Her Name Is Calla
Helen Newbery 21/05/2008
Interview with Thom Corah, Her Name Is Calla
Leicester-based, although soon to be moving to Leeds, Her Name Is Calla have toured with the likes of iLiKETRAiNS and The Twilight Sad. However, they should soon be coming into their own as they release their debut mini-album 'The Heritage' on Leeds-based independent Gizeh Records. Helen Newbery interviewed Thom Corah from the band about the album and their recent adventures on tour.
So, your new mini-album is about 60 minutes long - at what point does a mini-album become an album proper?
Well, it was originally going to be an EP, and then it just grew. We didn't want to put out a proper album because we've got lots of good stuff to put out, but it needs a longer gestation. We want our debut full-length to be something special. None of our songs are exactly short anyway!
So, tell me about the songwriting process?
We never set out thinking we're going to make a record that's ten minutes long! We record different versions and pick the one everyone likes. It becomes all-enveloping, and I do a lot of noise stuff...
Do you mean found noises?
I tend to hear things, like an interesting door, for example, and think, “I can use that”. We'll take a sound off the shelf and manipulate it.
Why 'The Heritage'?
Tom [Morris, vocals] came in with the name one day and we all thought it both sounded good and fitted. At the time, we had been thinking a lot around the themes of heritage and national/personal identity. We had been talking to some people about how they felt about their city and their country, and the changes that they have seen them go through. It was interesting to listen to their rosy recollections of the past, even the ideas they had of what they were before they were born, and the comparisons they made with today. The aspects of their modern lives that are important to them, and how much of that is from our ancestors. This of course then led to what we will leave behind us for future generations, not just in terms of personal legacies, but also national heritage.
Would you describe it as a "concept album"?
No. it is a collection of music that we wrote over a period of time, that we thought worked well as a whole. Each track was written as a standalone piece, with perhaps only 'Motherfucker' being written with the others in mind. We almost went down the road of having a stronger concept linking all the material, but that didn't come to fruition. It might in a future release though.
The artwork is quite striking, disturbing almost: did you have any input into it?
Again, no. We went back to the artist who provided the images for 'A Moment of Clarity', Stephen Clark, and asked him if he could create something just for this. We said we'd like something in colour this time. That was the extent of our influence. Stephen created a selection of sketches and pieces inspired by some of the lyrics on the record and we chose those which we particularly liked. I don't think we really realised how dark they were until we got the CDs back and saw them in rich printed colours surrounded by black. Having said that, we didn't really consider how dark the music is until several reviews pointed it out to us, so I guess it fits really well.
How did the recent tour go?
Splendidly thank you. Apart from Bognor Regis. A Portuguese man decided to climb into the back of our van after the gig and tried to sell Tom and Mike some coke. When they turned him down he tried to sell them the three girls who Joe was trying to blag some floorspace from for the night. Tom politely pointed that wasn't interested in the girls either, citing his marriage as the reason. The coke dealing portuguese pimp made it clear that the only reason for getting married, in his view, was because a man was a homosexual. Anyhow, the rest was great. We love touring, playing night after night, and it was extra special to have Pete [Flinton, sound] and Rich [Knox, Gizeh Records] with us for Scotland, and Joe with us for the south coast.
You've expanded your live line-up; how did you get other people involved?
We put a small coin in the bottom of a jug of beer, ha ha! ... Well, I know Dave, who plays the cello, so he became involved. It's nice to have a cello player; it's opened things up for us. We've also now got Sophie [Barnes] on trumpet. We've been adapting our songs to play with the cello and trumpet, although they are more like additions than part of the songs.
Have you been influenced by any of the bands you've toured with?
We don't have any clear musical influences, although we have been influenced by other bands, we all like the trains [Leeds-based band iLiKETRAiNS], for example, and it has bled into what we do. But we draw on lots of stuff - Adam [Weikert, drummer] is into some different stuff. We will get an idea for something, and nine out of ten times it will die, but sometimes there will be something there.
What are your plans for the future?
Ah, many plans. We've got The Heritage out in June, put back to June 16th. A tour in July with Glissando. After that we can really get down to writing some new material ready for our debut full length album early next year. We're thinking at the moment that we'll have a single out sometime before that. We're really excited about getting back to writing again, and for a good long period of time as well. We're getting Dave and Sophie more involved on cello and trumpet too. It's a lot easier with Dave as he lives in Leicester, but it's all sounding really good. And at some point during all this will be the move to Leeds. Oh, we're also working on a DVD. Ashley from the trains [iLiKETRAiNS] is making a video for New England that's going to look amazing, so we're putting together some other material to go on the disk. One of these will be an interview, so if anyone has any questions, feel free to email them to us. We'd also like to sort out a few festival appearances for next summer, either in the UK or Europe, oh and we'd like to see if we can tour Europe next year. This answer could go on and on, so I'll leave it at that.
To send your questions to the band for possible inclusion in their upcoming release, email email@example.com, or see www.hernameiscalla.co.uk for further information.
Her name is Calla play a GIITTV gig with Glissando and Lights to Lead us, at Cardiff's ten feet tall on the 9th of July. More info to follow.