Monday, December 1, 2008

"The Jerry Lee Lewis of Drumming" - Davey Calabrese

After band practice the other night, I took out the hand held recorder and cornered "The Jerry Lee Lewis of Drumming," my brother Davey Calabrese and hit him with some hard questions. Here's that ambush interview, transcribed word for word, enjoy....

Jimmy - I'm sitting here with my brother Davey Calabrese, and I have a few questions for you, you dirt bag. I know when you started playing drums, but when did you first stand on your drums?

Davey - I did it at the Clubhouse with the 3 Bad Jacks, do you remember that? A long time ago, I did that.

J - Did you practice that move?

D - Two times with Bobby.

J - Why don't you just sit behind the drums? Why do you feel you have to dance and interact with the audience?

D - It's fun-er that way. (Laughs)

J - What's "fun-er" about it?

D - It's less boring, I like to see the reactions of people.

J - What kind of reactions?

D - The good reactions of, like, excitement. I like excitement.

J - What do you do to make them excited?

D - Rock out. Which means a lot of head banging and singing along. High fives and a lot of devil horns. That's what I do.

J - When did you first start painting?

D - My senior year of high school, in my art class.

J - Why do you like painting?

D - Because I like having a goal, putting it down and seeing something awesome. Does that make sense? Having an idea, laying it down on the canvas and doing it until you feel it's great. And then you're done.

J - Does painting relate to drumming at all?

D - Yeah, you have to have a lot of practice in order to be great. With recording and live you have to give your best performance you can give.

J - What's it like playing music with your brothers?

D - It's cool.

J - Why am I cool?

D - 'Cause you're funny. (Laughs)

J- I'm funny, how am I funny? Do you think I'm funny like a clown?

D - Yeah. (Laughs)

J - Do you think I'm a joke to you?

D - (Laughs)

J - Bobby and I like to tell people that you learned to play drums by us yelling at you. Is this true?

D - Yeah (Laughs)

J - What was the early days like playing drums?

D - Hard, 'cause it was confusing on how to do things.

J - Who was more mean to you, Bobby or me?

D - It's 50/50. (Laughs)

J - What do you remember that we did to you?

D - Trying to get me to play slower and yelling at me. (Laughs)

J - Why do you think people enjoy music and art?

D - Because it's beautiful. It's an expression of one being.

J - Wrong.

D - What? (Laughs)

J - No, I don't know. Why do you like music and art?

D - Because it makes me feel good.

J - Seeing someone else's self expression makes you feel good?

D - Yes.

J - So what kind of music are you listening to now?

D - Danzig and Tiger Army, a lot of rockabilly. A variety of things.

J - What do you like about Danzig's self expression?

D - I like his toughness.

J - You like how he takes his shirt off to show you his muscles?

D - Yeah (Laughs)

J - So are you really into all this horror stuff? Are you really into it or are you just doing it 'cause me and Bobby are into it and you want to be like us because we are awesome?

D - (Laughs) It started off like that but then I started watching and listening and then I liked it.

J - Why did you like it?

D - Because it made me feel good. (Laughs)

J - What about horror and mutilation and monsters and scaring people make you feel good? Do you have some type of psychological damage?

D - (Laughs) Possibly. I like monsters. (Laughs) Yeah, I like monsters.

J - Do you feel like a monster Davey?

D - Yeah (Laughs)

J - So tell me how else Bobby and myself have influenced you?

D - Clothing and hair. Leather jackets and your hair.

J - What did you use to do, before you became cool?

D - (Laughs) Um, a lot of nothing. (Laughs)

J - Why do you wear sunglasses at night? While you are driving a car? It seems like some sort of hazard.

D- (Laughs) I don't.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Calabrese In Anaheim

There we were, driving down the CA I-5. The new Son Of Sam cranking on the stereo, just 10 minutes away from the venue when SMASH! The impact felt as if someone was jumping on the fender of the van. I looked into the rear view mirror where I saw Dave, wide eyed, trying to quickly put on his seat belt. Dave was looking out his window, I followed his gaze and noticed the trailer fish tailing left and right and then spotted a little sports car, missing a front bumper, spinning out of control. I stepped on the brakes, which calmed the wild trailer and pulled off onto the shoulder.

