Nathan Hooks (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar) and Steve Scilasi (Lead Guitar), with their creative partner, co-songwriter, and business liaison Angela Anagnostopoulos, are honoring their roots by creating a unique sound that is sure to entice fans of all kinds of music. Calibama is the face of a new “punktry” sub-genre – combining the storytelling of country music with the sound of pop-punk. I got the chance to talk with Steve about how the band came together, what makes a good punktry song, the story behind their single, “Sierra,” and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say.
For those who may not have heard of Y’all, give us a brief history of the band and how you guys came together.
Back in LA, our creative partner/co-songwriter Angela and I had written some songs. We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to come out to Nashville and have them produced by the members of Jason Aldean’s band, also known as New Voice Entertainment. We needed a great singer and found Nathan, who is from Alabama. After that, we continued to write music, and eventually found our own unique identity as Calibama, blending influences from our home states.
I’m totally intrigued by the name Calibama. Where did it come from?
We were joking about it one day, trying to think of names because I’m from California and Nathan is from Alabama. It made more sense than any other name we could think of, so it stuck.
I know the type of music you play is referred to as “punktry.” How would you define that genre? What makes a good “punktry” song?
We hadn’t heard of the genre until our EP came out and people started describing our music that way, combined with some of our antics on stage. So all we really have to reference is our own sound, which is country-rock with a bit more bite. A good Calibama song fully represents our roots – the edgy guitar riffs coming from my background, and Nathan with the true country/southern rock vocal style.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a band?
Musically, we are inspired by a mix of country and alternative/pop-punk artists. Bands like Blink-182, Green Day, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have an edgy, yet catchy sound that constantly influences our music. We also admire the way artists like Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line blend country with rock and pop.
You guys are currently based out of Nashville, which is growing and expanding beyond country music to include music of all genres. What has your experience creating music there been like? How has being surrounded by so much diverse music impacted the music you’re creating?
The level of talent in Nashville drives us to push ourselves as musicians and songwriters. We play shows with organizations like Red Roots Music, 615 Alive, and Rock and Roll Basement which are all about giving new local artists of all styles a place to showcase their talent. Every time we play or attend these shows, we hear something unique and exciting which inspires us to be the best we can be. They’ve done a lot for us by believing in what we do and helping us connect with other artists as well.
The scene really is expanding in terms of genres. We’re part of a new organization called Eat Sleep Rock Nashville which promotes everything rock-related. In just a couple months they’ve already had a big impact, as we’ve seen the rock community become more united and devoted since they started.
We are very fortunate to be part of such a great musical community. That’s what Nashville is all about!
Let’s talk about your recently released debut EP, Forever 21. Where does the name come from?
There’s a song on the EP called “Forever 21,” which is about how the way you feel is your true age, and you can stay young forever with this state of mind. We realized that this theme is what ties the whole EP together. The world tells you that you have to grow up so fast. All these songs are about never losing that carefree, adventurous way of life.
What was the recording process like for this EP? How long did it take for the entire thing to come together from start to finish?
Besides a few of the drum tracks, which we recorded with Rock and Roll Basement, we turned our rehearsal space into a studio and recorded the EP ourselves. It was nice being able to record whenever we felt inspired. We periodically had sessions over about a three-month stretch. There was a lot more learning to be done than we had expected, but developing the skills to record our own record was well worth it in the end.
What was the writing process like for this project? Do you guys like to keep the writing done in-house or do you like to collaborate with others?
The process was a mix of systematically building songs and random spontaneous jam sessions. Most of this music we wrote ourselves, with the exception of “South Padre” in which we collaborated with our friend Colt Wolfe. We really didn’t know many other writers when we were creating the songs but are open to collaborating more on future releases.
I also want to ask you guys about your single, “Sierra.” What’s the story behind that song?
Sierra is a story about meeting someone by chance and ending up on an adventure you never expected. It’s meant to take you from wherever you are in your day to the open road. We were going for a modern edgy sound with some classic influence as well. It can take place in any era you imagine. Altogether, this really captures the mood of the song, and we’re so proud of it!
Were there any major changes made to the song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Originally, “Sierra” had a more rootsy, traditional vibe. As we recorded, experimenting with arrangements and sounds, it became something we never expected. It’s exciting when you surprise yourself – one of the best parts about the recording process!
You guys are still new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks you aim to reach in the next couple of years?
Like anyone, we want to reach as many people as possible – media coverage, playlists, playing big venues, etc. But we do our best to keep our focus on the music and connecting with people. We believe that all the rest will follow.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd, so what is something you nerd out about?
Right now, I’m really into this mixing tool that emulates the sound of the consoles used during the ’60s in the famous Abbey Road studios. Nathan is always geeking out over his home-made cold brewed coffee!