With their new album's release sandwiched between a late-summer tour of their native United Kingdom and a slot in The Fest 8's lineup, Calvinball is poised to make their musical mark here in the U.S. and abroad. Via email, the band waxed lyrical with Brandon Campbell about their penchant for irresponsibility, performing drunk and simply having fun with their gruff brand of punk.
Where are you from?
Dave Wolinski -We all live in Sheffield UK, and that's where we all met, but originally Iâm from Manchester and Matt is from Blackpool.
Who are the band members?
Wolinski - Conor plays the Drums, Joe plays guitar, Matt plays bass and sings, and I play guitar and sing…if you can call it singing.
How old is everyone?
Wolinski - Conor is only just 18! Joe is 21, Matt 24 and I am 25. Quite a range, haha.
How would you describe yourselves as both a band and as individuals?
Wolinski - As a band Iâd say we're pretty unorganized and scrappy. We leave a lot to the last minute, today being an example - as my brother has to post our master CD to us from an airport before he goes to Japan so we can get the new EP made up before we go on tour. But we don't take anything too seriously and we just wanna have fun playing catchy punk songs. You wonât get the worldâs most amazing performance from us, but you'll get to get drunk and sing along. As an individual? I'm pretty tired.
Matt Doherty - I'm a mess.
Joe Lawrence - Yeah, Dave pretty much summed us up. Me personally? Fairly average guy. If Iâm not working, Iâm drunk; that seems to be how it is at the moment… livin' the dream.
Conor Mackie - Currently homeless and walking with a limp, GSOH, enjoys holding hands, seeks likewise band mates so he can ditch these pricks.
How did you guys meet and form Calvinball?
Wolinski -Me and Matt went to university together and had always wanted to be in a band, they met Joe and Conor through Conor's older brother Ciaran, and we all liked similar music so started fucking about writing songs, and we're still fucking about now.
How long has Calvinball been performing?
Wolinski - I'd say about 2 and a bit years? Not really sure to be honest. We used to be really shit so we don't count those days haha. We also had about 6 months off as well, as two weeks before we were set to do our last UK tour, our drummer Conor got drunk and jumped over a fence that had a 21 foot drop on the other side. He broke his knee and had to have all kinds of crazy surgery, taking tendons from his other leg and stitching them in to the other. To be honest he was lucky not to die, so we're all grateful for that, but we went a bit stir crazy from sitting round not playing. Now we wanna make up for lost time!
According to your MySpace calendar you guys have a lot of shows booked up, not the least of which is The Fest 8. How did you get on the line up?
Wolinski - I think we played the right song at the right time! Tony (Fest/No Idea/dude) was over in the UK doing merch for Virgins and we played the Leeds show with them. We played a Small Brown Bike cover and I think that, along with however much booze Tony had drunk that night, made him think we were worthy of a slot. We didn't hesitate to acceptâ¦ plus Tony loved that Conor was playing with his knee brace on after his "accident." So that won us some brownie points.
Is The Fest 8 going to be your first time playing in America?
Wolinski - It will indeed. We feel incredibly lucky and can't wait for it.
How do you feel about playing The Fest?
Wolinski - Chuffed. We're just as excited about seeing all the ace bands there, so to be playing too is amazing.
I'm fairly certain your name is a Calvin and Hobbes reference. If that's true, who among you are fans of the series? And why name your band Calvinball?
Wolinski -I have been reading Calvin and Hobbes since my folks started buying me the big annuals as Christmas and birthday presents. And when me and Matt lived together he got hooked on them too. 'Calvinball' was kinda just plucked out the air one day after reading it.
Doherty - Plus, no band is less organized than Calvinball.
How have people reacted to the name?
Wolinski - For people who don't know the comic it's funny as they often mistake us for being some guy called Calvin Ball….but those who are familiar are always quick to appreciate the name. Our friend Bekki's mum thought we were Canon and Ball's (old school UK comedians) backing band. Which would be awesome if it were true.
Your album, .Live Fast, Go to Bed Early., in my opinion, has a very modern punk sound in the vein of Latterman and, to a lesser extent, Jawbreaker, yet it is not overproduced or polished. Was that a deliberate aesthetic choice?
Wolinski - Our lack of money meant we didn't really have a choice of aesthetics, haha. It was recorded all live over two days in our rehearsal room, so we were only ever gonna get it sounding rough. It was more of a long demo than an album, I guess. But we're really happy with what our friend Chris did with it. He's also recorded our EP for us, in his studio, and Iâm sure we'll use him again in the future.
What bands/albums have you guys been playing on repeat over the past few months?
Wolinski - Recently I know we've been listening to a lot of the bands on The Fest because we're getting excited. Banner Pilot, Pretty Boy Thornson, Iron Chic etc… I'm always listening to Small Arms Dealer and Bear vs. Shark though, and we can't get in a car together without Bruce Springsteen going on. There's also stuff like Heathers and Laura Stevenson.
Doherty - The new Shook Ones and the new American Steel and 'Dworkin's Bastards' by ONSIND. Lawrence - Britney Spears, Napalm Death.
Mackie - Polar Bear Club, Algernon Cadwallader. And always Saves the Day.
What artists, bands or otherwise, would you guys list as personal or creative influences?
Wolinski - Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms, and Latterman are the obvious ones. But although you canât hear it so much I think guys like Tom Petty, Warren Zevon and Johnny Cash influence our song writing a lot. We're not ashamed to do things simple and make it catchy rather than over-complicate stuff. Doherty - I reckon we're influenced by Weezer and TGUK as much as the gruff stuff. Also, Bill Hicks.
What is next on the agenda for Calvinball? Are you guys going to be touring or recording any more music?
Wolinski - We've recorded an EP that we will hopefully have ready by the end of the week, as that's when we go on tour! We've got a UK tour with our good friends Apologies I Have None, and ONSIND. Two great UK bands, we can't wait for the shows. Check out our MySpace for the tour dates.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Wolinski - Brandon Campbell is a dude. Oh, and check out the MySpace of Bangers, Break the Habit, Actionier, Pudge, Sam Russo, as well as Apologies, I Have None and ONSIND, all ace UK acts that are around at the minute.