Interviews > Calabrese
Calabrese
Interview by Athena Schaffer

On first listen, The Crowgrrl was immediately blown away by Calabrese’s Born With A Scorpion’s Touch (Spookshow Records). This album immediately had me addicted, and went directly into my personal “Heavy Rotation Stack”. I’m loving this album!!! The band self-proclaims themselves as the “World’s Greatest Horror Rock Band”, and I tend to agree – stellar musicianship framing some of the best damned vocal harmonies I’ve ever heard in my life permeate every track – surpassing even Glenn Danzig-era Misfits (not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination)!

Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the Calabrese siblings are skinsman Davey, with Bobby and Jimmy sharing vocal duties while handling guitar and bass respectively. They’re definitely a force to be reckoned with, appearing in independent films including the SyFy channel’s “The Graves” and on punk rock collaboration albums.

Reading the band’s bio and finding that their influences are some of my personal favorites – running the gamut from Black Sabbath to Danzig to The Ramones and many illustrious icons in between – these are big shoes to fill! But these guys do not disappoint - Calabrese not only combines these influences into a homage, but kicks it up to a whole new notch! They also bring their love of horror movies and comic books into the mix.

Their Youtube Channel is absolutely brilliant! 75 videos (including three from the new album: “I Wanna Be A Vigilante”, “Evil Inside”, and the “Born With A Scorpion’s Touch” title track) mix B-Horror-Movie fun with their jaw-dropping musicianship. I frequently finding myself heading over to YouTube and just hitting “Play All” lately.

The band is currently on the headlining “I Wanna Be A Vigilante” U.S. tour. You’ve got to check them out if they’re anywhere close to your area!

The Crowgrrl recently caught up with Bobby to find out more.

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

We all have our parts when it comes to writing music, all equal in achieving the Calabrese sound. We're like a pirate ship. If we don't assume the roles, the ship sinks and we're fucked.

Do the lyrics come first? Does the music come first? What is the songwriting process like for you?

There's never a set way, I guess. Sometimes a riff comes first and other times the lyrics inspire the song. Usually it starts with a cool beat or a rad guitar part and we build off of there, but sometimes it's the other way around. I remember I wrote the riff to "Saturday Night of the Living Dead" because I REALLY wanted to have a song called "Saturday Night of the Living Dead." Jimmy came up with that one. I kept rolling it around in my head, just thinking about it all the time. The title inspired and created the whole damn song! Who woulda thunk it?

“Born With A Scorpion’s Touch”s title track sounds like it’s about an immortal entity ? Can you tell us more about this mythos/storyline?

We really want everyone to interpret our stuff however way they want it, but to ME, it's about how no matter how hard you try to get ahead in life, how awesome and nice and perfect you try to make everything...you're doomed. You just feel doomed. Everything you do and touch turns to shit. It sounds depressing but in a way it's about being a lone wolf and not giving a shit. This is our ode to not giving a shit. Screw 'em all.

The intro to “Mindwarp” sounds like it’s maybe Latin? What does it mean? Was it a sample from something?

It's a sample from an old Coffin Joe film, Jimmy found it so I'm not too sure on the exact origin. I like the idea of a kid listening to this song on their iPod and getting totally creeped out when the weird chanting in a foreign language kicks in. Remember that little kid's voice in Slayer's song, "Dead Skin Mask?" That was some heavy stuff. This is nothing like it buuuuut we wanted something like that. Something with the same vibe. Optimum listening is acquired while in the dark.

What about intro into “Ride With The Living Dead”?

Too many secrets would be revealed, so I can't reveal them. That and I don't remember, ha!

A few songs are motorcycle oriented. Are you actually riders?

Born to ride, baby! Actually, no, I can't say I'm a true and blue motorcyclist but if anything I DO live vicariously through Evil Knievel and 1970's biker gang films. A lot less grease and head injury.

Can you tell us more about what “Tonight I Am The Warmest” is about?

If there was one thing I loved in highschool...it was cannibal horror films. It was the cream of the crop when it came to the gross and depraved, so of course, I was a fan. This song is about all that good stuff. It wasn't initially, but a few lines we wrote kinda pushed it that way. And the melody and the bridge were Alkaline Trio inspired, so whenever we play it I think of Alkaline Trio on an island eating human flesh. Go figure.

What’s your personal favorite song on “Born With A Scorpion’s Touch”?

It really changes from day, I think I've got split personalities when it comes to our music. Right now, though, it's all about "Born With a Scorpion's Touch." It hits home, baby. It defines the record. It's the past, present and future in rock and roll. I'm paid to say this but I feel it in my bones.

