Eyes Down, Eyes Stare….

An interview with Bobby of Calabrese.
Justin Stankus

Calabrese is a horror punk band from Phoenix, Arizona that formed in 2003 by Bobby (Guitar/Vocals) and Jimmy (Bass/Vocals) and they later integrated their other brother Davey (Drums) to be the final piece to the puzzle.  Calabrese combines Gothabilly looks, B-movie drive-in lyrics and a Death Rock sound that is heavily influenced by bands such as The Misfits, AFI, Danzig, Samhain, horror films and Halloween.  The band’s first full-length album, “13 Halloweens”, was released on Spookshow Records in 2005.  Their second album, “The Traveling Vampire Show”, was released in 2007.  Their latest album, “Calabrese III: They Call Us Death”, was released in 2010.  Distributed in the U.S., Japan, Europe, and through the Internet, Calabrese are quickly gaining an international audience.  But let us finally begin!

Justin – Hey Bobby, so you and me have already been introduced to one another and been in contact for awhile now, but for the fans and readers could I get your name and the rest of the member’s names as well and your positions within the band?

Bobby – This is Bobby, I play guitar and sing and drink a bunch of coffee.  Jimmy plays the bass and sings, and Davey pounds the drums and a jumps around a lot.

Justin – So Bobby can you tell us how Calabrese came to life and how you all came together?

Bobby – All three of us are brothers, so it was pretty natural to be hanging out and listening to music…except we never did that shit.  Ha!  Me and Jimmy were playing in other bands, but it was him who pulled us together to start our own thing.  Everything we were doing and hearing at the time sucked, so we wanted to start a band playing the music WE liked and WE wanted to hear.  Punk rock, Misfits, skateboarding, whatever.  We recruited Davey, and since he never touched the drums before, we beat him into emotional scum, molding and forming his mind into the rock and roll maniac he is today.

Justin – Now with all of you being brothers, do you think that this strengthens the band even more so than if you were all unrelated? Has this ever presented itself as a problem? Growing up with an older brother I know all about brotherly fist fights but has this fact been nothing but positives for the band?

Bobby – I haven’t been in any other bands long enough to compare both sides, but I think it’s pretty cool being in a band with your brothers.  Yeah, we get into arguments and want to punch eachother in the face, but at the end of the day…we’re still brothers and we’re still a band.  It’s easier to be mean and yell and scream at eachother, I think, because friends can just up and leave once you’ve crossed their line.  With us, there is no line!  This is for life, man!

Justin – Now why was “Calabrese” chosen as the band name? Is there a story behind the name? Also were there any other thoughts that almost made it and if so could possibly share some of them with us?

Bobby – We wanted something cool, something that would stand out and look powerful and sound gnarly.  The Coffin Daggers was an idea, but we quickly learned that EVERY horror themed band is named the Coffin Daggers!  We even thought of something like “Transylvanian Bandits”, but it was all too goofy, I guess.  Aside from the Ramones, we pretty much took the idea of using our last name from our Lord Master, Danzig, and went with “Calabrese” (even though “Danzig” nor “Ramone” was really their last names, ha!).  We thought it sounded like a cool Italian horror director’s name, or a secret word for “fuck you!”  At least that’s what we hoped.  Plus, who wouldn’t wanna have their name plastered on t-shirts and albums and comic books?  It’s gnarly!

Justin – As an obvious horror genre fan, what about horror and the imagery brought you guys together to start a horror-punk or horror rock band? What was your “horror defining” moment Bobby?

Bobby – I dunno, man, it’s hard to say.  I just remember really liking monsters and evil things and Satan shit.  Like, anything that was affiliated with the devil was both awesome and scary and weird.  I blame Jimmy, though, he had all the cool stuff that I found while sneaking into his closet.  Horror movies, Dungeons and Dragons toys, monster masks, whatever.  They always say that you like what scares you, or so I think that’s what they say!  Musically, when I first heard death metal and Slayer and stuff like Deicide, holy crap, that was some scary stuff.  I liked the imagery and all that, but later I discovered the Misfits, which was the perfect blend of fucked up lyrics, catchy choruses and ATTITUDE.  It was evil AND fun.  That’s where we all came together, musically.  Plus, there’s no fucking way I could play the guitar like Kerry King!  

Justin – I have heard your music being used when I have watched independent films such as Chainsaw Sally, etc. How did you guys get involved in these films and are there any other movies we can catch your tunes in?

Bobby – We usually get asked to be on the soundtrack, and being the whores that we are, we always say yes!  So if you’ve got ANYTHING that even slightly resembles a film and need some tunes, hit us up!  The more the better.  What have we been in so far?: The Graves (as Seen on the SyFy Channel) Blood On The Highway Hoodoo For Voodoo Prison A Go Go Chainsaw Sally Zombie Punks From Beyond The Grave Cabras Horror Film: The Movie No. My Other Possessed-Zombie Girlfriend Hack Job BAM, bitch!

