THE SELFISH CALES is a band that I am not at all familiar with. But being curious about them made me interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-“Cales” comes from a sort of a word pun: Calegari was the surname of our former frontman, which he used to slang his surname as “Cale”. However, “The Cales” could not be catchy enough, so we’ve opted to accompany it with “Selfish”: a pure phonetical choice.
Many people ask us: is the name related to John Cale (Velvet Underground)? Is the same thing that I thought when i met Gabriel Cale (the founder) for the first time!
Maybe it is not important to have the right name, but nowadays it is absolutely important to have a “Google-Friendly” name! For example, try to search in the web stuff of bands with generalist names like Ghost, Mountain, Death: maybe is not a problem for them due to their popularity, but try a similar name as an emerging artist 😛
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
-Many heroes, many inputs! Our sound evolved through these eight years in many ways: starting from Garage Rock, then evolved in more psychedelic sounds with the introduction of keyboards (organ, mellotron, electric piano), vocal harmonies and, occasionally, Indian Sitar. This last album is the result of a total line-up change, in which I did all my best in composition, arrangement, technique: more Progressive influences than in the past, full of keyboards and vocal harmonies.
Random heroes of this period: Yes, Camel, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Pretty Things.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Well, usually – in my modus operandi – a slow song implies more layers of sound, especially about keyboards and vocal harmonies. My composition process starts always from the harmony.
Will your music work in a live environment? What kind of stage environment would best suit your music; a big stage or a small club?
-Unfortunately, the situation here in Italy is not the best: a lot of live clubs and music halls closed in the last years, expecially in our city, also due to some economical and political situations. Big stages here are rare and reserved only to mainstream or historical artists, but is not necessarily a problem: personally, i love the small clubs for the more intimate relationship with the public, and i think that today every live club owner or booking enterpreneur is a hero for their contribution to culture and society, more than ever.
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
-Perfection is not of this world but, to be honest, in all our discography, i consider this last album the most complete and satisfying we have done until now. It’s been a production that required three years, due to a total line-up change and a total restoration of the band: during this period the gigs were many fewer than in the past, and for this reason we have given much time and great attention for arrangements and details.
In the last years the time dedicated to the studio activity was way more than the live activity, so we have had more time for refining the production. All our discography is self-recorded.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
-The Internet can be rich and poor of visibility at the same time: lots of webzines, communities and platforms in which you can share your music, but also filled by a huge number of artists and bands in search of visibility. In “economical” terms, supply overcomes the demand: everyone experienced it, also famous artists and bands in their early days.
Due to the complexity of promoting music in 2018, today’s artists need to be focused in web communication and promotion with the same priority given to the music itself. Someone may not like this, but by now is a needful business model and the only way to emerge.
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-Due to my musical approach, i’m against too minimalist artworks: i love a rich scene, in which you can pick the physical copy between your hand and take some minutes to admire all the colors, all the details.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
-Absolutely no! During the last decade, in Italy, the focus is almost all around music with Italian Lyrics: the main trend here is about new songwriters, a handful of Indie Pop bands and a rich Trap Scene, all with italian lyrics. But i’m not complaining: simply this is their trending period.
In this case, therefore, the local scene must NOT be relevant for the development of our music. Our focus is the web, and the people all around the world who follow more alternative-oriented sounds.
I could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-I can completely confirm this, and i think is typical of the new generations: the live scene here is frequented especially by people aged over 35/40, with few exceptions. Is proven that the youngest generations live the new musical trends almost exclusively by the internet, without feeling the need of a live interaction with their favourite artists.
For this reason we need to know how to reinvent ourselves: the transition from the emerging local scene to big stages is way less gradual than in the past, and needs to evolve necessarily through the internet. For this reason, we give more priority to new compositions and production than in the past; even if sometimes we feel the lack of more gigs and a more “offline” approach like in the past.
What does the future hold?
-I’m almost in my 30’s and i’m not anymore like about ten years ago – full of hype to become a rockstar and rule big stages in overseas tours – but this this does not mean that I put less passion on our music. Music, meanwhile, become more of an existential path, in which i describe many life chapters and moods: for myself, first of all.
The door will always be open to every opportunity proposed to us, but with the realism that requires making music in these days: mainly for ourselves, thanking every single feedback that will come from the web or from the gigs.