Tell us about yourself for anyone out there that doesn’t know you.
A big salute to you and your readers. I’m Alex Cole, signed by Allied Artists Music Group. I compose and perform original retro rock music. I’ve been playing in the best rock n’ roll venues in Los Angeles, on the Sunset Strip, Las Vegas and Phoenix. One of my songs “Chain Reaction” from the album “Bad Boy Rocker” won the Global Music Awards in 2018 in Retro-Rock Category and in the same year I was recognized as one of the best shows in Las Vegas. Recently I’ve been told I’m keeping Rock’n’Roll alive. That’s the best compliment ever!
When did you first start playing guitar? Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
I’ve always been a performer. I was a singer and actor before I became a guitar player. I grew up listening to American Blues and Rock 'n' Roll. I’m originally from Italy, when I was 12 years old I started singing in clubs around Milan, but I left in 2014 because in Italy, while I was having a successful career, I wasn’t happy. In Italy, I was being groomed to be a pop star, the kind of music that makes a profit is romantic, mellow and Rap. I started training my voice at an early age. One day, I went to record some of my vocal tracks with the well-known Producer Enrico Santulli. It was during one of these recording sessions that Mr. Santulli placed an "open tuned" guitar in my hands and suggested that i should learn an instrument. I took the guitar home and began to study it. Two weeks later Mr. Santulli said, "you're ready for your own guitar", and together we went to buy my first electric guitar. Mr. Santulli then introduced me to one of the greatest blues musicians in Italy, Claudio Bazzari. For the next ten years Mr. Bazzari was my teacher and trained me in the Blues, as well as other styles of music. He taught me to read and write music.
I was being trained by vocal coaches to sing perfectly. The Producers wanted me to only sing in Italian. Rock’n’Roll doesn’t work when you sing in Italian. “Johnny B. Goode” in English sounds great, but in Italian it sounds silly. It’s like watching a movie with subtitles. So, I went to America. My first day in LA I went to two of the most famous clubs on the Sunset Strip, Whisky A Go Go and The Viper Room. I’m happy to say that I’ve been playing those clubs many times. The Whisky is how I got my start in LA. I went to one of the most famous places in Hollywood where all the musicians hang out, The Rainbow. This place is filled with famous and inspiring pictures of Rock stars. I was speaking in Italian to some friends when, unknown to me, the owner of the Rainbow, Mario Maglieri said, Ciao! We started talking and he told me he was here on the Sunset Strip from the beginning. He brought legends bands like the Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin to The Whisky. He asked me if he could hear some of my songs. I played them from my iPhone and he said, I haven’t heard music like this in 30 years. This is the music that made the Sunset Strip. This is the sound that built the Rainbow, The Whisky and The Viper Room. Your sound reminds me of AC/DC, Ted Nugent and Jim Morrison. Then he asked me, would you like to play at the Whisky a Go Go tomorrow night? When I picked my jaw up off the table I said yes! He said great, and picked up the phone and booked me at the Whisky. That’s how I got my start in Los Angeles. Once he offered me the opportunity to play at the Whisky I realized I didn’t have a guitar. I immediately went to a pawn shop and bought a beautiful guitar. The next day I played at The Whisky, and was a dream come true. I had so much fun rocking out on that stage.
Since I’ve been rocking out here in Los Angeles I’m blessed and honored to be always backed up by amazing musicians who know how to play Rock’n’Roll!
Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
I was attending rock and roll concerts such as AC/DC, Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Official Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tower Of Power, Cinderella, Brian Setzer, Extreme, Gary Moore, Twisted Sister, Deep Purple and many others, I became passionate about the energy delivered by these bands, It wasn't too long before I started to develop my stage presence and to create my own songwriting and to put up a Power Trio.
How would you categorize the style of the band?
My music is Retro-Rock. It reminds people of music from the the 70’s and 80’s, like AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Deep Purple, and Whitesnake.
What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?
The responsibility of my success is determined by the amount of energy I give to my art, combined with people believing and supporting me. I was told I have a billion dollar smile. My music makes me happy. There’s never a moment where the Rhythm’n’Blues combined with Rock’n’Roll groove isn’t running through my head. I never wake up thinking, “Oh, I have to go to work.” I wake up inspired because I’m thankful to be able to do what I love everyday. I think people can feel that when they hear my music and come to my shows.
Who are your influences and how have they shaped your bands’ sound?
While most of my concerts are original music, I perform three to four covers in my shows and those are dedicated to those musicians who have inspired me to write and perform my style of music. Lately, I’ve been playing a few measures of George Thorogood’s Bo Diddley “Who Do You Love,” because playing that song, and being reminded of him, grounds me in the rock blues feeling that I grew up with. I don’t do covers just to have the audience enjoy some classic rock hit. I perform covers because when I play Ted Nugent, “Free For All,” I can feel his energy coming through me. I play an AC/DC song, “It’s a Long Way to the Top” because the words are true. It is a very long way to the top. And AC/DC was the first band who inspired me to write hard rock and give a sense to my stories. Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are not just singing, but telling stories in their music and everybody remembers their songs. That’s also what inspires my vocal quality. I’m not trying to sing perfectly, I’m singing full-out, with all my soul. Sometimes I find myself moving like James Brown. He cared most about the groove, and I feel the same way. My body gets locked into the rhythm and the spirit of the music takes over.
Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release?
You all will be taken on a rollercoaster ride. My uplifting songs will make you feel good and give you tons of positive energy. What inspired my new album is the feedback from journalists and fans. Everyone wants more Rock 'n' Roll music. They want music that makes them want to drive their car or motorcycle fast. Music that makes them want to dance, run, jumping rope and workout. Music that reminds them of their best times, seeing concerts and going to festivals. Those were great times, when there was excitement, fun and sexy Rock 'n' Roll musicians on stage. Where people in the Midwest and other areas gathered in big arenas to see their favorite bands. It was a happening and people still want that. I'm inspired by those times. I play one of my new songs on a whim, “Lady Horse Fly,” just because I want to see how the people react. And they love it, even though I haven’t written all the lyrics yet – they move their body with it. I’m kind of fearless in that way. I’m never afraid to try new things. I believe in the real experience.
Where did record your latest release at?
I’m in the process of recording my new album at Clearlake Studio, in Los Angeles.
Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?
That’s absolutely true. I’ve been working with Ivan Rivera who is a phenomenal recording and mixing engineer. I was searching for a new studio and I bumped into Clearlake. Once I went there, I was pleasantly impressed by the vintage recording machines owned by the studio. I really liked the old school wooden style of the engineering room, where Ivan and I had the first meeting. He listened to some of the new songs and I remember him saying “I’ve never heard music like this for years, I love it, let’s do it”. I appreciated Ivan came to see one of my shows after the meeting and saw me performing at the Viper Room in Hollywood to get the idea of my sound on a live performance. He digs my music and I love to work with him. It’s great to have found someone passionated, dedicated and professional like Ivan.
Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
I compose the songs by myself and then I work on the final touches in the studio with the engineers and musicians.
How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
Now I have my Visa, I live in Los Angeles, and life is much easier. During this time I found my true self. Also I was no longer being told to be somebody else. I’m free to be Alex Cole. I became confident and I know that what I am, is me, my passion, my art. The music I’m playing now is how I always felt inside. I’ve been unleashed. I have never been more comfortable. When you see my show don’t expect to see me playing a solo, looking down at my fingers, making sure every note is correct. That’s boring to me. I don’t consider it as powerful as the Rock’n’Roll spirit. My solos are for myself and the audience and my voice comes directly in your face to not bite you but to gently melt you.
Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?
When I write, I pick up my guitar and I start writing down something energetic, I think about the beat of the drum and I make sure my songs reflect me having fun. I like that I can turn any experience, good or bad, into a song. Everything I write becomes a story. I like to write music about women being strong, guys at their best, people being hopeful and feeling that they can accomplish anything. Stay strong and never give up.
How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
Everything I write becomes a story. I like to write music about women being strong, guys at their best, particular moments in life, people being hopeful and feeling that they can accomplish anything. Stay strong and never give up. I have a new song coming out called “The Rebel Queen.” It’s very different from my other songs. It’s tender and inspiring, but it still rocks. I think about music and working on music most of my waking hours. There’s never a moment where the music isn’t running through my head. Every day I enjoy that I am lucky to be able to do what I want to do. It’s not an easy job, but it’s very rewarding.
You recently had the chance of opening for Ted Nugent, what was that experience like?
I had the honor to be the Direct Support for the living legend of Rock’n’Roll, Ted Nugent, in seven dates of his “The Music Made Me Do It Again!” Tour 2019 through California and Arizona. It’s reductive to say it was an amazing experience. Ted’s roads crew took my band, team and me under their wing. They were always helpful and encouraging during the tour and they made me feel welcomed and wanted on the road. There was a forever memorable moment where I spent some time with Ted face to face in his green room after a show talking about music and sharing our mutual love for a clean-living lifestyle. I was pleasantly surprised when out of the blue he told me he wanted to do more than seven concerts with me. His music has always been a great inspiration to me, and I got even more inspired and energized after seeing him bombarding the crowd with his pure Rock’n’Roll soul running through his fingers to the strings of his inseparable Gibson Byrdlands night after night. After every shows I was standing by my merch signing cd, posters and meeting a lot of Ted’s fans who were telling me nothing but encouraging words of appreciation about my music. I’m looking forward to going back on the road with him and his crew next year.
When you got the news about the tour, what was your first reaction?
I’ve personally known Ted for two years but when I heard that I was chosen to be his supporting act I literally jumped on my feet and started dancing. The day after we met in his green room I was called again, this time because Ted Nugent wanted to take a picture with me! Ended up to be a post on his Facebook page along with such beautiful words about me rocking hard every night. That was really nice of him. I’ll be always thankful for that.
What are your current tour plans, if any?
I have tentative tour offers throughout 2020 with Lita Ford, George Thorogood and Ted Nugent again. There are also producers and FILM/TV companies interested in working with me and placing my music into commercials, movies and other product placements.
Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
Once I step on the stage the music takes control of me and I get into a sort of a trance. The music seduces me. When I perform, I unleash a beast who takes control of my body. It's something quite undefinable. It's the power of Rock 'n' Roll. I feed off the energy of the crowd’s enthusiasm and the crowd feeds off me. When you attend my shows you’ll get to see me on “fire.” I have a very high-energy show. The key is the rehearsal, I practice with my band and work with them on each detail to reach the point where we don’t need to check the set list while we are playing on stage. I never stop playing. I don’t talk in between songs because it stops my energy, and besides, my guitar does the talking for me. Hearing my songs live are going to be a bit different than on the album because I can be inspired to stretch out and jam when I feel the illumination of the moment. I enjoy playing, interacting and engaging with the people. I like to take everybody on this rock n’ roll journey with me.
Can you tell us about your equipment? Do you have any favorites Vintage or new?
I'm a Marshall and Gibson guy. I own several Gibson guitars. The power of my sound comes from the finger picking, bending and tremolos, which give more expression to the phrase and allow the notes to be clear and hard, with a blues flavor. My guitar pickups are important for my sound. I'm proud to be endorsing Roberts Guitar Pickups. I have a pair of Bob Mizek's custom pickups on my Gibson Es-137. Bob is a genius of sound and he created the "Nuge Sonic Baptizm" PAF humbuckers. I also endorse Cleartone Strings, for me, dynamic is everything. At Vol.2 you can hear every single note smooth and clearly. At Vol.10 you can call the cops because my guitar screams "I'm not gonna take it slow". I wear beautiful custom jewelry designed by Silverbone. I love the Turquoise which is associated with meanings of refreshing, calming, energy, serenity, creativity, emotional balance, good luck, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, intuition etc. On stage I like to wear a little bit of clothing from the seventies - not too much, just enough to get the feel of where my music gets inspiration. I mix the old with the new. It's what my Retro Rock look and music is all about.
Do you see as we do that most local radio rarely support the up and coming new bands and even more local bands just starting out?
I think Instantly of how amazing it was that radio throughout history has brought to life so many careers of legendary musicians. In a way, it’s almost as thought musicians have lost that avenue of support. Radio is such an integral avenue to link musicians with fans, without the support of radio, up and coming musicians may feel as if they are “left without a voice”. Radio is essential to the art of musical expression. Now days with the era of technology and social media is great how radio stations are reaching out to me from all around the world.
What do you think of the music industry right now?
The music industry has seen dramatic changes over the years, rapidly from Vinyl replaced by tape cassette prior to the compact disc followed by the digital download. Record sales for up and coming artists no longer
precede concert sales or widespread notoriety. These days, artists develop recognition through social media and live performances. Touring with well-established artists provide valuable exposure and help introduce the artist to new fans. At the end of every show supporting Ted Nugent, I was told by Ted’s fans that I was reminding and bringing them back to the good old days of rock’n’roll from the seventies and eighties.
Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
I’ve been in the United States for five years now. The first two years I had to travel back and forth between Italy and America. I only had an Esta Visa, which means that I could only stay in the US for 89 days. Basically, I’d be working, and right in a middle of a project I’d have to leave and go back to Italy. I was sitting around waiting a month to come back. All of these trips to the United States were very stressful. The custom immigration would question me like I was a criminal. In Italy being an artist is considered to a hobby. In the US it’s a business. Before I got my working Visa I was considered a tourist and I was afraid they would confiscate my guitar. That’s why I didn’t bring one with me. The responsibility of my success is determined by the amount of energy I give to my art, combined with people believing and supporting me.
Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene?
In Los Angeles you don’t get bored. I’m always invited to attend prestigious Red Carpet events or “jam nights”, for example Ex Gear, my guitar pedal endorsement, often set up great jams of music where musicians get to know each other and network. Recently The Whisky a Go Go invited me to play at the famous “Ultimate Jam Nights”. Only selected musicians are hand-picked and invited to play cover songs at this elite event. For a band to be asked to open the event with their original music is more than an honor, it’s a privilege. There are so many bands in Los Angeles and to be personally requested to play this gig is a huge accomplishment for an artist.
Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
I’m a rock’n’roller, It’s hard to find new music that suits this type of music. I always enjoy to share the stage and go support kick ass bands like Evil Wolks and Jared James Nichols. I also like Hardbone and Airborne. I usually don’t go out that often. To put on a high energy show, as I do, and stay in great physical shape, takes discipline. I work out every day and I eat clean and healthy. I also have to manage my website, press, bookings and social media. It can be overwhelming, but when you are an artist, this is what you do and you give it your all.
How has Social Media impacted your band?
I’m very connected with my fans. I’d like the readers of ITN Magazine to reach out to me and connect with me on my social media sites. I’m always interested in what they like and what they think about my music. And for them to share the news about Alex Cole.
Where can our readers find you on the web?
Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments for our readers?
Record labels, large clubs, festivals and sponsors look to see how many fans you have, so spread the word! You can find out more about alexcolerocks.com Thanks so much!
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