A Q&A with Cal in Red
Michigan brothers delivering melodic indie rock with 80s undertones…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
Kendall: The title of our latest release is ‘Zebra’. It’s super exciting to finally put this one out. It’s come a long way from the original demo we started at the kitchen table about a year and a half ago, yet it’s also stayed pretty true to its garageband infancy. I remember the initial verse and hook came out pretty effortlessly in about 20 minutes. It was the first time I’ve ever been immediately impressed with something I’d written. It felt like a really solid hook with a natural groove to it. After we layered in the harmonies and fuzz guitar, it started shaping into a sort of Bee Gees/Tame Impala sound. Also reminded me of Electric Feel a bit. It felt like our first song I could see people dancing to. For whatever I did to bring this song to life, Connor probably did quadruple the work. He pretty much arranged the entire thing as well as produced and mixed it.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
Kendall: The hardest part for me was recording the vocals. Spent a lot of time in front of the mic trying to nail down all the falsettos. Also now that we live an hour apart it’s tougher to find time to get together and record.
Connor: From a production standpoint, I was pretty anxious going from demo to demo and wondering how this final product was going to be different. What should we keep? What do we add? and how do we polish the song to be unique but also relatable alongside other indie music.
What do enjoy most about producing your own material?
Connor: Producing your own music is very exciting but overwhelming at the same time. I think there is a certain amount of musical integrity that can be lost when transferring your music from person to person. So whether it be creating a sound or adjusting a knob, it’s satisfying to work towards an end result we’re both happy with.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
Kendall: Whatever they want to take away. An opportunity to dance, a chance to day dream, a reminder to love unashamedly. Whenever someone finds an emotional connection to something we’ve written it feels like the ultimate reward. Songs have a way of finding people that need to hear them.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
Kendall/Connor: I think it’s pretty different for every track. We generally chip away at a song for about a year before we’re happy with it. Usually it starts when one of us gets a snippet of melody to fit over some chords, and then it’s off to the races to build it as fast as you can before hitting a wall. Luckily when the wall is hit, we have the other person to hand it off to. Some songs are a 50/50 effort, others are 90/10, it just depends. For me, if I don’t finish like 75% of a song on the first go, I won’t ever finish it. I think Connor is better at writing in portions, over time.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Kendall: Tame Impala, Porches, Beach House, Boy Pablo. I think our sound started with attempting to emulate those artists. Lately I’ve really been admiring the way Julian Casablancas writes, he has such a nonchalant way of weaving through melodies. Guitar-wise I’m always inspired by Max Kakacek of Whitney and Christopher Vanderkooy of Peach Pit.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
Kendall: Switzerland, Germany, Norway. There’s something especially appealing about the idea of playing in Brazil. Really anywhere at this point. We haven’t even had a chance to tour here in the United States yet. As far as venues, the Hollywood Bowl would be like endgame goals. I also really would like to play El Club in Detroit. It’s a pretty confined space with really high energy.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Conor: I’d say take your pick between ‘Pool’ or ‘Zebra’. I think if you combine those two, that’s the sound we’re heading towards. Especially on the (upcoming) EP.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Kendall: I just want to continue to write/play music for people while it’s fun to do so. Someday if it ever gets to a point where I’m holding a physical record that we made, I’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment. If we could reach a place where we financially get by with just Cal in Red, I’ll feel like we’ve “made it.”
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Love you all, thanks for being here with us.
For more info visit: facebook.com/Cal-in-Red