I would like to introduce and bring more attention to a local band named Calliope. A few weeks ago they performed at my favorite east side bar, Yield. The show brought out a really good crowd and also more exposure for the band. I originally learned about the band through Vic Buell and Al Kraemer who documented our Local Playlist launch party back in February through their other project FUN TV. If I could describe Al Kraemer, I would say he is a 1970s teenage movie character, maybe one who played music with the Doors in some dream land at one point. If you put an organ in front of him you are likely to be ignored for a while but highly amused by his musical genius. Vic on the other hand is a dashing young individual who has the potential to take over the universe with one fell swoop. When Al and Vic invited me to come to the show, of course I was going to make it out. They have a sound that comes from various influences like Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, Bon Scott, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Jerry Cantrell, George Harrison, the list could continue for so long because whose to say where inspiration starts and stops. In order to get more first person information from the guys, I shared coffee and maybe a Schlitz Tall Boy with Al and Vic at Fuel Café, or Church as some people call it in Riverwest. The reason was to find out more about the beginnings of Calliope, best and worst show moments, and up coming events. So I asked them a few questions and recorded what they had to say…
Me: How long have you guys been together?
Al: Calliope has been practicing for about a year and a half now. However, before we started performing at bars we had a little band make over by adding John on bass and Eric on drums. These changes all happened before we played on the 18th of March 2011 for our first show.
Me: So currently who are the members that make up Calliope?
Al: Right now we have Eric Gomoll on drums and vocals, John Larkin on bass who also plays with Bread King’s Temple, Al Kramer on keys and harmonica, sax, vocals, and Victor Buell on guitar, and vocals.
Me: It is really important to have a practice space for any band, where do you guys practice? More of a basement thing or do you have a studio or warehouse?
Al: Right now we are practicing in a warehouse located on the West Side off of Green Bay Ave and Port Washington. The place is vacant and perfect for us to be as loud as we want but I feel like zombies might live there. (chuckle)
Me: Asking a band what their genre is, is never my favorite question, but I have to ask because I feel there is a mix between circus music and rock n roll, how would you describe the sound of Calliope?
Vic: What is hilarious is the other night the owner of Kochanski’s referred to our song as “Like the shrine circus on fire!” However I would like to describe Calliope music to be loosely coined progressive oldies only because it’s an oxymoron. We are making music based on the instruments we have available to us. The idea of paying homage to our rock n roll forefathers, while at the same putting our own spin on things. One thing someone said to us is how well we have evolved since the first recordings and performances. The real rock n roll is becoming apparent to the true madness that is brewing. I would say we were pseudo serious novelty rock before we were a full band and after Eric and John joined we were able to evolve into something a little different. To summarize, let’s say psychedelic blues.
Me: What are some of your favorite and least favorite gig moments?
Al: My favorite moment would have to be our most recent Yield show. All of the right things went wrong with the Yield show.
Vic: My favorite gig moment has to be when Andy Kochanski the owner of Kochanskis’ started playing the air accordion on stage with us and then all of our friends from Bread King Collective decided to get on stage and play together as well! As for bad moments, I would probably just say any time something little goes wrong, for example a guitar sting breaking during a song.
Al, Vic and I continued to talk for a little while longer at Fuel bringing up things like shows in the near future. Save the date for, May 5th with Ivy Spokes @ Stonefly Brewery, May 24th with The Small City’s @ Yield Bar, and last but not least the have a time slot on July 4th Cascio stage @ Summerfest. And one last thing, there is talk of a full length album release in the next few months.