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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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