By Nick Christophers
It only seems fitting that some of the seasoned artists have come back to reenergize the music scene. This can be the case with indie rocker Alan Chapell. He has many years of experience in the tricky business of what they call the “music industry” – more on that below.
Chapell first got his feet wet at the age of 15 working with producer Jimmy Ienner on his first EP. Ienner had produced albums with acts like the Bay City Rollers and Three Dog Night and later went on to produce the Dirty Dancing films. Chapell later played with his band “All the Voices” during his College days. That band made major steps on the music circuit during their hey-day. They performed with bands like Flock of Seagulls, 10,000 Maniacs, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Rembrandts.
After collage, Alan would embark on a musical journey that would find him in India. This trip was brought on by another talented artist Kurt Cobain who convinced him to travel there. At the time he was a keyboardist playing synth-pop. “The whole grunge scene just came in and blew up everything I was doing. All the sudden, there was no work in NYC for a keyboard player. So I realized that I needed to look elsewhere.” Eventually, Chapell found what he was looking for with the east/west fusion band Kalki. Chapell loved his time in Mumbai – making a modest living writing music jingles for Indian TV. Mumbai had a thriving music scene back in those days, and Kalki was fusing new wave rock with Indian classical instruments. After writing a few songs together, the band asked if he would be interested on being the lead singer and Alan jumped into it. They ended up performing at many concerts in India and were even invited onto the Peter Gabriel World of Music and Dance tour. But the band eventually broke off.
A few years later, Alan would expand his horizon when he rekindled with an old contact Chris Frantz from the Talking Heads. Chris and Tina Weymouth used to be fans of Chapell’s band “All the Voices”. Alan had reached out to Chris when he was in search of a producer for some new tracks he was working on. Chris suggested that Chapell head out to Sausalito to meet his Talking Heads bandmate Jerry Harrison. They both hit it off immediately, and a working relationship was established along with engineer Eric “ET” Thorngren. “Jerry is one of the smartest and most cerebral producers out there”, says Chapell. “He has a keen sense of how to make music in terms of what works and what doesn’t. And Jerry is also open to experimenting with sounds and textures – we did tons of that on The Redhead’s Allegations.”
Harrison used his extensive rolodex and brought in such talents like drummer Prairie Prince (the Tubes, the Cars) and Nikita Germaine (Train). For his touring band Alan comprised a cohesive crew of Lorenza Ponce, Ann Klein, Ali Culotta and Rodney Howard. These musicians make up his band called CHAPELL.
The band has already played with such acts like Gin Blossoms, the Flobots and the Bighead Todd and the Monsters. Currently Chapell just released “Soul Man” the follow up album to “The Redhead’s Allegations” with the same crew above.
Chapell has a unique perspective on the music business. “I love the phrase – “music industry” as it implies that someone making music is actually making money. I’ve worked with some really talented, accomplished and even famous musicians. Unfortunately, all too many of them are just getting by financially. Outside of the top tier of musicians and a few tech companies, I’m not sure how much of a music industry there really is. But I’ve learned to scrape by with what I have – and have been fortunate in that I’ve been able to get by while focusing on getting my music out to as many people as possible.”
Chapell seems singularly focused on that goal of getting his music heard by many. Next stop on Chapell’s tour is a show with Milo Z and the American Nomads on May 19th at the Wall Street Theater in Norwalk, CT. He is also planning to release a third studio album in the upcoming summer and planning a tour as well. It seems the recipe of old and new seem to make a tasty dish.
Categories: Profiles of Interesting New Yorkers