Calabrese's Jimmy Calabrese on Hometown Acceptance, Creating a New Sound and Dream Tours
The Calabrese boys (from left): Bobby, Jimmy, and Davey.
When a band in a small genre possesses a sound that is very much their own, most would assume it would limit the acts it can perform with, but that's not the case with the local horror-punk trio of the brothers Calabrese.
They've performed and shared bills alongside a number of rockabilly and psychobilly bands, including The Chop Tops, Koffin Kats, and legendary act The Meteors, even playing Ink-N-Iron Festival 2012 with Buckcherry headlining. Calabrese, who hail from Phoenix, has proved it has the ability to play with any act with dark influences, even if the bands' sounds aren't similar. This plays over into their aspirations as well, says bassist/vocalist Jimmy Calabrese, the oldest of the three brothers.
"My Chemical Romance would've been a fun one to open up for," Calabrese says. "I'd love to open up for Danzig, Black Flag, and, of course, the original lineup of the Misfits -- that would be a lot of fun."
It's easy to see that Calabrese, whose members hail from Phoenix, has been influenced by acts like Misfits and Type O Negative, yet the band's approach has been established since its beginning. In 2003, the brothers released a six-song EP, Midnight Spookshow, which brought macabre lyrics and a heavy sound to the forefront. This was followed by their debut full-length album, 13 Halloweens, in 2005. The seven unreleased songs, in addition to Midnight Spookshow's offerings, showed the newly refined talent of the sibling trio as well as continuing with their horror-influenced theme.
They have since released four more records, the most recent being 2013's Born with a Scorpion's Touch. Though the new album is unmistakably Calabrese's own, they opted for a more traditional rock 'n' roll twist.
"This is just where the songs led us," Calabrese says. "We played out all the horror themes that we could think of. There's so many other ideas and influences that we have, like B-movies -- classic American B-movies that have rebellion and rock 'n' roll and all that kind of stuff. So, we thought, 'Hey, let's think about that kind of stuff that we also love.'"
Calabrese says that last year's full-length offering continued on with the campy slasher flick tropes. "With Born with a Scorpion's Touch, we knew our fans expect a certain thing, but if we kept doing that, we would get bored, and I'm sure the fans would get bored," he says. "So by taking risks and trying new sounds and following what we love, this could create a whole new Calabrese sound that you have now."
The new album shows a more adventurous side and lyrically focuses on rebellion and violence. Although this change was heavily influenced by personal interests, Calabrese felt that working with Bob Hoag at Mesa's Flying Blanket Recording Studio helped bring this new side to life.
"[Hoag] had a more courageous vibe in the studio," Calabrese says. "The other place we went to was more of a house studio, and this is an actual 'studio' studio, and he kind of fed the creative forces."
Over the years, the Calabrese brothers have developed a worldwide fan base via social media and have nearly 50,000 fans on Facebook. This popularity peaked between 2007 and 2009, resulting in popular tours across the United States and parts of Europe.
Despite worldwide success, Calabrese feels that its their hometown that was hardest to win over, regardless of where their fans are. It's safe to say that they're comfortable now.
"Even though we're not playing as much, people come out to see us more because we're not playing as regularly anymore," Calabrese says. "The hardest place to get recognition is your hometown because of the fact that you're always there. So now it seems like when we come back, people miss us. We've got a lot of friendships and everything that the band has achieved is because of our fans. We realize that and we appreciate that and we want to give back to them as much as possible."
Calabrese is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 7, at Red Owl in Tempe.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.