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2001 – Part 5.1: The Calling – Camino Palmero

The Calling, was formed by Alex Band (lead vocals) and Aaron Kamin (lead guitar, backing vocals).

They weren’t a modern alternative rock band to start off, with David Matthews Band style influences. But, next door to Alex Band, was Ron Fair, a music business executive.

Imagine that, your neighbour was a Chairman at Geffen Records, then Virgin Records and prior to Geffen, he was President of A&M Records and held Senior Positions at RCA Records, Chrysalis Records and EMI Records.

On top of that he was also known as a “mentor” to unsigned artists. Apart from The Calling, other artists he mentored that made it to major label releases are Christina Aguilera, Vanessa Carlton, Keyshia Cole, The Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, and the Pussycat Dolls.

Between 1996 and 1999, the guys kept writing and demoing, and by 1999, Ron Fair was impressed enough to sign them to a deal with RCA.

The name of the band was originally, “Generation Gap”, then “Next Door” and after getting signed, they became “The Calling”.

Their sound through the years morphed to be more influenced by Matchbox Twenty, Third Eye Blind, early Maroon 5, Train and Fastball.

The RCA deal was huge for a band that hadn’t played any shows whatsoever, nor did they have a fan base. I suppose it pays dividends to live in the same suburb as a record label exec.

And Ron Fair, just kept working with em over that two year period until they had the songs ready to record an album.

The players on the album, joining Band and Kamin are Sean Woolstenhulme on rhythm guitar, Billy Mohler on bass and Nate Wood on drums.

The debut album “Camino Palmero” was released in July 2001 and was a commercial success. The cover art of the album represents platforms 5 and 6 of the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence, Italy but the name of the album comes from a LA street where the Band and Kamin first met.

All tracks are written by Alex Band and Aaron Kamin, except “Stigmatized” which was co-written with Eric Bazilian.

Unstoppable

As soon as the song starts its recognizable and when I heard the strummed acoustic guitar in the verses, “Alone” from Heart came to mind straight away.

A great opener but it is lost in the world of streaming right now as it doesn’t even rate a mention in their Top 5 streamed songs on Spotify.

Nothing’s Changed

It reminds me of Bush.

Wherever You Will Go

The big hit at 429.6 million streams on Spotify. And the acoustic version of the song has 33.8 million streams.

The vocal melody is catchy and I like the way it moves between acoustic arpeggios, strummed acoustic guitars and then a light distortion in the Chorus.

Could It Be Any Harder

I like the country rock ballad feel on this and the vocal reminds me of Lifehouse. Four songs in, its a 4 punch knockout.

Final Answer

The acoustic alt rock style is evident here, more Tonic and Lifehouse and man, I dig it.

Adrienne

More Matchbox 20 like.

We’re Forgiven

If you are a country then this song would resonate, however it’s a skip for me.

Things Don’t Always Turn Out That Way

It’s got a cool start, with a progression reminiscent to “Glycerine” from Bush and a Fastball “The Way” chorus.

Just That Good

It’s a skip for me.

Thank You

Press play for the Chorus.

Stigmatized

A great closer with a nice vocal. It sounds like a lot of alt rock/soft rock bands, but I don’t care.

In a post Napster world, the album did rack up a few certifications along the way. Brazil is one of the biggest markets when it comes to piracy and the country made the album a Platinum success. So did the UK and Italy. Canada and the US, gave it a Gold certification.

In November 2003, former members Wood and Mohler sued Band, Kamin, and the group’s management, accusing them of mismanagement, fraud, and asking for an audit of the money that was spent during their tenures in The Calling.

They claimed that they were promised a share of the royalties and profits from touring and merchandise. Band and Kamin claimed that the two were not entitled to any records of the royalties.

Their second album “Two”, was released in June 2004.

But the album didn’t perform well commercially compared to the debut. Ron Fair was no longer Executive Producer, replaced by Clive Davis. Davis was all about the hit, right now while Fair was more about career longevity. The record features the original members Alex Band and guitarist Aaron Kamin along with a variety of session musicians.

The band or duo broke up in 2005, but in 2013, The Calling reformed with a new line-up and they still operate today with a new album on the horizon.

But even that was bizarre as Alex Band in that same year, sued Aaron Kamin for “disappearing from the public eye” and Band wanted full rights to “The Calling” name and songs. But the case was dismissed only to resurface later when Band was promoting a “reunion” show which didn’t involve Kamin.

On top of that Band was almost beaten to death after a show that required a jaw bone reconstruction and three implants.

The music business is vicious. But check out the debut. It’s excellent.

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