CALVIN In The Press
Here's what the press have had to say about the band
|| Review by Fiona Borthwick.
Baby Tiger Opening Night ****
Rocking the cheap seats last night was the launch of Baby Tiger, an infant promotions company joining the campaign to power Edinburgh's alternative music scene into the public consciousness.
The Bongo Club, a haven for new music in the city, played host to a surplus of new talent including class beboppers Sempiternal Hoon, soulful pop crew Scooby and some quality tunes from new kids The Hector Collectors.
An ambitious project, the night offered two stages, which basically meant chaotic scrambles between each set as equipment, bands and music fans were hustled through to where they were supposed to be.
While most shone on the 'electric stage', the acoustic stage did few favours. One bunch of cheeky chappies caused many pained looks in the eclectic crowd with their joyful, but tuneless, antics and went on to murder some past classics along the way.
Baby Tiger founder Neil Colquhoun spent the whole night wandering around with a hazy glow and with good reason. His own band Calvin have come on leaps and bounds lately and truly claimed the stage their own with their powerful guitar rock sound (not a million miles away from recently crowned gods, the Doves). Their new material heralded a departure from their usual simple upbeat tunes towards a more heady mix of introspection and intense musicianship.
Already with a comprehensive list of gigs on the way and some nifty marketing ploys up their sleeves, Baby Tiger are the next contenders taking up the reins for Edinburgh music. How will they fare? Watch this space.
Fiona Borthwick writes for studentpages.com
Hard Rock Cafe New Talent Award ****
Calvin...with their final number "What's Going On?", proved they are more than capable of producing great indie-rock anthems worthy of Ash.
Annie Christian/Calvin ****
First up, Calvin, adopting that perennial fave of quiet/loud indie rock that dropped hints of their stadium band aspirations
T-Break Competition ***
Butch-looking Calvin appeared on stage sporting well-trimmed beards and upbeat songs of angst
CD REVIEW - John Clarkson - www.pennyblackmusic.com - February 2001
New Edinburgh band Calvin features in its line-up several long-servingmembers of the Scottish independent music scene. The band's three song second EP 'Last One to Drop' is primarily a demo, but the four man group have also been selling copies at gigs and also on their website. It is a band rule to make each new song they have recorded or written different from
anything they have tackled before, and 'Last One to Drop', is a powerful amalgamation of several different contemporary sounds.
The opening track 'I Can't Sleep' is reminiscent with its strident, jangly guitar and drumwork of the melodic pop of REM, while singer Neil Colquhoun's fragile and nervously energetic David Byrne-style vocals capture, with dark humour, the paranoia and anxiety of an insomniac caught
awake in the middle of the night as his girlfriend sleeps behind him.The second song 'What's Going On ?' is the band's 'Lucy in the Sky of Diamonds' and psychedelic in its overtones, tells of an imaginary perfect day in which Xmas, sweet smells, the seaside and a new romance are all merged
together. The final song 'Why Not Try' is a soft, thoughtful country rocker and telling of the collapse of a love affair, puts a new twist on an old theme in that its narrator, rather than bemoaning the end of the relationship, is pleased and delighted.These are strong songs, artfully crafted and performed, and Calvin deserve a wider audience.
REVIEW - The Venue 8 Sept '99
"Getting the first cheers were Calvin. They were well capable of the sweetest sounds...(and) also well capable of rocking out to a seriously catchy standard."
"...playing a melodic, thoughtful pop beat."
Mark Bain - Edinburgh Evening News
9th September '99
INTERVIEW - John Clarkson - www.pennyblackmusic.com - February 2001
Calvin have a history of being accident prone.The up-and-coming Edinburgh band returned recently to live work after a two month enforced break during which the group's vocalist and guitarist, Neil Colquhoun, recovered from an operation after dislocating his shoulder in a bizarre accident.
"I had just given blood and was feeling completely out of it" Colquhoun reflects, describing the incident, and talking with his bandmates, bassist Brian Clark and drummer Ali Murray, to Pennyblackmusic across the table of an Edinburgh pub, three weeks after his group has played its
biggest gig to date supporting Cinerama. "I walked right in front of a car. I was lucky really to get away with just a dislocated shoulder."
Colquhoun's injury is only the latest in a series of mishaps and misfortunes that have dogged the four piece group since it first formed in mid 1999. A week before Calvin played its first gig, a charity show for Comic Relief in September of that year, Colquhoun dislocated his kneecap in a hockey
game and became temporarily housebound, leaving the rest of the band to soldier on in his
absence by playing a largely instrumental set. Ten days before the group's second date, Murray was
attacked and assaulted in the street and was hospitalised with a broken jaw and head injuries. His temporary stand-in in the band also had to drop out after he tore the ligaments in his ankle, forcing Calvin, while waiting for Murray to recuperate, to spend a period working as a three piece. Calvin's other guitarist, Fraser MacDermid, too has had to miss gigs as a result of a recurring back problem. The group in its early stages also went through various bassists, none lasting more than a few weeks, before Clark joined the band at the beginning of 2000.
While many other acts would have broken up amidst such poor fortune, Calvin have survived,
developing a sharp gallows humour in the process, and also having total conviction and self-belief in their music.
