There are musicians who have been in the business for quite some time now and while they don’t have the credit they deserve, they never stop in their pursuit of making great music and entertaining their fans. Take Alan Tecchio, vocalist of Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, Level Fields and Watchtower, for example: he has been singing since the mid-80s and he has no intention of stopping.
Here in MusikHolics we had a little chat with Alan and he talks about his different projects, his past with the underground band Hades, his influences and what makes a vocalist tick for him. Hope you enjoy it.
Thank you for this, Alan. It’s a pleasure. According to you, what makes a great vocalist?
To me it is someone who can evoke a purely emotional sound with their voice and make it sound personal. Like a window into their soul, so to speak. I can appreciate all kinds of vocal expression, though. I dig soft, smooth voices and harsh, brash voices as well. To me it depends what fits the song. I definitely like to hear conviction in a singer otherwise it is hard for me (especially being a singer myself) to buy into a band if the singer can’t convince me.
What inspired you to become a musician and how did you learn to sing?
I just loved singing Led Zeppelin songs with my friends and when one of them started a band I was asked to sing. I was not that good and not confident, which it’s a horrible mix. I was super self-conscious too and recall feeling totally embarrassed when our guitar player asked me, “Hey man, do you know what you’re doin’?” and my reply was “Yeah, pretty much, sort of…” The funny part is he was asking if I knew the words to the Rush song What You’re Doin’! But seriously, when I started to take singing more seriously, I took vocal lessons. Over the years I’ve had four different vocal coaches who both helped and hurt my vocal approach. They all assisted me a great deal with breathing techniques but I also took ear training which definitely helped my pitch.
What were the albums and vocalists that influenced you throughout the years the most?
Probably Led Zep II, all the early Priest records… Definitely Deep Purple with Gillen especially… In Rock era. The Number of the Beast by Maiden. But I will attest that I am also a huge fan of 80’s new wave so Robert Smith of The Cure, Pornography era definitely rubbed off on me. Of my contemporaries, for sure Russ Anderson from Forbidden–every single record! Ray Alder from Fate’s Warning, especially No Exit, and the last two records, Joey Belladonna from Anthrax on the Armed and Dangerous EP.
You obviously sang with the band Hades in your early days in the 80s. What can you tell us about those years with Hades and the Metal scene as a whole?
It was a very exciting time to be in a band in the 80’s. The scene was flourishing. Bands played all the time and supported and competed with each other mostly in positive ways. Sometimes not. Lol My time with Hades was when I was cutting my teeth and really learning how to sing. To be honest there was a lot of pressure in the studio and on the road but I eventually got used to it and I have mostly all great memories from those days as a result.
Another band that appeared during those years and that you’re now a part of is Watchtower. Were you a fan of them back then? How did you join the band?
Their singer Jason McMaster and I were pen pals. Our bands Watchtower and Hades would often be the local openers for the same bands that were on tour. He in Texas and me in New York and New Jersey. Bands like Armored Saint, Megadeth, Anthrax, Flotsam, Metal Church, etc… Anyway, yes, I was a big fan of Watchtower as a result of my friendship with Jason. When his other band Dangerous Toys got signed to Columbia Records he had to leave Watchtower and they guys offered me the gig. There was one singer in Tower briefly, right before me, Mike Soliz, but things did not work out with him for whatever reason. It was a wild ride cause Hades were in Europe on tour when we broke up and I came home just long enough to record a home demo of the Control and Resistance record and then it was back to Berlin, Germany to make the record.
You have been singing for several bands for a while now and many at the same time. When you’re composing on your own, how do you know that this idea might work Watchtower, for Silent Assassins or any other band? How does your writing process work in that regard?
Well, my band Level Fields is the only one I write all the lyrics and melodies and harmonies for. I write completely from the heart with that band. Life experiences, political opinions, basically anything that interests me enough to write lyrics about it. Then I try to fit the subject matter with the vibe of the song. With Watchtower I have contributed lyrics and wrote one complete set of lyrics for the song Technology In Action. With those guys they like songs about numbers and clever plays on words like Rush often does. As for the Silent Assassins stuff, it is all composed by Mike LePond.
Most bands you play with have a somewhat technical approach. Is that the type of music you feel more drawn to?
I just like cool, big, hooky riffs. I do like a technical style at times but it does not have to be like that 100%. Level Fields is an example of exactly what kind of music inspires me to write to it.
What are the biggest challenges that a vocalist has to maintain his voice?
Talking too much is not good which is hard on the road because everyone wants to talk to you. You do not wish to be rude but it really is bad to talk a lot especially when you are singing every night. I drink lots of water to make sure I stay hydrated.
You have sung for Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins project. What can you tell us about the writing process for your latest album, Pawn and Prophecy?
You would have to ask Mike. He writes everything. I will say he is amazingly talented and has a diligent, focused vision.
Mike LePond is obviously a highly talented musician; his work for Symphony X and his solo project speaks for him. How is it to work with Mike? Do you have a good musical chemistry?
It is a pleasure to work with the guy. He is very professional yet relaxed and makes everyone feel the same way. Jamming is great too and the rehearsals we are in right now for our show on December 22 at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ are sounding tight.
Now that 2018 is almost over, was this a good year for you?
Yes, for sure. I had two releases come out which I am very proud of. Mike LePond’s Pawn and Prophecy and the debut CD from Level Fields on Pure Steel Records, 1104. This year rocked!
What plans do you have in store next year for your bands?
Right now just the Silent Assassins debut show and working on new Level Fields material. We are hitting the holidays so I will be laying low and tracking some demos at home. My cousins actually have some music they want me to sing to so hopefully I can get that done as well.
Thank you for doing this, Alan. Would you mind leaving a message for our readers?
Keep it metal people and support MusikHolics!!!!!!! Thanks for the interview. Peace Out!