Meet: Leeds DIY Maestros The Calls

Leeds band The Calls remain a proudly defiant DIY band who write, rehearse and record their music in a converted barn and travel in a window cleaner’s van. We caught up to find out about the band as they are set to release their new EP ‘Setting Sun’ later this year.

Give us a potted history of the band

TOM: Me and Marcell (bass) started playing together in a band when we were about 14 at school. When we left school, we kept jamming together and ended up forming a new band when we were at university. That’s when Will (guitar) turned up, who I’ve been mates with since we were like four years old. Will then left the band and re-joined a year later, which is when we found our sound, which has continued to evolve since. It’s been a real journey, but I think it’s made us the musicians we are today. We’ve done all sorts, toured up and down the country, even went out to Germany and played out there before lockdown. Since then, we’ve been writing and recording a lot. Now we’re excited to get some more of our work out there for people to listen to!

Who inspired you to start making music

TOM: I grew up listening to my parents’ music, my dad was into The Jam and my mum was into The Police, so they were my starting point and Paul Weller was my idol. My dad gave me a cassette of The Jam when I was little, and I played it over and over and just wanted to write songs like that. A few years later, when Arctic Monkeys’ first album came out, that sealed the deal for me.

WILL: After being transported from the school bus to another dimension during the intro to Shine on You Crazy Diamond. My brain was in pieces afterwards, and has been ever since …

MARCELL: The restless ghost of John Lennon.

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

TOM: I really can’t narrow it down to just one or two but I’m a huge fan of anything jangly, and as much as I love to explore different sounds and styles, I always end up coming back to my roots of melodic, jangle pop. For me it would be The Stone Roses’ debut album. It has everything. It features great melodic song writing with catchy pop hooks, elegant in their simplicity, and poetic lyrics full of attitude and angst, as well as more melancholy and introspective moments. Plus, some mind-bending psychedelic sounds and fantastic instrumental jams with funky grooves thrown in. I can’t resist throwing in another, so I’ll go for Revolver by The Beatles, for all the same reasons really. It’s the apex of pop song writing in my opinion. I think between those two records you get a good idea of the fundamental DNA of our music.

If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

TOM: I never really know what to say to be honest! Our sound morphs so much from song to song, from EP to EP. But I would say that we’re a jangly indie rock band. I’d say we sound somewhere in between The Beatles, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and R.E.M., combined with more shoegazey, effectsy stuff like Tame Impala, Slowdive and Radiohead.

Tell us about your new single

TOM: Our new single, Into the Day, was recorded at The Barn, (that’s what we call our rehearsal space – it’s an old, converted barn) with Dan Mizen, who’s our regular producer these days. It’s from our upcoming EP which we’re releasing this summer and which we recorded prior to lockdown, so we’ve been sitting on it for a while! Lyrically, it’s meant to be about two sides of someone’s personality conversing with each other, a process of trying to work out who you are. Musically it’s heavily inspired by Ian Brown – I was listening to his first solo album Unfinished Monkey Business a lot at the time when I wrote it, which I think is a really underrated record. I think we really took those ideas in our own direction and the outro jam is one of the best vibes we’ve ever created.

Where can we get hold of it

TOM: It’s available online on all the major streaming sites – Spotify, Apple Music etc, as well as on our Bandcamp page and of course our website.

Tell us how you write

TOM: Usually, it starts with an idea that I’ll write, and I’ll get the framework of the chords, melody and lyrics worked out before I take it to the guys. Then we work on it and see how it develops. Sometimes it starts with a jam and then we piece it together from there but usually I’ll have a song idea first. Ever since we learned how to record our own demos, it’s really allowed us to push our writing a lot further, to get more interesting ideas worked out a lot earlier in the process which is cool. I tend to write lyrics separately and just keep a notebook of all kinds of ideas, then when I have a melodic idea, I’ll dig out lyrics which fit the mood of the song and then work on it from there. Sometimes I don’t work out lyrics until after we’ve jammed ideas together although I’m not a fan of that – I think it’s better to have an idea of what the song’s about before we put an arrangement together, so the music can reflect the lyrics. I prefer it when a song has a coherent overall mood in both the lyrics and the music.

Tell us about your live show and how much have you been missing it recently

TOM: I’ve always been so much more into the writing and recording that when lockdown hit, I didn’t really mind too much. That is, until we played live again after lockdown, and I realised how much I’d missed it. I think the break gave us a lot of time to think about our live performance and I think we emerged a much better live act post-lockdown because of it. We like to have a psychedelic projection as a backdrop when we play to add a visual element to our live show, but at the same time we have a punchy, powerful sound, with energy and groove. And I think the variety in our songs make our setlist a journey rather than one song played repeatedly. It’s always good fun for us anyway!

What can we expect from you in the near future

TOM: We have an upcoming EP called Setting Sun which we’re aiming to release this summer with some live dates. Then beyond that, we have more tracks. Over lockdown we’ve been recording an album, so we’ve been working on that and hope to have that out in the not-too-distant future.

Tell us your favourite records that’s rocking your headphones / tour bus / stereo?

TOM: OK Computer has been a constant for me for the last few years, and I’ve been cycling round all the early R.E.M. albums as well, who for me are one of the all-time great bands – they stayed so consistent for so long, pretty much their whole career. There’s a real lo-fi charm to the early records though which I’m really digging. The other album I’m totally obsessed with currently is The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow, which I think is exceptional and becomes more brilliant with every listen. Definitely check that out if you haven’t already.






Check out the band’s track ‘Until It’s Time’, below:

Previous Track: The Calls - Into The Day
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