Calva Louise are a new, London-based rock trio that plays fuzzy, garage/punk rock with hints of pop and surf rock.
They’ve supported bands like Spring King and Catholic Action and their first release was a demo called, “I’m Gonna Do Well”, which is as much of an energetic punk tune as it is a catchy pop song. The track’s distorted garage/punk guitar sound takes center stage, especially during the face-melting guitar solo, but frontwoman, Jess Allanic, adds some bright pop vocals to break up all the noise, only to later mirror the angry, melodic guitars with an aggressive scream.
Next, the band put out a live version of a new track called “Getting Closer”, which is more of a pop-based song than its predecessor, but don’t worry, they don’t ditch the fuzzy guitars and distorted punk yelps. However, the inclusion of some vocal “ooh ooh ooh’s” and some more infectious, soothing pop vocals show that the band are far more than meets the eye.
I saw the band support Catholic Action at London’s The Roundhouse a few months ago (which you can watch in full on YouTube here) and out of the dozens of support bands I saw in the UK earlier this year, they are, without a doubt, one of the best. Though they only have three members, the band definitely makes up for it with their incredibly energetic stage presence and their strong musical chemistry. Of course, it always helps that they have loads of great tunes too.
Calva Louise are Jess Allanic (lead vocals, guitar), Alizon Taho (bass, backing vocals), and Ben Parker (drums, backing vocals).
I spoke to the band’s frontwoman, Jess Allanic, about how the band came together, their influences, their first demo, their favorite new bands, plans for new music, their favorite albums of the year so far, the London music scene, and much more. Read the full interview below.
How did you all first meet each other and how did the band come together?
Jess: Alizon and I met at school when we were 15 and started playing together a year later. We met Ben two years ago at a gig (he was drumming for another band) and asked him if he wanted to record some demos with us. The rest is history.
How did you come up with the name, Calva Louise?
Jess: At the time, there were a lot of absurd situations happening around us and I remembered this play I read at school called “The Bald Soprano” by Eugene Ionesco, where the dialogue between the characters is completely absurd. And since, I studied the play in Spanish (“La Cantante Calva”) and Bald Louise became Calva Louise.
Who would you say are the band’s influences, whether it be musically, lyrically, aesthetically, etc.?
Jess: We have a lot of different influences, going from Queens Of The Stone Age to Simon and Garfunkel, but we also love artists like Blondie and Nina Hagen.
You’ve been compared to bands like The Big Moon, Iggy Pop, Be Your Own Pet, At The Drive In, and Dead Kennedys. What’s your reaction to these comparisons?
Jess: We love all of these bands!!!
Was there a particular album or band that you heard when you were young that made you want to be in a band?
Jess: In Utero by Nirvana.
How would you describe your sound in just a few words?
Jess: Bubblegum fuzz pop.
About how much material do have right now?
Jess: I’ve been writing a lot, but I think we still need a lot of work to do to have a solid set of songs.
How do you typically write songs and how often do you get the chance to write?
Jess: I usually write the core of a song and then jam it with Alizon and Ben to define the structure. Lyrics often come while we’re playing together. We rehearse almost every day, so I would say that I feel some pressure to write a lot of ideas almost everyday, so we can try them out together.
Your debut single, “I’m Gonna Do Well” doesn’t hold anything back and it seems like a fitting representation of your sound and live energy. Did you always know that this was going to be the first song that you were going to put out?
Jess: Well it’s not officially out yet! We put out a demo of it when we were just starting and thanks to that, we got a lot of support! We decided to re-record it with Margo Broom at Hermitage Work Studios and she did some awesome arrangements! Also, we shot a music video for this new version with some good friends so we can properly release it! And hopefully it will come out very soon!
“Getting Closer” has a bit more of a pop sound and definitely a slower tempo than the fuzzy garage punk of “I’m Gonna Do Well.” Was it a conscious move to write something a bit calmer or different?
Jess: It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I wanted to write something calmer for sure!
Jess: All of these bands are real hard workers, we definitely learned a lot from them. Spring King and Catholic Action are some of the most inspiring bands we’ve had the chance to see live. Tarek is a real machine: full of energy, writing, producing and being the frontman, all at the same time! I can’t stop dancing and going crazy while they perform! Same for Catholic Action, amazing people and can’t stop singing their songs after their shows! We’re going to support Trampolene in September for This Feeling, we’re really excited about it!
How would you describe the state of the music scene in South London or London, more broadly?
Jess: There are amazing bands all over London! Also, a lot of different scenes as good as the others. We particularly love the punk scene and we feel part of the family!
Do you have any favorite venues in London? I know I read somewhere that you’ve used The Roundhouse as a rehearsal space and you’ve played there a lot.
Jess: That’s where we did our first rehearsal! The Roundhouse gave us amazing opportunities. We could play all of their stages as well as rehearse almost everyday and befriend so many cool people!
Is there anything that you’ve found frustrating or disappointing in regards to the music industry? A lot of bands become cynical quite quickly.
Jess: I think it’s very hard and tiring to be in a band nowadays, but the challenge is what makes it more exciting! So even if we get frustrated sometimes, we just decide to change our perspective and accept the challenge!
If you couldn’t be musicians, what would you be doing instead?
Jess: Nothing at all.
Are there any new bands that you’re really into at the moment?
Do you have any favorite albums of the year so far?
Jess: They’ve been very good albums so far like Pollinator by Blondie! But we’re really excited to hear the new Queens Of The Stone Age and new Liam Gallagher!
When can we expect the next release?
Jess: Around September!
What’s in store for the band for the rest of 2017?
Jess: Gigging and writing as much as we can!
For more on Calva Louise, check out their links below: