Since their emergence from the German underground in the late ’90s, Caliban have worked tirelessly to spread their music throughout their homeland, across Europe and, quite frankly, anywhere that would book ‘em.
With their latest album The Opposite From Within taking their metal-tinged hardcore to a larger audience, the quintet are quickly gathering momentum.
musicOMH caught up with drummer and resident anglophone Patrick Grn to discover what it’s like to be living your musical dream.
Patrick first joined Caliban when the quintet desperately needed a replacement sticksman for their 2003 US Tour:
“At first it was just a temporary thing, but then the guys realised that their old drummer needed to leave due to other priorities and they asked me to take up the position full time.”
Stepping in at such short notice was no problem though for the experienced player who was already well-acquainted with both the German hardcore scene, and the lads in Caliban:
“I knew the guys for years before I joined, which I guess was the main reason they asked me. I also played in another band called Six Reasons To Kill, so we were playing similar shows and seeing each other anyway.”
The real step up came for the band after just after they had recorded their latest album when they were picked up by the behemoth metal PR machine that is Roadrunner, a turn of events that has proved most beneficial to them:
“Ya, to go on Roadrunner, this is a big, big step – from an indie label to a major, or at least what I call a major label anyway!”
The appreciation in his voice is obvious but totally genuine:
Changes have been continual in the Caliban camp since their Roadrunner signing but Patrick insists that they have been solely for the better:
“Well, the biggest thing now is that we have to be on tour all the time, and do press all the time. But really that’s what we wanted to do anyway so we’re kind of living our dream you know?”
On tour is certainly where the band seem to excel, as their recent winter tours with Machine Head and In Flames proved on these shores:
“Yeah, on the UK shows we played venues no smaller than 2500 people, and this is just way beyond the scale we were playing usually, and the reactions were bombastic (lost in translation anyone?!), which is why we got asked to tour with Hatebreed.”
Often lumped in with the somewhat overcrowded and certainly under-inspired “metalcore” genre, I wonder whether Caliban struggle to define themselves with such a mele of bands jostling for position:
“Well, I think Caliban have had a lot of metal influences throughout their career, and we are still hardcore in our hearts, even though we may be playing what’s now called metalcore. Really, I don’t care what they call it, it’s not that bad to be labelled, I mean we have influences from all over – hardcore, metal, whatever – but we are Caliban, we play the music we want to, (shrugs) so that’s it.”
So despite Patrick’s confidence in his band’s ability, is there still a pressure for Caliban to stand out among so many analogous young hopefuls?
“No, I don’t think so, but only because we don’t let the pressure get to us. We wrote the album before we signed up to the label, and we have developed our own sound over the years. Even though when we started we were sounding more like the bands we were listening to at the time like Slayer and Metallica, over time we have really gone more our own way with the sound.”
I enquire what first got Patrick behind a drum kit.
“Oh, that would definitely be split between Dave Lombardo and my Dad. Slayer were the reason I started playing drums, and my dad inspired me because he played in a band for 35 years – they sounded a bit like The Beatles.”
From pretty musical roots, Patrick is now revelling in what he loves to do, getting paid for his indulging in his musical passions:
“I am totally living my dream right now, I really hope it lasts for a few years. As for now, we’re going back out on tour in the US and then we’re gonna write and record the new album in the autumn so we can put out a new record early next year. But most of all I just wanna make sure we play live as much as we possibly can and spread our music to as many people as possible.”
With their vision firmly fixed and no sign of stopping till the entire netal fraternity has had the chance to witness and digest their vein-popping, migraine-inducing live shows, Caliban certainly know what they want, and deserve every the respect they’re gradually achieving.