Tempt’s Zach and Harrison talk to The Rockpit about the stunning debut album ‘RUNAWAY’ and how 19 year olds can be making some of the best melodic hard rock out there this year.
Many Hard Rock fans out there are looking for the next big thing, you know what we’re talking about – great melodic, hook-laden Hard Rock – the kind that we used to love back in the day and which a younger generation should be out there listening to. So often we see our ‘Best of the Year’ lists full of old names, but we have news for you – Tempt is here – a band of young kids showing the old hands how it can be done. Is this the future of Rock and Roll? You decide.
The Rockpit: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit today!
Harrison: Thanks for having us!
The Rockpit: We love the new album RUNAWAY it sounds like an album that could only be made by a bunch of old guys, but as a band you’re so young, were you really uncool listening to all this great Hard Rock as you grew up?
Harrison: LOL, first thanks and I’m glad you like the record. Surprisingly a lot of kids like rock music. I think it’s more that they don’t have their own rock music that speaks to them.
Zach: Exactly it’s their parent’s bands. We’re trying to change that.
The Rockpit: The album sounds like that of a band playing together for a long time, tell us a bit about your history as a band?
Harrison: This could be a little long, lol. Zach had been working with producer/composer Jack Ponti. At some point there was a realization that Zach really needed a partner in the vein of the Glimmer Twins or Tyler/Perry, Page/Plant etc. and Jack had seen me doing some guitar covers on YouTube and said this is the kid! You guys need to get together. We both lived in NYC and actually had a lot of friends in common. In fact it was weird that we had never run into each other.
Zach: When we first got together, it just really clicked. We liked the same bands, had a lot of common friends and lived near each other. We ended up writing about 10 songs in two months. The next logical step was for us to get into the studio and record. We felt it was an important step in our development and in our relationship and being young and impulsive we wanted to keep pushing ahead. At that point, we didn’t have a complete band to perform live. It proved very difficult to find people. When we recorded the album we were only 19 and it is hard to find other 19 year olds that have the dedication, drive and ability to perform at the level we were at so we searched for bandmates for quite a while.
Harrison: We were fortunate to cut the record with Jack Daley and Sterling Campbell as our rhythm section. After we recorded the album, the next step was performing live and it took us a little bit of time to get to the lineup we’re at now. We reconnected with Nick who was in our extended friend group in NYC even though he’s from Toronto and Max is my half brother and is just an amazing bass player.
Zach: Playing with Nick and Zach has been amazing. We will get together after not playing together for months and after one rehearsal we are gig ready. It’s crazy. We all have a similar vision and work ethic. We’ve been playing with Nick and Max for about a year and it has just elevated our live show so much. We really have the perfect lineup now and we’re looking forward to cutting the next record with this lineup.
The Rockpit: How long did the album take it come together?
Harrison: When we started the album the first thing we need was rhythm section. I had done a previous session with Jack Daley and we really got along and our producers were good friends with Sterling. I had done very extensive fully produced demos so the songs were completely arranged. We went up to an amazing studio in Vermont called Guilford Sound to cut all the basic tracks. Guilford is this amazing combination of state of the art and vintage gear with gorgeous live rooms set in the woods. Dave Snyder, the owner and his team were just amazing to work with. I remember on our arrival they had a gigantic selection of cymbals laid out on a huge oriental rug for Sterling to pick from. One of the highlights was sending Sterl out on snowshoes. We cut the tracks playing together live and the basic tracking took 2 days.
Zach: We had a great team working with us, Tag and Billy and we also had Mike Hickey who is Joe Bonamassa’s guitar tech hanging out with us. We had an amazing time. I remember at one point singing into a collection of what had to be six figures of the sweetest vintage tube mics.
Harrison: Yeah Mike hooked me up with a juicy Friedman amp, one of the Marshals, that I used extensively along with my AxeFX. I used my Suhr guitar for 90% of the record. After the basics were done, I did some additional guitars and we re-cut lead vocals and did backgrounds back in NYC at Sticky Audio Labs. The interesting thing is we ended up keeping a lot of the lead vocals that Zach did live with us in the studio. They just had a vibe. In fact all of the tracks we did at Guilford had a great vibe. Of course working with Jack and Sterling was insane and they were great with us. The first time you go to give input to players like Sterling and Jack can be intimidating but they just made it so easy and cool and they respected the vision I had on the arrangements. That didn’t keep them from making some cool suggestions as well. It was just a great experience.
