The Lord Calverts are an explosive, all-original garage rock band from the New York City area. Heavily influenced by the ‘60’s garage-rock scene, their music has been described as true American rock n roll. For the past four years The Lord Calverts featuring vocalist Kevin Lydon, guitarist Askold Buk, guitarist and keyboardist Jed Becker, bassist William X. Harvey, and drummer Rich Capitelli, have been playing non-stop at clubs and dives in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. This exceptionally talented band has generated some major excitement on the NYC Underground Scene not only for their masterful musicianship but also for their incredible energy and the obvious joy they take from being on stage. Their debut CD The Lord Calverts…Now! was officially released in March of 2015 and it is chock full of catchy hooks, spectacular vocals, stinging guitar solos, and most importantly to me personally, an outstanding rhythm section (I do love my drummers). With sentimental ballads and songs you just want to get up and dance to, Now! has a little something for everyone. I caught up with the Calverts over dinner late last November and it was an entertaining evening to say the least. I am so blessed to call these awesome guys friends. Here’s a taste of our witty dialog from the evening:
lcappi: Hey guys, so as you are probably aware I am one of your biggest fans, have been since the first time I heard you play at the Parkside Lounge in 2015. I have also had the good fortune to have gotten to know the band members personally but my readers haven’t. So let’s get started, whose idea was it to form the band?
Askold: Ok, this is a true story of how this band was put together by five guys who didn’t even know each other. I was playing a gig in another band, and the horn player was a good friend of Jed’s. This guy had invited Jed to the gig; Jed and I met and we hit it off. So we started hanging out socially and one drunken evening we started talking about our mutual love for one hit wonders. “Little Black Egg” by the Nightcrawlers, the greatest guitar lick in the world. I forgot who brought this up, but it was like, “hey, we can form a band”.
Jed: I was just so knocked out by Askold’s guitar playing that I said we should start a band and Askold said, “I would do that…” and I was like “Don’t fuck with me, I’m serious,” and he was like,“I’m serious.” It was really something.
lcappi: I find it remarkable how one drunken evening with a friend led to the formation of such a fabulous band. Now, who came up with the unusual name?
Jed: As we were getting the band together and putting the pieces together, we had a different name—“The Uninvited.” I went on to Facebook and saw that “The Uninvited” was already a pretty popular name and so I said to the band, “We are going to have to choose a new name.” At the time we thought it would be funny to present ourselves to the world like we were an original garage rock band from Baltimore, so we came up with this fake back story.
Askold: From way back in the day.
Jed: From the mid ’60s, who had a couple of singles and a couple of local hits. So, one day Bill Harvey, our bassist, sends Askold and me an e-mail with a list of all these different band names that had some kind of Baltimore connection and I saw the name “The Lord Calverts”—Lord Calvert being from Baltimore, he was like the Duke of Baltimore. That name just jumped out at me and I spoke to Askold and I said, “What do you think of the list Bill sent?” and he said, “I love The Lord Calverts,” and I said, “That’s funny-that’s the exact name that I picked out also!”
lcappi: As you probably know, I have a fondness for drummers, so let’s start with how you found your drummer Rich Capitelli.
Askold: I was playing a monthly thing at the Bitter End called Chick Singer Night. Rich was a sub for the regular drummer. So in between the rehearsal and our gig I pulled Rich aside and I said “Rich, I know this is something you probably wouldn’t even consider but I got this project that…” and he goes “I’m in,” and I said, “But I didn’t even tell you what it is, it’s not even…” He says, “I don’t care, I’m in.”
Jed: I’ve spoken to Rich about this, and he said “I wanted to work with him [Askold].”
Askold: The fact that Rich said yes was amazing and so then for a long time it was just the three of us practicing.
Jed: So we were a three piece for a while, and then what happened? The thing is, Lynn, Askold really wanted to be the bass player.
Askold: I really did.
Jed: And Rich and I were like, NO!—we’ve got to find a bassist. So it became a race to see if we were going to find a guitarist or bassist first and as luck would have it, while attending a fundraiser at a place in Williamsburg, I meet the guy who designed and owned the house, William Harvey. Now Bill is an artist/designer and the party was being held in his art studio/rehearsal space where I happen to notice a bass hanging out. So during the course of the evening I said to Bill, “Oh you play bass? I’m starting a band and we’re looking for a bassist.” And so he came down to a rehearsal and that’s how we found our bass player and how Askold had to go back to the guitar, and we are all the luckier for it. We then went on to rehearse as a four piece but we knew that we didn’t have a band if we didn’t have a lead singer. But lead singers are scarcer than hen’s teeth.
Askold: Looking for a singer, nobody we know is right.
Jed: We’re asking everyone.
