June 15, 2018 Interview – Alex Band of The Calling
The twists and turns of life can easily break someone down, but through hope and determination anything is possible. Growing up in Hollywood, California, Alex Band knew he wanted to be a musician from a very young age, and by the age of 15 landed a record deal with RCA Records. Eager to make his move, it would not be until 5 years after his signing that his music would finally get a chance to shine, and shine it would when his band The Calling hit the airwaves with their single “Wherever You Will Go.” The lead single off their platinum-selling debut album, Camino Palmero, the song set records as a number 1 hit single on the Billboard charts, earning The Calling one of the biggest Alternative Rock radio songs of the 2000s.
Following up with their sophomore album, Two, in 2004, the future was promising for The Calling, but sadly there were some bumps in the road, leading to the band’s dissolvement. Fortunately the story does not end there because Alex Band has continued to fulfill his musical passion since, and now after many years, brings The Calling back, hopefully for good. Set to tour, and yes, release new music, the next chapter is still being written for Band and The Calling. Excited for the future, Band recently took the time to chat about the twists and turns over the years, his undying love for music, plans for The Calling, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music professionally for nearly 2 decades. From the tremendous commercial success of The Calling to your solo career, you have certainly accomplished a great deal. First, briefly tell us, what has your experience been like dedicating your life to music?
Alex Band – What a question. First and foremost, it has been what I was born to do – it’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever done, I just followed this natural path. I look at it as life, it is nothing I would ever stop or not continuing doing, even if there was no one left to listen. This is a wacky, crazy business, growing up in Hollywood and in the movie industry, it makes that very tame. It’s the business of an art, and when that happens, it can become very frustrating. For every amazing, incredible, life-changing moment I’ve had, I’ve had equal moments of crazy struggles, things you wouldn’t even believe. Getting on the stage and performing songs and seeing what 200 or 10,000 people sing back, there is nothing like that. It’s all worth it for me. I have been handed an insane hand in this card game, especially in the past 10 years. It’s crazy, but I am very optimistic right now and looking forward to what is about to come.
CrypticRock.com – It seems like it has been a very exciting ride, ups and downs.
Alex Band – Oh yea, it’s never boring. I will give it that. There have been lots of ups and a lot of downs.
CrypticRock.com – Understood. The Calling’s 2001 debut album, Camino Palmero, topped charts around the world, attained gold and platinum status, and really left an impression on the Alternative Rock scene. Being your debut album, was the success at all overwhelming and what were those times like for the band?
Alex Band – For me, it was actually kind of like it was now. I had been signed with a lot of those songs written already, actually, 6 years prior to that album coming out. There was this insanely long amount of time of arguing, anticipation, and trying to get noticed by the guy who signed us. The typical story of pushed in 100 different directions to create one sounding thing, but then coming full circle to what I was and what I had first met him with songs like “Wherever You Will Go,” which I wrote when I was 16. There wasn’t a band, I hired people. The person with me in those early times was my songwriting partner. That in itself is a whole other crazy explanation.
They were very exciting times nonetheless because of the insane amount of anticipation. The struggle that went just to get the album out, then it dawned on me, 19-20 years old, when that album came out, I started working my ass off. There was 8 months straight, touring around America doing radio before that first song broke. It was a lot of work and a long time coming, but the true battle is once the music is out there, that’s the true work. At the time I was just thrilled! They all thought I was crazy at the record label because I was the perfect kid for a band because I wanted to do every press thing and everything possible. It was exciting, I was excited, and I wanted to make it happen. It almost didn’t happen, that is actually a story I never told. But it did happen, it became a hit.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, sounds like a wild ride. That debut album was anchored by the number 1 hit single “Wherever You Will Go.” It broke records remaining at the top of the charts for a long, extensive periods of time, and is considered one of the defining Alternative Rock tunes of the early 2000s. That all said, do you personally connect with the song as much as fans do?
Alex Band – I became connected to it because of how it changed people’s live, because of how expansive it was, because of how it reached parts of the world I have never been to. Be able to go to 100 plus countries and meet these people who were changed in some way or just enjoyed listening to my music was the wildest thing ever.
That song for me was 1 of the 200 songs I had written. I knew it was a good song and a single contender amongst the songs on the record in the label’s mind. It was a very personal song when it was written, but I had no idea until it all happened. I think the biggest accolade for me was on the Billboard Charts, it was the number one song of the last decade for adult top 40. That is crazy to think, of all the songs that were played in the last 10 years. More recently, it made the number 3 song of all Billboard history, again, Billboard started in the ’80s, so we are missing a huge chunk of music. But still, the number 3 song of the last 30 years, that kind of stuff is nuts to think about and comprehend.
The quick answer, it was a song to me that was not at all what it became until I experienced that. Like I said, it was only through all of that I became more fond of the song and performing. Which is a good thing because I have performed it a zillion times. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – It really is an amazing story. The Calling followed up with Two in 2004. While the album was not as successful commercially, it showed a level of maturity from the band as songwriters. All these years later, what are your thoughts on Two?
Alex Band – I’m bias, but the following record, I thought was really strong. “Our Lives,” not only was featured in the Olympics in 2004, it opened the Oscars in 2005. The song was number 1 in tons of countries around the world. I lived it, so I know, it was a complete business plug pulled on the project. There was a cash flow plug pulled on the project in the midst of that record which led to the demise. I know that for a fact, it’s a sad thing, because it would have gone much further. Things happen, it is what it is, I have moved on.
