With a reputation of putting on high energy shows and impressing crowds wherever they go, the now Melbourne based Calling All Cars are ready to make a convert out of each and every Aussie rock fan.
Drummer (and all round nice guy) James caught up for a chat…
Hey mate, how are you today?
Good thanks, how are you?
Pretty good thanks, what’s been keeping you busy?
Shows and just writing some new material, all the usual stuff, ha ha.
For those that aren’t familiar with Calling All Cars, can you tell us a bit about how the band got together?
Well, Hayden and I are brothers, which makes it nice and easy. He was playing guitar from a young age and needed a drummer to fill the spot, so I was his first pick by default, ha ha.
We knew Matt because he went to school with us, so we’ve been playing together since I was about nine years old. We haven’t been “Calling All Cars” for that long, but we’ve been playing together for about seven years all up, so yeah. We ended up moving to Melbourne about three years ago, which is when we decided we’d take it seriously and give it a shot.
As you mentioned, you guys relocated the band from coastal NSW to Melbourne in 2005. Why Melbourne instead of somewhere like Sydney?
I think at the time it was because we had more relatives and friends in Melbourne, plus we’d heard it was the hot spot and there were more bands coming out at the time, and there were more accessible venues, so it was just the easiest and safest bet at the time.
And you can’t forget the shitty weather…
Definitely not, ha ha, it’s hard to pick but we’re getting used to it.
Do you think Calling All Cars would’ve received the same level of exposure had you stayed in your hometown?
I mean, to build the band it’s all about who you know and you’ve got to broadcast yourself and consistently work and just getting out there to be seen. I think staying in a small town has its benefits because there are no neighbours out there and you’ve got a free rehearsal space, but when it comes to meeting other people and other bands you’ve got to be in the thick of the action.
Your latest EP “Animal” was released on the 16th of this month. Can you walk us through the writing and recording process?
Well, we’ve had some of these songs for six to twelve months, so we were pretty familiar with the tracks, so it was just a matter of getting it done as quickly as we could, so that way we could focus on getting some new material done as well.
We did the entire recording with Tom Larkin, who’s the drummer from Shihad, and he has a studio in Brunswick, so we spent a long time with him working on structures and just tracking everything. From there went to Studio 001 in Collingwood, which is really awesome, it’s actually one of my favourite drum rooms in Melbourne and yeah, everything turned out sounding mighty, ha ha. We’re really happy with it.
Hayden does the majority of the writing and then brings it to the table to see what else Matt and I can bring to it, and yeah, it just went really well.
How do you think your sound has developed since your first EP?
We’ve definitely found more of our sound, which has to do with touring a lot more, and playing with a lot of different bands and learning the ropes. We’ve definitely solidified a more punk, high-energy style of rock in the process.
Any reason why you opted to do another EP rather than knocking out a full length, especially with labels steering away from EP’s due to retailing issues?
We wanted to develop ourselves more before we shot for an album. A lot of bands aren’t that well known before they put out their album. We didn’t want to be a band where people go, “yeah, I’ve heard of them, but I’m not willing to spend twenty dollars”, so we felt two EP’s is enough to tour on without shooting ourselves in the foot.
Off the one EP we managed to tour with bands like Trial Kennedy, so we really felt having two EP’s is a good place to be at the moment.
As you just touched on, the band has spent a lot of time on the road in the last 12 months, with artists as diverse as Shihad, Gyroscope and Trial Kennedy. What impact has that had on the band, as far as your sound and your approach to touring?
Our approach to touring has been affected because we’ve learned the rules of the road I guess, you know, the etiquette that everyone has for each other. At first I was a bit timid when I was around other bands who’ve been doing it for that long, so I tried to stay out of the way but make sure I was there to help if someone needed me, ha ha, but I think it’s not just a matter of impressing them on stage, but as people as well.
Word does spread you know? You can be an amazing band but if you’re not a nice guy on stage then people will talk, ha ha.
As far as other bands influencing our music I think it’s impossible to spend time on the road with other bands and not be influenced, you know, especially coz they’re the bands I’d choose to listen to anyway, ha ha.
Selling records is obviously a struggle at the moment, given the shape the industry is in at the moment, so how would you convince someone to part with their hard earned for a copy of your new EP?
It’s only fifty cents more than a coffee, ha ha. Nah, I mean, if you’ve heard it on Triple J then maybe give it a listen and come and see us live, because I think our live show is pretty convincing and true to the actual recording. I think for anyone who hasn’t seen us before you should definitely come to a show coz I think we do a good job of it.
The decrease in record sales has really re-emphasised just how important touring is to a lot of bands. Do you think that it’s pushing bands to step up their live show?
I think that being able to deliver live is the main kind of asset of our band. Because recording has become so easy, with things like Pro Tools, so a decent recording doesn’t cost an arm and leg. Back in the day there was only one way to do it, you had to be good at what you did and you had to rely on labels to fund your records. Now that there are so many bands surfacing with material and new indie labels popping that I think it’s made it hard to compete in that way.
You guys are about to hit the road for a month with Birds Of Tokyo, what are you looking forward to most from the tour?
There are so many things on tour that you look forward to, so with Birds Of Tokyo we’ve already found out that a lot of the shows are sold out. The first show that we jump into in Perth is already sold out, so playing to some big crowds is going to be awesome.
How do you think you’ll fare with the Birds Of Tokyo crowd?
A lot of people got into the band because of the connection with Karnivool, so they may be more familiar with the harder kind of rock stuff, but we’ve got a lot of melodic stuff going on so I think it should all come together for us quite well. We’re willing to cop good and band criticism if it’s going to help build the band. I know they’re going to deliver every night so we have to be ready to deliver as well.
What else is in the pipeline for 2008?
Just writing and then we’ve got some festivals coming up as well, which should be a lot of fun. There’s some more stuff that’s being worked out at the moment but we’re going to focus on getting ready for an album.
We’re going to finish up with something a little less serious mate, so first up, if you could tour with any 3 bands, who would it be and why?
Straight away, didn’t even have to think about it, would be AC/DC, but for the same reason I wouldn’t want to do it because they’re so good, ha ha.
Probably Queens Of The Stone Age and Rage Against The Machine, just because they’re the dudes! Ha ha
Who are some local bands that people should check out if they haven’t already?
There’s a lot of them man, ha ha. There’s one band that we’ve been touring with called Famous By Association who are awesome and I think they’ve got a lot of potential.
What’s your best remedy for a hangover?
Really? Dairy on a hangover? You’re game…
Ha ha, yeah, strange I know.
Most embarrassing moment on stage?
You’d have to talk to Hayden about that I think, ha ha.
Yeah, you’d be pretty safe up the back, ha ha.
And finally, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done for a buck?
I’m sure I’ve eaten a bug at some stage, ha ha.
Anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?
If anyone hasn’t heard the EP yet maybe go check it out and try and get yourself a ticket to Birds Of Tokyo.
Cool, thanks for your time mate and good luck with the tour.
For more info head to the bands Mypsace page.