As a kid picking up a guitar for the first time, Alex Olivetti was unsure if music was for him. At that age, he was more interested in playing video games. But a short time later, he found a love for music and now plays across the country with his band Threatpoint. He is a graduate of Mid Valley High School and Penn State University, where he studied information science technology. A Throop resident, he is employed by Mondelez International in Hanover Twp., where he works as a customer order fulfilment analyst.
Meet Alex Olivetti…
Q: How did you first get into music, particularly metal music?
A: I got into music at 8 or 9 years old. I was pretty young. My dad is also a guitar player. There were always guitars around the house. I was looking at a guitar one day and asked my dad to show me something on it. I took lessons off of him for about a year. Like every other kid, I just wanted to play video games and eat potato chips, so I gave it up for a while. In high school, I started taking it more seriously. I actually started listening to Metallica and Nirvana on the radio at a young age. When I was taking lessons and trying to balance video games, there was a game I used to play that had a lot of heavy-metal music in its soundtrack. I played the game so much that I naturally got into it.
Q: What were some particular challenges of learning to be a metal musician?
A: With the style we do, the music is pretty fast. You’re not just strumming chords; you’ve got to make sure both your hands are coordinated and in sync. I have to go over different scales and practice stamina so I can play a full set of music.
Q: Describe the father-son bond you were able to establish through music.
A: We used to play out together a lot. We don’t play out anymore, but around the house we’ll still jam quite a bit. It is really cool to have a bond on that level. When I was younger, I kind of took it for granted, not having to go somewhere for lessons or pay a lot of money. I got to the point where I lost interest in it. As I got older, I took it for what it was, and it was so cool to be able to jam with him and share the stage with him. We’re almost like best friends, so I get to hang out with him on weekends. We can play and learn songs together. I think it’s cool because not everyone has that kind of bond with an immediate family member. He still comes out to my shows and sometimes runs sound for us.
Q: Who are your musical inspirations?
A: I listened to Metallica and Rob Zombie on the radio. That was kind of my introduction to hard rock and heavy metal. In high school, when I started taking it more seriously, bands like Pantera and Trivium were big influences on me. Lately, there are a few guitar players I’ve really been into. One is Paul Gilbert; he’s one of the shred guys, a really fast and technical player. I got an instructional DVD by him, and I really nerded out over that one summer. Another one is Mark Tremonti. He has a solo band and plays in a band called Alter Bridge. A couple weeks ago, I got to do a guitar clinic with him. It was really cool. Some of the more modern bands I like are Shadows Fall and Sevendust.
Q: Threatpoint released its fourth album last month. What can people expect from it?
A: We’ve definitely progressed as musicians and songwriters. We’re trying to expand our horizon. It’s more upbeat and a little bit faster than our previous stuff. I think it has more energy overall, which translates well into playing live. I think it’s our best to date, and every album you want to get better. I think it’s high-energy, and the songs are more diverse with the vocals too.
Q: What is something people might be surprised to learn about Threatpoint?
A: Believe it or not, as heavy and aggressive as our music is, we try to stay positive with our lyrics. A lot of our lyrics take the spiritual realm and are about going through everyday life or relationships and trying to keep your head up. A lot of metal music can get stereotyped that it’s like devil-worshipping, evil or negative. We try to flip it and stay positive. I think that sort of sets us apart from some of our counterparts.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being part of the Northeast Pennsylvania music scene?
A: NEPA as a whole is really strong in the music scene. There are a lot of really talented bands, musicians and artists. It’s really cool to be in your hometown and play with all these good bands. Everyone gets along too, so it’s like you’re hanging out with friends, then suddenly you’re playing a set of music.
Q: What other hobbies and interests do you have?
A: I enjoy soccer. I like movies a lot and watch a lot of movies. I also like guitar as a hobby. I play guitar a lot even outside of working with the band. I’m a big music listener. At work, we’re allowed to listen to music, so I always have headphones in. Outside of work, I spend a lot of time listening to music on YouTube looking for new bands and guitar videos. I also like hanging out with friends in my free time, too. I’m an Eagles fan, which was great last year.
Q: Tell me about your work at Mondelez International.
A: Working at Mondelez, we handle a lot of the Nabisco products, and I’m a big snack guy, so it’s great. I do a lot of reporting. I work with our distribution centers who send the product to our customers. I look at how we can prevent item cuts in the future. It’s based around the supply chain, looking at inventory and getting products to the customers and fulfilling their orders.
Q: Have you had a particular time in your life that helped shape the person you are today?
A: In terms of outlook, I’m going to be 30 this year. I realize we’re not going to be here forever, so I want to enjoy my time here. It makes me like playing in the band more, being able to do what I love, the travel and going to places I never would have been otherwise. The band has gotten to play in almost 40 states. We’re going to Canada next month to play. Seeing different places, meeting new people and trying different food is great. The coolest thing in the world is playing in a place we’ve never been with bands we’ve never heard of and people are singing our songs and buying merchandise. When we go back to that place, they bring their friends, and it really builds. To go from the first time playing there to the 10th time and seeing growth is really something. Being able to travel is something I want to do more of. I never would have gotten to go places like Maine and up that way, so I’ve come to enjoy taking it all in.