About three or four Thursdays ago, I was invited out to a church where the fellas from Calumet practice, and where a couple of them live. The church was built in the mid to late 1800’s, and at one point was operational. Eventually it was sold, and through chance, a couple of the members began living in it along with a couple of other friends. I was invited to interview the guys, take a tour of this amazing place, and sit in on a practice.
The four of them came from different bands and places to get where they are now. Bands such as Alone at 3AM, 500 Miles to Memphis, and The Frankl Project. The members consist of Jacob Tippey (guitar and vocals), Stephen Kuffner (lead guitar and vocals), Paul Schroder (bass and vocals), and Aaron Cordell (drums and vocals). Calumet formed about two years ago, and through Aaron working with Jake, Jake knowing Paul, and Aaron knowing Stephen, all it took was one practice for them to know that they have something here. Before a note was played they all felt the vibe, that yeah this is good. Then one song into a practice, it was official. No need to search for anyone else. This feeling was palpable as I sat on a couch and took down my notes. They each play their respective instrument really well, but their timing is something some bands take a while to reach and yet these guys found it over the course of two years.
Inevitably, the next step for them, which had come over time, was putting a record together. Last year had them playing locally a lot, but they also went out on a little tour, to not only see what response they would get from folks outside of Cincinnati, but to see how close they really were. The tour only brought them closer, and the response they received was for them one any band would want. Folks that really loved the music wished that they had a cd, and with that on their minds 2016 came.
After playing these songs and really putting forth an effort to tighten them up they had an opportunity of a lifetime arise. Rich Klatterman, whom has recorded Jim James and Ray LaMontagne, was on board with lending his talents to record their debut album. Which the fellas had tightened up each song to the point where they could have probably recorded this in their sleep, because having been presented with this opportunity to record with likes of Rich they did not want to waste it. May was approaching and Calumet were excited, until they got the email that said Rich was going to go on tour with My Morning Jacket and was not going to be able to record them, unless they wanted to do it on these other dates. A similar thing had happened a month or two prior, and it was just seeming as if they couldn’t lock down a date. Nothing against Rich, just scheduling conflicts, and after really tightening these tracks up they collectively figured they could record this record on their own, and did exactly that.
Curtis Studios is where they laid down the tracks, and aside for the mixing and mastering and one song this was all done on their own. Jake had a pretty good idea on how to do it, and they trusted themselves enough to know that this was probably the best decision for them. You can hear the pride they have in knowing that they did this on their own and with now crowdfunding in and on the album Modern Myth. This is roots music done electrically. Amps turned up, a screaming lead, and rocking rhythm, a thumping bass, and drums that wail and tremble your walls and windows. I have had the pleasure of listening to the album before their release, and this is a Calumet record. This is a rock and roll record, and to compare it to anyone of mainstream importance isn’t fair, because this is their brand of rock, and comparisons are boring and easy. Soaring harmonies and searing guitars make this album something to put on your list to end the year. Lyrically Jacob put together a batch of songs that are poignant, and important and shaped and rounded out by his brothers in arms.
These guys cemented the fact that they are a band, and would be a band before a note was played. Every inch of that feeling is felt and heard on their debut album Modern Myths. I could see it in their faces during their epic one-hour practice as they were getting ready for a show the following night. They hammered out one song after another, and it seemed effortless and easy. I think they may have been showing off for me, but I’ll leave that to myself to figure out. Before I left, and before I finished the interview we went around the room with the question I like to ask everyone, why music? Of all things to do why this? The following is from Paul Schroder, Stephen Kuffner, Jacob Tippey, and Aaron Cordell also known as CALUMET:
Paul: My mom is a lifetime musician and has always filled my life with music. When I was a teenager she bought me my first bass, and my friends and I (including Jake) promptly learned some of our favorite punk rock songs and jammed all night long. That night the flame in my heart became a fire, and I knew that music was the path I wanted to follow. From listening to watching to performing, it's woven into everything I do. In my eyes music is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and sharing that with a room full of people singing along is one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences I've had.
Aaron: Music has always been a constant for me. Whether I'm at a good time in my life or a bad time. It's always there to keep me sane and right the ship.
Stephen: Okay so why music? It has always been a part of me. And I'm pretty sure it always will. Back to my earliest memories of singing along to my dad's Beatles records it has been a source of passion, inspiration and joy. Music has shaped my life through countless challenges and rewards. And the adventure continues.
Jacob: I'll echo what everyone else has said, in that when it comes to music, I'm pretty sure I'm a lifer. My job, my side job, my friends, lovers and home have all come from music. As a songwriter, I also get to express, examine, and work through the ups and downs of my life. It's part of my personal therapy, and I suffer when I'm not actively pursuing a creative project. For me, working through these issues, trying to find peace with the world, with those around me, and with myself is what Calumet, and music, are all about.
This Friday 11/11 they release Modern Myths, their first full-length album. Come see us 10:30 at The Southgate House Revival (at IronFest) and pick up your copy!