Calibro 35 released their first live album ‘CLBR 35 Live From S.P.A.C.E’ (Record Kicks, 2016) after a gig at Biko Club in Milano. They claim that their music is a crime–funk style or else cinematic funk. The sure thing is that after almost 10 years of playing together their music is full of funky rhythms and soundtrack music sensation. So, due to this release Last Day Deaf grabbed the opportunity to have a conversation with their producer (and “brain”) Tommaso Colliva in order to guide us through their space…
Hello Calibro 35!!! First of all I would like to thank you for this interview and to welcome you to Last Day Deaf. I hope all of your musical efforts to be the vehicle for many many more trips in the musical spaces and territories you want to discover. So let’s begin and feel free to share with the readers of Last Day Deaf a brief bio of the band and how did you come up with the name Calibro 35?
It was actually quite random as most band names are. We just needed a name for the recording session we were doing and Calibro 35 was the first one to come to mind because it summed up what we were after cinematic music (hence 35mm > 35) inspired by eurocrime / police action titles (as Caliber > Calibro).
How did you feel when Tommaso Colliva asked you to form a band in order to record some Italian 60’s B-movie soundtracks and in general about your collaboration with him? Do you consider him as a member of the band since he is your producer cause I think that a producer is the person who gives the sound identity of a band.
Tommaso Colliva speaking and replying to this interview actually! I can define Calibro as my brainchild. Me and Massimo Martellotta have been friends for LONG LONG time and we were working on other artists’ album together as arrangers + producers but we wanted to do something “ours” just for fun. I then came up with the idea of resurrecting a lost catalogue nobody was playing anymore, the rougher, edgier side of cinematic music. That’s how it started basically. The journey then changed, it is constantly changing and I need to understand where to go and how to steer the wheel accordingly. Not an easy thing to do but quite exciting.
Your music is a mixture of many styles like funk, jazz, psychedelic rock etc. However, in your own terms how would you describe your music?
“Music Inspired by Italian Golden Age Soundtracks” was the first definition we ever adopted. It then changed into “Crime-Funk” and I liked that a lot. “Molotov Jazz” is another one that i like but we are not JAZZ. It’s difficult to come up with just one definition. The mixture of genres you’re noticing is one of the things that made Italian soundtracks so unique and weird during 60’s/70’s. You had academically trained composers (as Morricone), jazz cats (as Piero Piccioni) working with a bunch of musicians belonging to different background ranging from orchestras to prog band to contemporary music to jazz combos.
From your first album ‘Calibro 35’ (Cinedelic Records, 2008) one can understand that you are fans of the music composed by great musicians/composers such as Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovajoli, Luis Bacalov. However, can you name us some of your strongest influences along with some of your beloved records and how easy or hard is to reproduce/replay music of such composers in your own style?
It took a bit to manage the subject and if I listen back to the first album now it sounds very naive but also very fresh. It was the first time we challenged ourselves and tried to replicate that and it’s a constant learning path. We are mostly on our material now but we still venture in reinterpretation every now and then and Morricone -for example – is SO full of discoveries every time. I’d say it has a lot of different layers to be discovered.
You are playing almost now 10 years together and each one of you has a lot of professional (musical) experience with other bands before the formation of Calibro 35. That means that the process of making a record must be an easy task for you or not? Tell us also some things about your writing process.
It changed on every record. First album was really referential and just an excuse to get things started. Then we discovered our – very few – original tunes were not easy to spot from the public as “different” and that gave us confidence on evolving our own catalogue. The occasion came when American director Mike Malloy asked us for music for his ‘‘Eurocrime! The Italian Cop And Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s’’ documentary and since we really liked what came out of that session second album is highly based on those. Third album was a bit random and very improvised developing ideas the band had on tour, just organizing sound checks and experimenting in a studio in NYC. ‘Traditori di Tutti’ and ‘S.P.A.C.E.’ (latest two) have been more structured with songs written before entering the studio and others coming during recording, having solid “Album concepts” help us a lot keeping everything under the same roof.
Another question related to the previous one is that what do you thing easier? To write music for a soundtrack or single tracks for an album of your own inspiration? Do you thing you’ve got enough space for improvisation in your playing?
Writing music for picture is amazing but very different than doing our own music. You always have to remember what the best thing is for the movie and it’s not about you or your ego. It is about what suits the story better. It can be comforting or discomforting but both ways is a lot of fun!
Well, I know that every work of a musician is a special one with its own meaning. However, which one is your most favorite work and why is that?
There are few things we have done in between records I totally love. ‘L’Uomo Dagli Occhi Di Ghiaccio’ for example or ‘E Nessuno Si Far’ Del Male’ are my favorite two.
Your latest work ‘CLBR 35 Live from S.P.A.C.E.’ (Record Kicks, 2016) is your first live recording and a great one I must say. What was the idea behind the decision of making a live record and why now? In this work your sound is more spacier, and trippier than in your previous works. Is it because the album has to do with “space” or you are in a way of changing the style of your sound?
Cinematic music has rarely been associated with the live thing if ever. But when we started we were noticing people getting really surprised as “Wow they are good live too!”… We evolved concerts over the years and with ‘S.P.A.C.E.’ the whole tour was split in two with the first part of the concert being very related to the album and the second part being more into “Calibro as you knew them before”. This was exciting for us and also gave the concert a unique identity (as future concerts will be very different) and that made the idea of a live album an option.
On the music side we follow the music a lot now and on ‘S.P.A.C.E.’ we wanted to expand the palette and experiment on different territories so psych funk is totally a direction.
You have shared the stage with great names such as Muse, Roy Ayers, Sharon Jones, The Headhunters etc. How do you feel about it and what have you gained from it? Do you prefer to play live in small clubs or in big concerts/festivals?
It is great to have challenges and being with such great artists definitely put you on your toes and inspire you to do the best. Live clubs fit Calibro style automatically and it became kind of easy for us, it’s the everyday concert. Big stages are intimidating and scary but at the end of the day it’s all about music and we just go on stage and play.
In 2013 your fourth album ‘Traditori di Tutti’ was released (the first one) from the Milano based record label Record Kicks. Being a member of Record Kicks’ funky family brings you in touch with other artists of the same musical thinking. Does this make your work easier? Also talk us a little bit about the cooperation with Record Kicks.
Meeting Nick (aka Nicolò Pozzoli) was great. We were both fan of each other venture and we shared the same attitude towards making music / making records. So finally, after years wondering in this new music industry land, we found a home we are comfortable in and that’s priceless. It’s a great place to be, an amazing situation you can come up and discuss ideas and put music first.
Ok, here is the last question and then you are free to continue your musical journey through your funky beats. Well, tell us about your future plans concerning live appearances, new releases or collaborations with other artists? Also how people can find and listen to your music? If you have anything else to add please feel free to do it… I felt very nice talking to you and I hope watching you in a live concert in Greece or elsewhere. May the funk be with you!
Calibro world is really busy at the moment with each one of us exploring different projects and gathering ideas somewhere else but we are getting few plans together as we speak so stay tuned and the funk will come!
Photo credits: Chiara Mirelli