Calire drums up new gig
By Jesse Phelps
When Mario Calire was a senior
at Nordhoff in 1991, he was voted Most Talented student by his
classmates. It was clear to those who appreciate such things
that Calire had a bright future ahead of him.
Thus, it came as no surprise when, about five years ago, he got
his first big-time gig as the drummer for the Wallflowers, an
up-and-coming pop band led by Jakob Dylan, son of Bob.
From there, a whirlwind of touring and recording took Calire
all over the globe, with performances on "The Tonight Show,"
"The Late Show with David Letterman," "Saturday
Night Live" and others.
"Bringing Down the Horse" became a huge hit album,
spawning four hit singles. While the follow-up records have not
performed as well, the band continues to tour extensively and
sell records to a worldwide following.
But earlier this year, Calire says he "realized that ideas
that the band had in terms of career direction were different"
than his own. It may take quite a leap of faith to leave something
so successful but that's what Calire decided he would do.
After completing a tour at the end of February, Calire took some
time to do studio recording and free-lance gigs. Then, just last
Thursday, Calire auditioned to play in the respected 12-piece
Latin-rock fusion band Ozomatli, from Los Angeles. Famous for
their live shows, which include an entrance through the crowd,
danceable rhythms and an overarching message of unity, the band
has developed quite a fan base over the last several years.
"Two days after that," Calire said, "I was rehearsing
with them. That first jam went really well."
Ozomatli, which has been around for eight-and-a-half years, is
on their fourth drummer (none of whom, ala "Spinal Tap"
have spontaneously combusted as of yet) and is making a new CD,
also their fourth. They plan to go into the studio at the end
of August. "They want me to have as much time as I can with
the new songs," said Calire.
Calire said he's excited to begin playing with a new outfit,
particularly one that will allow his to showcase more of his
"Lately I'm maxing out my ability to learn tunes,"
he said. "And it's fun. I haven't really pushed myself as
hard in that regard for a while. Every day I'm coming home wiped
out and in rehearsal my head is about to explode, but it's full
of really cool, fun music."
Calire, as always, gives much of the credit for his success and
drive to his father, local saxophone and keyboard playing legend
and Rotary Club Living Treasure Jim Calire. "He always taught
me and trained me to be versatile," says the younger Calire.
"And I still consider that my greatest strength. So far
I can tell that playing with Ozomatli will bring out a greater
percentage of what I do."
Ozomatli's bassist, Wil-Dog, says it was clear immediately that
Calire would make a good fit. "We had auditions and had
four guys came in on one day," he said. " The first
guy, a guy that I called, was the guy until Mario walked through
Instantly, within the minutes of playing, we knew he was it.
He's by far the best drummer we've ever had."
Calire has Ozomatli connections from his school days and the
new gig won't be the first time he's set down a rhythm together
with Wil-Dog. "I've known Mario for years, since he played
with (Los Angeles power-funk trio) The Two-Piece," said
Wil-Dog. "(Percussionist) Jiro (Yamaguchi) and (lead singer
and trumpet player) Asdru (Sierra) knew him from Cal-Arts. My
first paying gig ever was subbing for the bass player in Two-Piece.
At that point I knew I was a pro. Them asking me to sub meant
a lot to me. I've always loved Mario's playing. We speak the
same language in that way."
For his part, Calire, who now lives in Ventura and recently got
married, knows that playing and touring with a 12-piece band
on a single tour bus could make for slightly less luxurious living
than his former outfit. But he says he's anticipating the new
"I'm well aware that I'm going into a situation that's going
to be different," he said. "The guys are really cool
and I look forward to being exposed to all these different people
who have a lot of different backgrounds and different musical
tastes and places where they're coming from."
Meanwhile, Wil-Dog is predicting great things for Calire. "Next
thing you know," he said, " He'll be on the cover of
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
|Ojai's Mario Calire
hooks up with Latin fusion powerhouse band.