The Calling’s 22-year-old lead singer Alex Band didn’t go to college, but the last three years have offered their own kind of education. The band — which is essentially Band and guitarist/instrumentalist Aaron Kamin, who started collaborating while still high school students in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley — traveled literally around the world on the strength of their 2001 RCA debut album, Camino Palmero .
Thanks to the hit single “Wherever You Will Go,” a BMI Pop Award winner as one of 2002’s 50 Most Performed Songs, the album has sold close to a million in the U.S., and more than two million around the world. The Calling are even bigger outside America, where they have earned gold or platinum in 12 countries, including the U.K., Brazil, Canada and Mexico. They were voted Best New Artist by fans at the 2002 MTV Europe Music Awards in Barcelona, Spain, beating out The Strokes, Avril Lavigne and Shakira.
“Our fans are just so committed,” marvels Band, who is in the process of putting the finishing touches on the band’s second effort, Two , set for release May 18. “Having thousands of people greet you at the airport in all these different countries you never thought you’d ever go to or that anybody would know who you are, was quite an experience.”
Having written “Wherever You Will Go” when he was just 16 and performed it in the film Coyote Ugly long before it spent 20 weeks at the top of the Adult Contemporary charts, Alex was anxious to show his songwriting growth on the new album. The first single, “Our Lives,” is a post-Sept. 11 admonition to stop and smell the coffee, with a radio-ready, U2-styled chorus that offers inspiration: “These are the moments/These are the times/Let’s make the best out of our lives.”
“Most people never take the time to appreciate their accomplishments,” explains Alex, “and I think we were guilty of that, too. We were on tour in Europe when Sept. 11 took place, so we got to experience first-hand how it affected people there. It was scary, but it definitely made for some good songwriting. This record’s a little more grown up. We’re talking about bigger issues than our girlfriends.”
As for avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump, Alex insists: “Sure, there’s pressure following up such a successful record. I want to convert all those people who heard the hit, but don’t know who this band is. There are five separate singles on this album. We’re out to prove we’re no ‘one-hit wonder’.”