Interview With Alessandro Del Vecchio
A man that truly needs no introduction to any of us, Alessandro Del Vecchio, who has writing credits, production credits and/or playing credits with bands and artists such as Revolution Saints, Ted Poley, Hardline, Edge Of Forever, Level 10, L.R.S. and Find Me to name only a few, is one of the most well known and well respected men in the world within the melodic rock and AOR genres.
As a producer, writer, musician, singer and vocal coach the man is easily one of the most talented individuals in the industry as well as being one of the nicest and most humble ones I have ever had the privilege of speaking with.
Kindly agreeing to sit and answer some questions with me for the site, the following interview took place.
MMR: You are obviously an incredibly talented guy. You produce, write, play and sing. What was your first introduction to music?
ADV: Thank you, David. My first memory of music is my dad playing 70’s classic rock records and my mom singing all day long 🙂 But the day I decided to be a musician was when I first heard ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. That was a changer!
MMR: A classic song to be sure!
Now you are most widely known as a producer, keyboardist and writer but you are in fact quite am accomplished vocalist as well and front the band Edge Of Forever who you have one fantastic record with where you provided lead vocals. Well actually I believe there were a couple of demos around 2006, but your first studio album was 2010’s ‘Another Paradise’. You were also bandmates with drummer Francesco Jovino in the band who also plays with Hardline. Now I believe it was Bob Harris who originally fronted the band. How did it come about that you went from keyboards and backing vocals to the lead singer of Edge Of Forever?
ADV: Well, you might not know, but I originally sang all demos for Edge Of Forever, even when Bob was in the band. I never felt I was the right singer, but when we had to tour and Bob couldn’t do it I told myself to just got for it. The band liked it, people liked it and here we are.
MMR: Interesting. I knew you had some demos with them but I never realized that you were originally the lead singer. It worked out great though as you are a fantastic singer and your voice fits so well with the band.
I believe I read that the band were signed to Frontiers Records and are working on a new album. Can you tell us anything about that record? Will it be in the same vein as ‘Another Paradise’?
ADV: It’s in the same vein of ‘Against The Wall’ but a bit more deep into the groove and the darker side of EOF. It’s very melodic but you know EOF is more of a hard rock act than AOR. We’re in the middle of production of the album and it’s gonna be out in Spring. I’m very excited as we’ve been silent for quite a few years. Honestly it’s mostly my fault. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the production and writing duties I’ve been asked. In my nature there isn’t the word “no” when it comes to music so between tours and albums my time to dedicate to EOF has always been not much til now.
MMR: That is certainly understandable, you are quite a busy man obviously with all of your different duties there. But outstanding, I can’t wait to hear the new record.
Let’s move on to something else I am very excited about. The new Hardline record. Having just dropped yesterday, ‘Human Nature’ is studio album number five for the band and album number two for you with them. I have always been a Hardline fan. I don’t think anyone that likes this genre would disagree that ‘Double Eclipse’ is an absolute classic. Johnny Gioeli has one of the best voices in rock, period, and a super cool dude to boot. The pure emotion he is able to harness with that voice is truly a God-given gift. Your first record with the band, 2012’s outstanding ‘Danger Zone’, saw the band taking a more melodic turn, much to your credit as you wrote much of the record if I am not mistaken, and it was my favorite Hardline record since the debut up until this new one released. I had the privilege of talking with Johnny a few months ago and he mentioned that the two of you had been sharing files over the internet and talking on the phone constantly during the making of this album. What was the writing process like for this record with you being in different parts of the world?
ADV: Luckily in this day and age living in two different parts of the world and making music is easier thanks to Skype, phones, e-mails and internet in general. It’s less romantic but timing and budgets are totally different than more romantic era’s of our music. We constantly shared ideas over the internet until we got to a point where, the both of us, the band and the label were totally satisfied of the album. It’s been written over a long period but recorded in a month. I think this has made the whole sound a bit more organic and heavier as we didn’t want to overproduce anything. If you come to a show of ours you get the same sound and vision. These songs are born to be played live cause Hardline is a live act too and we don’t wanna throw that away and not being able to choose some songs because we need a playback track to be able to do everything. We banged the songs like in a rehearsal room.
MMR: Well everything that you did worked because the record turned out phenomenally. And I like that you wrote it and recorded it so it could all be played the same way live. It has always annoyed me when bands record an album with stuff they can’t do the same way in a show.
Johnny mentioned to me that he had channeled some of his inner Axel Rudi Pell on this record. How would you define the sound of this album compared to the past Hardline records?