As we stepped out of the van, cars sped by on the highway, unaffected by our presence. I saw the young driver in the other vehicle checking on his car, he looked OK, I could tell his airbags were not deployed. Taking a look at our own damage, the trailers rear passenger tire was flat and the axle was bent. I started to walk towards the other vehicle. A witness in a white truck told us how a red SUV cut off the sports car, which caused the sports car to swerve and run into our trailer. Of course the red SUV drove off like Godzilla, oblivious to the damage they left behind. As the witness told us his story, right next to where we stood, a Toyota was rear ended on the highway. The young girl in the Toyota pulled to the shoulder as a light brown lawn care truck, with a crushed bumper and grill, drove away. Two guys in the front seat were yelling at the girl as they passed. The kid and I looked at each other knowing we were not standing in a safe place. We agreed to meet up at the nearest parking lot and left.

To my surprise the kid was waiting for us at the parking lot. He even helped us change the tire on the trailer. While retrieving the jack from the trailer we discovered Davey's drums were scattered in the trailer and the drum hardware had punctured a hole in the wall. As we jacked up the trailer we noticed how bad the axle was bent. Like a drunk leaning against the trailer, the tire tilting outward, exhausted from the bender. Once the spare was secured, the wheel didn't rub against the wheel well and we felt no obvious vibration from the trailer as we did a test drive. We felt safe so we rode the rest of the way to the Grove.

If you've ever been to Disneyland out in Anaheim, CA you've probably drove past The Grove. The facility is amazing; it's huge, clean and the stage crew was attentive and professional. The Grove had actual dressing rooms with a couch, mirrors, lights, food and a shower...a fricken' shower! I felt like Frank Sinatra. After we uploaded the equipment we were told the show was sold out (The Grove has a capacity of 1,700). On the surface, this sounds kick ass, but I should mention we were added to this show as a last minute replacement for T.S.O.L. Tiger Army booked 5 nights in a row at the Grove and ticket holders chose this night because of the line up.

So when we hit the stage we played to a sea of blank faces and TSOL shirts! The whole audience stood silent, arms folded, judging our every move, our every note. Their faces all said the same thing "Who the Hell are you and what did you do to TSOL?!" I'm telling you, this crowd was rough -- wiping my ass with sandpaper would have been more pleasant!

I'll admit it's been a while since we played for 1700 strangers and I was out of practice. When we first started the band, every show was a fight to win the audience. I've now formed a habit of feeding off the crowd and normally the audience knows who we are and are energized. So this night on stage I felt like my life force was being drained. The audience, an army of energy vampires, pulled my invisible kite strings as I flapped in the wind trying to keep from crashing. Near the end of our show, a pit finally broke out and I had the ability to start running on stage.

When we completed our set and walked off stage that dressing room felt like a fun house "Hall of Mirrors," claustrophobic and stuffy.Even though the show was tough for me, we did manage to impress some people and we even made new fans that night. Working to win over new fans is just as important as rocking out with the already converted -- it's just not as fun!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Nights With Tiger Army

Day 1

"You guys better keep an eye on your van, this part of Fresno at night attracts a lot of crack heads and homeless." And that's how the promoter greeted us at the Fresno, CA show at the Exit! I assured him we knew the drill and we'd make sure to keep an eye on the van. "This is the kind of neighborhood we're pretty used to playing," I told him, "We know when we're getting close to the venue when the houses have iron security bars and there are more homeless people than street lights!"

When they showed us where to set up the merch table, Tiger Army's merch had already arrived before they did. Tiger Army had 23 boxes of shirts waiting for them as they pulled into the parking lot. They had so much merch that at the end of the night, they asked if we could take some of the boxes and a hand truck to the next venue. We were happy we could help. Oh, yeah, by the way...if anyone is needs a Tiger Army shirt we have a few for sale!

Living in the desert, we're usually the last band to complain about heat. Playing shows in Arizona gets you ready for any non-air-conditioned venue but this night was just outright stupid hot. By the end of the show, Davey looked like he just climbed out of the pool after swimming laps. I should have known something was up, when the security guard working the side door in the main room sat in a chair with two fans facing him. Fans that I suspect were meant for the talent on stage, but who am I to question security! I did find a fan backstage, though, to put on the stage while the Memphis Murder Men played, but of course, there weren't enough electrical outlets to plug into. I all could do was hold up the limp electrical cord so the guys in the band could see I made an attempt to bring them some air!