Askold: At that point I was still playing fairly regularly at a musicians hang, a club called 78 Below on the Upper West Side and Kevin was a bartender there and uh, one night I was particularly toasty…
lcappi: Not you…
Askold: Yeah me, and I went up to Kevin and I said “Hey, do you sing?” ‘Cause he looked really good and he said, “I don’t know, sure, why not?” So I took a picture and I texted it to Jed. Jed texts me back, “If this guy can even remotely hold a tune, he’s in the band.” Kevin comes to rehearsal that week and he kills it.
Jed: And that is how five guys found each other and formed a band.
lcappi: What an adventure you had putting this band together, it’s like something out of a movie. Now, how about a little professional background? We touched on the fact that Kevin had no prior experience and I know that Jed and Askold are a whole lot more than your average, everyday, genius keyboard and guitar players—you are also songwriters and producers. I also know that Rich has been playing the drums professionally for decades. Can you get a little more in-depth for me? You can let your egos loose with me, I don’t mind, I know you are usually quite humble.
Askold: I was a more of a studio guy—I did sessions. I was extremely lucky to do a few videos with B.B. King. Early on I did some recording for an artist named Hugh Masekela, a South African trumpet player. I also did a North American tour with a young singer from New Zealand named Hayley Westenra—it was a Simon Cowell production (I think he was bankrolling it). Afterwards, I scored TV documentaries—shows like Frontline, 20/20. You know, stuff like that. No big deal.
lcappi: Askold doesn’t like to talk about himself, does he? Ok, Jed, so this is your first band?
Jed: No, no. This band is the first band that I’ve played in after many years of not playing. When I was growing up, in high school and in college, I was in bands. When I graduated college, I joined a band called Surface to Surface; we played all over New York and on Long Island for many years. Then in the ’90s I was in a band called Combo Yeah. After Combo there was a big break during which I became a professional songwriter and did underscores for TV, writing for children’s television mostly, and advertising. Also, I was always the keyboard player but I always wanted to be a guitarist in a rock’n’roll band, and the Lord Calverts gave me the opportunity to do that.
lcappi: Bill, out of all of these guys, you come off as the most reserved, but I have a feeling that isn’t so. Tell me a little of your back story.
Bill: I came out of the Baltimore/DC area and have been playing since forever—in bands with unusual names like Fuji’s Navy, Urban Verbs, Danger Painters, Tiny Desk Unit, The Freight. I also do solo drone compositional pieces. I am an artist, musician, designer, all that—a life long creative person.
lcappi: You’ve been described as an All-American Garage Band. Do you feel that’s on point? What are your musical influences?
Jed: I like the fact that you said “American,” because I really do feel that we are an American rock band and it’s nothing against the wonderful British invasion groups but I think our influences really are more like Paul Revere and the Raiders, Music Machine, Barry and the Remains from Boston, the Sonics. And so, that’s really our influence, but I like to think that our songwriting is a little bit more sophisticated than that. We have a little more of pop songwriting sensibility.
lcappi: Ok, so who writes your lyrics/music? Is it a collaborative effort, what inspires you?
Jed: Askold and I both write the music. What will happen is, I’ll come up with a song idea and I’ll write most of it and I will then bounce it off of Askold and if he says, “I don’t think that’s gonna work for the band,” it probably isn’t going to get in. Askold will also generate song ideas that he will run past me as well. The reason why it works is because I am a very proud songwriter, but I have a partner whose opinion I really trust, so if he says, “That works,” I know I’m really onto something and if he says, “That doesn’t work,” I know I’ve got to go back to the drawing board again. Lyrically, we are inspired by that early ’60s garage rock, so I try to put myself into that point of view: boy, girl, kind of angsty, kinda love songs. We’re just trying to bring that kind of vibe back—guitars, girls, cars, broken relationships—that kind of thing.
lcappi: A couple of your songs have been featured on Network TV? Tell me about that.
Askold: Basically, I sent our CD out to one of my contacts that had my songs on The Hills and Nickelodeon. He loved it and got us placed on two shows on NBC—The Mysteries of Laura and Aquarius. It’s an amazing feeling to see your music on a show.
lcappi: You feel validated, right.
Askold: Yeah, especially if it’s music you’ve written as an artistic thing. That validates your band and your music.
lcappi: What type of music do you personally enjoy listening to?
Askold: It could be anything. For example, last night I listened to seven different artists doing “Little Black Egg” by the Nightcrawlers. I wanted to see how they would interpret this song because it is such a simple, beautiful, almost nursery rhyme, and they all pretty much just play the same arrangement as the original—you cannot improve on perfection. But then I also listen to AC/DC, my favorite band, and Wes Montgomery, my favorite jazz guitar player. Everyone you grow up listening to shapes who you are as a musician, so I would not be able to play the way I play, or write the way I write, if I was not a sum of everyone I’ve listened to. Wes was a huge influence, as were TV theme songs. Terry Kath from Chicago—humungous influence on me as a guitar player. Oh, and the latest thing I’ve been listening to: there’s this crazy Georgian Choir made up of about 50 guys and they do this one song where they all sing just one note and this beautiful tenor sings this exquisite melody over it where he implies the chord changes over this drone and it is just transcendent. It makes me cry.
