Cal McNamara is The Gentle Stunts. Last year he busted out on the scene with "Life-Size Deadbeats" and dropped a whole bunch of jaws across the state. Then he rocked a band together and played a whole bunch of awesome shows in CT. Now he is gearing up for even more action and also hosts some smaller shows in his place, The Kensington Cradle. I got a chance to ask Cal what's up, take a look below:
Bob: It's been a little over a year since you released one of CT's finest albums, "Life-Size Deadbeats". What have you been up to since then?
Cal McNamara: Thanks man. It's very gratifying to hear that sort of thing about the album, which brings me to what has started this snowball... Going into releasing Life-Size Deadbeats in May of 2012 with nail-biting apprehension and coming out with such great feedback and support was just the sort of affirmation I needed to take another swing. From the friends who came to my aid in the live format, to reviews from sites such as CT Indie and blogs across the country, my motivations and inspirations went into overdrive. I have been working very very hard on the new album for The Gentle Stunts (which I promise will be ready and available by the end of August at the latest). I have also begun a new project called Comets with Tynan Cooney (of Werewolf Police), which takes all the cliches of singers like Michael McDonald and sort of drunk drives into Genesis and just about any creepy molestation of pop music I could muster. He does the instrumentation and I do vocals/lyrics... It's really hilarious at times if you see where we're coming from and also very catchy... We're working on opening for Justin Timberlake this year.
I've also begun hosting shows at my home from time to time, which I call The Kensington Cradle (Robert Pollard song name) and it fits because I live in Kensington and all.
Lastly, I have started another project that is in it's infancy. I do a sort of Don Caballero meets The Fucking Champs thing, because I've always wanted to unleash the virtuoso in me, ya know? I do some things here and there for The Gentle Stunts songs that sound tricky, but never fully unload the math rock in me. So that'll most likely be an EP and I've got two songs done already.
If you, the reader, are still reading this novel I've written... You're a saint.
Bob: Sounds like you have been more than busy! First things first, quench our thirst for more info on the new Gentle Stunts LP. Does it have a name? How many songs? Is there a theme/concept?
Cal McNamara: I have not come to a concrete decision on the name yet, but I have one cooking... As far as song count goes, it's going to be 14... Maybe 15. I've got 14 solid tracks and one sort of in limbo. That's how I tend to work. I made last minute changes to Life-Size Deadbeats literally a week before release and I think it made all the difference, so I really just go with my gut in the closing statement, so to speak. As far as the theme goes; I would really leave that up to the listener. I always let my moods take precedence in my songwriting, so you're going to hear the pop rock songs that pick your ass up and drop you on your head, but there're also my more ambiguous tracks where I tap into a dark place in my head and try to come out of it by the end. It will feel different for people who heard and liked the last one. There's still some spine shrilling harmonies and the engaging evolution's of structure as the songs progress, but I aimed to make an album this time... to really put the big picture in my head. I didn't even realize that I had an album with Life-Size Deadbeats until my brother-in-law said, "Dude, you've got like, 13 tracks... Why don't you put em together and make something?" So this new one is coming from a whole different angle from me as an artist.
Bob: And where are you at with Comets? When do you think we will get to hear something aside from the awesome track you guys put on q-90?
Cal McNamara: Comets, I'm happy to say, is something that came up very suddenly and excited us both... So we've been pumping out Comets tracks with an album nearly finished. I don't know for certain, but I want to say we're looking at between 10-14 tracks for the debut album "Fire The Wake Up Call". This album is really letting me stretch the legs of my lyricism and vocal ability/style.
Bob: And what of The Kensington Cradle? Who played the first show there and when was it? Got any dope new shows coming up?
Cal McNamara: The Kensington Cradle was a bold experiment and it definitely worked. We had a great time and the turnout was better than expected. We had Jacket Thor, Chris Cappello and City Streets Country Roads play at the show. They were all great to have and really helped set the tone of the spot and get people involved. I did some neat lighting tricks with my Philips Hue lightbulbs that changed to the tempo and levels of the bands that were playing... It was so cool.
The second show has come to fruition from two indie bands from Philly (Keepers/Family Vacation) asking The Gentle Stunts to play a show with them in CT on their tour and I thought, well why not at The KC?! They were pumped, so we have a show set up for August 10th from 5pm-9 roughly. We'd like to fill a 4th spot and I'm looking into some CT bands currently. As long as these shows remain civil, to my standards anyways, then I could see this becoming a great spot for CT bands to feel welcomed and exposed to a group of people that really want to hear great music.
Oh and [the first show] was June 29th.
Bob: When can we see The Gentle Stunts live next? Will you be playing any new material?
Cal McNamara: We are playing at the house show on August 10th and we have been practicing/playing some of the new songs. We desperately need a strong backing vocalist who can play keys as well... It's been tough to present the songs appropriately live without the harmonies, man... It's always all about the harmonies.
Bob: Any other side projects or miscellaneous stuff to look out for?
Cal McNamara: Yes, as a matter of fact I did vocals on a song on Brian Grochowski's new LP "Now, Wait For Last Year" called Atomic Hearts. The album has many guest appearances from various artists and it's got a lot of different styles that come about from the vocal work. The album maintains a really satisfying grunge meets shoegaze feel. It's free on his bandcamp site
Bob: One last question: What's been spinning in your music player recently?
Cal McNamara: I've been getting into some electronic music and diving deeper into the Don Caballero discography, like "What Burns Never Returns" and "American Don". I've taken a liking to Giraffes?! Giraffes! recently as well. Pogo is a really awesome artist to check out for electronic/sampling songs. Of course, I always have Guided By Voices handy, too. Oh, and the latest Phoenix album is awesome.