I was at one of my favorite venues, the Mercy Lounge, the other night for a show; a band called CALEB was opening for Youngblood Hawke of “We Come Running” fame, and I was thrilled to have the chance to sit down with them and get to know them a little before the show started. CALEB, which proudly hails from the Nashville area, is comprised of Caleb Chapman (lead vocals, guitar), Will Chapman (drums), and Scott Mills (guitar, vocals). Brothers Caleb and Will were attending their sister’s birthday party when their cousin, who had been “shamelessly promoting” the musical prowess of Scott Mills, introduced the three to each other. The brothers had already been on the hunt for a guitar player to transform their duo into a trio. The musicians joined forces in 2009, each bringing their own special set of talents to the table, and the rest is history–in the making.
According to Mills, making music gives the band the chance to “put good things into the airwaves” by making honest statements about subjects that matter to them. It doesn’t hurt that they have serious fun doing it, and it’s refreshing that they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. Caleb, the main songwriter, will sit down with an acoustic guitar and create the structure, or as Caleb puts it, “the bones” of a new song. He then presents what he’s made to the rest of the band; they collectively apply the finishing touches and refine their new creation in the studio or during rehearsal. Many of their songs have even been created during soundcheck. The band draws inspiration from British alt-rock and indie outfits such as The Boxer Rebellion and Athlete, and they certainly aren’t too cool to like Coldplay, adds Caleb, with a smile.
These days CALEB has been touring non-stop; they recently set the eastern seaboard on fire while touring with Nashville’s neo-bluegrass darlings The Vespers, and are scheduled to perform in New York City and Washington, D.C. with East Nashville’s own Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. They have shows scheduled in Michigan, Iowa, Texas, and North Carolina, and are planning stops in Europe this summer. The group has also finished recording their very first full-length album, titled When I Was Younger, set to release in late summer/early fall. They don’t seem to be slowing down a bit, admitting that they may not know what they’ve gotten themselves into, but that they are excited to see where this adventure takes them.
After our interview, I settled in for the show and was nothing less than wowed from the start. The band began with “nothing is perfect, for that there is no cure,” a song called “Silhouettes” from their not-yet-released album. The next several selections came from the new album, including “Second Guessing Games,” and “Glorious.” The group also played a couple of songs, “The Long Walk” and “Hardest Part of Losing You” from their previously released EP To The Ends of the World. I had already been familiar with CALEB; I enjoyed their music, and their sound in general. After watching them perform live and experiencing the music from their new album, though, I am totally a FAN. Before hearing the new music, I never noticed how so incredibly smooth Caleb Chapman’s voice is, how hard the band can rock, how solid Scott Mills’ harmonies are, and how enjoyable the band can be as a unit. My favorite new song they performed was called “2:20,” because that’s how long the song is, interestingly enough. It rocked hard, with intense rhythm and pulsating beats, and I really just couldn’t get enough. As a whole, their music is more composition-like rather than formulaic; a song tells a story or conveys ideas, instead of following a verse-chorus-verse type of format. While this may mean that there aren’t necessarily catchy or repetitive hooks that will get stuck in your head, it definitely means that these guys are playing in a different league when it comes to talent and musicality. I can’t wait to hear more.