The Calamity are a band that defy genres and produce music that they want to make. Ultimately this will always lead to better music being produced and these guys are no exception, the Wolverhampton based band have a care free attitude that is just as infectious as their tunes. They've just released their self-titled EP which you definitely have to check out because it shows a clear sign of a band that are riotous and collected in equal measures, in turn flexing their writing abilities with some really well written tunes! Luckily, I had the chance to chat with Billy Haynes (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Steph Haynes (Bass), Matt Smith (Guitar) and Casper Drake (Percussion) regarding their latest release along with their musical aspirations and why everything isn't what it seems in the industry sometimes...
Question. How did you end up with the name 'The Calamity'?
Billy: It got pulled out of a hat.
Steph: No it didn't. Did it?
Billy: Yeah we had a shortlist and we put them in a hat.
Casper: No, you just chose it. You were a fascist about it. You absolutely refused "Moist Otters".
Billy: No-one else wanted "Moist Otters".
Casper: That's not the point.
Billy: We all agreed on it.
Steph: We all agreed not to argue about it. With our previous band we went through about 5 increasingly terrible names and never settled. We decided to just pick a name and stick with it instead of agonising about it forever. When Matt joined he wanted to rename the band 'Yung Payne and Private Detectives'.
Matt: Or Yung Haine, great name.
Question. What made you want to get into music?
Matt: Not being very good at stand-up comedy.
Steph: I kept having problems with my knees and couldn't play football anymore, so I got a bass instead.
Billy: Just because. It's a nice way to express yourself.
Matt: That's not a very good answer.
Billy: It's not bad.
Matt: Yeah but it's just a bit...
Billy: Why did I want to get into music, Steph?
Steph: You wanted to have a ripped shirt and a guitar and be in a band.
Billy: Yeah, I wanted to have a ripped shirt and a guitar and mass communicate the revolution.
Casper: Pink Floyd's "The Wall".
Billy: Casper's not in the band.
Steph: He's percussion.
Question. Who have been your biggest influences and inspirations?
M: Johnny Marr and Major Richard Sharp. I know you can fire 3 rounds a minute, what I want to know is, can you stand?
B: Peter Doherty, The Clash.
C: The fox in The Animals of Farthing Wood is probably my biggest influence.
Question. The music scene in the West Midlands is currently thriving, what are your views on that?
B: Maybe it is. There's definitely a lot of people trying to rip you off, which is a sure sign of a thriving capitalist economy. There's a lot of bands and artists, and they badly want exposure so they're easy to exploit.
M: Promoters put you on, expect you to sell loads of tickets and don't do any promotion themselves save a couple of facebook posts...
S: So you're only playing to people you could invite to see you play in your own living room. It's an empty economy really. When you're just starting out it's all just trying to get your friends to keep paying £6 to turn up to see you.
B: The bands don't get anything, they're just used to fuel the machine that runs entirely for itself so the people running the swizz can say "there's a really happening music scene here". We could write an essay: The Class Dialectics of the Sunflower Lounge.
S: The gigs aren't for the sake of people listening to the music. It's to sell bands 'the gig experience'. The bands are the customers. Curiously they're also the producers - buying themselves back at twice the price.
C: Also, there might be a lot going on in Birmingham, but the West Midlands isn't just Birmingham. It's hard to see the thriving from here in Wolverhampton.
S: Here it's mainly a few cover bands, people doing the rounds at open mic nights. Bands going into Birmingham to get gigs. We're trying to create stuff by putting our own gigs on, getting local bands in, giving each other our own scene and trying to offer something decent to the people who come along to watch.
Question. Who are your current favourites from the region?
B: Raphaella Kornarskis, Danny Batth, Messi Mussiah, Bryony Williams.
M: The Butters Aliens. El Diablo.
Question. You've just released your self-titled EP, how does that feel?
S: Does it feel like anything?
M: It doesn't really feel like anything. I'm more excited about our newer stuff, I don't think they're our best songs anymore.
B: Really selling the EP here, Matt. It's actually really good.
S: I think they're still more or less our best songs. Matt just gets bored with stuff.
M: Well we've got an EP, wicked, but there's still a lot more to be done, a lot more to be achieved.
B: Yeah. Restless, that's how we feel. A sense of unrest.
Question. What has been the response to it so far?
M: Talk about the radio play.
B: We've been played on the radio.
M: Pagans seems to be a lot of people's favourite. It's got some nice reviews online.
Question. I would say 'Lifestyle Express' is my favourite tune on it, what's your favourite and why?
B: Thanks, it's named after the chain of cornershops - you know the ones? The song itself was inspired by all the weird characters you see in Wolves, especially around the Avion Centre in Whitmore Reans. Like the woman we saw dancing by the cashpoint singing "you need money before you can shop" over and over again in this reggae style. Rag and Bone's my favourite though. It's a bit different in terms of structure because it's not verse/chorus/etc.
C: Yeah, Rag and Bone.
M: I Fell Asleep, why not?
M: I like the lyrics in the second verse. Very resonant.
B: I really like the lyrics for Rag and Bone.
M: That's because most of the words are mine, which is about right. No I'm just kidding, you can't own words. Actually I like writing lyrics and giving them to you guys to take apart and put back together. I write on scraps of paper at work, throw them in front of Bill and pester him to do something with them.
Question. Which track has been particularly troublesome to finish?
S: None of them, they all came together pretty quick.
B: Maybe Lifestyle actually, getting the mix right.
Question. How often were you going into the studio to get it finished?
S: We did one day per song then another day tying up loose ends. It really was pretty smooth.
Question. Are there any plans for any live shows?
S: Next one's August 11th at the Asylum Art Gallery in Wolverhampton, alongside Dadboy and Bryony Williams.
B: Claptrap in Stourbridge, 19th October. Others pending.
Question. What advice would you give to people thinking of getting into music?
M: I think it's probably easier if you form a band with your mates and not just get people in to play instruments.
S: Could get messier quicker though.
B: Fire all your band mates and get session musicians in.
C: Defy genre. Genre bands are shit.
M: Is Casper in the band?
S: He's percussion.
Question. What lies in the future for The Calamity?
B: World conquest.
M: Videos! Artistic endeavours!
S: We're going to make videos for all the songs on the EP. We've already got one out for I Fell Asleep. Next one we're filming is Pagans - bit of a narrative to it. Pagans, streets, woods, sacrifice.
B: We're going to record a load of demos. Take the band on tour.
S: Oh yeah, the "Feed our Egos" tour. Going where?
M: We'd like to play Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Leeds.
B: We think people up North might be friendlier and more likely to tell us we're brilliant.