Interview: Cal Peck & The Tramps

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 04.07.13 | Issue # 345



Well over 40 songs made their way into the trash before Cal Peck & The Tramps hit the studio to record their debut LP. Daniel Cribb finds out why it then sat dormant for a year once completed.

It’s a Friday afternoon when Perth rocker Cal Peck steps out of work for a 15-minute break to discuss his debut, self-titled LP. He lights up a cigarette and with the first puff, there’s an undeniable sigh of relief. Not because of the daily grind, rather the album launch is fast approaching; a date he’s had in his sights for a while.

“I can’t wait, it’s been a long time coming for us,” Peck begins. “We actually tracked this album at the end of 2011, and it took us 2012 to keep getting the funds together to pay for the recording costs, and then obviously the mastering, and then we were lucky enough that Off The Hip [Records] picked it up and did the rest for us.”

Towards the end of 2011, Cal Peck & The Tramps booked studio time with local producer Andy Lawson for November/December. The band planned on receiving government funding, which unfortunately fell through, but by this time they’d already chewed up their time in the studio. Luckily, Lawson, being a longtime friend, allowed the band to pay it off slowly. Not wanting to release anything until it was paid for, they occasionally revisited tracks and added bits and pieces throughout 2012.

“We didn’t want to rush it. I’ve had a habit of doing that in the past. You record it and it’s like, ‘Quick, get it out there’. This one, because it was [our] first album, we wanted to make sure it sounded the way we wanted it to sound before we released it. So if anything, it was a blessing in disguise that it took that long because it made us really think about the songs and how it sounded, and if we had of rushed it and put it out, we may not of ended up hooking up with Off The Hip, which has been good for us.”

With their previous EPs and singles, the band has had jumped into the studio and smash things out in one day, mixing taking placing the next. For a lot of bands, the end result would sound messy and rushed, but for Peck and co, this method adds character to their gritty bluesy rock.

For their debut, they spent six days tracking, five days mixing and countless other on writing and pre-production – luxury that had the potential to overcomplicate their formula.

“A lot of my favourite music is really lo-fi kind of rock’n’roll music, and what we actually did to set the mood in the studio, I brought in my little portable record player and we were just playing garage vinyl and old R&B vinyl the whole time just to get the mood going in the studio. So we had that kind influencing it, and a lot of the time we had to kind of stop polishing things, because it was just sounding too clean. But we definitely had a conscious effort to keep it as raw as possible.

“The timing was perfect for what we needed. I think if we have anymore time, then we probably would have gone too far or I would have listened back and gone, ‘Fuck, what did I do that for’. But as it was, we had just the right amount of time to polish [the songs] a little bit, but not enough time to polish them too much.”

WHO: Cal Peck & The Tramps

WHAT: Cal Peck & The Tramps (Off The Hip Records)

WHEN & WHERE: Friday 12 July, Devilles Pad