Friday, March 27, 2009

Interview with Jimmy Calabrese

Last April I had my first opportunity to book Calabrese and bring them to the Northern KY / Greater Cincinnati area. Prior to that they have never played this area before but people were constantly asking me to try to get them to come play. Calabrese are some of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of booking and working with.

So, after the last show they recently played here I decided that it was time to pick Jimmy Calabrese's brain on a number of subjects. Big thanks to Jimmy for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to do this interview!

14 Questions with Jimmy Calabrese

Evil Abby - Let's recap on your recent show here. Did you guys have fun? Did you drink the moonshine? (note: Like mentioned before the fans in and around Cincinnati can be a bit wonderfully touched sometimes and bring gifts such as moonshine for bands!)

Jimmy Calabrese - Which show was that, the one near Cincinnati? That show sucked, who was the promoter for that? Just kidding! I had a blast, you guys are crazy out there in the Midwest. The moonshine, I was informed, is half white corn and half potato, from the top of the still, which is the clean stuff that won't make you go blind. I've only had a little taste because I'm waiting for a special occasion to pull out that mason jar of moonshine and bark at the moon.

EA - Before last year, the first time I booked you guys people were constantly yelling at me "Book Calabrese!!!!" Now it seems like you guys have found a once a year home in our twisted little scene. How does it feel when you go back to places year after year and see the same faces? (...and some new ones)

JC- It's great to see the same people again and again, I just wish I could remember names. I always remember a face but a persons name, forget about it. So if you see me again and I look like a malfunctioning robot I'm just trying to match your face with what I remember about our last conversation.

EA - As far as shows go, what are some cities you guys love to play? Craziest crowds you've played for?

JC- They love us in Hollywood, El Paso, Chicago, what can I say, everywhere where we go we leave a wake of destruction like Godzilla. But just so you know the size of the crowd does not guarantee a great show. One of my favorite shows have been for fifty people crammed in a small coffee shop out in Stockton CA. I love being face to face with the audience, it's more intense and intimate...probably not the best show for the small guy in the back of the room but what are you going to do?

EA - I noticed your dad travels with you guys and runs merch. How the heck did you luck out to get parents that cool?! Most bands would kill to have someone they trusted like that running their stuff.

JC - Papa Calabrese started out like any good parent by supporting his kids by going to shows but instead of losing interest after a few gigs he got more involved (luckily for us he didn't have hobbies). When we started playing bar shows Davey was only 16 so Papa Calabrese had to be around anyway which lead him to run the merch. He's now more than just the Merch Guy but a Manager, Financial Advisor and Roadie all rolled into one, a true showbiz parent.

EA - You guys are a very self sufficient band. You don't have magical labels, managers, tour bookers. You guys have a very DIY ethic which is hard pressed to find in a lot of bands now. Is there reasons for this? Did you ever think Calabrese would reach the level it has? Are you satisfied with the level of success you guys have had to this point?

JC -We learned early on that no one was going to help us so instead of concentrating our efforts to impress a major label we decided to focus our efforts on the fans. The internet has changed the old model of running a band, it's now possible to be your own label, manager and booking agent. Am I satisfied with our level of success? I think it's human nature (or being an American) to never be happy with what you have.

EA - What are your opinions of the current state of the "horror rock" scene? Do you think it's became more unified or separated in the past years?

JC - I haven't noticed any separation in the scene. There's always been a stronger bond between the east coast and west coast bands but that's too be expected, it's hard to build relationships when you don't play shows together all the time.

EA - I'm sure in all your travels you have had the pleasure, and sometimes brain torture (not that you would admit it!) of seeing a lot of other bands play and open for you guys. Do you have any faves you enjoy seeing? I know from always dealing with the business at shows, its hard to catch other bands but occasionally when it happens it can be awesome.

JC - It's hard to watch all the bands we play with especially the bands that go on right before us. Normally there's last minute things to do or we need some time to relax and focus before we hit the stage. The music also starts to sound the same after a while and you get burnt out listening to blaring music, that's why I like to get CD's from bands we play with so I can listen to them later once I'm ready. I've been meaning to blog about all the bands we've played with and give a little scene report.

EA - You guys have worked with a ton of great horror artist such as Big Tony and James Rowe who have been pounding the ink to this scene for years. Is there anyone else you guys want to work with?

JC - Basil Gogos and Frank Frazetta. You might not know their names but if you google em you'll know the art.

EA - While we're on the subject of art, how important do you think it is this day in age when you can just download the cd from itunes to actually design a kick ass cd?

JC - I'm not sure if it's really that important. Lately I've been ordering CD's on Itunes and the artwork is never a consideration when choosing music. I do think the art is very important concerning a bands online presence and live performance. I still love a CD jam packed with artwork but it seems people would rather have the lyrics in a CD case instead of artwork.

EA - Also, please help me explain the importance of having a lot of merch available at shows when touring!! (people don't listen to me, maybe they will you ha!)

JC- The show guarantee, if you are lucky, will pay for gas to the next show, so the only way to make a profit is to sell merch. Yes, it's a lot of work to haul around merch, have someone to sell it, and keep the inventory levels full but it does pay off.

EA - What does the near future hold for Calabrese?

JC - A new music video for the movie "The Graves", a new CD and a one shot Calabrese comic from Modern Mythology Press. Hey, that sounds pretty impressive.

EA - Any advice for DIY bands out there?

JC- Don't give up, keep writing songs, keep playing shows, keep learning more and sell you soul to the devil, that helps too.

EA - Ok, here is some easy questions so my readers can get to know Jimmy Calabrese.

Main inspirations for playing music? Listening to music inspired me to try and play music.

Fave musicians? Danzig, AFI, recently I'm hooked on System Of A Down.

Fave movies? Dead Alive, Ghostbusters, Evil Dead series

Fave books / comics? Cal MacDonald, The Goon

If you could play a show of any lineup of bands including your own, live or dead what bands would play with you? The Danzig Trilogy - Misfits, Samhain, Danzig

Vice of choice? Television

What's a day off like? You know the everyday kinda stuff, drinking blood, eating children.

EA - Any closing words for the readers? Words of wisdom?

JC - Nope. Thanks for the interview it was fun.


Make sure you check out Calabrese over at their website (or click the link below)

Keep it evil!



  1. That Stockton show was awesome, especially when that big rowdy chick penguin dove through the table.

  2. Awesome shit! Calabrese is definitely one of the best and coolest.

  3. jimmy and all the calabrese bros. kick ass! i love all the same music and movies as them as well, definitely a band that horror punk fans or just good alternative/punk rock music fans can relate to. down to earth cool dudes! new calabrese album dayglo necros is their best album in my opinion, it really is awesome! buy their albums and go see their shows, support this badass band! all 4 of their albums are great btw, so buy them all!