A cursory listen to its repertoire, which has a sound akin to some unlikely admixture of Molly Hatchet and the Cult, suggests that Calder's Revolvers could be yet another band to have hopped on the classic rock bandwagon of recent years. But these guys aren't just copying what someone else has already done, and Andy Schneider sounds like he's singing from deep inside him. There's a fierceness to Calder's Revolvers' boogie that gives its tunes an invigorating spark.
This is quite a turn of direction for Schneider and guitarist Brad Johnson who used to perform in the experimental prog band the Archive (also known by an earlier name, Autonomous Collective). But the two brought the chops they displayed so well in that band to Calder's Revolver, resulting in songs that are more immediately catchy.
The band's latest record, Steady By Your Side is beginning to end the kind of blues-based rock that should happen more often. We recently caught up with Schneider and Johnson to talk about this shift in sound, the art school-related origin of its name and the ping pong connection within the band.
Westword: The name of your band has an interesting origin. Tell us about that.
Andy Schneider: I got the idea from a T-shirt I had in college. It was an Alexander Calder mobile. A bunch of his mobile's were at the Denver art museum. He invented that sort of funky, multi-tiered mobile deal. I had a T-shirt that had the six-shooter revolvers hanging from it. I always liked the metaphor for a super volatile environment. It was sort of an homage to him. I went to school to study art and had this weird video he made in the '60s where he made puppets out of wire. He's an interesting guy, sort of a counter-culture guy before it was hip to be counter-culture.
Who came up with the ad you have for your show tonight?
Brad Johnson: Our drummer Sam [Gault] was just kind of goofing off and thought that might be funny, so we just rolled with that.
AS: He tracked it himself and did all the goofy background things at his place and sent me the soundtrack for it and I shot it with my buddy Kyle, and he put together the whole thing. We try to put together promo videos for all the big shows we play and get into that habit. Sam's really good at doing voiceover stuff.
In your bio, you mention being in the Archive. You were in that with the bass player who goes by the stage name of Fatguy. What happened with that band?
AS: Well, Brad and I wanted to move on to a more classic rock, soul rock kind of style. So we really wanted to take it in a different direction from the prog rock style we'd been playing for a long time. He and I both grew up on classic rock, blues, soul, R&B kinda stuff. It worked out better as a line-up change.
BJ: It was nothing personal. We're all still really good friends. He's a good guy. He wanted to do something different, and we wanted something different, and we parted on good terms.
Brad used to be in We Are! We Are! Were all of you in this band from the beginning?
BJ: Sam kind of came in later. We had a drummer who drummed for us once in a while. He went back to school, and in the Archive, we played with We Are! We Are! fairly often and we became friends.
AS: Then We Are! We Are! broke up, and Sam was looking for another project ,and he jumped into the Archive, and we played for about a year. Sam was on board with the new direction we wanted to take, so he came with us.
Is there a significance to the title of your debut full-length, Steady By Your Side?
AS: It's actually the lyric to one of our tracks, "Next to Me." The album largely draws on old blues themes like relationships, love, heartbreak, redemption, things like that.
What got you introduced to classic rock and blues?
AS: I actually grew up playing with my dad's blues band. I started playing with them when I couldn't actually play an instrument, but I always had something that was quiet enough they would give to me and stick me in a corner. I thought I was kicking ass playing a ukulele at four.
When I got old enough, around seven, my dad gave me an actual guitar, and I realized I didn't know how to play it. So I learned. I played keyboards with them, and sometimes still do. They play at this roadhouse called The Sports Inn way down south, and they invite me to sit in with them sometimes. Though they don't play very often anymore.
Is this your second or third release?
AS: This is our first full-length. We put out two EPs. The first was self-titled, the second was Black Bloc, which we put out in January of this year.
On the list of influences you have on your Facebook page is interesting. Most of it fits together, and then there's one that may or may not be so obvious: Chromeo?
AS: That's a band we all like a lot, actually. It's good dance music. It gets you going. I think old R&B is in that same vein. I was watching some video on YouTube, like an old Wilson Pickett performance. The crowd was wild, man, almost like a mosh pit. I think there are some parallels in there between the music of Chromeo, which is sort of an extension of Michael Jackson, bass lines and synth and stuff, but it's music that gets you going. I wouldn't say it's our main influence.
So what role does ping pong play in your band?
AS: We're a very competitive ping pong band. We have a ping pong table at our practice space. We play a lot of doubles because we're a four-piece. There's a lot of heavily focused ping pong interest in our band. We're really a ping pong club that plays music as well. All my uncles are really into it. Sam has been playing it for a long time, too, and in college. We didn't realize we all liked ping pong, but we got a ping pong table at the practice place, and it came out.