Jed: I enjoy a variety of music. I’ve been listening more to Alice Cooper lately, and some Cheap Trick. I still listen to my Prog occasionally. I’ve also been listening to some early Yes and a lot of Bowie.
Askold: You gonna drop the Fountain.
Jed: Oh yeah, Fountains of Wayne is one of my favorite bands—I think they are one of the greatest bands of all time, and you can totally write that. I’m a big power-pop guy. If I wasn’t going to be in a garage rock band, I’d be in a power-pop band.
lcappi: Do you feel that social media has changed music for the better or worse? What is your opinion on the music industry today in general?
Jed: Well, social media has made it more difficult for musicians to make a living as musicians, there is no doubt about that. It does allow more people to have exposure to your music, naturally, as you don’t need a record company or distribution arm to get your music out there, but at the same time it’s made it almost impossible to do this for a living.
Askold: I feel like all the bands that play live are like Smith-Corona in the last days of the typewriter before the PC took over. But for me the thing that is really is insidious, is that before social media, fans had to be engaged with the band—they had to buy a record, go see a show, you know, there was more expected of fans in order to be close to a band. Today the fans can be just as motivated and just as connected to the band but they don’t have to do anything, they can press “like,”or they can watch a video on YouTube and satiate their fandom. So it doesn’t translate into the kind of commitment that kept the music business rolling in the old days.
Jed: Fans had to make a financial investment in the band, and if you have to spend money on something, you’re more committed to it.
Askold: But you know, think about those people still making covered wagons and horseshoes when the car came out. I hate to say it but it’s that kind of change and a lot of people have to figure this thing out. They have to figure out how to monetize it, how to engage fans, how to get people to come to shows, more so than ever. When was the last time anybody bought a CD, think about it…
lcappi: In July of 2015 I photographed you at MCU Stadium when you opened for Starship as part of the Coney Island Seaside Summer Concert Series, was that an incredible experience or what??? Had any of you played in a venue that large before? What was going through your mind as you were walking across the field and when you were on stage?
Askold: I’ve played in venues larger…. I did that tour with Hayley Westenra where we played hockey arenas, basketball stadiums, Radio City, and places like that. But the difference was with Hayley I was a side man, so I basically learned the material and was her guitar player. It’s not the same by any stretch of the imagination as when it’s your band and your music being put out with a crowd that big. It was a validation of all the hard work we put in and I was really, really proud of the band. I thought we were just amazing and the photographer wasn’t too bad either.
lcappi: Why thank you Askold.
Jed: It was so much fun, it was so exciting. It was a bit of an odd gig because the audience was so far away from us—the stage was on second base! But to be on a stage that size in front of an audience like that—it was so much fun! We’ll be doing it again on July 20th when we play the Alive @ Five festival in Stamford CT. We can’t wait!
Bill: Playing MCU was cool; the sound was great for such a big outdoor venue. It was amazing to play with the iconic Coney Island rides lit up behind the band. The stage was set by the pitching mound and I remember looking at home plate during sound check thinking, “Damn, that is a long way to throw a strike.”
Kevin: I was literally thinking that going from that small, midtown, rehearsal room to that big MCU stage happened very fast, but that we were ready for the challenge. I have always felt confident in the talents and skills of my fellow bandmates, and that gives me tremendous courage and confidence. I guess when it comes down to it I am kind of a ham, but I find a delicious harmony in rehearsing the songs and their ideas very seriously, while also finding the cool, flash of joy, in the experience of performing them, onstage, in the moment.
lcappi: I am really digging the new material you have been inserting into your sets. You know I love the torch songs and “Worried Mind” is my new favorite. Are there plans in the works for a new CD? What else is on the agenda for The Lord Calverts? A residency maybe at the club on LES, Pianos?
Askold: We have four new songs that have been recorded of which “Worried Mind” is one of them.
Jed: Actually, we have just added two new songs to our set, “Ain’t Never” and “Go Golly Go” and once we get those songs together I think we’ll have 12 fantastic songs for a new CD. I would love us to produce a second record. Regarding Pianos, we produce the Friday nights that we play there and as long as we keep filling up the room they’re very happy to have us back. We think it’s a great venue, the people that run it could not be nicer, we’re very happy with the space, and so yeah, as long as they keep having us back, we’d love to keep playing at Pianos.
lcappi: Well that’s wonderful! I look forward to hearing more from you guys. I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me, and for dinner… One last thing, where can fans get their hands on your CD, as well as watch your videos and find out about upcoming shows?
Jed: To get your hands on Now, watch our videos and find out about our upcoming shows you can check us out on the following websites:
For booking and other band information go to our main website: www.thelordcalverts.com
Now, for your viewing pleasure, check out The Lord Calvert’s music video “9600 Reasons” from their CD The Lord Calverts…Now!.