Calamity Menagerie: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?!
By Lauren-Olivia “Liv” Simister
To say Calamity Menagerie is a diverse group with members from all over New Jersey may be an understatement. With a revolving line-up, this band never gets dull! Calamity Menagerie all began when Jamie (vocals/guitar) and Mike (bass/accordion) began performing acoustic sets at open-mic nights. From there, the band’s line-up grew, and they were soon joined by Stefanie (bass recorder/bass/keyboards/congas/xylophone/synth/harp/bass drum), Ryan (drums), Scruff (percussion/bass/vocals), and Allison (vocals/keyboards/ xylophone/bass drum/tambourine/synth), forming a diversely talented group. “I’m also part of The O>MATICS, and I wrote a ton of stuff that just didn’t fit in with the band, so Calamity Menagerie was my outlet for that, I guess,” Jamie says. Working with more than one band is not uncommon for the members of Calamity Menagerie, as many of the past/current members have been/are part of other bands. Jamie is currently part of Calamity Menagerie, the O>Matics, and working on a solo-project. Scruff is also currently a member of The Tea and Whiskey. “Sometimes it’s easier to be part of two bands, like when there’s a show we can play, and if one band can’t do it, then hopefully, the other can. And if I can’t play with either one, I could do a solo thing. So if I find a show I want to play, I’m going to play no matter what,” Jamie laughs. “Being part of two bands, a dog-owner, and a newlywed is a little hectic, so I don’t get to play as often as I’d like, but when I do, I always have a lot of fun,” claims Scruff. Calamity Menagerie are known for having upbeat, fun shows, drawing people of all ages in. “We’re not really profane. We have like, one song where we curse…and one that gets mistaken for cursing a lot,” the band jokes. “When we do an all-ages show, it’s the funniest thing, because you’ll have these families, like with the kids and the parents or grandparents, and in our song, ‘Happy Lucky Fun Duck,’ there’s a line that goes, ‘All I wanna do is fun, fun, fun, FUN.’ You just see these adults’ jaws…drop,” Jamie chuckles. “When we finish the song, I have to say, ‘I was saying ‘fun’, just, you know, by the way.’” “You just hear this collective sigh of relief, and then this huge applause,” Calamity laughs. Calamity Menagerie have struck a chord with adults and kids alike, much like their own influence, Oingo Boingo, struck with them. “Oingo Boingo is a band from the ‘80’s, and it’s fronted by Danny Elfman, who is a famous composer,” Jamie states. (Side-note: Most might recognize Danny Elfman as the composer for The Simpson’s theme song, as well as the singing voice of Jack Skellington in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’) Calamity Menagerie is playing a Halloween show in which they will be covering Oingo Boingo (check out location and time on the band’s Myspace). On October 8th, they will be working once again with Jason Webley (accordion player). “He can transform a room by getting everyone into his music, and by the end of the night, everyone is singing with their arms around each other. “We got to back for him once, and I think that was a pivotal moment in Calamity Menagerie’s career,” Jamie laughs. Along with being musically-inclined, the band is also good on film (check out Tom Devil’s New Year). “I think we got all our profanity out of our system with that movie. It had like no budget,” exclaims Jamie. The band laughs, recalling the amount of cursing the movie involved. Calamity Menagerie is a band for the ages, and a sure delight! Check them out on Myspace (www.myspace.com/calamitymenagerie) and Facebook www.facebook.com/calamitymenagerie), and buy their EP ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong?’ on Itunes now.