Calpurnia: the big cell

Yes, you do recognise Calpurnia's frontman from somewhere else. No, we don't need to mention that ever again. Why? Easy. They're fucking brilliant, mate.

“I just wanted to be in a rock band,” Finn Wolfhard enthuses. “That’s it. Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to have a rock band.” Whether it’s in a hairbrush karaoke routine worthy of Wembley, a slamming air guitar solo primed for a festival main stage, or even in getting together with instruments in a friend’s parents’ garage, being a rock star is a dream we’ve all entertained at some point. They might not yet be old enough to drink in the venues they’re playing in, but Calpurnia are already on the fast track to making their dream their reality.

“I personally try to go into this with no expectations,” Ayla Tesler-Mabe expresses, “just because who knows how music is going to be received nowadays?” she speculates. “The music industry is always changing. It’s kind of hard to figure out what people are really responding to at a given time.” That might be true, but that didn’t stop the band – or indeed their fans – from feeling they were on to something special right from the start.

“I think I always had an inkling that there would be at least some groups of people that were excited by us,” Ayla describes. “The fact that it’s four kids coming together and actually writing their own music and playing their own instruments and writing their own songs…” she describes, “but I had no idea that it would reach so many people from literally all the corners of the globe,” she marvels. “I think that’s the most incredible feeling.”

It’s a feeling their audience revel in as much as the band do. A headline show at London’s KOKO last year saw fans queueing outside the venue from the early afternoon, glitter face paint at the ready, and nothing – not even broken amps – could stop that moment from feeling spectacular. “The night before we played in this little club in Manchester,” Finn recalls. “Going straight from that to this big show the next day…” he recalls. “It was probably our best show we’ve played so far.”

“It was certainly super humbling for us,” Jack Anderson adds. “There were a lot of incredible things that people were saying about us. At that point was just crazy to us that we’d even be able to have an EP out by the age of 16/17,” he enthuses. “It’s a super crazy feeling for all of us.” Headlining venues half a world away from home, starring in a Weezer music video… Calpurnia’s rise under the spotlight has been nothing short of spectacular.

“That’s been my favourite part of this whole experience, making connections with people and just talking to so many people,” Jack expresses. “I mean, if you’d told me three years ago I’d be in a Weezer video…” he trails off, laughing. “It’s a whole new crazy experience,” he conveys. “I think all of us are grateful and excited about all the support that surrounds us.”

There’s a lot to take in – especially when you consider that the group released their first single just a little over a year ago. One thing’s for certain: Calpurnia are making the most of it – and they don’t plan on slowing down even for a moment. Latest single ‘Cell’ dropped earlier this year to a flurry of excitement, and it spells brighter things than ever in the band’s burgeoning future. “We released it the day before the one-year anniversary of us releasing a song,” Jack laughs. “We squeezed one more in before our music turned one.”

“We’re still trying to find out what we are”
Finn Wolfhard

A flurry of riffs that rock as hard as they roll, with an instant sing-a-long chorus and a solo practically primed for the air guitar moment of your dreams, ‘Cell’ is Calpurnia at their most realised yet. “The single is kind of the next step for us as a band,” Ayla describes. Recorded with ‘Scout’ producers Cadien Lake James and R. Andrew Humphrey, the single showcases the band at their strongest yet. “It’s really cool working with the same people,” Ayla enthuses. “I think it made the growth that we’ve made as a band even more clear. It was so much fun.”

“We’re always writing stuff and developing stuff,” Finn expresses. “We’re really busy,” he adds. “These guys are graduating high school soon. I’m working a lot with the acting stuff,” he explains (we thought he looked familiar…). “It’s all about just finding the right time.” With a summer full of shows and festival appearances ahead of them to boot, sure, their schedules are looking pretty hectic, for Calpurnia it’s all systems go. “We’re writing right now,” Finn reveals. “We’re planning to record an album soon.”

It’s a big moment in any band’s career, for sure, but the Vancouver outfit’s ambition doesn’t stop there. “I would love to get to a point in our music career where we have so many songs that we have songs to cut and things to save for the future,” Finn enthuses. “I feel like that’s when you feel most comfortable,” he explains. “When you’re writing so much that it’s like ‘we’ll save that for the next album…’” he conveys. “It feels really good to do that. I feel comfortable.”

“We love releasing new stuff or doing sessions or whatever,” he adds. “It shows that we’re growing as a band. We have fun with all of that.” With a much-anticipated debut album in the works, Calpurnia have everything to play for – and they plan on enjoying every second. “We’re still trying to find out what we are and finding our purpose in music,” Finn describes. “It’s really cool to record the music we record and play these shows and see it happen in real time.”

Writing, recording, and hitting the road: it’s all part of an experience that never wears thin, a rollercoaster of excitement and enthusiasm that’s marked the band as one of the hottest new acts around. “I think that’s probably one of the best parts by far,” Ayla asserts, “getting to experience so many people who might come from really different backgrounds and ways of living their lives coming together over music…” she expresses. “I think that’s what music does and it’s a wonderful thing.”

Taken from the June issue of Dork, out now. Order a copy below.

Words: Jessica Goodman

The May issue of Dork, featuring A. G. Cook, Djo, English Teacher, Luke Hemmings, WILLOW and more, is out now
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