Calabrese “Lust for Sacrilege” album review & interview

CALABRESE-Lust-For-Sacrilege-UK-Tour-2015-AD-MAT-With-DatesCalabrese “Lust for Sacrilege” album review & interview

Phoenix, Arizona’s Calabrese have been making horror-themed rock and roll for over a decade now. They released the Midnight Spookshow EP in 2003 and have since released six full length albums. In the early years, the band had a slew of fun horror punk songs on each album. The last few years, they’ve still got those but the band’s tone has gotten a bit darker, a bit more serious. Most bands probably couldn’t pull this off. Calabrese, however, have done a great job of it and keeps you interested every step of the way. If Born With a Scorpion’s Touch grabbed you, Lust for Sacrilege will blow you away.

The album starts off with “The Dark is Who I Am”. It’s a brooding intro that would make Type O Negative jealous. Later in the album, they bring that Type O vibe back on the title track. For “Lust for Sacrilege”, lyrically, it feels very “Christian Woman”. Musically, it feels 100% Calabrese. I’d have to say, even those who aren’t Type O fans should be feeling these songs.

There are definitely songs that have that classic Calabrese sound. “Down in Misery”, “Teenage Crimewave” and “Lords of the Wasteland” are proof they haven’t forgotten where they came from. The songs are never boring or feeling like I’ve heard it for five albums already. The guys just keep on kicking out greatness.

“Flesh and Blood” is a song that really sticks out. It’s in the same vain as “I Wanna Be a Vigilante” and “There is an Evil Inside” from Born with a Scorpion’s Touch. It’s slower. It’s broodier. It’s deeper. Much like the first time I heard “Evil Inside”, the song was instantly stuck in my head for days. This is the kind of song I fear might push longtime fans away but I hope will elevate them to the next level like it should. It’s not a change for the sake of trying to do things differently. It’s just a truly great song.

There are two things I noticed about “Wanted Man” and “Serpentflame”. Oddly, I get the same thing from both of these songs and they’re back to back on the album. The first thing isn’t so weird; it’s that they both have a heavy Danzig II vibe in the main riff. The second thing is the odd one. The choruses of both songs have a sort of Nirvana chord progression. It makes for an interesting listen but both songs still feel like Calabrese the whole time and neither of the things I mentioned are in any way meant to diminish how good both of these songs are.

Calabrese lets more of their old school, hardcore punk influence out in “Gimme War”. Lots of fast guitars, “woah” choruses and a Misfits-style solo are all included. This one really gets the blood flowing. It also keeps you feeling like Calabrese haven’t strayed from their roots. It also sets up the super-brooding “New York Ripper” perfectly.

They close the album with the biggest departure from anything they’ve done that I can think of. “Drift into Dust” is an acoustic track with an intro guitar sounding very much like that of the one on Danzig 5’s “Come to Silver”. The Danzig influence is all over this one and it definitely breaks any idea of how you think Calabrese will end an album. It’s a slightly odd ending, but it feels right for them to have gone this route.

My overall assessment of this album is that it’s sure to be a top contender for best rock album of 2015. It’s hard to pick a favorite Calabrese album but this one doesn’t disappoint in the least. It’s not as much horror-oriented as maybe just a really dark album, but it makes for great listening.

Lust for Sacrilege score:
9 out of 10

Bobby Calabrese rocking his face off

Bobby Calabrese rocking his face off

Now, onto my interview with Jimmy, Bobby and Davey Calabrese. Keep in mind the vibe here is all in good fun and these are good guys. There were even moments where they stopped and talked with fans who came up to say hi. Calabrese make a point to get to know their fans and let them in on their own stuff, as well. While we were wrapping things up, a fan even brought them a pizza because, if you follow these dudes on Twitter or Facebook, you know they love pizza.

Calabrese @ The Crazy Horse – Boise, Idaho, USA (Jan 29, 2015)

C- You’ve only been on this tour a couple weeks now but how has it been so far?

B- It’s been cool.
D- Successful.
B- Very successful.
J- Worst tour ever. (laughing)

C- Are you hitting more cities that you haven’t been to much and seeing more people coming to the shows, in general?

J- Yeah. Hitting a lot of North Carolina. We haven’t been there. And like, here, in Boise. It’s the second time. Last night, Spokane for the second time. So, yeah, and a lot of new faces, new people who heard about us from just two albums ago, Born with a Scorpion’s Touch. So, that’s pretty cool. They don’t know the back catalog. But, yeah, new people, new fans so the plan’s working.

C- What’s the toughest thing for you guys about being on the road promoting a record?

