Jeff Vitolo & The Quarter Mile Rebels
Once music is in your blood, it just keeps pumping through for the rest of your life. This is true of musician Jeff Vitolo. He started playing guitar at 12 years old and from there has undergone a journey of musical trials and triumph. Growing up with a mother and sister who loved Elvis, The Beatles and anything 1950’s, the love was there, but it was the moment he heard KISS for the first time and saw their picture that he thought, “This is awesome!” That mentality has accompanied him through his years of music making.
His first band, Intice, got together in 1985 and lasted five years. Since then Vitolo has played in several bands including: Tyger Tyger (1991-1994), Headshock (1994-1996), Roxx Gang, The Mojo Gurus (1997-2005), and The Dive Bar Stalkers (2006-2012). “I had Dive Bar Stalkers. We had a good run for about five or six years. Then people wanted to branch out, so we put it on the back burner. I still had a few people that still wanted to stick around including my backup singer and harmonica player. We got a new bass player and drummer and kind of put my name in it. After years of band after band, this is the first band that I have put my name in front of. I figured I would start building my brand now, after all these years,” says Vitolo. His creation: Jeff Vitolo & The Quarter Mile Rebels.
“The band has been together since November. We are working on getting the name out there, promotions and sending stuff out. Our Reverbnation page is #2 in this region. We are getting the website up and talking to all our contacts--taking it slow and easy and going to record a new single in the next month or two.” The music business certainly has changed over the years and Vitolo has been in the front seat for all of it. The scene has changes drastically since the 80’s. “It was before MTV, Internet, and seeing a musician on TV was special,” Vitolo says. “You have to roll with the changes; a lot of people got left by the waistside. Everybody is trying to figure out the new way of the music business. It is hard for record companies to give artists money. Now they have these new record deals, these 360 deals. In the past they gave money and you paid back in record sales. Bands have to sign over everything. It is a big gamble. It is how much you really want to put behind you.”
Even with the ebb and flow of the business, Vitolo has stood strong as a musician and a band member. Keeping up with the changes and making music through the years. “The cool thing about music is there are so many things. It is not about the money. After the money is spent, all you have are memories. Like opening up for my first national act; just getting to that status where I am playing original music. My first few bands were all original music. It gave me that hope that I could get that far--to realizing what I could really do and being accepted for my music.”
Although he has transitioned from band to band through the years, he remains rooted in his love for rock music. “Getting older, I have always liked different styles--different genres of rock. I loved all kinds of music starting with Ted Nugent, then going through metal guys, played in metal bands, rock bands. I would say it is one of those things where your stuff changes. I have been doing more roots rock and rockabilly, blues rock and roll. I want to be convincing on stage. I’m playing music that is timeless and trying to bring a modern spin to it--supping it up a little bit. As I get older, with more albums, it is a growth. You have to grow as an artist. I have 13 albums out. I have stayed true to rock music. It has gotten heavier and more rootsy but it still has an edge to it.”
Jeff Vitolo & The Quarter Mile Rebels is a band that caters to the rockabilly world. With bluesy rock and roll that goes back for decades; they bring a whole other generation to life. “The cool thing about it is everyone is into this cool stuff--vintage stuff, pinup side, hot rod cars, and old movies. It is a timeless classic that is always going to come back and inspire people who haven't caught on to it. It isn't an accident that these vintage styles stayed around for so long. Even with music and me growing up listening to Nugent, finding out who influenced him. I did the same thing with Elvis, old blues songs and learning those songs that inspired him. Between Roxx Gang and Mojo Gurus I began to really study those old guitar player guys and going through the 50's guys. As you go through the newer bands, you can find where they got their things from,” says Vitolo. It is that heritage and tradition that comes alive in their music making.
“We have such a fun show. They (backup singers) come out decked out in vintage models stuff, very sexy, classy--Marilyn Monroe style with the rolled up blue jeans. We put our own spin. It is a high energy rockabilly blues, rock and roll revival--amping it up and young people like it and old people like it. We’ve got a good niche with the people that are really into it. The people are into it full blast and it is a part of a lifestyle.”
Of course, in true Vitolo style, he is always staying true to himself no matter the audience. “I don't really try and stay too close. I keep somewhat the same vibe and arrangement like a lot of the rockabilly people. I am not a purist. I am just cranking out through a Marshall amp and seeing how it sounds. Trying to stay close to that sound but it comes out in my own way.” He has been following his own way for years now and it really is working. “Anything vintage and classic is a good thing for me. I grew up on it and I am not trying to be the flavor of the week. I have had my heyday of record companies. I am trying to do my own thing and get my own following--do it myself and if it catches on, as long as I can keep on making music. It is so different when you put it around different bands or they are into a certain style and trying to compete.”
After all these years of bands and music, albums and touring, Vitolo has finally taken the time to focus on the personal aspects of his career. “I am building my own brand. Doing what I have been doing for years and rolling with it and building on it. I am getting people that want to jump on in with me. I have laid many, many years of groundwork to put my name out there in the front,” Vitolo says.
Jeff Vitolo & The Quarter Mile Rebels are sticking to Florida and working their circuit. Florida fans are in for a one of a kind show. To find out more about shows and information visit, jeffvitolo.com.