An Interview With TOWER OF POWER All About Their Just Released 27th Album, The Formation Of The Band, How They Have Changed Over The Years and More!
The renowned horn-driven soul/RnB/rock/pop/funk group Tower of Power (or TOP, as it is more often referred to by its global legion of fans), has been rocking their sound since 1968 – infusing Soul (with a capital S) into the music industry for 52 years. Over 6000 Shows, 444,000 unique monthly listeners and over 35 million streams and millions of albums world-wide, their fans are rabid!
Fast forward, after celebrating their 50th Anniversary with the critically acclaimed 2018 release of “Soul Side of Town,” Tower of Power stirs it up for the launch of their next album – STEP UP. Hot off their buzzing NAMM Show where they performed in front of thousands of enthusiastic attendees at the Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage close out, Tower of Power is ready to unleash their newest genre-blending explosion of sound yesterday on March 20! Although the 14 tracks of this album were written and arranged in a careful 6-year-long process, the album itself was recorded in the same sessions with Soul Side of Town. When the band, along with GRAMMY®-nominated producer Joe Vannelli, recorded enough great material for two full albums, they decided to split the releases up and keep STEP UP as their launch into the new decade.
Check out the video to their new track, “Look In My Eyes” Here:
Connect With Tower Of Power Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Tower Of Power in the following All Access interview:
When it comes to your music, what are you most excited about for 2020?
I’m really excited about the release of our new CD “Step Up” which came out yesterday on March 20th and also I’ve been in the studio with Joe Vannelli mixing our 50th Anniversary DVD Documentary. We have 12 songs mixed so far and 10 to go, then we’ll finalize the video editing and add some documentary material.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together?
I’ve had a calling to be a bandleader since I was 15 years old in 1965, and I’ve never strayed from that calling.
Is it hard to believe that you released your 27th album, “Step Up”? How does this collection show what a 52-year-long career looks like?
I think it’s a mature recording in every sense of the word. In the production, engineering, songwriting, musicianship, vocals, improvisation etc…
What was it like going into the studio to record this collection? Did you approach the process any differently than your past ones? I’d love to know more about what it was like recording 25 songs and then choosing the best 12 ones for “Step Up”?
We actually wound up recording 28 all-new original tracks. They all came out really great so we put together 2 complete albums worth of material. We did a few things differently on this recording as a result of working with Joe Vannelli.
1. We used male AND female background vocals simultaneously on a lot of the songs.
2. We cut several songs to a grid recording David Garibaldi by himself and then overdubbing to him.
3. Because we currently have a super talented guitar player we had him play several different string instruments on all of the tracks. Things like electric sitar, baritone guitar, acoustic, steel, and many different models; strat, telecaster. Gibson 335, Rickenbacker 12 string, and many more
How would you say that the title track, “Step Up” prepares fans for more of this collection?
“Step Up” sets the pace really well for what’s to come on the new recording. It has a vicious rhythm groove, extremely creative background vocal parts, as well as a burnin’ B3 solo and a killer guitar solo.
Can you pick out a few of your favorite tracks on this album? What inspired them? In fact, what continues to inspire Tower of Power to record music?
“Any Excuse Will Do” has some of Doc Kupka’s most clever lyrics and the horns on the ride out are totally amazing!!! I really love “Addicted To You” and “The Story Of You And I” has background singers singing back & forth with our lead vocalist Marcus Scott and that idea was inspired by Ray Charles.
Getting inspiration to record has never been a problem for ToP. It’s a total get-off!!!
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
Some of us write together and some separately. I made it known that I want every member to have the opportunity to be involved in the songwriting process and made myself available to help finish songs to any of them the members that needed help.
The first step in the process for Doc & I is to pray.
Tower of Power’s lineup has gone through several line-up changed over the years so I am curious how this current one makes the most sense now. Why is the best line-up for this group today? How have the changes affected the group overall?
We learned a long time ago that change is NOT to be feared. New blood brings new ideas and fresh new energy to the band. Every change we’ve ever made has brought us growth.
The current lineup is one of the best ever; from a musical and from a personal standpoint.
I always like to ask bands how much you hang out socially apart from when you are creating and performing music?
We actually don’t hang out so much cuz we live in different states but we’re on the road 200 days a year and we enjoy each other and hang out a lot socially on the road.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I wear a lot of hats with the band; bandleader, record producer, songwriter, vocalist, sax player etc… and I love all of them, but there’s nothing like being on stage in front of an excited crowd when everything’s clickin’.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues lately?
I think the energy of the audience is integral to a successful concert.
We had excellent gigs recently at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, The Montbleau Casino in South Lake Tahoe, and the Uptown Theater in Napa.
I know that you have a national spring/summer tour scheduled. Where are you excited to play at? Have any dates been canceled yet due to the Coronavirus?
We’re heading to the North East and that’s always one of my favorite parts of the country to play.
I’m hearing rumblings of cancelations but nothing yet.
With all the different social media platforms out there, how do you balance it all? How do you think that social media has impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
I’m not involved in social media that much personally but it most definitely has had a huge impact on the success of the band, so for that, I’m very grateful. We maintain a healthy presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as an up to date website etc…
Which of your music videos was the most fun to make? Do you still have a dream music video that you would love to make in the future?
We’ve really only done two full band videos in our career. The one we did in the mid eighty’s starred Bill Graham on a song called “Go & Get It With Your Good credit’, then recently we did a video on a song titled “Look In My Eyes”; they were both a lot of fun. As far as the future goes we’ll just have to see what God has in store for us in the video-making realm.
We are currently living through a difficult and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? How has your music or other musician’s music been affected by the current events?
Making our particular brand of music has always brought me an immense amount of joy.
So far the current situation has not affected us.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music? Who would you still love to work with?
James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Sly and the Family Stone, and the soul music record producers from Philly, Detroit, and Memphis.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope our music leaves a positive message and that it moves people spiritually.
When people listen to our songs I want them to think to themselves that Tower of Power has really been blessed by God and has blessed many other people in the process.
What your hopes for Tower of Power moving forward? Where do you see this group in the next 10, 15 and even 20 years?
I want to see us push the envelope globally, making an impact that will last for years and years to come.
I see us making high-quality music and being a force for good to all.