In many ways, rising rock band, Callisto has been a long time in the making. Comprised of James DiNanno, Howi Spangler (from popular Reggae band Ballyhoo!), Brandon Hardesty (from the Bumpin Uglies) and Rob DiNanno, the members’ past musical experiences alone are worthy of a lengthy essay, so it comes as no surprise that when they came together for Callisto, it just clicked. The group has already gained the love and attention of fans through some previously released unofficial music and now, they’re gearing up for a massive 2023.
Spearheading things with their anthemic single, “This Is Awkward”, the band is set to released their self-titled debut album on April 21st. The collaborative and dynamic effort, which found the band flexing their creative and songwriting skills more than ever, has plenty of surprises in store for fans. In the meantime, they’re teasing the release with their latest single, “Best Shot”. Read more about the project and listen to Callisto now below.
Prelude Press: Can you tell us a little bit about Callisto for those who are just hearing you for the first time? How did you come together and begin this project?
Rob: We’ve been friends for quite some time. As for the origin of the group itself: We were playing our instruments in a nuclear power plant when our stage collapsed into a vat of radioactive Callistinium. That’s how it all started.
James: Sure. I recommend watching the film “Once Upon A Time in America” from start to finish. It has nothing to do with how this project formed, but it’s a great film and will take up a significant amount of your day. For a little while, there will be no lonely thoughts.
Each of you comes from a different musical background and past projects. How do you feel your past experiences have shaped the way that you’re approaching this band? Is there anything that you wanted to do with Callisto that you haven’t had the chance to do in the past?
James: I’ve been at this for almost 20 years now in and out of different projects. The last band that I was in ended sort of tragically. Our singer was in a really bad car accident that left him in a coma for some months. I’m very grateful that he is still with us, but he’s limited in what he can do.
It sounds awful to say, but several of the people I grew up playing music with in the New England community are now dead. In less drastic cases, some just totally gave it up and seem to try and keep that part of their brain shut off.
So I guess what I am getting at is, this time around I realized how quickly it can all go away. I made sure I pounded every ounce of life and emotion I had in me into every hit of the drums. Any idea of mine lyrically that made it to the record was because it was totally pure and uncalculated. I’ve also become mature enough as a person to actively listen with limited ego and truly serve the songs. There’s no overplaying.
This is the most in the moment and organic I’ve ever been in a project.
Rob: Our various musical backgrounds & influences are really integral to keeping the songwriting process interesting and at times challenging. It’s always interesting to see which elements of inspiration prevail the strongest for the listeners, as well. I think this project is very much a way for us all to work on things we haven’t had the perfect opportunity to do in the past. Nothing is born out of pattern, which is sort of liberating.
You guys are gearing up for an exciting 2023, including the release of your debut album this year! What are you most excited for in the coming weeks and months?
Rob: It’s just fun to see how people engage with the new stuff we’re putting out, because every song is so different. Hopefully people will stick around for the ride, even if we do end up going off the road a bit.
James: That’s tough to say. I’m really excited for people to hear the album. I’m not sure anyone listens to albums in full anymore, but for those that do, I’m eager to share that.
At the same time, we’ve held onto this record for awhile now. The songs mean a lot to me and once it’s all released, it’s not ours anymore.
I have mixed emotions on it. It’s like sending your kid off to college or something. You’re excited for them to make their own way, but you hold onto that feeling of home. Shit…I’m sounding like a real cheesy dad right now.
You kicked things off last month with the release of your new single, “This Is Awkward” – can you tell us a little bit about the track? What inspired it?
Brandon: It was inspired by 90’s grunge and arena rock. Howi had the idea for the riff. James wrote the lyrics and he wanted a big screaming part and he kind of spearheaded the whole thing.
Howi: It was written from a an old riff i had sitting in the could from about 20 years ago. I always thought it was cool but I knew my primary band was never gonna use it. This side project was an opportunity finish it.
The new single and new album are some of the first music that many fans will hear from you – did you have any major goals in mind when you first started working on these songs? What did you hope to accomplish when you began writing?
Brandon: We were just trying to make fun music. Not overthink it. Just have fun with it and really kind of get into the 90’s rock vibe and see where that went.
Howi: I think we just had a mindset of creating a cool album that was different than what Ballyhoo! & Bumpin Uglies do. It was a nice challenge. There was no pressure to write “hits” or anything like that. Just songs and sounds we enjoyed working on.
What was the most rewarding or exciting part of working on the album?
Howi: Co-writing with James, Brandon and Rob was definitely a cool part of it. Everyone has different ideas and musical tastes. Pretty much nothing was off the table. We just threw ideas and we made songs unless there was a collective, “nah that sucks”.
Brandon: I think that and itself was the most rewarding and exciting part of the process because we weren’t really worried about commercial success or how it was going to be received. We were making music and making art for the sake of making music and making art.
Did you have to overcome any challenges when working on these songs?
Brandon: I’d say the most challenging part about completing the project was that we started during COVID when Howi and I were not touring. Once touring picked back up the project was essentially half completed. So then we were trying to juggle writing and recording and finishing this whole thing while still doing the normal tour schedule with our bands Bumpin Uglies and Ballyhoo!
Howi: Some of styles of songs i had no idea what to write about so I’m glad everyone in the band is a lyricist. It took the pressure off of me in that way.
What are you excited for fans to hear on the album?
Brandon: I’m really excited for “Best Shot.” It just dropped and I feel really strongly about it. It’s really catchy. There’s also a kind of like blues rock driven song on the record called “NO ONE CARES…” It’s really cool, different and psychedelic.
James: The songs.
Howi: I think Maverick turned out really cool. Just another good rock song i’ve had in the cloud for 20 years. I think people will relate to it. We also have a modern power ballad on there called “Stay A Little Longer” that i’m proud of. Took me a long time to finish it but i think it came out great.
Rob: Track 10 @ 3:20
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Brandon: I think the album as a whole is really cool and I’m excited for people to hear it.
Howi: Stream our music….please bro… 😉
James: O’Doyle Rules!
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