Cook, Alan Cook..... I could repeat your name over and over again ;-)
because your name sounds so melodical, exotic, very nice....? How you choose
I chose this name because from the list I wrote back then, it was the one that sounded much more musical. It is also homage to Capitan Cook, the famous explorer, and also homage to normal people because Alan Cook is a very common name in UK and the Anglo-Saxon countries.
Who is Alan Cook? Would you tell us your real name please and also something about you from young days, before you started your music career?
My real name is Xavier Carbó, and I started studying music at the Conservatory at 6 years old. I was raised in Tarragona, a province capital just 100 km from Barcelona. Played handball and I bought my first professional guitar at 15, paid from giving English lessons.
When you had first contact with music? I mean professional or half-professional?
I started playing guitar and singing in the Night Club scene from Barcelona. Every night I performed on stage and spent day time in University. My studies grant wasn´t that huge. There in one of those clubs, a couple of producers made me a proposition, and Alan Cook was almost born then. I was 22 years old.
How you got in contact
with Italo Disco music and what attracted you to that kind of music?
I discovered Italo at the Clubs, and in fact, its freshness and apparent simplicity got me at first sight.
Italo Disco was very popular in Spain, so much even they created their own style, so called ‘Sabadell’ music. Am I right about this matter? Could you tell us something about that please?
Well, most of the first producers and groups were from the Sabadell area, a big industrial city close to Barcelona. David Lyme, Squash Gang, Ten bros., though most of the people wasn´t really from there. The Sabadell sound was the natural reaction to the Dance music coming from Italy. And I must say many people can´t distinguish the Spanish Italo from the Italian one.
1986. Italo Disco came on top of the popularity worldwide and stayed on
that place for couple of years. This is also the year when you published
your first song ‘Bad Dreams’!
Could you tell us about that song please?!
Have you sung
any back vocal and also some songs under different name?
wonder, what role in your songs you had, just singing or you were involved
in some other ways as well?
In 1986. you released
two songs, ‘Bad Dreams’ and ‘Do You Want To Stay’.
What have you been doing in time between these two songs? A little bit
about ‘Bad Dreams’ please.
I would like to hear
about your impressions on your work with producers and others involved in your
songs? Did you have good time together while you were working and do you have
any interesting story to tell us?
Well, I had a great time with all my producers. The friendly environment and the mutual admiration were keys for my success during those years. In my first release, the background vocals in falsetto are sung by Alex Soler, and can assure you that was great fun. Also have to tell that no one from ‘Max Music’ headquarters was in the studio during recording. They left the job to the pros.
Alan, after finishing the work in Studio, have you been going all together on drink or something?
Well, don´t ever doubt it. This is Spain…., we don’t need to be pushed too hard for that. We also would go to clubs were I used to sing and play together there.
Oh, I didn't ask you about 'Aurha Studio'? Would you tell us more about that studio please? It seems that many Spanish Italo songs were recorded there?
Well, the history is that the Sound engineer of Aurha, Mauri Tonelli, is the brother of Tullio Tonelli, famous musician with the Soler brothers in Atlanta (the group). I recorded 2 titles there, ‘Bad Dreams’ and ‘Running Away’ . A lot of the artists from Max Music used to record there. Actually it is still one of the best Studios in Spain.
You are fan of Italo Disco music. Do you still have vinlys, do you collecting them?
How not! I still have vinyls, though I don’t collect them. I have my good collection with the lovely releases from B&N compilations by Rafa Carmona.
Do you have your favorite vinly, based on cover, song, what was meaning for you when you bought it…? ;-)
My dearest belonging is a vinyl by Ottis Reding, a single bought in Chicago, Sitting in the dock of the bay. It is a song that takes me back to personal memories, and it meant to me what music can make a human being feel.
Would you say few of your favorite Italo Disco artists and songs?
Silver Pozzoli, Fancy, Gazebo, Alan Ross and Mikomission. My fauvourite song is I like chopin and Any from silvio.
Did you perhaps met guys who were making ‘Max Mix-es’, very famous Italo mixes from Spain? Can you tell us anything about that?
I was a privileged witness of the making of ‘Max Mix’ 1 and 2 by my fellow friends Mike Platinas and Javier Ussia, and afterwards with Toni Peret and Josep Mª Castells. I toured with Mike and Javier many times, and Toni and Jose Mº produced my last release, ’I Need somebody to love tonight’.
Are you able to tell us any interesting detail about ‘Max Mix’-es, since you were witness of making them? It would be very interesting to hear any detail, maybe you know how they got an idea about those mixes etc. ?
I witnessed the making of max mix 1 and 2. I remember the wonder boys Mike Platinas and Javier ussía. I was amazed at how Mike was able to cut and paste so perfectly tiny bits of record tape.
Also, could you tell us now about ‘Max Music’ label? About the owners perhaps, where was the location of the company, in which town…?
‘Max Music’ was located in Barcelona. They started in 1984 importing vinyls from Europe, distributing in Discos and so. The owners were Miquel Degá and Ricardo Gomez. They were the pioneers with the Megamix phenomenon and produced along with Blanco & Negro label most of the Italo records in Spain.
you tell us who or what is’ Discomix 80’?
About your concerts.
Where did you have best time on concert?
What do you think
about strong Spanish accent we can hear in some Spanish Italo songs? The
same we can hear in songs sang by Italians? For me personally that sounds
pretty charming and gives to Italo some nice and sweet ‘taste’?
Did you have wishes
to work with any producer from Italy? Was it difficult to get in contact
with any of them?
Would that be return
in old classic Italo Disco style? Are these producers from Spain? Any info we
would appreciate very much! ?
I have offers from Northern countries and from Spain. I prefer to think we could update the italo disco style. Actually we have much better hardware, I would bet for continuing the natural evolution of the style.
Have you tried in your career to experiment with music styles and what was the result?
Well I´ve been into jazz, soul, musicals, Big Bands, and the result has been always very satisfactory.
According to some music databases which can be found on the Internet, your last Italo Disco song was in 1988, it was ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ . What was going on with you after that song?
I tried to turn my career a little more poppy. I did a mini tour in Europe with Al Steward as a guest artist with 12 brand new songs, slow, house and soul and funk. But I could not sign a new contract then and I came back to be a Session singer and composer. I played in small places jazz and soul, then went into a Big Band for many years and also was in a couple of musicals acting dancing and singing.
Today I still occasionally collaborate with some DJ friends in Spain as Tony Postigo or Javier Villegas, give some gigs from time to time, and also spend time in my job as an Export Manager in a big Wine Company. I still compose, sing and I aim to return soon because so many fans can´t be abandoned alone.
Do you have any regret from the 80s?
Not really, I use to say that the best is yet to come….
Alan, is there anything what would you like to say because it is important and I didn’t ask you?
I would like to remember that the great singers that sung Italo were as important as the producers. And also say that we haven´t still seen all the possibilities of the style.
Any message for your fans? ;-)
Thanks for your unconditional support during all these years, and keep your faith in the old Italo artists, because we still have a lot to say and to offer.
Alan, thank you so much for giving me opportunity to have an interview with you. I wish you all the best. Cheers!
You are welcome.
© Zeljko Vujkovic - February 2009