The Calamity
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The Calamity

Ventura, California, United States | INDIE

Ventura, California, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Rock


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"Some Freshmen to play Billy O's at The Calamity"

It worked in May 1863 for Gen. Robert E. Lee when he divided his army of northern Virginia in the face of vastly superior numbers of Yankees and pulled off a stunning victory at Chancellorsville. It’s working again 146 years later in Ventura (with 100 percent less musketry) where the local pop-rock road dogs, the Army of Freshmen, have split in half to become The Calamity.

Neither calamitous, cacophonous nor anything but pure pop fun, The Calamity will be at the dive (Billy O’s) on the cheap (free) as the songs remain the same every Monday night in January. You can forget about any delusions of Tuesday morning productivity as the band won’t go on until around 11-ish. A different act will open each week with the first one unclear at press time but Frank Barajas, Delaney Gibson and The Grandmas will have their turns.

Just as The Privateers are half of Raging Arb & the Redheads, The Calamity is half of the Freshmen — Aaron Goldberg, Kai Dodson and Owen Bucey. The fourth man is Balt Cano and together they make pure power pop so sweet your ears may get cavities. Goldberg discussed his favorite side project on a recent Christmas Eve.

How’s the Calamity biz?

It’s good. It’s going really well. You know, it’s totally a side project kind of thing. We really, really do it for fun, and that’s really the main thing. The Freshmen are really, really business-oriented, and we’re doing really well, going internationally and doing a bunch of things, so we kind of wanted to get back to basics: write some little pop songs with some country-ish influences and have Owen front it with this real keyboard-song-vocal kind of thing and just kind of not worry about what kind of shows we’re taking and where we’re playing and, you know, all that kind of stuff. We just want to go out, have a good time, play the local bars and burn off some steam, that kind of thing.

The Calamity

The local pop-rock-country band, featuring members of the Army of Freshmen, will perform Monday nights at 11 p.m. throughout January at Billy O's, 2819 E. Main St., Ventura. Admission is free. Call 652-0327 or visit The Calamity's Web site is

Missing Words Records
The Calamity's first album, "Songs from the Gold Coast," was released last summer. "It's easy listening, kind of catchy, kind of pop with a Top 40 vibe," band member Aaron Goldberg says.

You sort of answered my next question: How much of this is like the Freshmen and how much of this is not like the Freshmen?

Basically, it is three of us. Owen is the keyboard player, obviously, from Freshmen and Kai is the Freshmen bass player but he plays guitar and I’m the Freshmen guitar player and I play drums. And Balt is the bass player for The Calamity and he’s just a buddy of the band. He’s actually been on tour with the Freshmen a couple of summers ago. He filled in for me when I was gone, and he filled in for Kai when Kai was gone.

How long has The Calamity been around?

I think it’s been about three years. Basically what happened is that Owen, Kai and I wrote the majority of the last Freshmen record of music, and after we had finished writing we were still in a writing frenzy, just throwing out songs here and there, and when we realized that we had enough Freshmen material. We had a few beers and had this three-hour jam session where we were working on different kinds of stuff. And by the end of the night we realized that we had two or three songs that were pretty, pretty cool and we really dug ’em, but they totally weren’t Freshmen style. We didn’t really actually decide on having a band at that moment, but we figured that “Hey, when we get home from this summer tour, let’s get together.’’ When we got back, we had our first unofficial official Calamity practice. I like playing drums, and Owen, obviously, is an amazing piano player and vocalist, and Kai loves playing guitar any chance he can; it’s a lot different than the bass. So we just kind of had fun, and that was like, the inception, but we didn’t set out to be a band. We didn’t set out to do anything like that. We just wanted to have fun, write songs and play some music on different instruments so we just kind of grew into this, but then we had 10 or 12 songs so we decided to put out a record and that’s basically where we’re at right now, just having some fun playing around town.

So this is the first album then?

Yeah, and we just started to write a few new songs. The first record just came out a few months ago — no real push or anything. And we’re on Missing Words Records; Matt Martin is a friend of ours and he was cool enough to go halvsies on it. It’s just kind of like a buddy deal to get it out there and back us a little bit.

So have you guys opened for the Freshmen?

Oh, no. We haven’t confused anyone with that scenario yet. I think it’s a little much to have us play twice in one night. And a lot of the Freshmen fans have been really cool. They say it sounds neat and it’s really different, although it’s kind of the same feel. We still have that pop sound that the Freshmen strive to achieve. We just don’t have real intense keyboards. We try to keep it real piano- and organ-based.

On your MySpace, you list some of your influences. So is this more Old 97’s or Slayer?

We wish we could sound like Slayer but not just yet. Maybe on the next one. We’re all Old 97’s fans and Rhett Miller collectively is one of our favorite songwriters. We just dig all that kind of stuff. We dig that Tom Petty groove stuff and we dig the poptastic stuff from Fountains of Wayne and we like Limbeck a lot — that country, two-step feel. We try to tailor it to a concise little three-minute jam that you can kind of wrap your head around. We’ve been told that moms like it. It’s easy listening, kind of catchy, kind of pop with a Top 40 vibe.

All those cool vocals go back further than that stuff — all the way back to AM radio doo-wop.