ADV: It’s just a bit heavier, but it’s Hardline 100%. To me ‘Double Eclipse’ has never been a melodic rock record. It’s a hard rock record. It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s sexy, it’s bluesy, it’s spontaneous, rageous and it’s a constant series of punches in the face at every spin. But the ballads are amazing. So we wanted to keep that vision mixed with the history of all the other records. Keep the melody and the hooks but go deep and heavy.
MMR: Well you accomplished it. It’s heavy, rocking and just completely awesome.
I know Johnny’s favorite, or at least one of his favorites, songs from the new Hardline album is ‘Take You Home’. Which track is your favorite?
ADV: Same track for the same reasons. I was at the piano in my house and I wrote this music in a matter of minutes and send it to Johnny. I always heard his voice doing it and “here we are now” 🙂
MMR: Wow, such a beautiful song and written in minutes. That is amazing! You did a wonderful job on it.
You’re the in-house producer for Frontiers Records, one of the biggest contributors to the continuing success of the melodic rock genre. What Serafino (Perugino, founder of Frontiers) has done with the label and the bands he has been influential putting together is nothing short of genius when it comes to melodic rock. How did you become a part of this fantastic label?
ADV: It’s been a long story, but a short story too. Edge Of Forever was proposed to Frontiers way back in 2003 but we went to MTM Music, their competitors back then. But Frontiers was distributing MTM in Italy so we kinda knew each other. Then, one day I just sent them an e-mail saying I wanted them to check my later works in order to maybe collaborate on something. I never did such a thing but my instinct told me it was the right time to do it. Elio of Frontiers got back to me asking if I had songs which I hadn’t so I closed myself in my studio at the time and wrote a bunch of tunes. At the third tune Serafino wrote and said “do you wanna write for Johnny Gioeli?” And that’s how it all started. Serafino is my mentor. He trusted in me and gave me his best artists to work with. He never failed to back me. He is amazing in what he does. Frontiers roster says it all. It’s pretty evident when you have the best bands of the genre on your label. That takes balls and guts.
MMR: That is cool! All because you went out of your comfort zone and did something you wouldn’t normally do, now you are one of the biggest names of the genre! Serafino, Frontiers and all of the folks there have completely revitalized the genre and breathed a new life into it. He has been so influential in giving bands and artists a second chance and reintroducing so many back to the fans.
Obviously working for such a prestigious label you have had the privilege and opportunity to work with some of the biggest names of the genre and some of the greatest musicians and singers the world has to offer. Are there any that have really been highlights of your career to be working with?
ADV: Hardline, Revolution Saints, Fergie Fredriksen, Ted Poley and Resurrection Kings. But I should name them all. I’m also a big fan of these cats so the journey is always amazing. I happen to produce and write and play for people I grew up listening to their music. Isn’t that crazy?
MMR: It is crazy. And amazing. Most of us dream of simply meeting these guys that we admire and look up to so much, you get to not only meet them but work with them, it is incredible. And now look at you, you ARE one of those guys that people look up to and admire. You say it is a privilege to be working with these guys, and that it is, but at this point you can’t think that it is not also a privilege for them to be working with you now!
To piggyback on that, I mentioned Frontiers and Serafino as being paramount in keeping the genre alive but let’s not forget your considerable contributions. You have been a game changer for the genre. Several years ago it seemed you couldn’t look at a hit song or record without seeing names such as Desmond Child or Diane Warren attached to it in some way. These days you can hardly see an album that doesn’t have the name Alessandro Del Vecchio on it somewhere. I have said it many times before but I truly believe that yourself and Erik Martensson are responsible for about 90% of all melodic rock that is coming out these days. Did you ever think that you would be, not only sitting down and talking to, but writing music for and playing music with some of the greatest artists the world has known?
ADV: I always dreamed of doing it and worked hard, very hard. Remember where I came from. It’s Italy. It’s the most desperate place on Earth for rock ‘n’ roll. So the struggle was double, triple than anybody else 😉 But I worked hard and I tried to keep my ethic always high and strong. I wanted to be the best musician I could but also the best human being. Being good and being an idiot doesn’t pay off at the end. It’s amazing that you mention Erik Martensson. We met the first time something like 10 years ago and both of us didn’t know what could have happened. We shared stories, dreams and we both promised ourselves to do something together. We were not even imagining we would have been here today like this. Erik is the guy I always look from the distance to see how the genre can be topped. He is amazing and we share mutual respect and a nice friendship which never went down over the years. And every time we meet we always say “when is it time to do our record together”?. I really hope this can come very soon.
