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Articles Home » Interviews » Atello - 2000 The Big Payoff Interview
Atello - 2000 The Big Payoff Interview

INTERVIEW: Atello (Nov 2000)
We meet the guys in Atello, and receive a big payoff..

In The Spotlight - Atello
Interview with: all Atello band members
Written by: Gdazegod (May 2000)

The spotlight this time falls on another New York band called Atello.These guys have been together a few years now, and have released their debut indie CD called 'The Big Payoff' which is generating great press and interest from around the rock world. HEART of the ROCK has recently reviewed this album, and also took the opportunity of contacting the band to further explore the world of Atello. The current lineup is:

(Left to Right) T.Motts - Drums: Larry Atello - vocals; Ralph Heiss - Bass: Rick Giarmo - Guitars

Editor Gdazegod takes time out to get some feedback from the band:

Firstly Larry, I suppose your sound is unquestionably 80's style melodic rock. Do you feel like a fish out of water playing in this style?

Larry: George, I gotta tell you, the 'tag' 80's music has always annoyed the crap outta me since day one! We didn't intentionally set out to be an '80's band'.. ..what you hear on 'THE BIG PAYOFF' is just the result of all our influences coming together. But, knowing how things have to be labelled in this business, I guess it makes it easier for people to define us. At all of the shows we do, I usually kid with the guys before we hit the stage and say 'And now for something different.. ...ATELLO!' '

Oops.. Sorry about that tag mate! I see though, that you've all come together as a result of working with other bands in the New York scene over previous years. How different or how similar are your individual influences which you bring to the band and who's into listening to what?

Larry: My influences have always been pretty eclectic. I listen to everything from jazz and classic R and B, right up to some of today's bands like Creed and Godsmack.

Rick: I listen to Van Halen, Aerosmith, Great White, Motley Crue, Satriani, Vai.

Ralph: I grew up listening to the Beatles, moved on to the 80's dance music scene, and not until the late 80's did I get into bands like Dokken, Ratt, Queensryche, and Kiss. There is little 'new' music that I enjoy, but I love Type-O-Negative!

T Motts: My roots, like the other guys are definitely the 80's metal bands. That approach and attitude were the blueprints for this band. I do like a lot of today's rock, I really enjoy: Live, BuckCherry, STP, Creed, Third Eye Blind, Metallica and Pearl Jam. Of course my classic favourites are Kiss, Queen, GnR, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Whitesnake etc.

I've asked this question of other bands but whats the 'live' scene out there like for you?

Larry: The crowds have really been receptive to us live. I think it shows how much we're into doing what we do and gets the crowd off!

Rick: The 'live' scene seems to be getting better but there are so many different kinds of bands and clubs that it's hard to tell.

T Motts: The New York music scene is wide open to everything. At any given night in any given club you will hear punk, alternative, grunge, rap, metal, pop, folk, you name it. The problem there is that there's no significant scene happening especially when it comes to our music, and therefore only a handful of clubs really cater to our style. The funny thing is where ever we play people seem to dig it and that's what makes us believe that we have something special. When you play for people that aren't really there for us and by the end of the night they're wearing ATELLO hats, that's cool!

Do you think they'd be any merit in holding a combined gig where other New York bands can play on the same bill as you guys, like a mini festival sort of thing?

Ralph: No, I don't think a festival atmosphere would work. Most bands in the New York area are too in it for themselves, and are not willing to share the scene, as well as there really not being too many melodic hard rock bands around here to begin with, or the clubs to play it in. Mini tours have been tried, Larry and I were involved in one, and it just doesn't seem to work, at least not any I've been involved in over the years. However, I have been in contact with a band called LIVESAY and they want to work with us as we do with them, and both bands believe in joining forces to promote our bands, and the scene. Like I said, it's too small a scene to be working alone, and fighting other bands while doing it. Why can't we all just get along?

You've used Jim Barg as your producer, as well as with your earlier incarnation Persia. How did that come about Larry?

Larry: When I initially set out to do this project with Ralph, we knew immediately who we wanted to produce. The problem was, of course, the budget and seeing if Jim Barg was even willing to take on the project. A lot of schedule juggling was necessary, but in the end I think the results speak for themselves. Jim's relationship goes back to pre production on the PERSIA 'No Compromise' EP. I think we were close to the sound I was looking for then, but we definitely nailed it this time.

By and large this is an indie effort. Have you had any bites from mainstream labels and or requests to do support gigs?

Larry: We've had a lot of bites from the majors as well as indie labels. Overall I think the 'big boys' may be afraid to commit to a project like this right now, maybe waiting for someone else to start the ball rolling on this type of music again. I can tell you that at every show there are tons of people digging it, so the market for this type of music does exist, we're living proof! The best thing that can happen to us right now (short of getting signed) is that the new BON JOVI album shakes things up.