Justin – Now I remember on one of your albums, I saw that you had/have a warning advising your listeners to not use a Ouija board and try contacting the dead while listening to your music. Now what’s the deal!?

Bobby – The deal is that it’s EXACTLY true and don’t do it!  Ever!  I mean, hell, if you REALLY wanna risk it…by all means, go for it!  Just be sure to get it on film!

Justin – It may be a little soon to ask, but is there any new material in the works? Can you spill any guts for us that want more!? What can fans expect from Calabrese in the near future?

Bobby – Yeah!  Right now we’re finishing up thirteen songs for the new album, which will be recorded in April and hopefully be released in May.  We’ve got all the pretty pictures of ourselves taken, most the lyrics are written, album cover drawn, etc.  We’re damn close and I’m super stoked on it!

Justin – Speaking of new material, I have had a lot of fans demanding me to ask if there is a possible all acoustic album that may be in the works or if they can expect an acoustic track on the next album?

Bobby – Ever since we did an acoustic set at Atomic Comics to release our comic book, yeah, people have been dying for some acousti-brese!  And I’m not gonna lie, we’re totally into it, and I think a lot of our songs translated pretty well into the land of the unplugged guitar.  Nothing’s set for the new album, but we’re thinking about coming out with an all acoustic album sometime next year, with new versions of old songs, totally brand new songs, anything we can whip up!  We’re gonna try our hand at making it pretty unique, or at least something that doesn’t sound like it’s gonna be boring as hell.  C’mon, when you hear “acoustic album,” you automatically think, “it’s gonna suck ass!”  So we’re gonna try to avoid that route.  We’re gonna make it cool, trust me!

Justin – If someone stumbled upon this interview and continued on reading having no idea who Calabrese was, how would you describe the band? Why would you suggest people check you guys out?

Bobby – We’re the world’s greatest horror rock band!  What more can be said?  Oh, that we’re really awesome dudes, too, and have an excellent VHS collection.

Justin – What has been your favorite show you guys have played so far since starting the band?

Bobby – I’d be a douche if I said that EVERY SHOW EVER WAS THE GREATEST SHOW WE EVER PLAYED, so there ya have it!  You rule, Every Show We’ve Played!

Justin – Speaking of shows! Are there any big scale shows in the works? Is there any chance of seeing you guys on the East Coast anytime soon? If so please don’t forget NC!

Bobby – We try to hit up most of the US at least once a year, and of course, that means the east coast!  St. Louis to Chicago to New York to Boston.  Wherever people are foolish enough to let us play, we’ll be there!

Justin – Last question when it comes to touring but who are some of your favorite bands to share the stage with? If given the opportunity to play with whoever you so desired who would it be? Do you possibly have an awesome/crazy story you could share with us about life on the road?

Bobby – There’s a lot, but I always like playing with the Koffin Kats.  They’re just a lot of fun to be around and are super professional.  Oh, and they love to party and get fucked up!  All time dream band to jam with?  I don’t wanna be obvious, but Danzig.  Like, “Lucifuge” era Danzig.  Like, SUPER BIG MUSCLES era Danzig.  That’s not weird to say, is it?

Justin – Do you, or any of your fellow band members have any strange pre-show obsessions?

Bobby – I feel like I’m always starving before we play, but I had eating before.  I feel the hunger makes you rock harder.  No, I’m not saying I like the feeling of wanting to pass out and die, but I hate feeling full and stuffed on stage.  It weighs down the rock, man!  Also, coffee and a toilet.  I like to drink coffee before shows, and I like to have a good bathroom sanctuary.  I like to think in there, clean up, whatever.  All I care about on the road is a clean, sanitary and moderately private bathroom!  It’s amazing how powerful and beautiful a decent bathroom becomes on tour!

Justin – If you could tell your fans 4 bands you think they should check out immediately, who would they be and why?

 Bobby – Umm…I wish I knew some secret treasures!  But the best of the best right now?  Like, what I’m jamming to on the way to practice?  I’m rocking The Damned, Swingin’ Utters, Hour of the Wolf and Hot Snakes.

Justin – Your top 3 horror movies. What are they and a tad bit of info as to why? Also your favorite comic book and character? I will take this opportunity to quickly give a shout out to my hero, Shadowhawk!  I love you man!

Bobby – I like a lot of 70’s and 80’s horror, leaning more towards the 70’s these days, though.  I love fucked up giallos and splatter comedies like “Dead Alive” and “Fright Night”.  “Slumber Party Massacre” kinda stuff is always fun, and anything with a rockin’ soundtrack and a lot of boobs!  AS far as comics?  I was always into Marvel growing up, then got waaaay into DC Comics…until the recent switcharoo of every major characters origin story, which can go ahead and die already.  I put so much time and effort into learning all that garbage and they decide to tell me it was for nothing?  Nuts to that!  Anyway, now that THAT’S out of the way…my favorite characters are always minor, like Booster Gold or something.  I like Guy Gardner and Nightwing, now that I think about it.  Frank Castle, a lot of Batman’s rogues and The Boys!  Great comic by Ennis.  Oh, and Hawkgirl!  Because she’s hot.  I think.