I then stupidly said, I will just do a solo thing. That wasn’t the stupid part, the stupid part was I signed with the same person I did as a kid who made me wait those 5 years. He did it again, which was crazy. The whole exact same thing happened again where I we went full circle where I made this album which was the original material I first brought to him in 2006. Anyway, it’s a crazy story that I won’t go into detail about. The important thing is I have always wanted to make more albums and be The Calling. I certainly have stopped playing shows, I have been all over the world and played shows, but I have needed a few things in life to come together to able to make it possible again to be The Calling. Which relieves a huge stress which makes it possible for me to do what I already did, just without a lot of heartache and drama in the background at the same time. That is why I am very excited, I get to to be The Calling again.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly seems to have been a long road travelled. It is exciting for fans to see The Calling back in full force.
Alex Band – It’s kind of scary, because you’re kind of starting over. We are out to do a tour around the US, just a few dates on the coast. Then we have massive shows in Brazil and Europe, we just came from Australia where we sold out. It’s very exciting that fans of The Calling are still around, it’s a good thing!
CrypticRock.com – It is a very good thing. With you doing this North American run of shows, can fans expect a new The Calling record?
Alex Band – Absolutely. I’ve spent the last 10 years making it. I recorded over 2 1/2 albums worth of songs, full production recordings, and I narrowed that down to an album. Again, I’m bias, but going off opinions of people in the industry who I trust and who are very big people in the industry that say it’s a phenomenal record and it’s going to blow people away. I am very proud to be able to get it out there. It is in kind of the beginning stages, but the record is done.
CrypticRock.com – That is wonderful news. Do you have a timetable of an expected release?
Alex Band – Right now, I need to decide which label ultimately I am going with. I am in the lucky position to be able to choose that. Ultimately, that then will of course dictate the dates of release and what not. It’s a very different business, very different than when I caught the last moment when I came out of the music business as it always was. These days, you work 10 times harder to get 10 times less. It doesn’t stop me for a second, but there is also a much smaller window getting lucky, there is luck involved. It’s not just a great song ended up being a hit song. I have a good time around me at this point, but to answer the question, the goal right now is to get a record release date. We are just going ahead and starting playing, why not get people’s reaction and play some of these new songs? Play all the old songs too of course live, just start doing that in the moment since we don’t need to make a record right now.
CrypticRock.com – This is all something to look forward to. Beyond music, you are also involved in several causes to help raise awareness for diseases such as Parkinson’s. Do you have anything new going on in association with these causes?
Alex Band – I don’t. I like it to happen naturally and Donate Life is doing organ donation awareness, they are really making a dent on it. The numbers of lives we have saved in America from my fanbase alone, working on that with Donate Life was huge. I really pushed that for a number of years. Then you have of course with Parkinson’s, I have worked with that.
I think naturally with this new record coming out, and us touring, something will come of it. I know the things I am passionate about, of course I always love to help if I can. If people listen to you and you are in that powerful position enough to help other people, that is the best part of it. I am not sure what that’s going to be at this point.
CrypticRock.com – We will see what happens, it seems like positive things are coming together, as stated.
Alex Band – Yes. The last few years have been rough. Just being healthy is a blessing that a lot of us take for granted. I went through a couple of things that were really scary, I am really happy to be here. I am happy to be healthy and to be about to go do what I have wanted to do, and loved to do, and honestly have been missing from my life. It’s that dear to me and it’s been a lot of work to get this point to be able to at least try that journey and see what happens.
CrypticRock.com – Fans have waited for it, so the reaction should be a good one.
Alex Band – I hope so. Of course I have to believe in myself, I beat on myself, I’m hoping. If there is one thing I know, the same people who were touched by “Wherever You Will Go” or The Calling’s music in general, are going to find themselves with this record in a continuous level, if that makes sense. I am interested to see how disillusioned I am. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – The determination is paying off! Last question. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. Growing up the son of a Horror filmmaker, if you are a fan of either genre, what are some of your favorites and why?
Alex Band – Yea, of course. My first memory is literally of a giant bear monster ripping a girl’s shirt off and eating her breast. (Laughs) I was on the set of my dad’s movies, I truly grew up in them, and he has made a lot of them. I have always been a fan. There are definitely a couple of films from the ’80s of my dad’s that are classics and I enjoyed.
I don’t know these days what a B-movie is. It was always direct to video, but I am out of touch with that world these days. Favorites for me, Trancers (1985), Re-animator (1985), Ghoulies (1984) was awesome, Troll (1986). It is crazy how many movies my dad made as a kid, which had all these no name actors/actresses who became huge stars later.
Sat. June 16th Las Vegas, NV Top Golf
Tues. June 19th San Francisco, CA The Independent
Wed. June 20th Sacramento, CA Harlow’s Nightclub
Sun. June 24nd Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour
Tues. June 26th Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
Thurs. June 28th New York, NY Gramercy Theatre
Fri. June 29th Washington DC Pearl Street
Sat. June 30th Philadelphia, PA The Foundry
Aug 18-19 Festival Rock Arena – Arena Pantanal Cuiaba, MT Brazil
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