I love that stuff. I have a couple thousand actual records that my dad passed down to me and I added to — a lot of ’50s and ’60s stuff. I love a real short pop song — there’s your chord, there’s your verse — and I love the harmonies. That’s what a song is to me.

What’s your take on the local scene? You’re clearly in the middle of it.

The local scene here has always been a little interesting to me. We’re so close to L.A. that if you want to see something amazing, you go to L.A. and if you want to see something upscale, you go to Santa Barbara. So for us, it fits. We don’t really need to go to L.A. to prove ourselves in L.A. and we don’t want to play anything ritzy in Santa Barbara. Like I said, we just want to have fun. To be playing at Billy O’s in January on a Monday night residency? That’s perfect for us. We want to go out. We want to hang out with our buddies. We want to have a no-pressure jam session where we just enjoy playing music.

Obviously, we have a lot of other ventures — Freshmen included — that take up a lot of our time, so for us to be able to do something like this — low pressure, really fun, super proud of the music and the songwriting and trying our hands at new instruments and new styles — that’s sort of our mentality for the local scene.

These residency gigs are of the ever-affordable free variety every Monday night?

Right. It’s free every Monday night and we have a different opener. We’ll go on around 11, I would assume.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a musician?

The best thing about being in a band is traveling and eating delicious food and having people be super, super nice to you everywhere you go. They appreciate your band and the fact that you play music and that you’re on tour. They take you in. They care for you. They’re really good to you. Honestly, in the 11 years that I’ve been touring and playing music, we’ve met nothing but really, really nice people.

I know people in the Midwest are really nice, but are people nice even in California?

Everywhere we’ve been. I don’t know if it’s our personalities or that we just attract a nice crowd or just a friendlier sort, but we’ve had nothing but great things happen to us. Really, all I want to do is travel, play music and eat food and that makes me happy right there. I would have to say the worst thing about touring is not getting to shower for three or four days. Even though we meet all these nice people, sometimes it just isn’t possible to get a shower into our schedule, so that’s the downside.

What is something that people need to know about The Calamity?

People should know that we kick butt and we’re super cool. Just come out and have a good time and we do kick butt. I’m super stoked to play drums. I don’t play drums normally and I don’t take lessons. We just have a good time. We just jam. We’re not on our original instruments, other than Owen. Having him on anything other than a piano would be a crime.

— For CD reviews and more show previews, view Bill Locey’s “I Love Locey” videos in the Media Player section of The Star’s Web site, E-mail Locey at

© 2010 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Dry - 7" Vinyl
Released 2011

Side A: Dry
Side B: We Descend

Hand-numbered limited edition of 300, the first 100 pressed on blue vinyl and 200 on marble vinyl. Includes digital download.

Songs from the Gold Coast - CD

Released 2009

1. Waiting for July
2. Yesterday's Tragedy
3. Whiskey Sour
4. Wrapped Up (in the Melody)
5. Asphalt
6. Walk Down
7. Island
8. Diane
9. One of these Days
10. 45
11. Take Some Time




the Calamity is:
Owen Bucey — lead vocals, keys
Kai Dodson — lead/rhythm guitars, vocals
Baltazar Cano — bass
Aaron Goldberg — drums, percussion
Phil Tibbs -- lead/rhythm guitars

the Calamity is an American piano/pop/alternative/country band that was formed in Ventura, CA in 2005 by members of the power pop group Army Of Freshmen (AOF) including: Aaron Goldberg (drums, percussion), Kai Dodson (lead/rhythm guitar, vocals) and Owen Bucey (lead vocals, keys). The origin of the band goes back to an intoxicated night in Cape May, NJ in the practice room of Mr. J's Music Shop while on tour with AOF in the summer of 2004.

Baltazar Cano (bass) joined the project in late fall 2008.

Phil Tibbs (lead/rhythm guitars) joined the project in late 2010.

Various demos and recordings took place between fall 2005 and spring 2008. Notably, a session with Jay Ruston from TRS West studios in Studio City, CA with the result of 2 tracks (One Of These Days/Waiting For July) off the upcoming debut release, “Songs From The Gold Coast.”

The debut album, “Songs From The Gold Coast,” out on Missing Words Records July 28th, 2009, was written by the Calamity and produced by the Calamity, Jay Ruston and Paul Miner. It was recorded in two sessions. Spring of 2006 with Ruston @ TRS West studios in Studio City, CA; and winter of 2008 with Miner @ Buzzbomb Sound Labs in Orange, CA. All photography for “Songs From The Gold Coast” was done by Baltazar Cano. Layout and design courtesy Matt Martin (

Track listing is as follows:

1 Waiting For July
2 Yesterday's Tragedy
3 Whiskey Sour
4 Wrapped Up (In The Melody)
5 Asphalt
6 Walk Down
7 Island
8 Diane
9 One Of These Days
10 .45
11 Take Some Time

Songs From The Gold Coast is a collection of melodic piano pop songs with a dash of country flare and a touch of bitterness.

Dry 7" recorded in Ventura in late 2010.

For fans of: Counting Crows, Ben Folds, Old 97’s, Maroon 5, Something Corporate