It’s safe to say that music flows through Alexander Simone’s veins.
The New Jersey-based musician is the grandson of singer/songwriter Nina Simone and the second son of singer/actress Lisa Simone, so doing music was a no-brainer for him. Simone started off doing music in church and started to find his own voice.
“I don’t know if I would say I’ve settled on a style. I think when you think of me and my band, I think soul comes to mind because of the sound. I’m trying to touch your soul, I try to touch the soul to move the soul,” said Simone. “I would not say there isn’t a style I haven’t tried, I would like to say that I always wanted to dabble in a little country. I would like to touch more gospel as well. A lot of people leave my shows, they say that was an experience, soulful. That’s my roots.”
These days, Simone front man of Whodat?, a group of musicians that lay down soulful tunes hailing from Asbury Park, New Jersey. The band, which taps into a number of genres including rock, jazz, gospel, R&B, funk and more, is made up of Stanley Luke on drums; Jules Drucker on guitar; Kevin Stryker on bass; Timothy McClain on keyboards; Chris Fitzgerald on sax; and Bryen Reeves and Kindra Graham on vocals.
The group is one of many that have built their way through the Asbury Park music scene, including Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and many more.
“From Bruce Springsteen to Bon Jovi to just the rich sound that comes from it, Asbury Park is such an underground area,” said Simone. “It’s usually the underground areas where the best music comes from. It’s not like New York or LA, Asbury Park is like another side.”
One opportunity that Simone and Whodat? had was to play alongside Pearl Jam’s lead singer and guitarist Eddie Vedder at the Sea.Hear.Now. music festival at Asbury Park last summer.
“Playing with Eddie man, that was humbling. It was an unreal moment. It just shows a testament of the work that he’s doing. He said he wanted a soul sound, and somehow they called out to me,” said Simone. “This man is an icon, that was pretty awesome. I can’t wait to experience that moment again. I wouldn’t say put us on the map, we were already on the map. It made the town see and respect what we were doing.”
Simone says that he hopes to be able to play with Vedder again at some point, and even more would like to have his own set at the Sea.Hear.Now festival.
“It was really humbling. He was campaigning that we should be on that stage this year, he guaranteed that we would be on that stage this year,” said Simone. “That was last year, the lineup came out and we weren’t on it. He really put our standard out there.”
Simone’s latest track “Man Down” was recently released online. The song fully embraces Simone’s soulful style of music, and Simone says that it taps into where he was at the time of writing it, feeling the pressures of everyday life while contemplating the weight of it all.
“Basically it was where I was at the time. I was feeling down. I’m not in that place anymore, but I thought it was a good time to put it out,” said Simone.
The music video for the song dropped on YouTube on June 24, 2022. For Simone, it was really important to portray certain vices that people may turn to when life gets you down or stresses you out too much.
“It was basically important to portray the different things we used to cope when we feel these ways. We may fall into drugs, we may fall into different depressions — we fall into different things we need to cope with what’s going on,” said Simone. “It was easy to portray that because a lot of people they go do drugs, weed, they go to whatever they go to, they go to their different addictions to cope with life. I wanted to show that.”
Simone says that the response to the song has been very positive, with many people being able to find pieces of themselves in the song.
“The response has been great. It actually turned into one of my most played songs,” said Simone. “I’m surprised and happy that people are relating to it and people are showing me just that. I’m grateful.”