Drake Bell: Teen hearthrob all grown up

Drake Bell
Drake Bell photo by Vince Trupsin
Drake Bell discusses the LGBT community, music, his world tour, and the probability of a Drake & Josh reboot

Drake Bell broke into the entertainment industry at the ripe age of seven. He went on to acquire an impressive resume appearing in blockbuster films Jerry Macguire and High Fidelity as well as major television series Home Improvement and The Amanda Show before landing his breakout role as the lead in Nickelodeon’s comedy series Drake & Josh.

Drake Bell
Drake Bell photo by Vince Trupsin

During his teenage years, Drake Bell discovered his passion for music. He released his debut album Telegraph in 2005 featuring “Found a Way,” the theme song for Drake & Josh. Bell went on to release his sophomore album It’s Only Time in 2006 and third album Ready, Steady, Go! in 2014. Bell sold over one million singles in the U.S. alone. In recent years, Bell has even transitioned into a lucrative voiceover career.

In the midst of releasing a variety of new singles, Drake Bell, who was personally impacted by the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, helped lead a major fundraiser at The Abbey in Orlando, Florida as the kickoff to his 2018 tour. One hundred percent of net proceeds went to the onePULSE Foundation, victims and families of the victims.

Will Loschiavo: What inspired you to proactively spearhead the benefit concert for the families and victims of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre with all net proceeds going to onePULSE Foundation?

Drake Bell: The night prior to the Pulse Nightclub massacre, my friend The Voice’s Christina Grimmie was shot just down the street in Orlando. I was still reeling from that when I witnessed on the news, in real time, the Pulse tragedy coming out of Orlando. I had family and friends in the precise area where the shooting was taking place, as did my girlfriend, and her mother even had people in the club at the time of the shooting. This hit so close to home. The last time I was on tour, we were driving past the Pulse Nightclub memorial. We stopped to check it out and I liken the experience to visiting Group Zero; you can feel the gravity of the situation. As a musician, I wondered what I could do that could have any affect if at all. Then, my team and I came to the conclusion that if we could organize an event and donate all proceeds to the foundation, it could truly make an impact all around.

“When a certain group is attacked, it is just so un-American”

The onePULSE Foundation Fundraiser marked the official kickoff to your tour this year. Was this intentional or coincidental?

DB: Intentional, which I am happy about, because Pulse has to be the biggest attack against the LGBT community. When a certain group is attacked, it is just so un-American and nothing I stand for. It just cuts to the core. From the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, it is so surreal to me that evil of this caliber exists, and moreover, that people who are innocently trying to enjoy themselves are routinely the target.

Would you consider doing another LGBT event in the near future?

DB: It is funny you ask, because I was just in talks about this potentially being the inaugural fundraiser for an annual event. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have so many family and friends in Orlando, as well as many who are a part of the LGBT community in Los Angeles. This community is my family, and I am passionate about expanding this initiative.

The new Drake Bell tour this fall and winter

You have a plethora of tour dates lined up for the fall. What can fans expect on this upcoming tour?

DB: This tour is going to be stripped down and more acoustic. There is more of an intimate element involved this time around. Fans can expect more interaction. Everything will be very off the cuff and not strictly dependent on a setlist. I will definitely be switching things up, doing material from the older records to now, and including different arrangements.

Drake Bell
Drake Bell photo by Vince Trupsin

You’ve recently mentioned that you are experimenting with a range of artists, producers and genres as of late. Can you touch upon this? Can fans expect new music in the near future?

DB: This summer, I released three singles: “Call Me When You’re Lonely (Feat. Lil Mama),” “First Thing in the Morning (Feat. Mike Taylor),” and most recently “Gucci Gang.” Each has a different sound to it. I have new material I am gearing up to release later this year. I am currently working with Tank God, the producer behind Post Malone’s mega hit “Rockstar,” and experimenting with an urban sound. On the contrary, I have a huge fanbase in Central America and South America; and have also been experimenting with a Latin sound akin to Luis Fonsi. I guess you can say I am a much more eclectic artist these days

Is all of the new material set to come together in the form of a full-length album or EP?

DB: The Hip-Hop/R&B material may be released as an EP whereas one Latin single may be released initially to test the waters. It all boils down to what I have time for. Currently there are no plans to make a full-length album, which is very time consuming in and of itself. I would like to see the response to what I am currently experimenting with first.

Given you are experimenting so broadly musically, who is your dream collaboration?

DB: Above all, Paul McCartney. However, if I were to choose someone modern, it would most

Drake Bell
Drake Bell photo by Vince Trupsin

likely be Post Malone. I really dig his music and I think we would get along well. We are simpatico musically. I would also have to give my vote to Kendrick Lamar. That would definitely be something outside the box.

Being on the road so much, where are some of your favorite locations to perform?

DB: I love touring the tristate area. New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and, of course, New Jersey have all been really good to me. I have played New Jersey quite a bit over the past year and it has always gone really well. Outside of the United States, I love Amsterdam and Mexico. I get such an amazing response in Latin America. I love the culture, the people, and the food. I consider it a second home. I could move to Mexico City tomorrow.

The chatter about a Drake & Josh reboot

There has been a lot of chatter as of late as to a Drake & Josh reboot. Have you spoken to Josh Peck about this? What are the odds?

DB: I would love for a reboot to be launched. If we are going to come back, there has to be a solid form of creativity present. I do not want to do something cliché ala Drake & Josh: College Years. There has to be some more thought to it. Fortunately, I have actually spoken to Josh about this, and he has come up with some very clever ideas and concepts, which I think are genius. Our schedules just need to sync up, not to mention I would really love to have Dan Schneider, who executive produced the series, to be involved in the writing and creation of the reboot. I am always into getting The Beatles back together if the timing is right (laughs).

Do you have any other projects in the works? Any last words for fans?

DB: Right now, I am purely focused on the music. I am kicking off the North American leg of the tour first, and will be traveling throughout the United States. Thereafter, I am heading to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil and a host of other countries. Overall, I am looking forward to a big and strong 2019. I live for my fans!