"We're lucky in this band that all four of us are to some extent songwriters" says Colquhoun. "At the moment the bulk of the songs are written by me and what I tend to do is write the words, chords and
basic arrangements, then to bring them to the rest of the band to enlarge and to come up with the
flesh and bones. Brian and Fraser have also written several songs for the band, so what you get is a fusion of ideas and influences, which I think gives us a more original sound."
The group, all of whom are in their mid to late twenties, have drawn comparisions with Coldplay, The
Barenaked Ladies and David Gray, but defy easy categorisation. Both Clark and Ali Murray have
performed with classical orchestras. Murray has done a lot of work as a session drummer as well,
paying his way through university by playing gigs with often as many as seven or eight different acts in a week. Colquhoun and MacDermid meanwhile have spent many years playing in various East of
Scotland indie guitar bands. All this past work has had a direct bearing on Calvin's sound. The
group also include amongst their influences Grandaddy, The Talking Heads, Tori Amos, Radiohead
and U2 and it is a point of principle with all four of its members to make each new song that they
add to their repertoire different from anything else they have previously done.
"People sometimes ask us what we sound like, and we have to say that we don't know" says Clark.
" We don't really sound like any one particular group. We sound like a whole list of different bands."
The group have now self-released two CD EPs. The first 'Star', which has four songs and which was
recorded entirely on four track at home, came out last March and makes strong use of keyboards.
The second, the appropriately-titled 'Last One to Drop', came out in June and recorded over two
days at Split Level Studios just outside Edinburgh, was engineered and produced by Neil
McNaught, who has also worked with The Supernaturals. Entirely guitar-based, and composed
without any keyboards at all this time, it has three songs and it is a striking mixture of melodic pop, psychedelic and country rock sounds. The group recorded the two EPs principally as demos , but
have also been selling them at gigs and on their website, and have distributed copies abroad to the United States, Canada, Australia, Romania and Russia.
Calvin's live reputation is also blossoming. The band has a strong local following, and as well as the support slot with Cinerama which took place in Edinburgh, it also frequently headlines it own local pub gigs and has also in the last year in another home town gig supported Geneva. It has played dates as well in Newcastle, St Andrews, Perth and Dundee, and has further shows in Glasgow and
a festival in the Borders lined up for later this year. It will also be playing a gig supporting Doolah in Edinburgh on Match 9th.
"We do gigs whenever possible" says Colquhoun. "Despite the fact that we have had so many
injuries we've only ever cancelled one gig when I had to have the operation on my shoulder."
"We tend to think sod it and just to get on with it" adds Murray. " A lot of bands don't have that grip,
but we always try to make the most of things and really enjoy playing. The crowd' s got to enjoy it at
the end of the day and if we're not going to enjoy it, they're certainly not going to either."
The band's long term aim is now to sign a record deal, and while no firm offers have come in yet,
some record companies have given the demos a positive response,and the band hope to secure
"Like every other band we want to get signed" concludes Colquhoun. "And the only way we can do
that is to make sure people know who we are. Our plan is to get a record contract. Even if it was on an Edinburgh or Glasgow label that would be a great start. We're going to be playing a lot more
gigs in a lot more places and playing a lot more music in the next year."
With several strong songs in their repertoire and their run of bad luck hopefully at an end, Calvin
deserve a break. Hopefully the independent music world will be hearing a lot more of them soon.
Subject: The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star
This was a published article by our singer/guitarist/pianist (show off),Neil. It tells the story of our short, but interesting story. This actually is the 100%, bona fide truth. Read on.....
Every band has a tale of how their road to success (or even abject failure)has been strewn with pitfalls, mishaps and embarrassments. They've all donegigs in front of three people (one of whom is Gran), or spent months trying to pluck up the courage to tell the bassist that he's tone deaf and has norhythm.
Calvin, the band which I began with a couple of acquaintances at the end of last year, have had the kind of 1999 which puts most other hard-luck
stories to shame. We started with a singer (me), plus another two guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist. However, we quickly lost one guitarist to the lure of travelling around Europe, and the bassist to his wife and two kids. Not a good start. We then secured a gig for Comic Relief in a local pub. The Saturday before this planned debut, I foolishly agreed to play hockey. One dislocated kneecap later, it was a two man semi instrumental gig. No going downstairs for me for a while, which wasn't good as I lived in a third storey tenement.
Undaunted by this divine subtle hint, we found another bassist/token sex symbol, Dave the fireman. He lasted two weeks. Unfortunately, the day
before he decided to quit, we were offered the chance to play at the Venue. With three weeks practising time to spare, a WM colleague recommended one of her friends. Thankfully, he was a quick learner and shows no signs of quitting yet. Success!
Well, not quite. Ten days before the big night, our drummer was assaulted on the street and left with a broken jaw and head wounds. So it became an
acoustic gig, aided by a temporary second singer. The gig was a resounding triumph, we got interviewed by Select magazine (they didn't print it though) and the Evening News awarded the night five stars (see review opposite).
Since then, we've been doing a few gigs round Edinburgh, and the search for a record contract (with six figure advance, obviously) is on. However,
given our luck so far, we dread to think what accidents will happen if we ever get one....