Calabrese are possibly one of the underground’s biggest bands you’ve never heard of. A blend of horror rock meets rockabilly, sometimes dubbed gothabilly, the trio hails from Phoenix, three brothers whose love of comics, dark movies, and music led to becoming professional musicians. Their recordings and compilations number in the dozens. Their influences include The Misfits, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Samhain, The Damned, Danzig, and Ramones. Rad, right?
That’s why Ghettoblaster caught up with the band prior to their March 11 release of Born with a Scorpion’s Touch via Spookshow records. This is what Jimmy Calabrese said about their record.
When did you begin writing the material for Born with a Scorpion’s Touch?
I believe we started writing the songs for the new album after we released our previous album in July 2013. Then in January 2013 we laser focused our songwriting because we hit the studio in May 2013. For us that’s a very short time to write songs since our past experience was to write and record an album every two years.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
We really didn’t have a difficult song this time. We did have a tough time figuring out the best way to mix the whole album. We had a specific sound we were after and it’s not always easy to put sounds into words so it took much debate and frustration to get the first base mix done but once that was figured out the rest of the mixing was easy.
Which of the songs on BWAST is most different from your original concept for the song?
That would be “There Is An Evil Inside”. The original concept for the song was for just guitar and high hat for the entire song with vocals over those two instruments. Luckily we played that song at a show while we were still working on it. The song was a hit but a few close friends told us they liked it but they felt the song should keep building. So by the time we hit the studio we had something worked out that would lead to the build up, but we knew it would be tricky to pull it off just right, so we told Bob in the studio what we were after and he knew how to add all the elements for a nice clean build that the song called for.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Bob Hoag sang some backup vocals and a local band Fairy Bones ended up singing the gang vocals on “Mindwarp”, along with our friend and engineer Gerald Schoenhherr (who both happen to be in the studio that day).
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Bob Hoag produced and engineered the record. Instead of changing things he added musical elements like harmonies and piano parts. Like a master chef he only added a few herbs and spices to bring out the natural taste of Calabrese.
Is there an overarching concept behind BWAST that ties the record together?
The main themes behind Born With A Scorpion’s Touch are motorcycles, rebellion and the occult. We tried to channel all the loners, rebels and restless youth of the world and give them their own soundtrack.
How do the songs differ when you play them live? I understand you head out on a new tour in March, what are you most looking forward to?
We usually play the songs faster and louder when we play them live. When the crowd is sizzling and the electricity is in the air it’s hard not to amp up the songs!
For the upcoming “I Wanna Be A Vigilante Tour” in March I’m really looking forward to playing SXSW, and HorrorHound Weekend because those are unusual shows, but I love every show because it give us a chance to meet the people who make our dreams come true – our fans. Hope to see you out on the road!
(Visit Calabrese here: http://www.calabreserock.com/.)