INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE CALV AND CHANDLER MOGEL OF RADIO EXILE
Date: March 6, 2016
ON THE EVE OF THE RELEASE OF THE SECOND VIDEO [FOR THE SONG ‘SOULFIRE”] FROM THEIR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM, RADIO EXILE’S CHIEF COMPOSER AND KEYBOARDIST, CHARLIE CALV, AND LEAD VOCALIST, CHANDLER MOGEL, SPOKE TO SLEAZE ROXX ABOUT EVERYTHING PERTAINING TO RADIO EXILE.
Sleaze Roxx: Radio Exile seem to be very focused on getting as much press and interviews as possible compared to other new bands out there. How important do you think that marketing is and/or will be to Radio Exile’s success?
Charlie Calv: Well the reviews have been very good and that you cannot anticipate, but we are thankful that everyone seems to enjoy what we are doing and writing about it. Being that this is a new band and we are not out touring in support of this release, the press is all we really have to get the word out there, so it becomes very important. This is not some manufactured group, that does one record and disappears, so we are trying to get the word out there as much as possible so we can continue doing this.
Sleaze Roxx: The first single off Radio Exile’s debut album was “No Pity On The Highway” which I understand almost did not make it onto the album. Why and who chose that song as the first single?
Charlie Calv: Yes, it was one of the last ones put together for the album. I had the musical idea somewhat finished but was not exactly sure how it would fit in so I kind of held it back for a bit. It was actually one of the last two I gave to Chandler to work on and he just came up with the hook and title almost immediately, and at that point we knew it would work really well. When Steve Lunt came in to work on the record, he was originally only going to work on what would be the first single and he had chosen “Soulfire” as the track. However, we had just finished doing the basic tracks for “No Pity On The Highway” so I played that for him and we all agreed that it really had a great feel and chorus and would be a strong introduction for the band.
Sleaze Roxx: “No Pity On The Highway” is arguably heavier than any other song on the album. As more of a metal guy than an AOR guy, I was admittedly a bit disappointed when finding out the rest of the songs on ‘Radio Exile’ weren’t as heavy as the first single. Why didn’t the band not choose a song more representative of the rest of the album as its first single?
Charlie Calv: Well, you may have answered that question. If “No Pity On The Highway did not peak your interest you probably would not have even given the rest of the record a chance, so maybe we picked the best track to lead off [laughs]. The record is very diversified and we really hope that everyone will be able to take away something they like from it, and maybe enjoy something they thought they might not like, so it was hard to pick what to lead off with but I think it was a good choice. It is just one facet of what this group can do. It is still very melodic but just has a nice heavy groove.
Sleaze Roxx: What made the band decide to go with “Soulfire” as the second single and video?
Charlie Calv: We were originally looking at another song and then we started talking about concepts for videos, and we really wanted to do something that was a little bit different and more of an artistic statement this time around instead of the band just basically playing. So once we had an idea of what we wanted to do, “Soulfire” just made complete sense, and when you see the video, you will understand how that idea would not have worked with any of the other tracks.
Sleaze Roxx: What is the idea behind the video for “Soulfire”?
Chandler Mogel: The idea came about as Charlie had found this guy RicKy Syers, a puppeteer, who has a bunch of viral videos out featuring his puppets. We wanted to do something different for the next video, so we thought it would be cool to implement that, along with a very cool Vaudeville theme – literally across the street from where RicKy lives – at Roxy & Duke’s Roadhouse, a one of a kind place, in New Jersey [USA]. So “Soulfire” boasts a whole gaggle of characters between the puppets and the performers and I believe we pulled it off correctly! It’s a really fun video to watch.
Sleaze Roxx: You have two guys in the band [Charlie and David] that have known each other for many years prior to Radio Exile forming. How does that impact the band dynamics?
