Alan Chapell is a unique character. His Indie Rock sound blends poppy synth lines (played by the best fiddle player north of the Mason-Dixon) with Americana bass and guitars with a punkish Neutral Milk Hotel vibe thrown in for good measure. It took Chapell a while to get here, but audiences across the Northeastern U.S. are starting to take notice.
Growing up on the “mean streets” of Stamford, Connecticut, Alan Chapell was something of a musical wunderkind – he was first chair trumpet in his school band, toured middle schools as a classical pianist and played organ regularly at church. Throughout his childhood, he heard the mantra that you had only until age 25 to succeed in music – and then you had to get serious about life.
And clearly that sentiment drove Chapell’s early career. While still in High School, Alan recorded his first e.p. with legendary music producer Jimmy Ienner – who a few years earlier was producing albums for such artists as the Bay City Rollers and Three Dog Night and would soon go on to producing the soundtrack for the enormously successful hit movie Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze.
During and after college, Chapell’s band All the Voices was making big waves from NYC to Maine. Regularly pulling crowds of 1,000 people and touring alongside Flock of Seagulls, 10,000 Maniacs, Crash Test Dummies and Echo and the Bunnymen, Chapell’s former group counted Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth among their fans.
A young Chapell even took his musical talents all the way to Mumbai, India to make music with the multi-national East-West fusion band Kalki. To make ends meet, he wrote jingles for Indian TV and had an all too brief (and mildly humiliating) stint as a video jockey on the Star TV network. After writing a bunch of songs and recording a well-received e.p. with Kalki, it was time to come home and, he thought, grow up. Looking back from the other side of 30, in the wake of the success of his critically acclaimed debut The Redhead’s Allegations, the multi-talented NYC based singer, songwriter and performer now says, “I was completely wrong. I wasn’t even close to done with music.”
Chapell did take a few years off from touring, but never stopped writing. One afternoon, Chapell played a few songs for old friend Chris Frantz, and Chris introduced Alan to his fellow Talking Head Jerry Harrison. Alan had instant chemistry with Jerry and world class engineer Eric “ET” Thorngren. “From minute one, Jerry and ET really understood what I was trying to create,” says Chapell. “It took me years to get this close to the sound that I’d been hearing in my head, so it was critical to find a production team who are of the same mind.”
Chapell’s follow-up album Soul Man finds Chapell building on his own personal artistry by producing everything himself and working with longtime members of his live band, including Lorenza Ponce (violin, vocals), Ann Klein (guitar, vocals) and Ali Culotta (piano, vocals). “The time I spent working with and learning from Jerry and ‘ET’ was like getting a master’s degree in the how to record an album,” Chapell says. “While I loved having their stamp on the first album, Soul Man is really me and my voice as an artist comes through even more. Being at the helm and working with the built-in chemistry I had with these great musicians allowed me to make it my own.”
On making music in 2018 Chapell now says, “I feel like I’m discovering myself as an artist in a way I never could have earlier in my life. For too long, I bought into the notion that I couldn’t become a successful artist in my 30’s – and it was liberating to recognize how foolish that was. The most invigorating thing is that I don’t feel I’ve written my best song yet. I know who I am now and I am excited that I am nowhere close to my peak as an artist.”