Calvin have a history of being accident prone.

The up-and-coming Edinburgh band returned recently to live work after a two month enforced break during which the group's vocalist and guitarist, Neil Colquhoun, recovered from an operation after dislocating his shoulder in a bizarre accident.

"I had just given blood and was feeling completely out of it" Colquhoun reflects, describing the incident, and talking with his bandmates, bassist Brian Clark and drummer Ali Murray, to Pennyblackmusic across the table of an Edinburgh pub, three weeks after his group has played its biggest gig to date supporting Cinerama. "I walked right in front of a car. I was lucky really to get away with just a dislocated shoulder."

Colquhoun's injury is only the latest in a series of mishaps and misfortunes that have dogged the four piece group since it first formed in mid 1999. A week before Calvin played its first gig, a charity show for Comic Relief in September of that year, Colquhoun dislocated his kneecap in a hockey game and became temporarily housebound, leaving the rest of the band to soldier on in his absence by playing a largely instrumental set. Ten days before the group's second date, Murray was attacked and assaulted in the street and was hospitalised with a broken jaw and head injuries. His temporary stand-in in the band also had to drop out after he tore the ligaments in his ankle, forcing Calvin, while waiting for Murray to recuperate, to spend a period working as a three piece. Calvin's other guitarist, Fraser MacDermid, too has had to miss gigs as a result of a recurring back problem. The group in its early stages also went through various bassists, none lasting more than a few weeks, before Clark joined the band at the beginning of 2000.

While many other acts would have broken up amidst such poor fortune, Calvin have survived, developing a sharp gallows humour in the process, and also having total conviction and self-belief in their music.

"We're lucky in this band that all four of us are to some extent songwriters" says Colquhoun. "At the moment the bulk of the songs are written by me and what I tend to do is write the words, chords and basic arrangements, then to bring them to the rest of the band to enlarge and to come up with the flesh and bones. Brian and Fraser have also written several songs for the band, so what you get is a fusion of ideas and influences, which I think gives us a more original sound."

The group, all of whom are in their mid to late twenties, have drawn comparisions with Coldplay, The Barenaked Ladies and David Gray, but defy easy categorisation. Both Clark and Ali Murray have performed with classical orchestras. Murray has done a lot of work as a session drummer as well, paying his way through university by playing gigs with often as many as seven or eight different acts in a week. Colquhoun and MacDermid meanwhile have spent many years playing in various East of Scotland indie guitar bands. All this past work has had a direct bearing on Calvin's sound. The group also include amongst their influences Grandaddy, The Talking Heads, Tori Amos, Radiohead and U2 and it is a point of principle with all four of its members to make each new song that they add to their repertoire different from anything else they have previously done.

"People sometimes ask us what we sound like, and we have to say that we don't know" says Clark. " We don't really sound like any one particular group. We sound like a whole list of different bands."

The group have now self-released two CD EPs. The first 'Star', which has four songs and which was recorded entirely on four track at home, came out last March and makes strong use of keyboards. The second, the appropriately-titled 'Last One to Drop', came out in June and recorded over two days at Split Level Studios just outside Edinburgh, was engineered and produced by Neil McNaught, who has also worked with The Supernaturals. Entirely guitar-based, and composed without any keyboards at all this time, it has three songs and it is a striking mixture of melodic pop, psychedelic and country rock sounds. The group recorded the two EPs principally as demos , but have also been selling them at gigs and on their website, and have distributed copies abroad to the United States, Canada, Australia, Romania and Russia.

Calvin's live reputation is also blossoming. The band has a strong local following, and as well as the support slot with Cinerama which took place in Edinburgh, it also frequently headlines it own local pub gigs and has also in the last year in another home town gig supported Geneva. It has played dates as well in Newcastle, St Andrews, Perth and Dundee, and has further shows in Glasgow and a festival in the Borders lined up for later this year. It will also be playing a gig supporting Doolah in Edinburgh on Match 9th.

"We do gigs whenever possible" says Colquhoun. "Despite the fact that we have had so many injuries we've only ever cancelled one gig when I had to have the operation on my shoulder."

"We tend to think sod it and just to get on with it" adds Murray. " A lot of bands don't have that grip, but we always try to make the most of things and really enjoy playing. The crowd' s got to enjoy it at the end of the day and if we're not going to enjoy it, they're certainly not going to either."

The band's long term aim is now to sign a record deal, and while no firm offers have come in yet, some record companies have given the demos a positive response,and the band hope to secure something soon.

"Like every other band we want to get signed" concludes Colquhoun. "And the only way we can do that is to make sure people know who we are. Our plan is to get a record contract. Even if it was on an Edinburgh or Glasgow label that would be a great start. We're going to be playing a lot more gigs in a lot more places and playing a lot more music in the next year."

With several strong songs in their repertoire and their run of bad luck hopefully at an end, Calvin deserve a break. Hopefully the independent music world will be hearing a lot more of them soon.

More information can be found about Calvin on their website www.calvinmusic.freeservers.com. Ali Murray is available for session work and can be contacted at ali.murray@virgin.net.









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