Photograph: Melissa Bowker.
Helen Weston: Your last single Maria has gathered extensive radio play and exposed a whole new legion of fans to your music.
How does it feel to have your music picked up by the likes of Dave Monks, who’s BBC Introducing show promotes records by the ‘next big thing’ in music?
Cal Ruddy: The reception to Maria so far has been incredible. Maria is very much a live tune as it’s got a real, raw and upbeat energy surging through it. At first I wasn’t sure how it would translate on the record. I get barraged with social media messages and texts about it every single day of the week! [Laughs]
BBC airplay is a great breakthrough for an artist at my current stage. If people could contact their local BBC stations requesting my tunes, it’d be greatly appreciated.
Helen Weston: How would you describe your sound?
Cal Ruddy: My sound has got a very vintage feel to it and yeah, it’s intentional. I’ve got a passion for music from the 50’s and the 60’s, that bleeds through quite clearly into the songs that I write and go on to play live.
I wouldn’t say it’s stale, though I do have a modern twist to keep it fresh and relevant to the listeners and the audience members. I listen to all-sorts of music, whether it’s early Rock ‘N’Roll stuff from Elvis and Buddy Holly to 60’s psychedelia: Lou Reed – The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd and 70’s glam and punk rock. Through to country, blues, 80’s pop and 90’s Grunge/Britpop. I even listen to crooners for inspiration: Jim Reeves, The Ink Spots, Nat King Cole, [Frank] Sinatra and Dean Martin. Absolutely love all that. I could be here all day [Laughs].
Photograph: Melissa Bowker.
Helen Weston: Who have been constant influences throughout your music evolution?
Cal Ruddy: Fundamental influences to me as a performer and as a songwriter range from all across the board. Marc Bolan [T-Rex] was the reason I wanted to pick up a guitar when I was five years old. The Beatles inspired an early love for singing, David Bowie encouraged me to be as flamboyant and theatrical as possible. Then I found punk music and that taught me a lot too. Mostly about songwriting: 3 chords and the truth and all that. Then going to school in West Kirby I grew up idolising The Coral and people like that. It’s a melting pot inside my head.
Helen Weston: Do you listen to other people’s records during the songwriting process? Or do you have to switch off and just focus on your own music?
Cal Ruddy: Oh always, I’m constantly listening to whatever music I can get my ears round. You can learn something different from every song that’s out there. I’m a great believer in that.
Helen Weston: Which studio did you record ‘Communication’ EP in? Who did you collaborate with during the recording process?
Cal Ruddy: ‘Communication’ was recorded at Parr Street Studios [Liverpool] with the absolute sonic wizard Mr Chris Taylor at the production desk. I worked with a fantastic team of session musicians. Justin Johnson on drums, Simon Goulding on bass and Roo Walker on lead guitar. Couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with to help me bring my songs to life. Really pleased with the overall feel and sound of the record and I hope people buy into the direction of the tunes. It’s something I’m very proud of.
Helen Weston: Did you go into the studio with a pre-planned batch of songs, or did you have to cull songs for the final track listing?
Cal Ruddy: I went into the studio with about what… 10 or 15 possible song options, which is enough for an album. An album at this point, it’d be pointless, so I chose what I considered to be the best 5 tunes to go on the EP: ‘Maria’, ‘Lovers & Cigarettes’, ‘Breaking Your Little Heart’, ‘Sweet Little Valentine’ and ‘Little Town Anywhere’. Mix of vibes and genres and I’m confident enough to say there’s not another artist out there doing what I’m doing. I’m happy to plough on being unique.
Helen Weston: If you had to cover another artist’s song, which track would you choose?
Cal Ruddy: ‘Faith’ by George Michael – Boss tune that.
Helen Weston: Your latest EP ‘Communication’ has its launch night this Thursday at Studio 2 Parr Street, Liverpool. How have rehearsals been going for that? Any pre-gig jitters?
Cal Ruddy: I’m not one for nerves really, but I can tell the time between [the band] Ladies leaving the stage, Meg [Lacey] doing her poetry set and me hitting the stage will feel like forever. Adrenaline rush, deep breath, Justin [Johnson – Drums] will count us in at the kit for the first tune and then the night will take on it’s own life…
Helen Weston: The EP gig has an awesome line up. You’re going to be joined by: Meg Lacey, Ladies, Nine Black Ravens, Anna Houghton & Andrew Shaw.
Give us a favourite track by each supporting artist that fans should check out.
Cal Ruddy: I’m made up with the support lineup I’ve chosen for this gig. Meg’s [Meg Lacey] a fantastic poet and you’ll be drawn into her performance and persona. Mad as a box of frogs,I love her to pieces. Ladies are a great group of lads and I’d have to say Pretty In My Heart is my favourite track by them.We gig together a lot and I make a guest appearance on harmonies so watch out for that on the night.
As I Rose by Nine Blind Ravens is a tune I’ll be at the front dancing to for definite. Lovely people, one of the nicest bands I’ve met in music this far in.Talented,humble and a great laugh. Grow by Anna Houghton sends shivers down my spine. Beautiful,ethereal and breathtaking. Love the vibes from our Anna. Lovely soul to know.
Andrew Shaw? What can I say about him eh? The staple classic of his live sets is Salbomac a tune written during his time with former band Merchant Fleet years ago. I’ve been good mates with Andy since that time and his raw and passionate vocal will stir you on the night, made up he’s opening the night up for us, the legend.
Photograph: Melissa Bowker.
Helen Weston: Which artists would you most like to appear on a show bill with?
Cal Ruddy: Well the EP launch lineup of course (wink, wink, say no more).
Helen Weston: Who’s on your playlist at the moment?
Cal Ruddy: Listening to records by people like The Stairs and Edgar Jones at the moment as well as the latest album by The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones, West Kirby County Primary and These People – the new one from Richard Ashcroft.
Helen Weston: What are your biggest career aspirations right now?
Cal Ruddy: I just want to reach a point where I’m really happy with my craft and people’s reactions to what I do. I’m a bad, bad perfectionist at heart! [Laughs]
Helen Weston: You have a new track out ‘Lovers and Cigarettes’ which has already received air play by Dave Monks on BBC Introducing. What’s the reaction been like?
Cal Ruddy: Brilliant so far – Lots of positive feedback on Twitter. Good signs ahead of the full EP coming out. Makes my day when people genuinely get a buzz from my songs, unbelievable feeling really.
Helen Weston: What’s coming up next for Cal Ruddy?
Cal Ruddy: After the record comes out you mean? Oh you’ll have to wait and see about that… expect the unexpected! Cheers.
Cal Ruddy plays Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool this Thursday, August 18 (Doors: 7 PM) to launch his new ‘Communication’ EP (August 22). ***FREE ENTRY*** Support acts confirmed: Meg Lacey//Ladies//Nine Blind Ravens//Anna Houghton//Andrew Shaw. Plus Aftershow party til 2 AM.
Communication EP is released August 22nd, available on download & limited edition physical CD.