Pop Music

Going Back to the Caldwell

James Essary's new indie rock band prepares to release their first album

By Daniel Renfrow May 21, 2013


After The Caldwell finished playing their first gig as a band earlier this month at Walters, the Houston band stuck around until 2:30 in the morning to support fellow artists Titus Andronicus, The So So Glos and Chemistry. “You wait. You listen. You support,” says Caldwell frontman James Essary, a familiar face in the city’s music scene. Before founding The Caldwell, Essary played with Houston singer-songwriter Adam Bricks.

Most musicians form a band first and record an album second, but Essary reversed that sequence. He spent three months last summer writing an album’s worth of songs, then went looking for musicians to play them, eventually bringing in Evan O’Neil (organ/ piano), Joshua Ojeda (bass), Marq Schramm (guitar), and Pastor Oropeza (drums). The album, Modern Love, will be released online and on vinyl later this summer.

Essary drew inspiration for the album from the early Sun Studio era, bringing a punk rock mentality to the golden sounds of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. The result feels as much Colour Revolt as it does Buddy Holly. “We’ve really just been sitting on this record for a long time as I’ve been trying to put a band together,” the vegan rocker explains between bites of hummus at Montrose’s Cafe Brasil, a short walk from his Hazard Street house.

Until then, The Caldwell plan on staying busy (“Caldwell” is the maiden name of Essary’s mother). They’ve already filmed two music videos, which they plan to unveil ahead of their album release concert. Tune into KTRU at 8:00 p.m. tonight (May 21) to hear the band perform a live set and interview. Their next show will be on June 8 at Rubber Gloves in Denton. But even if you miss it, don’t worry: These guys aren’t going anywhere.

“I love this city,” Essary says, “I don’t want to be a band that comes from New York. I don’t want to be attached to that. I’d rather be attached to Houston.” 

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