By Brian Kindle
Photo by Aaron Wojack
A few months back, the New York Times ran an odd story about a mystery captivating the city of Miami. It seemed someone had placed a massive grand piano fully upright on a sandbar, surrounded on all sides by the salt waters of Biscayne Bay. How it got out onto its sandbar perch was anyone’s guess, and for a while city residents seemed to relish this minor enigma in their midst.
It’s a weird tale, but it springs to mind when listening to Callers. They share something in common with that vignette: there’s the same sense of incongruity at play in their work, of familiar elements rearranged into something wholly mesmerizing and intriguing.
Callers play a rich, fluid mix of blues, jazz, folk, and post-punk, and while that might sound “arty,” the songs themselves are instantly accessible and easy to listen to.
Lead singer Sara Lucas possesses an immensely striking voice. Ryan Seaton uses his guitar to create textures and delicate flourishes while playing an extra bass string. Don Godwin’s drumming is complex and subtle, complementing the other two while leaving them a vast amount of open space to work in.
“[Creating the music is] allowing moments to shine through, not just plowing through a song, jerking out chords.” Seaton said. “It’s just listening to what’s happening [in a song] and maybe there’s a guitar texture that needs to be left alone, or a part where Sara needs to sing it differently every sing time. It’s reminding ourselves to do something when it needs to be done, and leave it alone when it doesn’t need to be done.”
Their songs, like the title track of their latest album, Life of Love, sound seamless and lived-in, like they’ve been playing this music forever. “I think [the band is] three people with similar sensibilities, and I think we’re all very aware of the thing we’re doing.” said Seaton. “Having three people doing it together feels really amazing.”
It’s a chemistry that’s hard-won, and it stems partly from the way that band members have been moving all over the country for several years. “We all met when we were living in New Orleans; I think that reference comes up a lot in our write-ups and things, but it’s kind of hard to get around.” said Seaton. “It’s a hugely influential city.”
The band finally landed in Brooklyn, where they turned the dusty, stark Americana of Fortune into the bigger, bolder sound found on the sophomore album, Life of Love.
“We all come from different places, have lived in different places, and listened to wildly different music,” Seaton said. “I feel like all three of us, music has just been a big part of our lives, maybe the biggest part for our entire lives.”
The band is currently at work on some intriguing new material, using scraps of looped audio from sound checks as the starting point for new songs. No word yet on whether they’ll expand their sound, but in case they’re interested, there’s a piano in Biscayne Bay that would be perfect for them.