MMR: He is an amazingly talented guy. The two of you working together would be incredible! Instant album of the year, guaranteed right there!
You obviously write for many many different artists and bands with differing vocal and musical styles. Do you bring out songs that were previously unused that you wrote or do you write new songs for each project?
ADV: Every time I write from scratch. I write for the singer and the band, not myself. Sometimes it happens that a song that didn’t work for someone might work for somebody else but I always prefer to write in the moment for the singular artist.
MMR: Well that pretty much answers my next questions. Do you tailor each song you write towards the particular artist you are writing for or do you just write what is in you and they get what they get?
ADV: If I write what’s in me it’s a song I gotta keep for myself or my own bands. I never get too personal when I write for someone else even if reading the lyrics of Revolution Saints you might see a lot of me. In that case I wrote for Deen (Castronovo) and wrote all lyrics that could be motivational. He’s Christian and for the first time in my life I wrote for that point of view. Funny, I’m not Christian, but I identified myself into the values and found more of myself into those lyrics than most others I wrote for myself.
MMR: Further proof you are an exceptional writer! You can take beliefs that you don’t paticularly identify with and write such amazing songs for someone else.
Well to follow that question up, with writing for different artists you of course write much more material than the normal artist does. You consistently deliver song after song and album after album of some truly great music. Where in the hell does all of that inspiration come from?
ADV: Honestly, I don’t think I write a lot. I know it sounds strange, but I just write when I need to write. If nothing comes out I’m just telling everyone “I got nothing inside, sorry”. And it happened. I rejected a lot of writing works just because I couldn’t get any idea done. I’m a very driven person so I think inspiration comes because I dig deep into myself and what I do.
MMR: Speaking of inspiration, who have some of your musical influences been with writing, singing and playing?
ADV: The list would be super long. I like singers that tell stories. When I was younger I didn’t care about lyrics (how stupid you can be when you’re a teenager???) but now to me lyrics have to matter. If they don’t the whole song falls in pieces. I can tell you my favorite artists nowadays, that’s much easier. Tedeschi Turcks Band and Warren Haynes. These two guitarists and Susan and just beyond the standard. Warren Haynes is also one of my favorite vocalists of all times!
MMR: Oh yeah, fantastic voice! He is actually from a neighboring city here in North Carolina.
How do you come about writing for a new project? Do the artists ask you to contribute or is it part of the deal with Frontiers or is just a case by case thing?
ADV: When we approach to a production I always ask what the artist needs. Sometimes it’s just the production, sometimes they need a boost of songs and sometimes you gotta guide them through the whole process. It all changes artist to artist. Some still have something to say and others don’t. So I just sit wherever I have to sit to accomplish the artist’s and label’s vision.
MMR: Very cool. So case by case really and anything from just producing all the way to holding their hand all the way through.
Are you currently working on any new projects you can tell us anything about aside from the Edge Of Forever record?
ADV: I’m obviously doing more than just EOF. But not many have been told to the press yet so all I can say is that I have some very cool albums in the can. One is with Kee Marcello and a German singer. And the others…;)
MMR: Very exciting! I know they will all be fantastic, whatever they may be.
Going back to the mention of file sharing. These days, especially with all of the supergroups that Frontiers puts together, file sharing is much more prominent now than it was back in the 90’s when bands like Contraband first recorded an album in separate places. Does it make the recording process more difficult trying to record an album with the band members in different areas of the world or has technology progressed so far now that it is just as easy as being together?
ADV: It’s much more difficult and much more easy. The good side is that I sit in my studio and don’t have to scratch my head how to get it done and the down side is that I sit in my studio and don’t have to scratch my head on how to get it done LOL! You have to know that most of my albums are done in my studio. People fly to Italy or I do fly in the States or Germany whenever and get it done. I prefer to follow the recordings as much as I can. When I can’t I’m on Skype and beat them hard anyway LOL! Hardline has been done 90% in my studio and you can hear it. Revolution Saints has been done in America and I was there and you can hear it. Fergie (Frederikson) was done here, Ted (Poley) the same, LRS too. You can hear the difference.
MMR: Obviously one of the downfalls of living in the computer and digital age is that bands are losing money by people not purchasing the albums and piracy and all of that shit that goes on. On the other hand you have tools like social media that bring you closer to your fans and help you reach a broader audience then you would have 20 years ago. Being a part of the music industry in many ways yourself, how do you think the internet and social media have affected the music industry, good or bad?
