Callooh! Callay!’s music presents the listener with a variety of dynamics: experimental, straightforward, loud, and subdued. One might be tempted to place the umbrella of indie rock and shoegaze, but the band’s penchant for genrebending proves otherwise.
“Influences are truly all over the place. We tend to be drawn to big sounds, I think. Like, maybe some people would say spacey or something, but also thick sounds,” says vocalist/guitarist Adam Morrow.
Hailing from Tuscaloosa, the group consists of Morrow, his girlfriend, Natalie Jensen (bass/keyboards), Bowen Robertson (drums), and touring member David Burkhalter (keyboards). The name is inspired by the “Jabberwocky,” a nonsense verse poem found in Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel, Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There.
“We came together in kind of a rough, totally non-linear fashion. We didn’t mean to end up sounding like we do now, but I guess that happens a lot. We have had a lot of time to sit and stew and get to know each other and kind of become ourselves, for better or worse,” Morrow says.
Lyrically, Morrow says the band draws inspiration from a variety of sources including its geography.
“Its hard to avoid the fact that we live in the South, and we don’t really want to. Its a truly unique place, and I know that a lot of people are missing the value and importance of that for maybe the bad that comes with it. But taken as a whole package, that’s certainly a lot to ingest,” Morrow says.
Since its inception, the band has released two recordings, 2010’s fulllength record, Sassprilluh Champagne (which includes a melodic version of the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount,” before morphing into something completely different in the form of the song “Quentin”) and 2011’s 3-song EP, Wide Awake.
“Another EP is in the works. We love the album format, but think for a band at our level, its kind of impractical. We did one and really loved that process, but in a day where no one pays for music or has much of an attention span, if a band at our level can even get somebody to listen to 20 seconds of a song, much less an album, its an accomplishment. So releasing EPs is the plan right now. The format is kind of a creative challenge, too--how can we make a cohesive statement and not just toss on four songs that have nothing to do with each other? Maybe we’ll figure that out one day,” Morrow says.
Callooh! Callay! has been fortunate to take its show on the road to venues up and down the East Coast, but its unique collision of sounds sometimes presents a challenge.
“Some places have been very receptive to us, and we’re always thankful for that. Sometimes I think maybe people don’t know what to do with us. And I don’t say that like we’re doing something so deep or obscure that they don’t get it, but I guess we don’t immediately fit into something understandable,” Morrow says.
Despite this, the band puts on a very tight and energetic live show, a benefit gained from years spent playing together.
“We started out acoustic, then we got a drummer, and things have just thickened up and gotten louder since then. If anything, we’ve learned how to be a bit more poppy. We’re really musically comfortable with each other. I’ve only been in a few groups that got close to that place where everyone knows what everyone else is going to do, before they do it, and we’re really getting there now,” Morrow says.
You can download the band’s two recordings for free at www.calloohcallay. bandcamp.com. You can also become a fan of the band on Facebook and visit their official band site, www. calloohcallay.com.
Callooh! Callay! will be playing with John Ball and Light the Lamps at Bottletree Cafe on Friday, January 13th. The show starts at 9 P.M. and the entry fee is $8.