Zach: I think we finished all of the recording and editing and comping in about 3 weeks. Then it was mixed by Michael and Mario and each song was mixed in about a day with revisions.
The Rockpit: What sort of bands did you collectively listen to growing up? Where does your sound come from?
Harrison: My parents love music and their idea of great music to play for a baby was The Beatles and Motown so I was exposed to everything from rap to soul to rock to funk to classical. My first concert they took me to when I was about 5 was Rush where everybody in the place kept telling them, “you’re raising him right!”! They listened to everything in our house. Trips in the family car were always filled with music with different mix CDs. I vividly remember the first time I heard Round and Round and just going WOW what is that! Once I started playing the guitar, a lot of my listening tended to focus toward guitar driven music: Rhoads, Lynch, Lifeson, Steve Clark and we’d often listen to Keith Roth on Sirius/XM’s Boneyard or Hair Nation. I also was studying classical guitar and listened to a lot of John Williams. Later as I began to focus and analyze production I of course started to listen to everything by Mutt Lange. Especially Hysteria which I’ve played a few thousand times but also his work with other artists such as Foreigner and Shania. The guy is a genius.
Zach: I was raised listening to music that featured big guitars and big vocal hooks. Rock bands from the 60s, 70s, and 80s were huge influences, from The Beatles and their iconic harmonies, to Led Zep and Aerosmith. We were drawn in by great musicianship and great songwriting. Personally, I am influenced by the great singers of the era, such as Steven Tyler, Lou Gramm, Joe Elliott, etc.
The Rockpit: There’s a great underlying melodic Hard Rock sound of the album and there’s plenty of variety in there – almost every song makes you think of a different classic band from back in the day but somehow you manage to stamp your own sound on it – what did you want to achieve when you put the album together?
Harrison: Thanks so much. Obviously 70’s and 80’s rock had a big influence on us. We’ve listened to a lot of it but we didn’t set out to make a particular sounding record or to write in a specific style. I’m also a guitar player so a lot of the writing starts from that perspective. We did want to spend the time and compose songs that were melodic and that in a sense followed a more traditional song structure with verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridges. The hardest part of the process is staying true to yourself and not worry about things such as is this a hit or will this appeal to a certain demographic. A lot of our peer group has never been to a rock concert, they think watching a DJ pretend to cut records and waiting for the drop is amazing. We can’t worry about that. We’re doing this for ourselves and we hope that there are some people that will get it and will want to come along on the ride.
Zach: We don’t view this record as a recreation or throwback to a time period or style. This is us and our music. Of course it is influenced by what we grew up listening to. Just as The Stones took Chuck Berry as an influence or Led Zep used WIllie Dixon as an influence, okay maybe that was more than an influence but you get the idea LOL.
The Rockpit: There’s a great use of backing vocals that you don’t often hear these days do you all sing?
Zach: Everyone sings live but Nick. On the record the backgrounds are me and Harrison. Our producer, Tag sang on everything with us and we had some other friends that we used in different mixes for songs. For some of the tracks, we wanted a big vocal sound and adding some other voices with different flavors and textures gives it a different sound than just having the 3 of us multi-track it. A lot of the approach to the record was about doing it live and capturing performances. This applied to the background vocals as well. So many recordings even rock recordings rely on tweaking performances whether just changing timing or auto tune. We didn’t do any of that. We went for performances warts and all.
Harrison: When I demoed the songs and worked out the vocal arrangements we got a pretty big sound with just us singing. Our producers suggested bringing in some people to sing with us on the group parts. I think the first track we tried it on was “Comin’ On To You” and it was just crazy. It sounded amazing and it was just plain fun to do. The interaction with people is what makes music so cool and the sessions where we were all gathered around the mic singing were really, really fun.
The Rockpit: There’s some pretty big choruses shot through the album, some great hooks, killer riffs and great energy – how would you describe what you’ve created?
Harrison: Thanks again. Certainly we wanted our songs to be melodic and hooky. I would describe it as a rock record. We wrote a record that was reflective of our lives at this moment. Really, this record is something we would want to listen to.
Zach: A lot of music that now fills what is termed the Rock genre is very aggressive and angry. We wanted to create something that was fun but still had that rock swagger.
The Rockpit: You name the album after a slower number RUNAWAY it’s a great song and one that we reckon would have dented the charts seriously back in the day – where does the inspiration some from for a track like that?
Harrison: We picked Runaway as the title for the album because it reflects us going in our own direction. Musically Run Away started with the chorus chord progression and then the idea for the lyric. I also wanted to play with the idea of Runaway and Run Away. It’s prob not clear from the album art, I know that some of the streaming has it wrong, but the song is actually Run Away and the album is Runaway. From there the rest of the lyrics and music really flowed.
The Rockpit: There are plenty of Melodic Rock bands out there producing great material these days but listening to your album we feel there’s far more to TEMPT than many of your newer rivals and even the bands of the past still putting out new material – where does the energy come from?
Harrison: I think the energy comes from a couple of places. Both of us before we got together had a similar vision musically and before we got together and wrote there was a lot of energy waiting to explode. We also both grew up in New York City. This place has a lot of energy it runs through every part of your life.
Zach: Oh definitely NYC has a lot to do with it. It shaped who we are. Going back to what we said earlier, this record is real, it’s us. We’re not trying to be anything. We’re doing our thing and I think that translates to energy.
The Rockpit: ‘Aamina’ is a great song, but odd name, did you just go for a girl’s name no other band had used before or is there something more personal to it?
Zach: Harrison this is all you.
Harrison: Ok as we said and I think is expected, we write about our life and experiences. There is another track on our album called Sapphire which is about a place. A club in NYC. specifically a strip club in NYC. When you’re under 21 in the USA you can’t drink so you have fake IDs or learn what clubs will let you in. You develop relationships with door people etc. Sapphire also had a cool Sunday night rock hang. Aamina was a dancer that worked there. So Sapphire and Aamina are connected and give a bit of a glimpse into teenage life in NYC.
Zach: Aamina is one of our favorites and we usually close our live shows with it.
The Rockpit: In our opinion RUNAWAY is one of the best melodic Hard Rock releases of recent years but with the scene so hard these days to get noticed how will you make a splash? What can fans do for you?
Harrison: I think we have to take a similar approach that we took when we made the record. We can’t worry about making a splash. We have to stay true to ourselves and let things develop somewhat organically. We’re lucky because Derek and Rock Candy really get us. From this interview, it’s obvious that you get it. Not everyone does. We just have to put the work in, playing shows and keep doing what we’re doing. When our peer group sees us live, they love it. Many have never really seen a rock show. So the more people we can get our live show in front of and the more people who can listen to the record the better. I would love to do a show in front of a real pop audience such as Miley, Britney, Gaga whoever because I think we could win them over and bring them over to the rock side! For our fans, we just ask them to buy the record and to turn people on to it. Social media is also important. Like us, follow us and also rate and review the record wherever you can. Request on radio by calling your local FM rock station. All of that is so important.
Zach: There’s been so much recent talk about rock music being dead. That’s obviously not true. Rock remains a huge money maker especially live. But so much of the rock scene is older bands. Are they going to step up and support a new generation in the way they were supported or are they going to succumb to the economics of the new music business and continue to be part of a culture of buy-ons and other payments. There are some great stories of bands like Kiss taking Rush out on the road with them as support and treating them like gold. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. When Whitesnake goes on a world tour does Brad Whitford’s blues band really need that gig? Are promoters so worried that Whitesnake can’t fill the venues they’re booked in? Are the only viable “new” bands re-grouping of established musicians like The Dead Daisies? I’m not disrespecting any of these bands who I love and admire and I’m certainly not whining. We’re willing to pay our dues just like everyone else did. Just pointing out the problems that young bands face from a USA perspective. On a local level, it’s similar. There used to be true impresarios like Don Hill in NYC who ran the Cat Club and later his own place that fostered and developed local music. Outside of cities like Nashville where the music scene remains vibrant everyone is just trying to squeeze an immediate dollar without any long term look.
