Interview with Cal Wymann by Adrian Hextall
With a new album on the way and a new single \ video in the bag, we spoke to Daxx & Roxane lead guitarist Cal Wymann about 2019 and what it means to the band as they look to take the next step up in their career.
We speak as the band are about to showcase the new single, ‘Someone I Love’ at a small venue in London’s famous Denmark Street for a select set of fans and members of the press.
AH: This place you found…what’s it called? Sixty Sound?
CW: Sixty Sixty Sounds
AH: It’s up in Denmark Street?
CW: Well it’s actually quite a new one on Denmark Street, which is really cool because Denmark Street has seen so much closing down but this one just opened recently and they set up also the stage in their shop, they’ve got kind of a Gibson showroom. It’s a really nice place.
AH: It takes us back to the roots of what music should all be about, doesn’t it?
CW: Yeah exactly and it’s like what Denmark Street should be, really.
AH: Definitely, definitely. It has been such a shame watching all of these venues and all the notable places start and look like they’re closing down. You would hope now that it’s all stopping.
CW: Yeah. I mean the first venue we played back in London was the 12 Bar and that was a legendary place. A couple years ago, it shut down. It’s so disappointing. So to see that there’s a new shop that’s actually opening and that’s like, “Ah we’re going to do live music and we don’t give a shit”.
AH: Quite right too. You’ve got to hope that all of the changes that Cross Rail [the new system that saw so many legendary venues including the 12 Bar and The Astoria closed down] forcibly put through are going to stop now and allow the music scene to thrive there again.
CW: Yeah. You just hope that they’ve figured out all that they need to knock down now and that they can just let the street just kind of live again.
AH: We’re obviously here to talk about what’s new and upcoming with you guys. You’re launching a new single ‘Someone I Love’?
AH: This will be the lead in presumably for the new album?
CW: That’s right, yeah.
AH: Tell me a little bit about it. What’s behind this one? It sounds like a love song because it’s in the title but tell me a little bit about it.
CW: It’s not quite a love song, it’s more a personal thing that I experienced with the guys and it’s like a very intense mental experience, if you want. I won’t go too much into details around the lyrics because…you know.
AH: Without having seen the lyrics or necessarily got my head around them as I’m talking to you. Is it about the love and the bond with the guys or is it about other individuals outside the four of you?
CW: No, it’s about another individual outside and it’s kind of needing someone to be here in a difficult moment. I’m trying to find that person.
AH: You’ve also got the showcase event, I guess this will be one of the songs that does get played?
CW: Yeah. We were working on our acoustic set and because it is an acoustic set it’s one of the trickiest tracks to kind of get a good acoustic vibe out there because a lot of our songs are really like…they’ve got kind of that rock anthem and they’re very easy chords to play acoustically. This one is a bit more modern and it’s got a structure that’s a bit more complicated.
AH: What’s the format of the session?
CW: There’s going to be a few drinks, not too much spirit I think for the safety of the guitars and then we’re going to go into set for-…it’s like a six song set about 20 minutes.
CW: Then we’re just going to be there for a while until the shop kicks us out. Having some drinks, having a chat, just being around.
AH: It’s nice to see a band that’s typically known for full on electric shows to have the opportunity to step back a little bit and present themselves with an acoustic set. It’s a side we don’t necessarily get to see from you, isn’t it?
CW: Yeah, this one’s really intimate because the shop is quite small, it’s a 50 person cap. So it is going to be a really intimate session.You’re going to hear all the breaths and everything, all those different feet stamping, and yeah. It’s going to be quite different from full on electric show.
AH: Nice, nice. That’ll be good. Obviously this is just one of several that will be part of the new album as well when it comes out later in the year. What can we expect from that? How does it differ to ‘Ticket to Rock’ for example?
CW: The producer we’re working with – Pedro Ferreira, he’s looking at kind of modernizing the band a bit but not going away from our roots. So we’ve got that really classic vibe, the hard rock sound and Pedro is like, “Well let’s take that and let’s try and add a bit of something contemporary.” So we’ve only recorded two songs with him so far and we’re going back in the studio over the next couple of months to do some pre-production and to do further recordings. I think it’s going to be a really eclectic mix of styles so there’s going to be a hard rocking tracks which you’ve got quite a few of. Then we’re going to do a bit more to the experimentation with sounds, with lyrics even, and with just recording techniques.
AH: Gotcha. I like the sound of that. I mean you have a very full sound anyway. I mean obviously there’s two guitars and a bass in there to give you quite a lot of depth to the sound as well.