D- Driving. I don’t do any of it. (laughing)
B- Lack of sleep. That sucks.
J- Yeah, ditto on the sleep. That’s the worse part. If there’s not enough sleep, that kind of sucks but everything else is cool.
B- Just drink beer, you’ll be fine.

C- Did you guys play in other bands before Calabrese?

B- Not really. Nothing serious.
J- Yeah, but nothing really mentionable.
D- No.

C- I’ve followed you guys for about 10 years, since 13 Halloweens. What really grabbed me about it was that in a sea of horror bands that either sounded like old Misfits or new Misfits, you had your own sound. Was that the goal when you started the band?

B- Yeah, probably. Although, I mean we were influenced by The Misfits and all that stuff but they weren’t the end-all, be-all. There were so many other influences at the time. Maybe it helped with two vocalists. Maybe that helped mix it up. Instead of one guy trying to act like Danzig, there’s two. (laughing)
J- Yeah, I think that’s the key. All the different influences. Maybe all those other bands were just trying to be The Misfits and we were trying to be all these different kinds of bands.
B- Yeah, we were way into surf rock. You could hear a lot of that, probably. Man or Astro-Man… there was a lot of different stuff we were listening to back then, so I don’t know. (laughing) Weird.

Calabrese intro backdrop

Calabrese intro backdrop

C- I’ve found most horror rock fans are into the fun stuff like The Misfits, the serious stuff like Danzig and a lot in between. There’s a lot they listen to. But… it’s also general human nature to hate it any time a band changes things up. On Born with a Scorpion’s Touch, the feeling was a lot deeper than previous albums. That continued on Lust for Sacrilege. Were you worried that fans might not like it or did you figure it’s just where you need to go with it? I mean, it’s not a complete departure. It still sounds like Calabrese but it’s a lot more mature than the first four albums.

B- I think with some of the songs it was like, “this might be kind of weird,” but it’s not one of those things where we purposely went in and said we were gonna change it and screw with everyone’s minds. It was just the way it came out. And you know, that’s all we shit out, that’s all you get, you know?
D- Haters gonna hate. And no matter what you do, there’s always gonna be someone hating it.

C- I can definitely say, I’ve read quite a few reviews and I haven’t read anything bad about the new album.

B- (laughing) It only took five albums.
J- For Scorpion’s Touch, when the sound started to change, or mature, I think once we had it, I was a little nervous for the core fans because even with They Call Us Death, there were some people. But, I guess with They Call Us Death, it was harder and some people didn’t get it but they still liked it. Even though we were kind of worried about it, in the grand scheme of things, it seems like our fans are pretty much accepting of stuff. It was like, we had no choice. That was the music that was coming out so that’s how we were gonna go.

C- As far as the new album goes, I hear a lot of influences in there while keeping the Calabrese sound. I hear some Type O Negative in the opening track, some Danzig (especially Danzig II) and even a few chord progressions that are reminiscent of Nirvana to me (I get some woah’s from the guys on that one. Don’t think that was an influence, just something I got a few places) . What bands were the biggest influences while writing this record.

B- Nirvana baby! No… Obviously Type O, like you said, and Danzig. A lot of metal. We were listening to a lot of metal, like Mastadon. What else?
J- Black Sabbath. We were listening to a lot of that for like the piano parts. Believe it or not there’s like a piano, Goblin-esque kind of riff in one of the Black Sabbath songs. But, we’re letting a lot of the metal influence come through and like the darker stuff. We’ve done all the straight up punk stuff so new we’re just kind of exploring the other kinds of music we all liked. That’s the thing, too, we all still have the same influences. There are core ones we can all agree on and that’s the kind of stuff that comes through.
D- I got something to say, you guys keep taking this up… (laughing) Chris Issak… they’ve got the hard bands in there, but there’s some Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison. Some Joy Division in there. Some of that stuff, too.

Calabrese singalong

Calabrese singalong

C- On social media, it looks like you guys get home from a tour and just immediately start writing music and recording. What is it that you guys actually do? Do you relax a bit or take time apart?

J- Yes. At least a week, we stay away from each other.
D- We love to make music videos and give the fans a visual. We’re always working.

C- You guys have gone from being a local Arizona band to what many consider one of the premier horror rock bands in the U.S., maybe even the world (they’re laughing at the thought of this but I think it’s true)… and it seems you’ve done it all yourselves. Obviously, the music has a lot to do with it but it takes more than that for people to actually take time to pay attention and listen. What do you attribute to the getting the following you have?

