Calculator Interview

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 Los Angeles post-hardcore quintet (though I feel cheap labeling them that) Calculator put out a stellar proper debut in 2013, This Will Come to Pass, which was at the top of my Top 10 Albums of 2013 list. Guitarist Nikolas Soelter discusses some of the challenges in writing the record, the meaning behind the record, the writing process and more in this introspective look at the band. Don’t sleep on this band!
What’s your name and what do you do in the band?
My name is Nikolas Soelter and I play guitar in Calc.
Your latest record This Will Come to Pass came out last year, undeniably your biggest release so far. Was it a difficult record to write? How long did it take from start to finish? What did you do differently this time around?We hadn’t written anything since New Forms so there were definitely a lot of ideas floating around. Writing it took about a year, with myself, Ramez, and Chris doing a lot of writing during the school year and that summer we got a lock out and just shut ourselves in it for a month. That was when the songs really came together. We definitely took a different approach to this record – We wanted it to be one stand-alone piece of music that flowed and had a consistent vibe. We also didn’t want it to be easily penned as any one style. In the studio we spent a lot of time layering subtle things on the record. I think it’s definitely something that grows the more you listen to it.Do you feel the record got the attention it deserved?

I think it got a lot of attention, especially considering we self-released it. We’re doing a repress of the record with a label soon, so I think the record will still be getting around for a bit. I’m always excited about more people finding out about the record, but I’m very happy with how everything went.With five different members and personalities, how do you compromise and make sure everyone’s happy when writing?

We definitely try to do things based on full consensus. We’ve all known each other and played music together since high school so we’re very up front with each other about whether we’re into an idea or not. There are a lot of big personalities in Calc so we’re never short on ideas. We write in a very idea oriented way – we talk a lot about our ideas for the direction of a song and then try stuff out. Sometimes someone will have a song that everyone thinks is just so good we make a few minor changes and that’s it. Adding vocals usually comes after a song is pretty structured – either Jeff or Ramez, and sometimes Chris and I, will have some lyrics we’ve been working on and we’ll all sit together and try work on the melodies.

The lyrics seem incredibly poetic and cryptic in a way. What are some of the themes of This Will Come to Pass?

This Will Come to Pass is about the five of our feelings on the future. Discovery of a strong sense of self, anxiety about the unknown, the fleeting quality of pretty much everything. It captures our feelings as most of us were finishing school – our relationships with each other, and feelings about fulfillment in a world where a lot of accessible means to sustaining yourself are also really draining on your soul. Although it’s about a lot of darker things, the record is also really optimistic and positive – things are what you make them and you create your own meaning.

Being DIY has always been an important part of Calculator. How do you maintain this lifestyle as a band and what are some advantages and disadvantages?

It’s never really about maintaining the lifestyle, it’s just how we do things. We are all really creative people and want full control over our art and the way it’s presented. That’s one of the major reasons for self-releasing the last record. It just felt right. I think that in terms of personal finances, doing everything on our own is definitely straining but it’s very worth it. I didn’t even know DIY was like a “thing” when Calc started. We just knew people who were playing music and we would organize things with them. The 21st century definitely makes it easy to put yourself out there without having to go through more controlled mediums.

I know you guys are heavily involved in the deeply rooted California punk/hardcore scene. Talk about some of the other projects you are involved in.

Chris A. who also plays guitar in Calc and I recently started a new band called Never Young that plays punky emo with a lot of reverb and we have some shows in March with Wild Moth, Run Forever, and this band Yi. I also play in a band called No Tongue with some dudes from other California bands that has been around for about two years now. I don’t really book shows but help friends in touring bands out as much as I can. Jeff also plays in a band called Ten Thousand Leagues, and Ramez has helped different people out with music video type stuff because he’s really good at that.

How does the crowd typically react at your shows?

In California people usually move around quite a bit and sing along to the songs. In other parts of the country, people usually just stare. Some head bobbing and such. Someone in New Orleans went outside and still thought we were too loud haha.

Who are some of your biggest influences as a band?

As a band… Cap’n Jazz, Fugazi, Brand New, Loma Prieta, Refused, Texas is the Reason, Ampere, Pg.99. In highschool this band Sea Sons was really influential for all of us. Right now I’ve been very into Wild Moth, Cloakroom, King Krule, lovechild, and Alex G.

Plans for the rest of 2014?

We’re releasing a four way split with Innards, itto, and capacities. Some friends of ours who all play great screamo. This release was actually supposed to come out before This Will Come to Pass but working with the label has been REALLY difficult. We’re doing a repress of TWCTP with an east coast label that releases a lot of emo records. In August we have plans to tour Japan with this band Blue Friend, who play a style of modern screamo kind of stuff similar to what we do. We’re hoping to record material for another release in time for that tour.  Very excited.

Any further comments?

Challenge hardcore music

//Never Young Bandcamp

No Tongue Bandcamp

Ten Thousand Leagues Bandcamp


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