Charlie Calv: Yes, Dave and I have been friends for a long time and had our first band together in highschool. We are completely different and play two different parts in this band, and if anything, we compliment each other. I don’t think it has any effect on the dynamic at this point except we usually have a good idea of what each of us is thinking, and we are usually the only two who get our corny jokes or comments [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Many have dubbed Radio Exile as a “supergroup.” What is each Radio Exile band member’s background prior to joining the band?
Charlie Calv: I think that is a pretty bold term for us but if that is the impression that people get, then thank you very much. All of the guys have played with other great artists and are truly well rounded musicians. Chandler is a fantastic vocalist and still fronts the very popular Greek band Outloud and the two of us also work together with Punky Meadows [Angel]. Then you have Jimmy and Dave that are both currently with Dennis DeYoung [Styx] and Kenny with the Yardbirds. And these guys have been around and played with John Waite, Joan Osborne, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Hall and Oates, New York Dolls, etc… so you can see it is very diversified and I think that shows in the music that we do.
Sleaze Roxx: Due to everyone’s schedules, I understand that touring is not really an option. How much of an obstacle do you think not touring will be for the band’s success in the future?
Chandler Mogel: Well, maybe not touring right now but we are working on some live shows. It can definitely be an obstacle but I believe in this day and age with the internet and such, there are ways around it. Believe it or not many bands make a living off of album sales and royalties without touring! There are ways to do it and they are being employed here.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand that if everything went according to plan, the band would be releasing three albums in its first five years. Have you started working on Radio Exile’s second album and will it be in the same vain as the debut album?
Charlie Calv: Yes, we have started writing for the next record and although it is hard to tell at the moment where it will end up musically, I can say that the overall process will remain the same. Chandler and I will work on the material and once we get it together, we will demo them and present to the others. We will once again go with the intent that if it is a good song it will probably get on the record even if it may be a little heaver or a little lighter. I am big fan of Zeppelin and always loved the way all the records had so many different styles that they would touch upon, but all would distinctively sound like them. The same with a band like Queen. I can say that it will probably have a little more of an edge to it, now that we kind of have our footing and see what works and what doesn’t.
Sleaze Roxx: Which is your favorite song off the debut album and why?
Chandler Mogel: Very tough question — they are all special to me — but if I had to pick a favorite I guess I would say “No Pity [On The Highway].” It really has everything in it a rock song should have — great melody, groove, just the right amount of heavy — and great lyrics as well. To me, it really rounded out the album having this song there.
Charlie Calv: That is such a tough question as I really enjoy listening to this record. I am going to say “A Cross On Stone” because it was an idea I have had around for a long time in many different incarnations, but it never really seemed to work until we put it together for Radio Exile. I was really thrilled with the way it came out in the end.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your three all-time favorite albums and why?
Chandler Mogel: Ok — here goes… Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ is probably my #1 all time favorite. It’s Deep Purple — my favorite band — at its absolute best! Not a dull moment here… The song “Burn” is my favorite tune of all time. Deep Purple’s ‘Stormbringer’ is another one that I love. Just a prime example and fusion of heavy groove rock, and rhythm and blues. The tune “Stormbringer” — can’t go wrong with it! Last choice would be Yngwie Malmsteen’s ‘Odyssey.’ I wish he would go back to this era! One of Joe Lynn Turner’s best performances and the songs are so great. A masterpiece!
Charlie Calv: This may seem odd coming from a keyboard player but the following three are just killer albums from top to bottom. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Presence’ is an overlooked album that I think is just a tour de force of [Jimmy] Page’s ability to just craft and layer guitar parts… “Achilles Last Stand” is a masterpiece. Van Halen’s ‘Fair Warning’ — When I first put this album — yes, a vinyl album — on and Eddie [Van Halen]’s opening to “Mean Street” came on, what the fuck! It’s a very moody album and has my all-time favorite Van Halen tune ‘Unchained.’ Finally, Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell.’ Wow, Ronnie James Dio… What can I say? Who would of thought they would put this out after losing Ozzy… Personally, I like the Ronnie James Dio fronted Sabbath better… “Neon Nights” is a killer opener.