AH: You say about experimentation, could you see that bring in a new instrument? I mean for example you don’t necessarily have the keyboards in there.
CW: Yeah, so on this track, on ‘Someone I Love’, Pedro was like, “Well I’ve got a guy.” who he calls his programmer, to come in and just like add layers to the track so all our songs are going to be based around the two guitar’s bass and drum to set up but we’re going to try and add layers to the tracks with different kind of instruments, different sounds. So yeah we’re probably going to turn up-…he’s got a whole bunch of gear and equipment, the whole keyboards, percussion, and we’re just going to have to take the time and just try out things and see what we can add.
AH: Nice. Potentially, then you hit on something that you thought, “Why didn’t we try this?” because it just feels right and that can give you a whole new direction in the future.
CW: Exactly. It already kind of started on the songwriting process so we have-…I mean we’ve known each other for ages, so we have quite a…you know, we’ve honed our way of writing songs and we all know how we each work and then Pedro came in and he was just like, “Guys, just try this rather than the way you’ve done it all the time.” and we tried it and we’re like, “Fuck, this is…” you know, something completely new to us but it sounds amazing and it’s really changed the way that we write music, the way we approach that whole process.
AH: Excellent. In terms of the writing process, who typically drives music content, lyrics…or is it genuinely a team effort amongst each of you?
CW: It really depends. We have a bit of both so there’s some tracks where me and Cédric [Pfister – Vocals / Bass] work a lot together. Then there are some tracks that just come up in the rehearsal studio where one guy tries a riff or a beat and then we just all connect to that and something comes up. So we’ve got like three or four tracks ready to put on the new album that just came just from jamming together. They end up being like really strong tracks that have a brew that just works for everyone.
AH: I presume that’s got a slightly more organic growth to it from start to finish rather than a…I’ve got this and you have to then force everything else around it.
CW: Yeah well I mean it’s never forced but a song like ‘Someone I Love’ was one of those where we-…me and Cédric were really writing, thinking about the details, thinking about what comes next, what comes before, how can this be enhanced, so it’s quite a thought out track whereas some are very organic and very groovy and just flow from start to finish.
AH: Okay, I like that. Of course, off the back of this as well, do you have a rough day in terms of the album coming out?
CW: No, I think we’re trying to…I mean it’s going to be …well actually no, I have no idea about it to be honest. But we’re just trying to be really…well I guess you can say organic about this whole recording process and just recording when it feels right. So we’re not going for a big like block session of a month in the studio. We’re going to go for maybe a week or two at a time, just for doing some working on the tracks without even recording anything, doing a bit of recording, going back and thinking about it and then returning to the studio a month later to do another two weeks.
Interviewee: So yeah. I think that’s really going to help us…you know, you think about all the things you just recorded and then something might pop in your head and you’re like “Fuck, let’s try on that track we recorded.”
AH: I like that and you may well actually find-…and so many times I interview a band and they’ll say…you won’t believe it but this track which ultimately turns out to be the killer tune on the album as it were, is always the last thing you thought of, or it’ll be the last one you came up with. It was just as you were about to put all the masters in the envelope and send them off to wherever.
CW: Yeah, exactly yeah.
AH: So to give yourself that time, often you need it because there’s that one more song somewhere, isn’t it?
Interviewee: Yeah. Just that after the whole experience of recording then your brain is full of ideas and you’ll just come up with that hook that’ll really make it.
AH: Yeah, no I’m not surprised at all. Now release dates aside of course, you’ve got a headline show coming up at the Borderline in May. You’re playing with Collateral as well, aren’t you?
CW: Yeah so we’re working on the new set. For the last tour, we did in November, we did the set that was focused a lot on our Ticket to Rock album. For this London gig, we’ve all been quite a bit of writing on material for the new album. We’re really looking forward to showing that to people and see what kind of reaction we get from it.
AH: I managed to see you guys at ULU in London when you were there with Bad Touch but you got as good a reaction as either of the other two bands on the bill that night, and others may well have been there initially for Bad Touch, for example. So to have heard you, you go down well, excellent. You’ve got new fans that hopefully this time around, will come to your show.
CW: Yeah, that’s it. I mean that’s hopefully the whole point of supporting the tour is that you get a bit of a exposure to a new fan base.
AH: Definitely, definitely. Aside from the Borderline show, is there a wider tour in the offering or are you back to festivals? What’s the summer looking like?
CW: We’re doing some planning. We’re looking at doing a tour. We don’t really know when yet but we really want to go out on the road again and just continue building our fan base.