Vocalist Benj Squibbs of the South Wales based band The Calling Card took a moment to speak with me about the band, their music and their upcoming debut release. Their music can best be described as well-crafted pop-infused punk tunes with influences reminiscent of AFI, The Alkaline Trio and Good Charlotte. This is rock and roll the way it was meant to be; no pretenses, just straightforward and enjoyable. Here is what Squibbs had to say.
When can we expect some new material from The Calling Card?
Benj Hopefully within the next few months. We are recording the debut album right now and its sounding mega. I think for people who already know us there will even be a few surprises. We have some pretty heavy songs on the album and then an acoustic song with a full string arrangement on it.
What is your writing process like?
Benj: Usually I will write the songs on an acoustic guitar or a 12 string and then take them to the band and see how they would turn them into full band tracks. Then I discard all of their ideas and tell them what to do anyway!
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing songs?
Benj: Everywhere. I can be walking in Newport and something will hit me. Literally sometimes! Newport can be rough [laughs] I’m never going to be Springsteen who can come up with all of these beautiful stories and characters. So hide the negatives and accentuate the positives. I’m pretty good at writing about things that mean stuff to me I think.
When you write do you do so with the stage in mind?
Benj: Not so much with the lyrics but definitely with the melodies and the music. We are a type of band that you can go and watch and everyone will get something unique out of it. Like with The Smiths or The Manics you can dive deeper in and get into the lyrics and dissect them or you can jump up and down and pogo along to the music. Everyone is welcome at our shows.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Benj: Funny you say that because I did an interview with a South Wales band before who said they didn’t have any influences which is possibly the most stupid and pretentious thing you can ever say. We all come from pretty different musical backgrounds, which is probably the reason we don’t sound like an Identikit band. It really can range from Oasis to Glassjaw to Biffy Clyro to Every Time I Die.
If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why?
Benj: Bowie. Instant answer. Imagine how many stories you could get from him in-between the jamming. Just by being in a room with that man you could try and steal some of the magic he obviously has in his bones. He created about a million different genres and is still the best in all of them.
The name of the band is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Benj: I wish I could tell you something amazing but it came from a Batman Comic, where The Joker leaves his Calling Card. The great thing about good band names is that people in time forget how rubbish or naff they sound the first time they heard them. If you think about it think about the names The Beatles and Metallica. They are both incredibly cheesy but they have both become more than the name. You can look at the name The Smiths and it looks incredibly boring but when you look at how it all came together and how the name is perceived with their songs now it doesn’t matter. That’s what I want from our name.
Do you have any plans to tour in 2012?
Benj: Absolutely. When the album is all finished that’s when we will be looking at touring as much as humanly possible.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Benj: Possibly one of the stupid quotes that either Hob (Drums) or Simon (guitar) comes out with. It’s like being in a band with a real life Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson. Supporting Alkaline Trio and finding out why people say don’t meet your heroes would be quite high up there.
What is next for The Calling Card?
Benj 1. Release album. 2. Everyone recognize how brilliant it is. 3. Take over the world
Check out the song “We’re Not Anywhere”