Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Calling


The Calling started out as an army of two, a binary band of brothers, and from the beginning, they never doubted that their music would touch a global audience. Today, two years after the lavish success of "Camino Palmero," the Calling's 2002 premiere album, the partnership between Alex Band and Aaron Kamin remains as vital as ever. Now, it's showtime again, as they follow up with "Two," the band's new RCA CD.

Why Two? "Obviously, because it's our second record," says singer/songwriter Alex Band, "and also to restate the fact that there are two people in the band and we write/do the music." He could have added a third reason. Throughout the album's 10 tracks, the Calling reflect on life's dual nature: hope and despair, love and loss, sense and spirit.

Written by Aaron and Alex, and co-produced by them with Mark Tanner and Clif Magness, "Two" reveals a pronounced artistic maturity. And why wouldn't it? The pair wrote the first album when they were teenagers. Now in their 20's, both have experienced much of what life has to offer- the good, the bad, and the insane- and the new album embodies it all.

"We grew up," explains guitarist/songwriter Aaron Kamin. "We mastered the tools. We're very different now, but clearly we lift each other up when it comes to the creative process." Adding immeasurably to the making of Two, music industry legend and BMG Chairman and C.E.O. Clive Davis came aboard to collaborate on several tracks. Recalls Aaron, "In the beginning, it was intimidating, because he's someone we look up to. Clive was so inspiring, he reminded us that musically anything is possible and anything can happen."

The music on "Two" bears that out.

With Aaron's versatile guitar front and center, the album's songs blend acoustic intimacy with a grand pop vision. Alex Band, one of the most distinctive and expressive young singers in music, has never sounded better. Though probing serious themes, the album is, ultimately, a rocking meditation on hope and love, starting with the inspiring and upbeat debut single, "Our Lives."

Songs like "Chasing the Sun," "If Only" and the erotically charged "Surrender" offer ironic views of love, while others, like "Somebody Out There" and "Your Hope" throw lifelines to the lost and lonely. Notes Alex, "I like making a song a little twisted and realistic, because real life does not always have a happy ending." For Aaron, a key track is "Things Will Go My Way." Says the guitarist, "That song means the most to me. The chorus is really simple, and the song is optimistic at its heart."

The same could easily be said of both Alex and Aaron, who formed a close working relationship years ago in their native Los Angeles. They met when Aaron was dating Alex's sister. Though that romance didn't last, the musical link between Alex and Aaron did. The two recorded countless demos, which they then brazenly pitched to next door neighbor Ron Fair, a top industry A&R veteran. Impressed by their potential, Fair signed them to RCA Records, but led them through a long apprenticeship-- over five years, in fact -- which forced Alex and Aaron to painstakingly perfect their art. "At the time it was a nightmare," remembers Alex, "but now we can't help seeing that there was a point to waiting to create that first record. Things happen for a reason." Adds Aaron, "Ron said to us, 'You do not want to put out your record and have it fail. Make it as bulletproof as you can because you may only have one chance."

They took that chance with "Camino Palmero" in 2002. It took a few months to catch on, but once it did, Alex and Aaron were hurled into a vortex of fame and adulation. Hit singles like "Wherever You Will Go" and "Adrienne" propelled the album past the 2 and a half million mark in global sales, while the band toured worldwide, building fan bases everywhere, from Brazil to Thailand.

The Calling's music has been featured in various films such as "Coyote Ugly", "Kate and Leopold", "Daredevil", "Sweet Home Alabama", and "Love Actually", to name a few.

They were later named Best New Act at the MTV European Music Awards, while the single "Adrienne" was voted Best New Rock Song at the Teen Choice Awards.

And last summer, Alex had an opportunity to record and perform the #1 hit single "Why Don't You and I?" with Carlos Santana, while Aaron wrote and produced songs with blues great Johnny Lang and other up and coming artists, and scored two short films, including Shaina Fewell's "Ghosts of Genius".

Both agree, after many tumultuous months on the road, it was good to get back to where they once belonged. "You fly over the city and can't see it because it's too smoggy," says Alex. "Then you say, "Good old L.A". You go back to cleaning the cat box, doing the dishes, and just being a normal human being."

Adds Aaron, "It's great being home, having that safety and security. To be in that relaxed atmosphere is the way to create and write."

That's exactly what they did, putting everything into creating the new album. "We wanted to make a better record," recalls Alex, "and step up the songwriting. The last record was written five years ago, so naturally these new songs dealt with bigger issues. A lot of bands go backwards, and we clearly didn't want to do that."

Adds Aaron: "We all want the same things in life, fear the same things in life. This album is meant to be a reminder of the commonality of peoples' emotions, dreams and hopes."

By any standard, with "Two" the Calling hit the mark.

Thanks to Brandi Refsell for submitting the biography.

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