Justin – Horror punk seems to be fairly popular genre in Europe while failing to catch on in the US. Do you agree with this statement? Whether you agree or disagree why do you feel this way?

Bobby – It seems pretty radical over in Europe, yeah, but I think it’s alright in the US, too!  If you blend it all in under one giant umbrella, with rockabilly, psychobilly, rock and roll and punk rock, I think there’s a large audience roaming the land like a group of wild dogs.  Plus, I can’t complain — we have dedicated friends and fans coming to the shows, that’s all that counts!

Justin – I absolutely love the artwork for all the band’s albums especially, “They Call Us Death III”. How do you go about choosing an artist and once chosen do you give them free reign over the design or does the band go over the ideas beforehand?

Bobby – We love kick-ass artwork, so everything we do has to look awesome!  We usually search out artists, but sometimes they come to us.  More the merrier, I say!  We always give everyone ideas, and in turn, we’re given ideas and suggestions right back.  And it always ends up swell.  With “They Call Us Death,” we sent Eric Powell a few photos of us posing for reference, and he painted that whole damn cover art based off of us looking tough in our living room!  Something simple like that and it turned into pure gold, baby!

Justin – Bobby who was/are your biggest idols when it comes to the guitar?

Bobby – There are tons, dude!  Every few months I discover a guitarist that makes me wanna throw my axe in the trash!  So many guys rule, it’s mind-numbing.  But if I could sound like anyone, and could rip off really well (which I try to do all the time!) it would be Greg Sage from the Wipers, John Reis from Rocket from the Crypt, the dudes in Man or Astroman?, Motorhead, John Christ, Ron Asheton, I like the guy in Burning Brides, Greg Ginn in Black Flag, ACDC for the BEST GUITAR TONE EVER, the guitarist for the Bronx, Hot Snakes, Black Sabbath and of course, Johnny Ramone!  A lot of the time it’s not how well you play, it’s how HARD you play.  Wear your guitar low, ground your feet and turn it into a machine gun!  Bleed all over it!

Justin – Being in a horror rock band I can’t help but ask if any of your lyrics ever struck a nerve with friends, family, or loved ones?

Bobby – No way, they’re just as weird as us!  They dig it!

Justin – When it comes to horror rock in general there is no denying that every band takes a big influence from the Misfits and Elvis Presley and rightly so! But my question is this. If you had to exclude these two influences, then who would be the next biggest influence on Calabrese? Who else highly influences you personally and the band?

Bobby – Rock and roll bands, through and through.  I grew up on a lot of metal, goth, surf rock, anything with cool guitars and great vocals, so we’re all over the board here.  I guess the next biggest band that made me want to pick up a guitar would be The Ramones or Black Flag.  The Dead Kennedys really got me going, too.  A lot of punk rock stuff that had attitude and style.  That’s all you need — attitude and style!

Justin – Out of all the band’s albums which is your personal favorite and why? What are some of your favorite songs to play live? My personal favorite is, “Eyes Down” and for this fact I wanted to know if there is a story behind the song or any personal meaning behind it?

Bobby – I like “They Call Us Death,” but I like “The Traveling Vampire Show,” too, because it’s great to play live!  Lots of stuff like “Saturday Night of the Living Dead,” “Vampires Don’t Exist,” and “Voices of the Dead.”  They always get the crowd going, and that’s always great.  I never wanna be the kind of band that plays filler and avoids killer.  Fuck that!  Play the hits or go home!  “Eyes Down” is fun to play, too, I really like the melody.  Most of our songs are vaguely based off of books or movies, but I think that one was just a collection of ideas, maybe.  Jimmy writes half the lyrics, I write the other half and then we put them together!  So it’s all kinda hectic and like a split personality, ya know?  So, in essence, to answer your question…I HAVE NO IDEA. Ha!

Justin – Give or take the band has been around for 7 to 8 years? (Please correct me if I’m wrong). But during this time what is the most important thing you have learned personally and what do you think the band as a whole has learned?

Bobby – I think we’ve learned how to be a band, how to play together, how to tour.  Something like playing more than two shows in a row was insane to us when we first started!  We also learned how to sleep in a van and live off of peanut butter and beer!

Justin – Since starting the band how do you feel your music has progressed? Is it what you imagined it would be?

Bobby – I wanna think so, and that it was all natural progression, but who knows?  I try to emulate my favorite bands, and I get into different musical kicks every other month, so again…who knows?

Justin – In closing I want to sincerely thank you Bobby for taking the time for doing this interview for Technicolor Terror and we really appreciate it! Is there anything you would like to add or say to the fans?

Bobby – Thanks for everything!  You make the shows fun, the parties wild, the daily crap bearable.  We ain’t shit without ya!

Justin – Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed our interview!


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