The Rockpit: Who are your biggest influences?
Harrison: For me right now it’s Mutt Lange. Great song writer, innovator producer. I have so many questions for him and I would love to be able to work with him.
Zach: Steven Tyler remains a huge influence. We also had the pleasure of opening for Tom Keifer and he is amazing. What a performer and songwriter.
The Rockpit: We saw you at Rocklahoma alongside one of our local Australian bands Ragdoll what are your best memories of that date?
Harrison: Other than Corn Dogs? That was a really fun experience and we really enjoyed Ragdoll. Leon is a great performer. We created download cards that looked like backstage pass laminates that we handed out to people at the festival to promote the performance time of our show. At one point, we watched as people actually used them to get past security and come backstage. it was hysterical.
Zach: Don’t forget about the Moink Balls. The laminates were fun. In fact on that same tip we had a friend who was there with JJ French from Twisted and we were trying to connect with him and her and when we finally did for dinner later at The Hard Rock, she said, “I was trying to find you guys all day. I kept seeing members of your road crew and asking where you were and they acted like they had no idea who you were!” Those laminates were too good!
Harrison: ROK was also part of our first real tour and we got to play in some fun cities on the way out and back including Nashville where Michael Wagener came to see us live for the first time at the legendary Basement. There were a few raised eyebrows when we were rolling in the Marshall stack there.
Zach: Nashville was awesome. A good friend of the band, Paul Gordon from the B-52s, took us to see Vince Gill and The Time Jumpers there. It was amazing. One thing about Nashville is that they love all kinds of music. If you can play, they accept you and welcome you. People there are going out to see music every night. So ROK was the motivation and anchor for a very fun couple of weeks.
The Rockpit: Where can we catch you live?
Harrison: Right now we are playing around our home base of NYC and the East Coast of the US. We are planning a tour of the UK and other parts of Europe for the fall.
Zach: We would love to come to Australia!
The Rockpit: What’s the best way fans can connect with the band?
Harrison: Facebook is really easy, we answer questions there all the time and certainly I think that is our main social but we’ve recently got our Twitter and Instagram more active. facebook.com/temptband Instagram: temptband Twitter: tempt band Website: Temptband.com
Zach: They can also email us at email@example.com one of us always responds. We love hearing from people.
The Rockpit: We always finish with a few questions we ask everyone – the first is what was it that made you all realize that music was the life for you? Was it a moment of inspiration or a gradual progression?
Harrison: While music was always in my life, I didn’t start to play until I was in high school. Then it just took me over. It’s a passion. So for me it was a lightning bolt that struck.
Zach: Music has always been in my life ever since I was 4 years old. I would religiously watch music videos and live concert DVDs, wanting to emulate different front men and bands. Then when I was about 10 I started singing and I knew that music was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. There were definitely little moments of inspiration, such as seeing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video for the first time, but overall it was a gradual progression.
The Rockpit: If you could have been a fly on the wall in the studio for the creation of any great album just to see how the magic happened what would it have been for you and why?
Harrison: Well I’ve let the cat out of the bag on this already, Hysteria without question. It’s a
Zach: It would definitely be Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet.” It’s such an amazing album with so many hit songs on it. It is actually one of the first albums that I ever bought and it is still one of my favorite rock records. I would have loved to sit in on the writing sessions with Desmond Child for such iconic songs like Livin’ on a Prayer or You Give Love a Bad Name. Plus, Jon Bon Jovi is one of my favorite singers, so I’d love to watch him track vocals!
The Rockpit: And to close – the easy one – what is the meaning of life?
Zach: This is another one for Harrison
Harrison: LOL, You ever listen to Sam Harris’ podcasts?
The Rockpit: What is the best thing people out there can do to support TEMPT?
Zach: Buy the physical CD. Spread the word. Call radio stations. Call promoters. Rate and review the album. Share our social media posts with you friends.
Harrison: What he said. Thanks for this interview. It was fun and these are super important in getting the word out.