Featured Guest is where I interview many cool people I have crossed paths with from artists, musicians, actors and more. Today we interview great singer, author and all around awesome musician Dee Calhoun. Dee is the singer for the mighty Iron Man in addition to writing a new book and the big news is that he has a solo album coming down the line on Argonauta Records. Dee fills us in on his history, favorite films, book, music and more. Chill and check out this talk with me and Mr. Calhoun about the news in his world.
1.Dee how're you bro and good talking to you today. Tell us a little about your formative years (what inspired you to sing a rock band, influential albums and concerts, etc.?
It all started with KISS for me. I saw KISS on TV when I was nine years old, and knew that I wanted to be in a band and play music. Sabbath made me want to play dark, heavy music, and Judas Priest gave me my vocal template. When I settled in and became serious about singing, my three "R's" were Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, and Ronnie Van Zant. I wanted that Halford range, Dio's power, and RVZ's soul. I like to think that I've come pretty close.
2.You have been the lead singer of the mighty Iron Man for several years, how’s the band and any news lately?
We're currently in standby mode, as Al is in need of a partial knee replacement. We have the followup to South of the Earth about 3/4 written, so we're very excited to get the ball rolling again. This Iron Man lineup has been together now for four years, and we've really gelled as both a live unit and as composers. We played a couple of new songs live last year, and they were very well-received.
Hope Al is doing better and has a good recovery man. Looking forward to the next record.
3.How did you meet Al and hook up with the band in 2010?
I had known the guys in Iron Man for quite some time. In mid-2010, when they auditioned Mike Rix for the drummer slot, I actually came out and sang during his audition so that he could follow the tunes better. (Then-Iron Man singer) Joe Donnelly wasn't available for the audition, so I came out and sang, and I guess I made an impression, because when the band decided to change singers at the end of 2010, I was offered the job. We immediately began writing the Dominace EP, which was released in early Spring 2011.
(Photo by Boyd, www.ironmanband.com)
5.What are some of your favorite books in general?
Horror mainly. I'm an H.P. Lovecraft fanatic, I've done several song adaptations of his work. Also Poe, King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Brian Keene. I'm also very into Grimm's Fairy Tales and reading American Folklore. My taste in reading is like my taste in music, it's very broad.
6.You stated your love for Lovecraft. Can you tell us about the voice work you did for the the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society?
The people who head up the HPLHS put out an open call a few years ago for ensemble voices for some of their audio productions. For those unaware, the HPLHS, in addition to many other things, creates film and audio adaptations of Lovecraft's works. The audio is done in the style of old time radio, which I am a huge fan of. Those of us who expressed interest were sent scripts, and told which scenes and type of dialog was needed. They were particularly impressed with the sounds I could make, so I did a lot of monster sounds. I was on three adaptations they did: The Call of Cthulhu, Herbert West: Reanimator, and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It was great fun to participate.
7.I know you are a big horror film fan, What about favorite films?
I just finished watching a YouTube video title "Top Ten Movies You Need to Watch a Second Time," and most of those films were films I consider favorites. Now I'm not a snob who thinks that films need to be completely cerebral to be good, but I do find myself coming around to those films that fuck with your head a little. I think my all-time favorite film is The Usual Suspects, I just love the fact that when you're finished, you eventually realize that everything you just watched might be total bullshit. I love all types of films, from all genres and eras. My Blu-Ray/DVD collection houses everything from 1920s silent films, to Bogard, to Our Gang, to horror/sci-fi.
8.You have a solo record coming out soon on the Argonauta label out of Italy, that’s great man look forward to hearing it. What brought you to make the record?
In late October I lost a dear friend to liver cancer. The news hit me right in the gut, but I had my son that weekend and had to keep it together for him. To cope with the flood of emotions, I wrote a song, which I recorded a week later. The recording turned out well enough that I continued to record songs I had written, and I ironed out some ideas that to that point hadn't fully been developed yet. It all came together very well, and the acoustic approached suits it perfectly.
Sorry for your loss of your friend man.
9.So this album is all acoustic? Aside from that, how is it different from your other music?
It is all acoustic, save for a couple of guitar solos that were played acoustically, but had fuzz added in post production. Just acoustic guitar and voice, with some harmonica, and some percussion elements like shakers and stomp boxes. There's a cello part on one song as well. Thematically, it's not very far removed from the music I've always recorded. My lyrics, aside from adaptations, are always about real things, true things, things that I've experienced and reacted to. Vocally, I always do what works for the song, so while there's a bit of the gruff, wailing vocals I'm known for, there are also songs with a calmer approach. It's about the song, and what the song needs.
10.How did you hook up with Gero and Argonauta?
When I had about five songs recorded, I decided that if I produced enough material, I would self-release a CD. Shortly thereafter, I was having a chat with JJ Koczan from the Obelisk, and Gero's name came up. Gero heard the completed songs, as well as the demos for the songs not yet recorded, and loved the material. He offered me a deal, and here we are. Rotgut will be released in late Spring of this year.
11.What inspired the lyrics for the new cd?
As I mentioned earlier, I write about life's experiences, and things that I see and are affected by. I write what I feel. It's a release, it's my way of venting over the bullshit that I and everyone deals with. I don't do pretentiousness; I write from the heart, it's the only way I know how. Fans who like my writing, and the way I put words together, will like this CD very much.
12.Right on man I am psyched to hear it. Are you doing acoustic shows for the new cd? Do you perform alone or with other musicians?
I am doing shows. I've actually been doing acoustic shows sporadically for years, but prior to this I was just playing covers. It's so much more rewarding to me to be playing my own material. Live, it's just me and my guitar. I could add other musicians, but doing it this way I only have myself to worry about. It's much less stressful.
13.What bands and albums have you been enjoying lately you’d recommend?
Since I started recording Rotgut, it's about all I've listened to. Listening to structures, to the mix, making sure that I was 100% happy with everything. Now that recording and mastering is done, I'm getting back to normal. Lately I've been cranking Crown, the new CD from Hollow Leg, who are also on Argonauta. Great CD, I can't wait to play with those guys at Maryland Doomfest in June. There are so many new bands emerging from Maryland right now, keeping the great tradition alive. Faith in Jane, APF, Mangog; all bands that fans of great heavy music should check out.
14.Yes totally, sounds very cool. What song from your new cd do you feel speaks the most from your heart?
They all do, but if I had to single out one, it would be "Little 'Houn, Daddy 'Houn." I said before that I write what I feel, and there is nothing I feel more than my love for my son. This song was written for him, and he does some vocals on it, so it's a very dear song to me. People at my live shows have already started requesting it.
15.If you could jam with any musicians from rock history who would you choose?
I would love to sing over some of Tony Iommi's riffs. I would also love to meet and jam with Keith Moon, just so I could stand back and watch the fun. In all honesty, I am quite happy playing with Al Morris, Louis Strachan, and Mot Waldmann; I couldn't ask for a better group of musicians, brothers, and friends to create sound with.
16.Any last words or news for your fans out there?
I am first and foremost a fan, and I'm happy to be among you. You are why I get to do this. Why we get to do this. There aren't enough words to express the gratitude that I have for each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
For real man. Thanks man, a pleasure talking to you and look forward to hearing the new cd. Wishing you well bro keep up the rock.