Raise the people. It’s an evocative phrase to say the least, particularly at the dawn of 2014 when occult-like characters and story plots are resurrected constantly and almost entirely unavoidable within modern media. But for Calling All Cars, these words mean something completely different, yet seem to perfectly capture the space in which they currently stand.
“We agreed that the line sums up the motto and intentions behind the album,” says frontman and principal songwriter Haydn Ing, “to have a rhythm section that makes people want to move, and melodies that will hopefully get stuck in your head for days.”
And therein lays, the sentiment behind the band’s excellent third longplayer Raise The People, a record that is a fitting testament to its creators and their collective ambitions. Here, it’s a raw and lean musical landscape littered with the bones of post-punk, rock and pop, laced with the usual impenetrable lyrical fantasies of Calling All Cars. Raise The People boils with the evidence of a maturing band stretching out – especially in the rhythmic weapon bassist Adam Montgomery and James Ing have evolved into – and revelling in their freedom and, especially, ideas. Jarring riffs nestle comfortably atop the rhythm section and alongside Haydn Ing’s most infectious melodies yet.
It’s a record Calling All Cars were seemingly destined to make. From their earliest EP days to their first two albums Hold, Hold Fire (2010) and Dancing With A Dead Man (2011), their pop sensibilities have always been apparent, but now have been unleashed to full effect, and with them comes an experimental playfulness that only arrives with a band being confident and comfortable in their own abilities.
“When we started the record, we were like “What would Calling All Cars do normally? Cool, let’s not do that” and just challenged ourselves. Because we’ve done it twice before, we weren’t afraid to do things and go way beyond the boundaries just to see what happened.”
A key factor in Raise The People’s collective feel is the fact that the band knuckled down for the most of 2013 in their hometown of Melbourne with producers Steve Schram (Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes, Eagle and The Worm, Little Birdy, The Vasco Era) and Tom Larkin (Shihad, Strangers, Young and Restless, Bodyjar, The Getaway Plan). Demos were completed with Larkin and captured the band’s initial enthusiasm for the songs so accurately that a lot was kept for the final product. However, Schram was enlisted with his “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” ethos to take it one step further and “do the colouring in.”
Varying influences – everything from old blues to hip hop – were consumed, though are never obvious, while the new sound they’ve captured not only introduces new elements of space and strong focus on the drums and bass and creating beats you can move to. Grammy Award-winning Tchad Blake (Pearl Jam, The Black Keys, Peter Gabriel) brought the finishing touches on mixing duties.
This is clearly a Calling All Cars who’re able to branch out, explore darker themes, exude strong sexuality and possess outright killer hooks, all while focussing on making you move. It’s right there from the opening salvo of the title track, a brutal beginning to introduce the record that’s immediately flipped on its head to unravel one of the record’s strongest hooks and reflective mantras: “All our dreams are made of fire / raise the people / cut the wire.” It doesn’t stop there though – from the spacious ‘Black and White’, or the sexually-confronting first single ‘Werewolves’ to the sweeping ‘Looking Through Your Window’, the festival-ready fist pump of ‘Good God’ and outright summer anthem ‘Standing In The Ocean’ – the album sees the band complete full circle.
As one of the most astonishing live acts in the country, Ing reveals it has been watching the masters they’ve toured with that has inspired them most. Of course when the list includes everyone from AC/DC, Foo Fighters and Queens of The Stone Age to Green Day and Biffy Clyro, it’s no wonder the band already feels international-ready.
Signed to Cooking Vinyl worldwide, they have readied themselves an album that can stack up internationally and that will be given an opportunity to receive a worldwide release, starting with the UK where the band will relocate for “as long as it takes.”
“Something that was always at the back of our mind is that we wanted to make it a more international sound, rather than just make another Australian rock album. I’m much happier releasing the material that we are releasing now. Back then, we were young and naïve and didn’t really think about it too much as it was like we were just getting it done and getting it out there.”
That’s what makes Raise The People such a step forward for Calling All Cars: there’s a sense of ambition of a band with nothing to lose. Having confidently and successfully taken a masterful, musical left-turn, they’re more equipped than ever before to take the world by the horns – no bullshit, no extraneous pap – just a great band doing what they’re made to do and making music that’ll expand your mind and make you move.