ADV: Oh well. It’s good and bad. It’s good because the internet brought people closer, it’s bad because the value of things that could be digitalized was totally lost. Younger people don’t understand that digital art has a value because they just see it as a file on a computer desktop. So sad, but that’s where we are and gotta live with it and do our best to make a change.
MMR: Very true. And I think a lot of it is done in an unknowing way. I believe most young people just do not realize the damage that they do to artists with all of the piracy and downloading. Most artists these days, especially in this genre, are not millionaires and living in huge mansions, they are just regular Joes that are trying to scrape by and make a living like the rest of us by doing what they love, which just happens to be sharing their music with the world. But it is sad, yet, as you said, an evil we have to live with these days.
Moving on, this year has been utterly phenomenal for the melodic rock genre. Release after release have blown me away. The Ted Poley record is brilliant, I am a sucker for all things Ted Poley, I just love that guy. His energy and love for what he does is so infectious. The Defiants album is outstanding. First Signal, Jorn, Sunstorm. The new band Cruzh knocked my socks off. The list goes on and on. It is truly an exciting year for music, and it is not even over yet. And those are just the releases from Frontiers! Other labels have released some incredible titles as well. The new Bulletrain record is a piece of art. Michael Sweet’s album is fantastic. As an intricate part of, not only the music industry, but the melodic rock genre as a whole, what do you feel is the future of the genre? Here in the States, as you know, the genre is sadly not highly regarded. The European and Asian markets are really the lifeblood of the genre. Do you think there is enough interest in the world to continue to keep this genre alive and kicking?
ADV: Well it’s very tough to talk about a market when the market is so small. But, on the other hand is very consistent. It’s almost stable since few years and surely Europe is the strongest part of it. And you’re right. What a year for our genre. I gotta say I loved the unusual signings with Frontiers with the likes of Inglorious, The Treatment and Big Foot.
MMR: Definitely, some great stuff! I love Inglorious, I mean Nathan James! Wow! What a voice.
You have been a part of albums such as one of my top 5 picks of 2015, Revolution Saints, one of my top picks for 2016 with the Ted Poley album. You have worked with superstar artists like Johnny Gioeli, Jack Blades, Joe Lynn Turner, Deen Castronovo, Harry Hess and the beautiful Lenna Kuurmaa to name just a few. Is there anyone that you would love the chance to work with that you have not yet?
ADV: John Waite, John Elefante, and Rik Emmet. I spoke with all of them and we might have plans but nothing in the can for now. Never say Never. If you wanna see me definitely done let me work with these guys and I can retire LOL!
MMR: Oh wow, some heavyweights there! Well I look forward to hearing some stuff from you someday with them!
We mentioned the future of the genre a bit ago and there are some bands like Bulletrain, Cruzh and Maverick that have me very excited about what is to come for us in the future. Are there any young bands out there that you feel have what it takes to make it big?
ADV: Inglorious. They have the best singer that came out lately. Eclipse are the band to top. They are super cool, the best out there.
MMR: As stated earlier, I do love Inglorious and Nathan James is certainly a powerhouse of a vocalist. And of course, who doesn’t like Eclipse! Erik is incredible as a singer and writer. They are fantastic.
On top of everything else you do you also run your own recording studio there in Italy, Ivorytears Music Works and have your own vocal chorus, True Voice Technique. Tell us a bit about that and what you do there before we wrap this up.
ADV: My studio is my baby 🙂 When I built it I didn’t know that some of the historical cats of the rock world would have come to my little village. I live in a 600 people little town in the wilderness around Milan close to the Alps. My vocal course, True Voice Technique, is the result of years working with hundreds of singers and students across the nation and I finally decided to make it pro and cool. I now do almost 20 vocal seminars a year around Italy to teach pro students going from touring singers to teachers and artists in general.
MMR: Well you are really just a jack of all trades when it comes to music aren’t you? lol. That is fantastic.
Well, Alessandro, I know you are a very busy man and I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. It has been a real privilege! I am a huge fan of yours and am beyond excited about what you are doing for the melodic rock genre. It is the greatest music in the world and you have been, and continue to be, an outstanding part of helping to keep the genre alive. I look forward to what you do next and hopefully the chance to see you live some day. So my final question and the last words are yours. Not everyone these days are on Facebook or other social media sites. I myself was not on them before starting this site in fact. Do you have a website outside of social media on which people can find you?
ADV: Yes, my site is Alessandrodelvecchio.com. You can almost find anything about me but I’m not very good in updating it. Check it out and hopefully you’ll like what I do 🙂