All in all, it was a great show. Tiger Army and their road crew were cool guys. Very professional.

Relaxing in the glamorous backstage area.

I do have one complaint, though. My guitar strap did fall off during the show. It wasn't just the strap, but the screw that held the lock onto the bass. A very annoying situation which caused me not to move, for fear the strap would fall off again. Good thing the heat was keeping me from jumping around anyway. I made sure to duct tape my bass at the end of the show.

We met a lot of great people at the show. Even the fabled Elvis Trooper, made an appearance! We met him at DragonCon last year, and he came out to support the Calabrese Crew.

And no, unfortunately, he was not in uniform.

Day 2

We were bummed we were only asked to play these two shows, but very grateful they asked. Tiger Army has a really great draw and they do especially well in Phoenix. When we got to the Marquee, I knew it was going to be a good night. The sound board, which is usually in the middle of the floor, was moved to the back of the venue, which meant they expected a lot of people.

Being in a band with your brothers can have it's trouble. Earlier before the show, I got into an argument with Davey and lost my cool. In my rage I decided to go Chuck Norris on the side of the van. I changed my mind mid-kick and tried to correct my aim to hit a tire. I almost hit my target but instead I smashed the top of my foot against the wheel well. F***ing ouch! If you were at the show that night you might have noticed me limping on stage, and well, that's the reason why! In my embarrassment ,I told people that I smashed my foot moving the bass amp but the truth is I'm an asshole!

We arrived extra early at the venue to backline the gear and take our time setting up the merch. I talked to the lighting and sound guy about what we needed. At some venues it's tough to get the attention of the stage hands. Hell, some places we play don't even have a stage! But these guys were attentive and willing to work with us.
The doors opened at 7pm, and a stage hand told us Tiger Army wouldn't arrive till 8pm. Wow, what pompous rock stars I thought! We show up hours before the show and they just stroll in and set up after the doors open. I later found out from the Tiger Army merch guy that the tires on their trailer exploded. They were sitting on the side of the I-10 half the day waiting for the replacements. Crap, I felt like an asshole again!

The crowd was on fire and the adrenalin helped me push through the pain of jumping around on my bruised foot. I almost felt good enough to jump off the drums but I didn't want to push fate. We played for 31 minutes, but it felt like 10. I know it was a good show 'cause people I never met before were buying me drinks and treating me like royalty. When Tiger Army dedicated "American Nightmare" to us during the show our cool points rose +5.

The next day I could barely walk on my foot, so I went to the Emergency Room to get x-rayed. Luckily it wasn't broken, just my ego!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How much Soul do you have?

They say only the Devil can collect the souls of the living...I
disagree! We have collected a few ourself! People think we're
megalomaniacs but let me ask you this -- how many souls has YOUR band collected?

What do we plan on doing with these souls? The possibilities are endless, but we are hanging onto them for a rainy day. So when the time comes and we need some quick cash to upgrade our equipment, we might sell them to companies like the WWYS ( or we could sell them back to the original owners (Ebay has currently banned the sale of souls).

I know, I know, we could eat these souls and gain immortality, fame and fortune, but that would be cheating. We want to do things the old fashion way -- with blackmail, bribes and threats!

Here's a sampling of the souls we've gathered when, people joined our Fan Club, "The Young American Mystic Cult Of Horrors." Names have been removed to protect these soulless beings!

1/3 of this Soul is mine but the bastard wants it back when he dies! What a tease! (We still have not signed it yet.)
One Soul coming right up!

This is signed in blood, nice!

This guys signed over his "living" soul to a "Calabrese brother", now we have to fight over it!
How cute she's giving us her soul, collection to be made upon death, I can't wait!

I'm pretty sure this contract will hold up in court, just try and take it back buddy.

Nice and simple.

Feel free to send us your Soul, no membership required, we'll take good
care of them!

CALABRESE/Spookshow Records
P.O. Box 93817
Phoenix, AZ