B- Longevity! I don’t know, last band standing. (laughing) We’re the last ones, so we win by default. (laughing)
D- A lot of bands have fell baby!. (laughing)
B- We stayed the longest, we win the game. (more laughing)
J- I think the internet revolution really helped us out and the fact that we have a lot in common with our fans. We try to treat fans as friends. I remember some of our first shows in a place called The Fix in Phoenix, I was talking to the owner/promoter and he was telling a younger band like, “see what Calabrese does? After the show, they go out and shake hands, give everybody hugs? That’s what you guys’ve gotta do.” Because the kid was complaining about like ‘why don’t we have a following yet?’ So, that’s just something that, I guess, just being young kids at bars and people are always like drunk and like touchy-feely. It’s like, ‘oh that’s cool’ and we’ll hug back and pretend we’re drunk and everyone’s our best friend and it seems to work. They become our friends. Those seem to be the most dedicated fans… the ones that get to know us and we get to know them. It’s like we have like a cult following going on.

C- You guys are really active on social media. You actually follow people back and talk with the fans on Twitter. Do you think this has helped keep people feeling like they need to keep up with what you’re doing and going to shows when you come to their town?

B- Yeah, probably, maybe. It kind of seems like when you become friends with everybody, if they don’t come to your shows then they feel like they let their friend down or something. I don’t know. We’ve only done it one way so if we did it the other way, I’m not sure it would work. I just don’t know.
J- Yeah, it’s just what we do.

C- You toured the UK a couple years back. How many times have you been and how was the experience?

J- Actually, we haven’t been to the UK, yet. Just Germany. We were close, but just Germany.

(this is where everyone judges me thinking that I think Germany is in the UK, I swear, I thought they went to the UK though and not Germany)

D- This is our first headlining tour in the UK coming up. Headlining… emphasis. (laughing) So, it’ll be great.
J- We’re super stoked.
D- We’ve been hearing they’re selling a lot of tickets so it’ll be good to get out there.

Calabrese singing

Calabrese singing

C- What can people expect to see on this tour?

B- Music… live music and entertainment. (laughing) Just a live, loud, fast show. A lot of the new songs. A lot of the old songs. Just blistering rock and roll.

C- Since this interview is for UK Horror Scene, let’s talk horror. What are some horror movies that get you ready to write new material?

D- I like comedies. (laughing) Any kind of comedy. Horror comedy, this and that… whatever…
B- You know, there’s so much Hammer horror. There’s so much of that and I still haven’t seen a ton of it but that stuff’s pretty cool. Pretty artsy stuff. And some of the Italian stuff. There’s so much that it’s all I’ve got left.
J- The Italian stuff is more artistic, like Argento, so you can kind of loosely base lyrics off of the images and it’ll sound more creative than just straight up…
D- (breaks into song singing “Frankenstein, Frankenstein”)

C- Can each of you name one favorite horror movie?

D- Army of Darkness
J- I thought it was Halloween, then I rewatched that. It used to scare the crap out of me and I watched it a few months ago, it was like damn, it didn’t quite hold up. The one movie I watched the most, I better not watch it again, it might not hold up, but Dead Alive.
B- What do I like, I guess I’d have to go with Near Dark or something. Just ‘cause I haven’t seen it in awhile. It was good though. Good vampire shit, man. Cool.

C- If each of you were a horror movie killer, who would you be?

J- I’d be Freddy Krueger.
D- You’re a molester?!
J- It’s only implied…
C- As long as we don’t go with the remake, it’s only implied.
J- Yeah, I didn’t like the remake. It was useless.
C- We won’t even get into remakes because I’ll dominate this thing with how much they all suck.
J- It was just a waste. So Stupid.
B- I guess anyone, like Freddy, who got away. Whoever got away. I’ll do that. I don’t want to be one who died.
D- I’ll be one of the Lost Boys because they killed too.
B- But they died.
D- Ah, whatever…

C- What would you consider the biggest milestone for Calabrese to date?

J- Crazy Horse, Boise, Idaho… interview with Chris for UKHorrorScene.
D- Wait, this is Rolling Stone, correct? (laughing) UK Rolling Stone…
D- Oh wait, a million view on You Tube. That was cool.
J- I guess going back to one of our first times ever playing out of town. It was at a dojo in Salt Lake in like a boxing ring and they took off the ropes and the people there were singing along. That blew me away that these people knew our songs and we’re from out of town. I think that was awesome.
B- Meeting Eerie Von. We met almost every single one of the Misftis. Eerie Von, Chudd, Jerry.
D- He’s not a Misfit…
B- Chudd’s a Misfit…
D- Eerie’s not…
B- (laughing) Everyone under the Misfit umbrella. The only one that’s left is Danzig. We’ve gotta meet Danzig.