You have videos for “I Wanna Be A Vigilante” and “There Is an Evil Inside”? Any fun stories about the filming of these videos?

"Vigilante" was done by our good pal, Brian Pulido, who's the mastermind behind Evil Ernie and Chaos Comics. The whole shoot was pretty cut and dry, just had to make sure I wasn't drooling too much and Pulido handled the rest. He made us look like a million bucks, if I do say so myself. Over a weekend and a few beers, we did "Evil Inside" ourselves, which was inspired by some of our favorite music videos and films. Black and white, all killer and no filler.

Any stories behind the cover art?

We've had ourselves painted on a record cover before (They Call Us Death) but we've never used an actual photo of ourselves. We went into the design with that in mind, to change the rules and mix it up, just make it totally simple and quick to the point of, hey, looky there, it's Calabrese. A lot of our favorite bands seem to do that so we gave it a shot. If the leather don't sell ya, nothin' will.

You’re currently on the “I Wanna Be A Vigilante” tour?

Yeah, we'll be on the road from March 13th to the beginning of April, in support of the new record, new music video and the rock and roll vigilantes across the good ol' USA. I don't think we'll have any days off so by the end we're gonna be liked caged animals. We're gonna be machines.

What is your live show like?

It's pretty powerful. Loud. Lots of sweat. Downstrokes only. Lean and mean. Energetic. You'll probably get laid. So don't bring your mom. On second thought... bring your mom.

Does your live set list contain mostly songs from your new album, or your other albums?

Whenever we hit the road, we try to mix up the setlist from the last time we played out. This time 'round we'll have a good mix of the old stuff and a lot off the new record. Since the new stuff is bound to be considered classic, we figure it's only fair to hurry up the process and play them live, ya know?

What kinds of merch are you bringing with you this time?

You name it, we got it. Shirts, combs, underwear, posters, patches. Come one, come all. Our business is taking care of business for you!

What do you do on your “down-time” on the road? Do you bring movies or videogames? If so, which ones?

We really don't bring too much, there usually isn't any room or you really just don't ever feel like reading all the time. I always bring a ton of paperbacks and I never end up reading them! If I do, I usually forget what they were all about by the time I get home so why bother? If we could somehow rig a TV with Netflix in our van...now that's easy living right there. But I think our primary pastime is eating, or thinking about eating, or deciding where to eat. Or places to get coffee. If there's enough time, it's always fun just to wander around the city we're playing in for a bit.

Any long-form DVD plans?

We've been trying to figure this one out for years, to be honest. We wanna do a live DVD but it definitely has to be thought out and figured out. Like, where would we film it? Which city? Should we do behind-the-scenes stuff? It's totally do-able, which just gotta hammer out the basics. It would be cool to do a "home movies" kinda deal, just tour around and film it. We'll see what happens.

Your blog mentions you’re into Comics, Dark Movies & Music. Can you be more specific? What are some favorites?

Yeah, I mean, all that shit is good. I like comic books and horror movies and evil music. My favorite movies are Italian giallos or anything by David Lynch. I was born and raised on the music of Glenn Danzig. I just really tend to enjoy the darker, creepier side of things, ya know? I always hated bands that looked like they just rolled out of bed. I hate tame, mediocre music about nothing. I like the danger in rock and roll. I like the punk rock in movies and comics. It's gotta have that edge or I ain't interested.

You’ve worked with some independent movies? Which ones? Just soundtrack or did you make an appearance in them as well?

Our music has been featured in a dozen or so movies (you can check out the complete list at www.calabreserock.com) but our most notable achievement has been playing ourselves as "the band" in Brian Pulido's "The Graves." It was really cool. We did a bunch of takes of us playing to our music while the crowd pretended to rock without any sound. I guess it would muck up the editing so yeah, everyone was totally silent while jumping up and down and going nuts. It was pretty surreal.

You’re featured on some Punk compilation albums? Which ones?

Tons! Check it out at www.calabreserock.com, way too many to name.

How Hands-On are you with your Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace pages?

We do everything ourselves, it's a fun way to stay in touch with our friends and fans, so yeah, good job, Mark Zuckerberg. You did a good thing there.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to tell our readers?

Yeah, be sure to check us out at www.calabreserock.com for all current info and updates on what we're up to, which might include tour news, new music videos and hey, maybe a new album sometime down the road. And to all our friends and fans, thanks for all the support and loyalty through the years! Without you, we ain't shit.