Your album 'The Big Payoff' is getting some great press, and I gotta say we at G-DAZE are pretty impressed with it too. How have you found the marketing and promotional aspect of getting it out into the market?

Ralph: Thanks George! Actually, while I never used to be a big fan of the Internet, particularly when we started out last year, I do have to say without it, ATELLO wouldn't have the international impact that we've gained thus far. It's actually quite amazing who (and where) we've gotten e-mails from! Larry and I didn't have the big web site and the support of websites like yours to review us when we were in our last band. The resugence of melodic hard rock has also gained us a lot of exposure as well as 'legitimacy' in the industry. We've touched a lot of lives that we might (at least for a while) not meet face to face, with our music throughout the world, and I've gotta tell you, it makes us feel great!

Thats really cool! How about when it comes to actual songs and lyrics, are you guys writing with any particular reference in mind, or just subjects as and when they strike you?

Larry: When it comes to songwriting, I'm not the kind of guy who can just sit down and say 'I'm going to write a song about THIS now.' Generally speaking, if I've lived it, I can write about it...and trust me...I've done a lot of living! Now that I'm co-writing a lot of the new material with Mott's, I'm also getting a different take on things.

T Motts: Lyrically, our songs come very naturally, either from life as we see it going on around us, or from our own actual experiences. Then we mold them so other people, hopefully will be able to relate to them and enjoy. And just like life, you never know what's coming next!

Well Larry, what has the band got planned for the upcoming summer? Gigs, shows etc

Larry: This summer promises to be pretty interesting for us. We've got a lot of out of state gigs pending and hopefully we'll be finishing up some new material as well as continuing to spread the to whoever will listen to us. Thanks to the Internet we're pretty much a global band, so if London or Germany, or wherever wants us...WE'RE THERE!!!!

Ralph, I know you're a Jersey boy at heart but I gotta ask, what is it about all these Jersey bands that seem to be so prominent in the melodic rock scene at the moment? I mean Bon Jovi, Danger Danger, Shotgun Symphony, Tradia and a truckload of others. Why is this area such a hotbed?

Ralph: Ya know, thats a good question! It's in the water? I guess the influences are great. Bon Jovi by far is tops, not only for the style of music, but for molding Larry into the front man he is today! LOL! Maybe living near the big city of New York has something to do with it. There's a lot of stories and experiences out there in the big city! I hope ATELLO can someday be added to the above list of New Jersey greats! But to be fair, every state has it's great bands. Massachusetts has Aerosmith, California has Van Halen, North Carolina has Firehouse, and the list goes on. One thing I have to say about New Jersey that I must dispell, even though it has nothing to do with the music scene.... We do NOT all live off an exit on the New Jersey Turnpike! An Interstate highway yes, the Turnpike no.. .

Finally, for any readers wanting to know about Atello who perhaps haven't heard of you, what advice can you guys give them to sway them into listening to your brand of melodic hard rock?

T Motts: ATELLO returns rock back to it's truest form: exciting, fun, loud and bombastic both musically and visually. ATELLO celebrates all the elements that are missing in rock: escapism, sexual innuendo, big guitars, wailing vocals and a connection with their audience that makes it fun to hear and see. ATELLO is a party and everyone is invited!

Ralph: I agree with my rhythm section partner! We are not your fathers rock n' roll band! (I gotta give Larry credit for that saying!) We're not what people that aren't into this kind of music think of, to use an '80's' term, as 'posers'....We believe in what we do, and how we do it. We're not doing this to be part of a trend, or to get rich quick! It is who we are. This ain't the Backstreet Boys! Just because we dress well, have long hair, and don't sing about death or how miserable life is, doesn't mean we don't write and preform good music! Granted, we do generaly cater to a particular style of rock, but that holds true for any musical style. As much as we don't want to admit it, it all comes down to marketing! But to wrap it up, good rock n' roll doesn't die, it just hides in the shadows for awhile, and when the latest musical fad is over,(ie: Grunge) it comes back with a vengeance to kick a new gererations ass!

Thank you Larry, Ralph, 'Motts' and Rick for an honest and refereshing look behind the scenes of Atello. HEART of the ROCK wishes you well in your future endeavours.

For any readers out there wanting to dwelve further into the band and their product (in particular the 'Big Payoff' album), hop on over to

Thanks again to the guys in Atello.

Related Articles:
Atello - 1999 The Big Payoff
Atello - 2000 Interview with Atello
Atello - 2002 Welcome To The Wrecking Ball

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