Calder the Band nearly have new album in hand
Following more than year of work, 'Shape Up' set to stream Oct. 7
No one can accuse Calder the Band of rushing to complete their second album.
Due to a pandemic and its five members being scattered across the country, the band says its upcoming release, Shape Up, has been about a year and a half in the making.
“I did not expect this album to take as long as it did,” electric guitarist Luke Matulis said.
According to acoustic guitarist John Michael Sellers, the amount of time to produce the album, due to hit streaming services Oct. 7, wasn’t only about getting the members together, but also getting the sound together.
“We just kind of hashed each one out until we felt it was right,” he said. “That could really only be achieved if we were in the same room. That’s what really took so long, and why it probably took a solid year-and-a-half.”
But now that they have it together, they’re happy those who have waited four years for a new album have hung in there.
“We have a great fanbase that cares about us and wants to hear our music,” vocalist/keyboardist Joe Stilwell said. “I think the hype is somewhat there for the album to drop.”
Calder the Band began with Stilwell, bassist Lee Cliff, and Matulis, releasing their first album, Till I Get It Right, in 2018. Following Matulis’ move back to his hometown of Chicago, Stilwell and Cliff released their He’ll Come Around EP in 2020.
Now, with Matulis back in the fold, and Lee’s brother, drummer Aaron Cliff, and Sellers in the mix, the five guys that met at a New York Bible school are working as a unit.
“If one of us was taken away, it wouldn’t sound the same,” Stilwell said. “That was our goal with the album. It just required a lot of work upfront. It did drive us loony a few times, I’ll admit, because it felt like we weren’t making progress, but we were. We were just trying to find our sound with five voices.”
The five would chisel out weekends to work out demos, but many times the recording wouldn’t be completed in the time frame, even when it seemed like a song would come together with ease.
“The song ‘3rdStreet,’ that must have been the first week we came together, that song came so naturally, we must have had it done in a day, but it must have taken a solid year to record it the way we wanted it to sound,” Lee Cliff said. “We could not get the sound we wanted. We recorded it three or four different ways, spending a year on it, and I was so sick of that song by the end.”
In the end, it was his brother that kept pushing for a more live sound, with some of the recordings taking place with all five playing at same time, which was something new for the band.
“The biggest thing was that we wrote the songs live, a lot of them came out of jams, so we wanted the songs to have those feelings that we had when we were writing them,” Lee Cliff said.
Once they felt the songs were in a good place, they ship them to Matulis in Chicago, where he’d add his guitar and put some finishing touches on them, which was something new for him.
“I am not a trained mixer, so I would spend a lot of time making a lot of mistakes, then going back to figure out what I had messed up,” Matulis said.
Along with Matulis in Chicago, Sellers was in New York, so time was of the essence when they could get into the same room. But that also meant gigs had to be put on the backburner.
“It’s taken a Herculean effort to finish this album,” Stilwell said. “I think if we had even thought about booking, this album would not be coming out in October, it’d be coming out even later. That’s our main focus.”
Making voices heard
And that effort began in the spring of 2021.
“I’d say that working on our song ‘Faulty Upfront’ in 2021 is the first time that we felt like we had something we could build off of,” Matulis said. “That was kind of how we started working more on live practices and sort of building on our demos that we had.”
With things coming together, Calder the Band released the first single from Shape Up, “Dandelion,” on March 25. “Indiana Sky,” which was actually written by New York’s Sellers, was released June 27. The process of releasing singles nearly became the theme of the album.
“All of us really appreciate deep, thematic records with a lot of undercurrents,” Stilwell said. “This record, we were looking at it very much like individual songs, which was also a challenge for us. When we were thinking about marketing strategies, we were even thinking about stringing the album out across many months and release each song as a single. When people hear this record, there are quite a few sounds and quite a few ideas going. A lot of that comes from, ‘We’re going to be an album together like 10 singles, standalone songs.’”
And with so many “standalone songs,” each member of the group gets a say on the record.
“We were very intentional to make everyone’s individual voice heard, so it becomes even hard to pinpoint any individual inspiration for each track,” Aaron Cliff said.
And all those voices will be heard when Shape Up makes its way to streaming services, with possible physical copies in the future.
“I feel like we’re nearing the end of the marathon,” Stilwell said.