Electric Sloth was fortunate enough to grab an interview with the hottest upcoming band at SXSW, Calliope Musicals. Rated Best New Austin Band by the Austin Chronicle, they stunned audiences at every performance they put on. After their crazy fun show at the Cheers rooftop, I got to sit down with Calliope Musicals in their humble van and discuss music, life and Evan Williams.

Calliope Musicals was founded by lead singer Carrie Fussell and vocalist/guitarist Matt Roth. Eventually the entire team grew to include Craig Finkelstein on the vibraphone, Josh Bickley on the drums, Chris Webb on the guitar and Andrew Vizzone on the bass. Moreover, the two unsung heroes of the band are Jerry Sparkman and Ernest who are known as the Confetti Cats: A.K.A. the guys who are dressed up in the awesome unicorn/alien/onesies and shoot confetti into the air and pass out awesome “Enjoy” signs. After getting the A/C started in the van, I started with some of my questions.

Electric Sloth:

Okay, spitfire tri-pronged question: Where did you draw influence from? How did you learn to play music? How did the band get together?

Calliope Musicals:

Well, [Carrie] I performed “I Will Survive” in my fourth grade talent show and that was when I first began to sing. That was my first performance as a musician I like to tell people. Once we got the band together, I was able to use my voice as an avenue to describe the world and my thoughts about it. Then Matt began to teach me guitar. [Matt] We were influenced by a lot of bands, The Unicorns, The Polyphonic Spree, ELO, when we saw Dr. Dog perform that’s when we came together and decided to do more group vocals. [Josh] I played drums on my pillows when I was 12. [Craig] I took piano lessons and did percussion in high school and had a family for 12 years, and then joined the band. My kids are actually the most grown up people in the band. [CM] Yeah they are.

ES:

How did the show come to be how it is? I definitely sensed some influence from the Flaming Lips

CM:

Totally Flaming Lips. They have this thing at their shows called a love pit, which is where everyone just gets together and instead of moshing everyone just hugs and loves it out. We wanted to have that sense of family paralleled at our shows. But we started off with this local collective, Circus on the Moon, that Chris started, helping Austin bands throw shows in a DIY setting. You know, the acoustic, house hosted, sweaty scene. Honestly, we just want to make people smile when they come to our shows. That’s why we have confetti, signs, everything we do is for the audience. We actually shot fireworks off during one of our previous shows.

ES:

How did you craft your image?

CM:

Well your vibe attracts you tribe, you know. I would say our shows are comparable to Flaming Lips meets Fleetwood Mac, but our sound isn’t comparable, just the shows. It took a lot of time and effort but we just want to make people dance and have a good time.

ES:

What parts of the music industry do you see failing you as artists?

CM:

Sometimes it’s tough with the DIY scene, because it’s tough to get inside the scene. But the music industry doesn’t fail anybody. People who want to become musicians see the industry as their mom and dad when they should look and know it as their asshole boss. And the internet hasn’t robbed artists, the industry is still the same. Writers, film makers, they all get ripped off. They never get the credit. It’s been like that forever, where the creators get jipped. Austin is not the nice place everyone perceives it to be; at the end of the day everyone is out for themselves. It’s tough to make a living or even to find happiness. It’s more hard work than people chalk it up to be. But at the end of the day, we want to move away from major labels. What RCA records does, we can do too. [Craig] We write for those who come to our shows, not for the industry. We’d rather see our fans having a good time, rather than create something like “this is what the executives want to hear.” It’s about having fun and making them want to dance and have a good time.

ES: 

What passions did you have to give up as you became a band and started touring? Craig I know you have a family…

Craig:

Well, I’m divorced and I see my family less. But being in the band is a major positive because now I can plan to see my kids a little better. My kids are my biggest fans and are so involved with us; it’s great. I remember when my kids got so excited when we played with Shakey Graves; they were like ‘you’re playing with Shakey Graves?!‘ and it was so fun to see them like that. I hope that by being on tour and being in a band I can just teach my kids that they can do whatever they want. My daughter is actually going to have a gymnastics competition the same day of our upcoming album release, and I’m curious to see which she’ll choose. Either way I won’t be upset. Either she wants to take hr gymnastics seriously which is great to see or she’ll come support her Dad and that’ll be fun too.

ES: 

How did you come up wit the band name Calliope Musicals?

CM:

Well, originally we were called “The Tasties” but that was short lived. Carrie’s mom thought “calliope” was a beautiful word and then we just added “musicals” to the end of it and here we are.

ES:

Right on. Right on. Well thank you all so much for having me. Anything you want your fans to know?

CM:

[Chris pulls out a bottle of Evan Williams.] Just tell Evan Williams that we would like to be sponsored by them.

ES: 

You got it.

 

On April 15th,  Calliope Musicals is releasing their latest album, Time Owes You Nothing, at the Central Presbyterian Church in Austin. Grab tickets now, because this album release will be a party unlike any other.

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