"The younger generation are totally vibing with this music, and they aren't really comparing it to other things": how Tempt are recreating the sound of the 80s for a new generation

Tempt group portrait
(Image credit: Eric White)

Tempt sound like all your favourite high-charting hard-rocking bands from the 80s, but retooled for the Tik-Tok generation. On the young New Yorkers’ irresistible self-titled album, catchy single Roses harks back to Slippery-era Bon Jovi. On Camouflage, Hideaway and throughout they wear their love for Def Leppard proudly. Their hook-up with Dorothy, Living Dangerous, could be Foreigner’s Hot Blooded produced by Mutt Lange, who is one of their producer heroes. 

“Classic rock’s in our DNA,” guitarist Harrison Marcello explains, “but we don’t want to just recreate what we love about it. We want to bring a fresher, newer sound, where the melody’s still strong and the guitar still has the hooks, but it’s palatable and fun for younger audiences. When we hang out with friends we’re hearing all this new stuff all the time – R&B, rap, alternative rock – that we want to incorporate into our sound, because we love it.” 

So while Tempt’s ear-candy album opener Girl ends up like The Cars on 11, it comes on a lush wash of synthwave. Golden Tongue and Welcome Me In have bass-heavy R&B funk in with the rock crunch. With shades of everyone from Loverboy to The Killers to The Weeknd, this is proper, life-affirming, 21st-century stuff: Gen-X songwriting muscle, Gen-Z production head. 

A decade ago, vocalist Zach Allen was a high-schooler working on music with Jon Bon Jovi’s old bandmate, songwriter/producer Jack Ponti, who told Allen he needed his Page, his Perry, his Glimmer Twin. Marcello was studying classical composition in Boston at the time, and when Allen stumbled upon a YouTube video of him shredding away in his dorm room, he made contact. Tempt’s debut album Runaway was released in 2016, and caught the acute ear of much-missed rock journalist Malcolm Dome, of this very parish. 

“We owe so much to Malcolm,” says Allen. “He found us years ago and pretty much got us where we are today. We’d send him the music we were working on and he’d give us feedback. He loved Living Dangerous so much that he sent it to [late, renowned agent] Steve Strange, who became our manager. Steve sent it to [heavyweight mixing engineer] Chris Lord-Alge, and that’s when things really got going for us.” 

With bassist Chris Gooden and drummer Nicholas Burrows joining in 2017, Tempt have since supported Bon Jovi, Shinedown, Tremonti and Iron Maiden. Last year they toured Europe and played a riotous Download slot. With the band’s name spreading quickly, things are looking up. 

“The younger generation are totally vibing with this music,” Harrison says, “and they aren’t really comparing it to other things. It’s something totally fresh for them, and we’re so excited about that.”

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.