Richard Thomas Cupolo, born in Floral Park, Queens, New York, is the guitarist, keyboardist, and producer of the band The American Dollar. Rich has also worked as a solo artist in the project City Society, and DJ’s from time to time with a Monome.
Before he was born, Rich’s mother knew he liked music because she felt him kicking whenever she listened to songs from The Nutcracker. At the age of 7, little Rich began piano lessons with a Ukrainian teacher, learning the popular classical pieces of composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. He felt this to be increasingly tedious, however, especially when his parents would play Beatles vinyls in the living room on big Japanese stereo speakers, and he would lay down on the carpeted floor listening to the albums.
He quit the piano lessons in 8th grade. Primarily inspired by the simplicity of the huge sound of Oasis, Rich convinced his father to buy him his first American Standard Stratocaster in the summer before he started high school at Townsend Harris. Rich didn’t know what he was doing, but resolved to teach himself the instrument through watching videos online, learning guitar tabs, and playing along with mostly alternative rock songs. He eventually purchased a Fender Roc Pro half stack, and began to torture his parents, friends and neighbors.
As he improved on the guitar, Rich also became fascinated with computer-based recording, and began recording his own music as well as other local bands in high school. Through a long process of trial and error, he began to understand the nuances and mechanisms of studio recording, which he believed would be important going into the future. He continued playing in bands throughout high school, where he met John Emanuele. The two would continue playing in bands together with others until the formation of The American Dollar.
Rich attended SUNY Albany, and continued practicing guitar and refining his recording techniques. Around this time, he experienced a renewed interest in keyboards, first by composing and recording some of his own classical pieces in the university’s music department, and later by discovering Rick Wright’s keyboard work with Pink Floyd. Now, he began to split time equally among guitar, keyboard, and audio production.
After completing undergraduate courses, Rich formed The American Dollar with John Emanuele, and began to seriously apply his production knowledge. He did this as he also attended masters degree courses at Fordham University, and worked as a teacher for the NYC Board of Education, until pursuing music full-time after the album A Memory Stream was released. Rich also completed a J.D. degree from Rutgers after the recording of the album Across The Oceans.
Rich continued to expand his musical talents beyond guitar, keyboard and production. His City Society solo project saw him singing on a professional level for the first time, to a positive critical response. Also, inspired by Pretty Lights, Rich purchased a Monome in 2011 and set about cracking its complicated code to mold it into a groundbreaking and professional instrument. He was successful, and incorporates it into all his projects and DJ appearances. Rich handles most of the technical part of The American Dollar’s artwork, as his father is a graphic designer and taught him many of the industry’s skills.
- Fender American Standard Stratocaster
- Fender Standard P-Bass
- Gibson Les Paul Electric Guitars
- Guild M-20 Acoustic Guitar
- Fender Bassman Amp
- Carvin Bel Air 2×12 Amp
- Fender Blues Junior Amps
- Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Pedal
- Barber Tone Press Pedal
- DD-20 Pedal
- Boss RV-6 Pedal
- Boss CS-2 Pedal
- M-Audio & Akai Midi Triggers
- Monome 64
- Roland A-80 Keyboard