Not everyone can say they have 10 Kids Choice Awards clinking around their digs, but Drake Bell certainly can. As star of Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh, Bell is no stranger to the kind of success that can be dizzying. But music is another great passion that ignites the fire inside this talented artist and Bell is gearing up for the release of his new album, ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ swimming against the tide with a rockabilly sound. We catch up with Bell to find out what makes him tick.
HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: When did you get that first itch to perform?
DRAKE BELL: Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I was meant to perform. I started at 5 years old, and wanted to be an entertainer ever since.
HM: Were your family wary of you getting into the unpredictable entertainment industry at such a young age?
DB: My family has always been very supportive of my decisions and my passions.
HM: How have you avoided going off the rails, which many artists that have started out young, have gone through?
DB: I care about the class or the company of the people rather than the party itself. I have been very lucky and fortunate to do what I love. And I try to avoid anything that would interfere with that!
HM: Drake & Josh has been one of Nickelodeon’s most successful television series. Best thing about being on the show…
DB: Honestly, it is impossible to pick out just one thing. If I had to choose, I would go with the cast and the crew. We built a family on set, which was one of my favorite parts about the show.
HM: Now let’s talk music. Who are some of your influences?
DB: My biggest influences include The Beatles, The Stray Cats, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys!
HM: Describe your sound in 3 words.
DB: Rock. And. Roll. Haha!
HM: Your album ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ drops on April 22nd. You co-wrote “Bitchcraft,” “Makes Me Happy,” and “Give Me A Little More Time.” Tell me about those tracks.
DB: “Bitchcraft” is more of a swing rockabilly sound. It is about a girl’s evil ways and the fact that you are not falling for them anymore! “Makes Me Happy” was actually written a while ago. I reworked it and included it on this record, as well. It was cool, ‘cause it is just a fun song about getting up in the morning and forgetting all your worries. “Give Me A Little More Time” is about being love sick and it has a “One for My Baby and One for The Road” feel to it.
HM: You’re swimming somewhat against the tide, with the rockabilly feel to the album in the age of a twerking Miley Cyrus and the sugary-pop offerings of One Direction. Commercial gold to be sure, which makes what you are doing seem quite bold. What was the thinking?
DB: I find it hard to conform, just because something else is trending at the moment. I love Rock & Roll music, its energy and the excitement. The cool thing about it is that it will never die. The influencers will always be there, waiting at the corner to come back and strike again. I love rocking and constructing a new song, instead of simply turning on a computer. When I make music, I like being honest with myself. I could never represent myself by going on stage and twerking! All I want is to hang my guitar on my shoulder and perform.
HM: Your album was executive produced by music legend Brian Setzer. Talk about the collaboration.
DB: It was just incredible! He was my idol growing up, and has always been the guitar player I strive to be. If I told myself at 14 that I was going to make a record with him one day, my head would just explode. It was a dream come true to sit in studio with him and hear him compliment parts of record and give suggestions. It is very surreal and I actually still cannot believe it happened.
HM: Is there one song on the album that holds particular meaning for you?
DB: I will have to go with “I Won’t Stand In Your Way,” just because it is one of my all-time favorite songs by Brian Setzer. I never imagined I would be recording it one day, with Brian playing the guitar! It is still a tear-jerking moment for me to press play and hear the song.
HM: If we caught you on a Friday night, what would you be getting into?
DB: I would probably be at Disneyland!!
HM: What’s the master plan?
DB: The master plan… is to be selling tickets and entertaining people when I am 80!! I want to be able to continue doing what I am doing for as long as I can. I love performing and I look up to people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett. I just never want to retire.