Jimmy Calabrese singing

Jimmy Calabrese singing

C- My wife and I actually talked about this earlier. I thought your response was going to be playing with The Misfits..
D- Oh! Yeah, it was alright… (laughing) Now if we went on tour with them, that’d be something!
J- There was like one show.
B- ‘Zig… that’d be something.
D- A world tour with ‘Zig…

C- Hold that thought… next question: Is there anything that could trump your previous high? Something that would just be the ultimate high?

D- Being a household name…
J- It would be awesome if we partnered with Mr. Glenn, you know how he wrote a song for Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. He takes us under his wing, his dark wing, his black wing and let’s us feed his cat under the stained glass windows in his house. It would be cool working with Danzig in any respect.

C- What can your fans expect next from you guys?

D- More music videos.
J- Expect… the unexpected.
B- I guess more music videos, a couple more tours
D- …with Danzig
J- We’ll take Doyle too.
D- Danzig and Doyle together.

C- Before we’re done here, the big question my wife wants to know is: what’s the laundry situation on tour?
(My wife: How often are you guys doing your laundry?)

D- Every six days or so.
J- I usually do laundry once a week. Actually, we just did laundry… yeah, it’s been about a week and a half.
C- I haven’t noticed any weird odours coming from you guys.
J- No, we wear our leather jackets so you can’t really tell.
B- I only own one pair of underwear.
C- Do those get washed once a week?
B- No… I just wanted to throw that out there.

C- Anything you want to tell the UK fans?

J- Please come out to the shows. We’re gonna give you a kick ass show and rock your fucking face off. Be there!
B- If you don’t have the new album, Lust for Sacrilege, get it.
D- We’ve got Lust for Sacrilege out, get it from Amazon, iTunes, CalabereseRock.com, SpookshowRecords.com – See you soon…

This whole interview could’ve gone out as a podcast. The banter between these brothers is fun to listen to, let alone be involved in. I won’t lie and say I’m an outgoing guy, by any means, but Calabrese are easy to talk to. They love their fans so when they come to your town, go see them, say hi, buy some merch, bring them some pizza and, don’t forget, they’re huggers…

UK Tour dates and info:
Apr 24 @ Barfly – London, UK
Apr 28 @ Think Tank – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Apr 29 @ The Parish – Huddersfield, UK
Apr 30 @ Slade Rooms – Wolverhampton, UK
May 04 @ Tiki bar – Plymouth, UK
May 05 @ Hobbit – Southampton, UK
May 06 @ The Lady Luck – Canterbury, UK
May 07 @ The Fighting Cocks – Kingston Upon Thames, UK
May 08 @ Barfly – London, UK
May 09 @ The Owl Sanctuary – Norwich, UK

Calabrese – The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013) Gig Review

cala1Calabrese live show at The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013)

As it says in my bio, I used to run an independent record label.  My goal with the label was to release horror-themed music mostly in the punk rock and metal genres.
Of course, on the independent level, you don’t have the money to release everything for every band you want to push.  To strengthen my catalog, I did distro for various bands and it didn’t matter where they were from.  One of those bands was Calabrese.

 
Calabrese are a horror rock band from Arizona consisting of three brothers – Bobby, Jimmy and Davey Calabrese.  When I came across them, they had just released their first full length album, 13 Halloweens.  The thing that stuck about about this band was that they weren’t a Misfits clone.  They had their own sound and they were good.  Everything was packaged well.  Great artwork, great sounding recording, great music, great merch… and somehow, given all of this, they let their sense of humor show through.  They’re not uptight assholes.  If you follow their twitter feed, ‘like’ their Facebook page, watch their music videos, you see they’re just having fun.  It’s pretty refreshing when you find a great band who isn’t a joke but doesn’t take themselves too seriously, either.

 
I started booking punk rock shows at a local club which gave my label a place to showcase itself and it’s catalog.  I booked a lot of out of town bands.  However, while I tried to get Calabrese in for a show, it never worked out.
They continued to release three more albums.  Each one sounding like Calabrese but always notching themselves up a bit.  I sold my label and eventually stepped away from music altogether.

 
cala3  After a couple years. I had various small conversations with the band through social media.  I kept telling them to come to Boise.  To be honest, I doubt they remember me doing the distro and haven’t put it together that I was that guy.  We didn’t know each other, we just had a small distro deal for a short time.  Finally, after about 9 years, they are releasing their fifth album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch, and hitting Boise, Idaho on their tour.

 
I was running a little late to the show and, to be honest, I was kind of hoping to miss the first two bands.  Yes, I’m that guy.  I’ve seen and booked so many mediocre bands over the years that on the rare occasion I decide to go see a band, I don’t want to sit through other bands anymore.  With that said, the first band was still playing when I got there.  I’m not going to bore you with the details, the first two weren’t my thing.

