Cal Peck and the Tramps Interview – Drinking hobo-hooch with Callum Peck

July 20, 2010
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Eleven months after first gracing the pages (pixels?) of Music Vice, Perth’s resident blues-rockers Cal Peck and the Tramps are set to launch their second EP, Kill For You which comes out on Peck’s own label, Hurricane Records this week. Sitting outside his rehearsal space, looking as sharp as one can on a cold Tuesday evening, front-man Callum Peck expounds upon his band’s recent successes. “We’ve been playing a shitload of shows, and obviously recording our second EP which was started in August of last year; last time we spoke” – a complex process indeed.

Cal Peck and the Tramps

The band has also had some high-profile shows in the past few months, playing with New York legend Jon Spencer’s Heavy Trash and performing at the Hope From Ashes – Toodyay Benefit Concert with the likes of Adam Harvey and Angry Anderson in January, as well as securing a Friday night residency at Perth dance-hop, Deville’s Pad.

Peck has balanced all this activity with a newfound family life, having become a father for the first time. “I’m really enjoying it. Huge lifestyle change. My wife’s pretty understanding, and if I didn’t play music I’d be fucking crazy, so, she knows that.”

As to the process of recording the new EP with renowned Perth engineer Andy Lawson, Peck describes the process as much more polished than the band’s debut effort, Cinnamon which came out last year; having to learn how to play to a click track and record separate tracks for each instrument. “We had the songs ready but I think really he tweaked it. Cinnamon we recorded completely live, this time we thought we’ll do it properly. ‘Properly!’ so we did Andy’s way, which is a lot more of a pop way of doing it; so: click track, drums were done, bass was done, so everything’s perfectly in time and the tempo stays good. It came out really well because it just put a different feel to it, but it still sounds like us.”

Cal Peck and the Tramps
Cal Peck and Dave Benck

In describing the title of the EP (which is also the lead single, “Kill For You”), Peck tells a tale of love turned sour and going from being willing to do absolutely anything for a person, “I’d kill for you”, to just plain wanting to kill you.

Retracting slightly, Callum assures us that he’s not actually homicidal, and goes on to talk about the band’s recent nomination for Best Blues/Roots band in the 2010 Western Australian Music Industry (WAMI) Awards. While not winning, the band was held in high esteem given their relatively short time on the scene, “It was great! I made a joke last year at the WAMIs, said to my wife ‘we’ll be nominated next year’ – just taking the piss, and it happened!”. At this point, the Tramps’ harp player, Dave Benck interjects to trumpet the accomplishments of the other nominees, Abbe May and the Kill Devil Hills; both highly established and well regarded artists.

Speaking of the band’s touring ambitions, Peck mentions some tentative plans to hit Australia’s east coast towards the end of this year, with an eye to play shows in Melbourne and Brisbane; though doesn’t stop short on promoting any band’s most important gig – the next one, which happens to be the Kill For You launch this Friday, 23 July, at Deville’s Pad. In comparing their expectations to that of the last launch, bass player Byron McLeod Robertson acknowledges the pressure the band is under to top that performance. Supporting the band will be another fine Perth blues/rock act, the Painkillers, which Benck stresses will feature Perth’s most in-demand guitarist, Luke Dux (Floors, Will Stoker and the Embers). When asked if Dux might take a turn at leading the Tramps, Peck replies “he’s trying.”

In speaking about his plans for the band’s future, Peck says they are hoping to have a full-length album out by next spring, as well as promoting the EP through more shows and radio play. “The big goal is to get national airplay, isn’t it? That’s the plan with this EP. Hopefully we’ll get some interest from Triple J and some of the east coast stations”.

Given that last time he sat down with Music Vice, Peck mentioned his vices as booze and cigarettes, and that his band has practically lived at Deville’s Pad (famous for its many cocktails) for the better part of a year; Peck pondered over the question of what would be in a Cal Peck Cocktail. Cigarette and beer in hand, he went for something simple, “a bourbon and Coke, I reckon”. Benck, having slightly more adventurous tastes, suggests a mix of peyote and tequila, but Peck’s suggestion is perhaps best expressed by Robertson, who provides some fitting nomenclature; “A Tramps and Coke.”

© Steve Pass, Music Vice

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