We conducted an interview with Benj Squibbs, a vocalist of THE CALLING CARD, on January 8, 2012.
It’s a pleasure to have you guys. Please, introduce yourself and describe your band. Some of our users may not know who you are.
Hey this is Benj from the South Wales band THE CALLING CARD.
Which Newport you are hailing from? Tell us more about your local music scene.
Newport South Wales. To me its the best music scene in the world. I say this because you can pick any type of music and we will have the best band of that genre in our city/area. EXIT INTERNATIONAL, GOODTIME BOYS, SAVE YOUR BREATH, TOWN, HOT DAMN, CONQUER THE DECADE, STRAIGHT LINES, FORREST, theres far too many to name here but all of them are amazing. Most of the music on my phone is from South Wales bands.
What are the best and the worst things about living there?
The best would be the community feel between all of the bands. When you go to other places around the county the headline bands never even bother to check out the other bands. In South Wales everyone always does without fail. The Worst would be the closing of venues. Its getting harder and harder for new bands coming up but that just makes everyone work harder.
Where does the band name come from?
It’s from a quote in one of the Batman films. I’m rubbish when it comes to actually naming things. The band name, Album title, Song titles. At least we are not called ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN I guess?
“Mixing hardcore punk with OASIS and U2” – this is what a guy who got your bio wrong would say [laughs] Please explain your style and tell us what do you think about labeling music in general?
I hate labels with a passion [laughs], they grind my gears! If I am reading a bands bio and it says anything that has “Post” in it I am out. We have been called everything from Pop to Emo to Pop Punk to Indie. Even with that line in our bio it sounds like madness, but we take everything that we love about music and put it into our songs and performance. One day I might be listening to Ryan Adams all day but then the next I’m blasting out REFUSED or BLACK FLAG or the RAMONES or NIRVANA. To me we just play Rock music. Whatever that is anymore. No doubt somebody will label us Post rave disco pop core and it will stick one day.
When did you write your first tune? Give us a quick tour of your discography.
Well I usually write the song on an acoustic guitar then show it to the band and see how we can turn it into a full band track. The very first song I took to the band when we had our very first practice was Keep The Change You Filthy Animal. and the very next day I took them Weight of The World. So pretty much straight away we knew that our sound was going to be this huge mix of styles. Trashy, heavy songs, mixed with the easily sing able anthems. I have been writing songs since before I could play guitar. I would just sing these words to myself and make up songs when I was in primary school. Just something I have also done.
Was it hard to surface with your music?
It really was. The very first song we recorded and uploaded to our Myspace page was Weight of the World. I remember we got the recording on CD before it was even mixed and our old bass player wanted to upload it there and then (laughs) Nobody was waiting for us to upload it and nobody would have even noticed. People seem to love jumping into the deep end without actually checking what environment they are in first.
How did you distribute your music? What label would you choose to sign with?
So far it has just been downloads but we are releasing our debut album on Cd and hopefully 12” later on this year. In an ideal world… You know what I have never really thought about it before. Do you make the choice of always staying on an indie and never breaking through? Or do you sign with a Major and be a flash in the pan if it doesn’t work out. Its a super hard thing to decide and there must be loads of bands out there who have quit now knowing or thinking they made the wrong moves in their bands.
How many shows have you been playing and what was your best show? How important is touring for you? What are your touring plans for 2012?
At first we kept a record of every show we played along with set lists etc. which I really wish we had kept up. I have no idea what number we are actually at now. The best show we have ever played would be a toss up of the ZEBRAHEAD show in Pontypridd or the Cardiff show with Ian Watkins. Both were great shows but in different ways. With the ZEBRAHEAD show they all came up to us afterwards and we really cool and were chatting about how good we were which was a huge boost for all of us. The Ian Watkins one was great as well as LOSTPROPHETS are such a huge influence on everyone in South Wales. However afterwards the only thing he said to me was that he liked my jacket. I guess that’s better than nothing.
What inspires you to write your songs?
Cliché alert! Everyday things. But it’s true. You see something on the news or listening to someone on the bus or by listening to new music. There are so many different things.
Where do you draw inspiration from, both lyrically and musically?
Lyrically its a mix of people like RYAN ADAMS, the MANICS, and NIRVANA. Honest lyrics that sometimes can be quite dark with a mix of politics I guess. And musically I have such a vast range that i love to listen to. Somedays I want us to sound like Letlive and sometimes I want us to sounds like THE SMITHS.
How do you understand Friedrich Nietzsche in general? Do you have his favourite quote?
How do I understand him? I understand him fine thanks [laughs]. My favourite quote is one that I use for this band all the time so I hope I get it right! It’s “A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.” In that one sentence it perfectly sums us up. When I say we quote Nietzsche in our bio I don’t want to come across as a pretentious knob head but thats what interests me. If you get from Xfactor what I get from him then thats fine. I would just rather sing about things I believe in rather than copying every other pop punk band of the last 15 years.
Are you aiming to make a living off music? What are you most looking forward to in the future as a band?
That’s every ones goal right? Of course. To me you have to want that at the end of it. There are no half goals for us.
Thank you for your time. Feel free to tell people anything you want.
No problem at all I really enjoyed it. Check out our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thecallingcard so you can keep up to date with all of our album news. Hope to see you all at a gig soon. Peace and love. Keep support your local music scene.