 
Up next was Demoni.  These guys have been around for several years now and tour quite a bit.  When they took the stage, the whole mood for the night took a huge step in the right direction.  Singer/guitar player, Andy Agenbroad, was a little less (or maybe a lot less) than sober.  Somehow, after playing two hour-long sets earlier in the day, Demoni was still on top of their game.

 
They play a horror-themed blend of psychobilly and surf rock.  These guys have been around the block and it’s obvious.  Their guitar and bass tones were great and their drummer, Cody Chapple, had a great sounding drum kit.  It’s good to hear an opening band with good sounding gear.  On top of all of this, they play well.

 
cala5As is the case with most psychobilly bands, Demoni have an upright bass.  What sets them apart from so many of the other bands with these basses, though, is Ethan Davis learned how to play it really well.  He wasn’t jumping on top of it and throwing it around like a jackass.  He played it and he played the hell out of it!  I highly suggest you check these guys out (they’re on Facebook and twitter @demonipsycho).

 
Up next was finally Calabrese.  They took the stage like rock and roll legends.  Drummer, Davey, grabbed the mic and hyped up the crowd for a second before jumping behind the kit with the band exploding into Blood in My Eyes.  My only complaint at this point was Jimmy’s vocals sounded a little off key.  The music was tight though.
House of Mysterious Secrets was next and, again, they were killing it.  Jimmy asked for a little more vocals in the monitor and never had another problem from my standpoint.  Vocals were right on the rest of the night.

 
After She Hasn’t Been Herself in Years, the fourth song in their set, they took off the leather jackets.  Oh, did I mention they wore leather jackets for the first four songs?!  It was awesome.  They must be used to that Arizona heat because they didn’t have the least bit of an issue with how hot that had to have been.
Jimmy gabbed a comb and slicked back his hair, a-la Mike Ness.  They thanked everyone for being there and kicked into Saturday Night of the Living Dead.  This is one of my favorites of theirs.  It’s so rocking and so catchy and they were really in the groove from here on out.

 
They took it straight into Resurrection, another Calabrese classic.  The thing with these guys is that every chorus in every song is catchy.  You just can’t help but be into it.
They did play a few songs off of the new, as yet unreleased album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch.  No one knew most of these songs, but they’re true to Calabrese form and are sure to be loved by all their fans.  The video for the song Born with a Scorpion’s Touch has been out for awhile now so that was the one new song that everybody knew and went extra crazy for.

 
cala2More classics were played flawlessly.  Midnight Spookshow, Shrunken Head Kids, Coffin of Ruins… all awesome.  I started wondering how they hit those higher notes they were singing with such ferocity.  Seriously, it was incredible how on-key they were.
They introduced each other for the crowd but Jimmy stole Bobby’s thunder when he knocked over the mic stand during his introduction and almost fell over.  I have no idea how it happened but it was pretty funny.  They, then, headed into another high point for me with The Dead Don’t Rise (check out the music video for this one!).

 
They got a little spiritual at one point and wanted to dedicate a song off the new album to “the big guy upstairs”.  No, not that guy… they were talking about Elvis Presley!  The song that followed was a “ballad”, for lack of a better term, called Evil Inside.  It wasn’t a sappy ballad, it was a rocking Calabrese ballad.  Bobby and Jimmy sang vocals together over Bobby’s distorted guitar.  Drums came in and hit hard.  Finally, Jimmy’s bass came in to finish the “ballad”.  I can’t urge enough that this isn’t really a ballad.  Just sort of a ballad-Calabrese-style because it was still completely rocking.  It’s going to be a high point on the new album, I can already tell.

 
After setting the place ablaze again with Vampires Don’t Exist, the band left the stage.  The lights died down as some interlude music played.  Then, less than two minutes later, Calabrese rushed the stage again and went full force on another four songs to close out the show with Violet Hellfire, Ghostwolves (another personal favorite), Backseat of My Hearse and Voices of the Dead.These guys killed it at this show. The Shredder was a great venue for Calabrese, as well.  Pinball, arcade games, a skate ramp and beer all in one location… it felt right up Calabrese’s alley.

 
cala4 Next time they head to your city, make sure to catch them.  They played everything phenomenally.  I didn’t hear a missed note.  Every riff, solo, bass line and drum hit was right on.  That’s really saying something for a band who doesn’t just stand there, as well.  They rocked hard all night long and it was obvious they had fun being up there.  Hands down, they are THE BEST horror rock band since Danzig-era Misfits.
9 and a half out of 10

Chris Cavoretto