take: their spin on Taylor Swift’s I Did Something Bad and Don’t Blame Me.
Harrison explains: “I think what’s been doubly cool with that is it’s getting other fans on board to your sound through songs they like. I think it’s also shown that what people like Gene Simmons and Eddie Trunk are saying that rock is dead and guitar sounds are dead just isn’t true. What we’ve seen is that people who are fans of Taylor Swift, like 14-year-old girls commenting on our YouTube videos, are loving the rock sound. And like, ‘Wow. This is so amazing. This is a totally different vibe and we really dig it.’ So, I think it was a way to kind of…it’s a way we can reach into the younger generation and show them through their own kind of music and their own passion and to kind of get them on the rock side, you know what I mean?”
And so, energized and encouraged by the rock gods known as Def Leppard, brothers Harrison, Allen, Burrows and Gooden emerged determined to carry on their sacred mission; namely to prove the naysayers wrong, that music driven by the blessed six-string instrument known as the electric guitar is not dead, and to carry that holy message on to a new generation of believers.