Tony Spinelli
It is hard to find a well rounded recording artist such as Tony Spinelli. His music is so diverse and he plays multi instruments!
We took some time to talk to him and see what is in the future for Mr. Spinelli.
Where did you grow up? Was music always a big part of your life?
I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and my parents were into early rock n' roll like Elvis and Doo Wop, as well as country music of the time like Patsy Cline and Floyd Cramer. My mother's younger sister lived with us until the mid-1960s, and she was listening to early Beatles and British Invasion, so I got exposed to just about all the early years of rock. The stuff my friends and I listened to of course, in the late 60s when we were kids developing our own tastes was stuff like the Stones, Grateful Dead, the Doors, the Band, Jimi Hendrix, all the classic era rock.
How many instruments do you play?
Did you take lessons or were you self taught?
I play a lot of instruments, maybe 6 or 7. My main instrument is guitar, but I play bass, some piano, organ, synthesizer, digital drums, harmonica, mandolin, Dobro, have even played some banjo. I took lots of guitar lessons, from blues guys, jazz guys, and country guys, took some piano lessons, and studied music theory in a music school, called Interarts, when I was a teenager. But you learn from other musicians just as much as you learn in a classroom. One of the things I learned from reading an interview with Jimi Hendrix is that you should never practice scales, because when you go to play a solo, you are going to sound scalar. Rather, you should jam -- pick a song and keep jamming on it, playing it every way you can think of. This way when you take a solo you are jamming on it, and not just playing scales. You have to have something going on inside of you, too, in your soul, your heart. Jimi Hendrix said what is between the notes is more important than the notes you are playing.
Do you play shows often?
I used to be really into playing live, and played everywhere I could, but not so much in the past several years. I have turned down some gig invitations. I am a solo artist so I don't have a band with me and you can't put across a lead guitar solo or an extended jam when it is just you and an acoustic guitar. So videos and radio are what I am into.
Where and what equipment do you use to record?
I graduated from the the Business Academy of Music and learned to operate my own home studio. I have a Tascam multi-track unit that I augment with Alesis outboard effects. I mix and master on my Mac, using GarageBand, which is an under-rated audio program if ever there was one. You can do amazing things with GarageBand software, like sweeten mixes and do some intense mastering. I have my recording gear configured in a semi-circle, with a captain's chair in the middle. I have control boards in front of me and to my left. It is like the cockpit of a spaceship. To the right, I have my Yamaha Clavinova digital piano, which sounds pretty much like the real thing, and my Studiologic/Alesis synth rig. I use a number of different guitars to get different sounds, and of course I have my guitar effects, like the Korg Pandora. One of the advantages of recording at home, other than the obvious which is saving money on studio time, is that you can set your own hours. I like to record when I am fresh and the energy is high. A record is not just music, it is energy, and other people can feel that energy.
Your last CD was so diverse in musical styles. How would you describe your musical genre in one word?
Thank you. I'd call it progressive acoustic. I play a lot of acoustic music, but it is progressive in its Blues roots, Americana roots, etc. I would also all it Adult Contemporary, because it deals with a lot of adult themes.
You are an ordained Pentecostalist. How has your Web ministry influenced you as a musician?
Well, I have been influenced by a lot of Gospel music, probably more so than the average, because I am a Pentecostalist. When I write lyrics, my point of view is influenced by that as well. There are some songs I could not possibly sing, like the line from Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon" that says "I'm a man without convictions." Actually, I'm a man with a lot of conviction. My lyrics express that.
Do you still sell actual CD's of your music or are you just digital now?
I used to sell more CDs when eBay had a New Artists category where people could browse. But they got rid of that, and there isn't a browsing factor anymore, so most of my sales have been digitally lately. I have also listed CDs on digital sites like iTunes, but people don't go there to browse; they already know what they want and go there looking for it. If you are a lesser known artist you really need to put your CDs where people are browsing. I did well by placing my CDs with record dealers at flea markets, because there you have the browsing factor.
What is the local music scene like in Connecticut? Are the local stations good about playing indie music?
The local music scene in Connecticut is dominated by cover bands, as it always has been. There are some small original music clubs but they go out of business often because there is not a big audience for original music. I quit playing in cover bands a long time ago to focus on original music. Some of the local radio stations that have played my original music include WPKN-FM, a listener-supported progressive station, WPLR-FM, the state's largest rock station, which has a Sunday night local bands show, and WICC AM, which is primarily a talk radio station. I have been interviewed on WICC too. There are other stations too, like WNHU FM in West Haven. It's all good.
Tell us about "The Art Of Control" album?
I wrote "The Art of Control" in August and September of 2009, recording the basic tracks of rhythm guitar and vocal. There is a lot of progressive acoustic stuff, as well as some hard rock. There's a lot of variety. The album title comes from my martial art, Hapkido/Aikido/Daito-Ryu Aiki-jujutsu. I am working on my third degree of black belt. The album cover will probably have some Japanese artwork on it
What can we expect from you within the next year?
I am going to release singles from "The Art of Control," on, and send copies out for review, and make videos because YouTube is very important. I actually have half a million views on YouTube. So radio and video are my main objectives. I am always writing new material, too. I record my song ideas on an mp3 recorder and then pick which ones I am going to write a full set of lyrics for. I usually write in the late summer and fall, then take a break for the winter and pick up the recording in the springtime. Another factor in my life is working. I was unemployed for almost a year, and spent a lot of time looking for jobs and applying for jobs, so hopefully I will be working steady and into a groove.
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