Calva Louise, Back in the USA (5/21 at KFN)

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection first met multicultural British rock trio Calva Louise in April of 2022 on their first-ever US tour, when they were supporting...

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection first met multicultural British rock trio Calva Louise in April of 2022 on their first-ever US tour, when they were supporting alt-rockers Slothrust at The Church.  Well, the band – comprised of Venezuelan vocalist/guitarist Jess Allanic, French bassist Alizon Taho, and New Zealander Ben Parker on drums – are currently on a double-headlining run with Scottish duo VUKOVI, which will be hitting Kung Fu Necktie this Tuesday, May 21st.  Last December Calva Louise released mixtape Over The Threshold, and last month they announced their signing to Mascot Records.  I recently got a chance to chat with Calva Louise frontwoman Jess Allanic about the band’s new music, recent highlights, and their latest music videos, which form a complex science fiction narrative.

Izzy Cihak: I actually saw you about two years ago when you played First Unitarian Church on tour opening for Slothrust, which I’m pretty sure was your first US tour.  How was that whole experience of traveling and playing the states with Slothrust, who are also totally amazing?

Jess Allanic: It was a great experience.  We had the chance to see a lot of the US and learn a lot of things.  It was also very hard because we had never come to the US before, and we just didn’t know how to do many things.  We had to rent a car almost at every show—that was the hard part.  The easy part was that we were with such an amazing band, and we made a lot of good memories.

Izzy: You just recently signed with Mascot Records, which is such a cool label.  What are your thoughts on the label and getting to be a part of that family?

Jess: We’re really happy and excited to be a part of the Mascot Family, as the latest body of work that we released had been self-made and independent, self-funded.  So, we’re really excited to be part of a community of artists and music experts that can guide us more and more in our trajectory as a band.

Izzy: Last year you released Over The Threshold.  Have you gotten any favorite reactions to it?

Jess: We had a great reaction from a lot of people that had never heard about us and discovered us through the videos.  We’re really happy with this mixtape because it’s completely independent and we just didn’t know what to expect—we just wanted to release music that tells a story with the music videos.  So, all of that, self-made, and we had no idea if people were going to like it or not—if more people were going to discover it.  So, we’re really, really happy with the reaction, it’s a very heartwarming one.

Izzy: Do you have a favorite album track at the moment, whether one that you’re most proud of, one that’s most fun to play live, or one that may represent where future sounds may be headed?  I’m kinda torn between the title track and “Third Class Citizen.”

Jess: I think the favorite track for us to play right now is “Con Corazon,” which is the most heartfelt song that I’ve ever written.  It feels really good to play it live, not only because it’s in my mother tongue, but also because many people that don’t even speak Spanish have come to the shows and said that they have discovered us through the song and that the lyrics resonate with them.  So, I think that’s our favorite for now.

Izzy: I know that you just played Welcome to Rockville and that you play gigantic festivals like that with some frequency.  How do you like that experience of playing to these massive audiences in open-air, outdoor settings, as opposed to your headlining shows?  Do you approach the performances any differently?

Jess: I think we’re a little bit more nervous when we’ve played big open-air venues or festivals because we don’t know what to expect of the audience or also, like, there’s a lot more technicalities backstage.  So, we’re just a tiny bit more nervous, but we really enjoy it, really embrace it.  Playing Welcome to Rockville was really a dream come true for us.  We got to meet a lot of bands that we consider our heroes.  So, yeah, it’s the same but different.

Izzy: Have you gotten the chance to see any other acts that especially impressed you on any of these festivals recently, whether acts that you’re longtime fans or friends of, or artists that you just discovered that day?

Jess: Yes, well, VUKOVI, for example, that we’re touring with, are one of the best acts we’ve ever seen in our lives.  There’s also a band called Bad Nerves.  They’re friends and have exceptional gigs that they put on.  We had the chance to see them and also our friends from the band Zeta, a Venezuelan band.  They’re currently touring in the US as well.  They are incredible and I think I cried watching their set.  So yeah, those three bands for us are incredible and we highly recommend everybody to go see them live.

Izzy: How have these dates with VUKOVI been going so far?  It’s a really amazing double bill and you seem like you’d make great touring partners.

Jess: The dates with VUKOVI have been doing amazing.  We get along extremely well!  It’s been a big surprise when we play the shows seeing so many people come for both bands.  We’re very different but at the same time we blend very, very well.  So, it’s been a blast, and we cannot wait for the next dates.

Izzy: What can be expected of your live show when you play Kung Fu Necktie in the very near future, in terms of setlist, production, and just the general energy of the night?

Jess: You can expect a really high energy show.  In terms of production, we brought the sliding keyboard, of course, that Alizon made.  He made a prototype version that is completely foldable so we could carry it with us from the UK.  You can expect a very heartfelt, emotional performance and, yeah, we cannot wait.

Izzy: I know that you play a pretty wide array of venue types, but Kung Fu Necktie is kind of like a classic “barroom,” which I often describe as resembling, “a brothel in a Rob Zombie movie.”  How do you like playing super sweaty, cramped, standing-room venues like that?  They’re probably my favorite type of venue.

Jess: They’re probably one of my favorite types of music venues as well.  We do really love playing rooms that we can really go and see the crowd in a very intimate way.  I think that’s how the band formed in the first venues we ever played together.  I really like it personally, going off the stage and playing guitar with people around—that’s a big thing that I love to do.  Yeah, very excited and Rob Zombie is one of our favs, so excited to see the venue!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.