The Calling Card, self confessed ‘New Kings Of This Town’ from South Wales have just released their long awaited debut album Everything You’re Not, a great album which should really raise the bands profile and definitely put them up amongst the top Welsh bands of the moment.
We managed to catch up with The Calling Card’s singer Benj Squibbs (the band are completed by Simon Strickland and Stephen Parry on guitar, Kyle Jones on Bass and Hob Nob on drums) to get the lowdown on each track from Everything You’re Not.
The New Kings Of This Town
Obviously it opens with the sound of a helicopter which is a tribute to Oasis (Opening to Be Here Now has a 747 open the album) and we wanted it to give the feeling of the new best band around has arrived. We had a demo of this before which was a bit different and a bit too stop-starty. It didn’t have that great flow to the song that it does now. We knew it would be great opener to the album and describes us pretty good. We are not reinventing the wheel but we are pretty good at what we do. It kind of takes all of our influences and chucks them into one pot. Its got bits of KIGH in there, a bit of The Used a bit of Refused. Just everything we love. I love the sheer cockiness of calling the first song of your debut album The New Kings Of This Town. Its up there with Rock N Roll star as an opening statement.
Aint No Revolution
Probably the most “Feeder” esque song we have on the album. It has that real joyus feeling to it but if you listen to the lyrics its really quite an odd topic for what is really a pop song. The main line of the song “For god and country , Geronimo” were the first words spoken back to the white house after Bin Laden was assassinated. The whole song deals with the idea that not all wars are for good. Not all soldiers are there to bring justice and peace. I really like the juxtaposition of mixing these really heavy lyrics and these breezy yet rocky pop song.
Lets Stay Young
One of the earliest songs I had and started life as an acoustic song I would play on my own at solo shows. I really wanted to write a song like Ryan Adams song “So Alive” and this was what I came up with. It has that youthful invincibility about it but also is about someone older looking back on the town/city they grew up in and not recognising certain aspects of it anymore because it keeps changing and changing. Its possibly the most Britpop song on the album as well. It definitely has some aspects of the Oasis song “Stay Young” in it. Its funny because one review picked up on the fact that another Newport band Save Your Breath released a single last year called stay young and accused us of copying even though our demo had been on youtube for the previous two years before theirs had surfaced.
Being from South Wales you couldn’t help but being in a band and not be influenced by the Manic Street Preachers in someway. I remember seeing an interview with them once and they said they wrote “You Love Us” as a response to everyone that hated them and I thought that it was the coolest thing I had ever heard before. We are one of the few bands around that really don’t care about what sub genre is cool. We really don’t care about how many breakdowns that you can fit into your set. We just want to make the best songs we possibly can. Its probably the one track that would describe us best. The lead guitar is a big influence from Jonny Marr of The Smiths and also has the line “Big Mouth Strikes Agai” which is another little tribute to them.
Weight Of The World
My favourite track on the album. Even when we did demos of the album this was always the stand out track to me. The one that seemed extra special. Its kind of got that powerpop feel to it but with the backing vocals also reminds me of bands like The Gaslight Anthem. In a review recently we got accused of writing lyrics that were too simple, but they seemed to miss the point in that, that is what we want. We are not Radiohead. We write songs for the everyday working class person. Its all about voting for the first time and not knowing who to vote for because they cant believe in anyone anymore. Its also the only song we have played in every single one of our sets.
Why So Serious
This is the earliest track written and was written just after Heath Ledger had died. He was someone that seemed to be on the rise in Hollywood and then tragically was cut short. He really was this generations River Pheonix. The Dark Knight hadn’t been released yet but all the promo for the film had already started and the infamous line of “Why So Serious” was already becoming a line people were remembering from the adverts. The Chorus is also from one of the batman films but the first Tim Burton one and it just seemed to really fit. I think it’s a great tribute to him anyways. Id recorded a few demos of it and it always changed a bit but was always predominantly acoustic based. We got to the studio and still didn’t have any lead lines for the song and all of a sudden Simon stumbled across the hook that’s on the final version and we all just looked at each other and knew that was what was missing to make the song special.
Everybody Gets One
One of the most personal lyrics on the album. A couple of years ago I was really struggling with how to deal with things and entered a pretty bad depression and this was all about that really. Saying that the song title is from a Family Guy sketch haha, but it kind of fit. Its saying everyone has low points but its how you come out of them that make you who you are. The line “I take the blame” is a line that Ian Curtis sang in Joy Division that seemed to really make sense to me at that time. One of the punkier tunes on the album
Cross My Heart
Another super poppy song. We wrote this on the 1st of January one year and I remember Simon turning to me saying “You have written the song of the year already!” Im sure he was right but I don’t dislike the song. This one again kind of follows on from the same sentiments of Everybody gets one in that it was written when I was at my lowest but is more of an angry lyric rather than a depressed said state I guess. We wanted to have a song that was quite stabby and have quite a “Head Automatica”/”Elvis Costello ish feel to it.
Lost @ Sea
The ballad of the album. The song is pretty sad and is about someone I knew who drowned while deep sea diving and they were only 13 years old. It just kind of deals with how everyone tries to recover from something like that happening. I just wanted it to be a fitting tribute and to try and make it as beautiful sounding as possible with all the string arrangements on it. Again the water noise at the beginning is another tribute to Oasis who start of Champagne Supernova in a similer fashion.
Keep The Change You Filthy Animal
This was the first song we ever played at our first ever band practise and has opened nearly everyone of our sets so far. We also had a demo of this song but it was a little bit slower and just didn’t quite have the energy of this version. It’s a real runaway train of a track. Its really in your face, really aggressive and the most punk rock song on our album. We sometimes get accused of being “Pop Punk” which I never understand, but if you listen to this album and see “Lost @ Sea” and then this one you can really see that we have nothing in common with those bands. Its probably the most aggressively opinionated song on the album as well. Its not so much anti religious but a song that wants to questions everything
Don’t Let It Go
100% the darkest subject matter on the album. Its got that familier sounding rocking beat to it that pounds all the way through and again has a poppy chorus to counteract the dark subject matter. Its all about the West Memphis Three who were wrongly accused and sentenced for the killing of three young boys even though there was no witnesses or evidence that linked them to the crime. It was simply because they wore dark clothes and listened to heavy metal music. They were finally released after 18 plus years in jail which is unbelievable. The only way they could be freed was to plea that they were innocent but the court had enough evidence at the time to convict them even though they didn’t.
I Always Lose
This was the last one written for the album and I showed it to the band roughly a week before we went to the studio. I’d been listening to loads of early U2 records and I felt we needed this epic feeling ending to the album, that really big stadium song to close the album. Its still got The Calling Card feel but its also quite different to the other songs on the album. I love the false ending to the song as well, It all just adds to the drama of the song. The drumming pattern is also quite odd for us and something I really hope Hob will use in the future as well.
You can pick up ‘Everything You’re Not’ from iTunes, Amazon, play.com and other digital retailers and is definitely worth your time and money.