Alex Calder Packs Maximum Trash Into A Minivan.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
You might remember Alex Calder from Makeout Videotape, the old band him and Mac DeMarco cut their chops in together.
But a lot has changed since then: Mac's kind of a huge star at this point, and his old bandmate is still out here trying to find a path all his own. Last month, though, the pair linked back up as Calder opened for Mac DeMarco when he brought his goofy antics to the House of Blues.
It was there that we caught up with Calder and his drummer Conor Donaldson to talk about the dirty blue minivan they've touring in of late, while trailing DeMarco's massive rental bus just up the road.
Band Name: Alex Calder.
Van Name: The Shag Shack.
Year/ Make/ Model: Dodge Caravan.
Mileage: 440,000 km.
What can you tell us about the Shag Shack?
Alex: “It's really, really dirty. You want to see it on the inside? It's so gross, it's crazy.”
Why so gross?
Alex: “I don't know. We're really messy dudes.”
How did this van come into your possession?
Alex: “This van is actually my drummer Conor's. He'd actually be better to talk about it than myself.”
What can you tell me about your blue Caravan, Conor?
Conor Donaldson (Drums): “The headlight's out. Got some transmission issues. But, yeah, it's pretty sick. Got a sweet ride and it's got about 440,000 kilometers on it. There's a lot to deal with on it.”
How long has the band been using it, then?
Alex: “Gee, I'd say three years, four years? We got a Bob Marley sticker. We got a Monster energy sticker.”
How did you end up with it?
Conor: “It was my parents'. I bought it off them years ago. I think my grandpa gave it to them — rest in peace. So I've ripped this around in his honor. But, yeah, we spend too much time in it.”
Why is that?
Conor: “Well, we drive it all the time, and then we'll go on tour for, like, a month. It's just a lot of time being cooped up in a minivan. But it works.”
Alex: “Conor does about 100 percent of the driving also. I don't have a license. One day! [Bassist] Tom [Holmes] drives, too.”
So you mentioned you were having some transmission issues. Has this thing ever broken down on you?
Conor: “Knock on wood, but no.”
Alex: “It'll probably break down on this tour.”
Conor: “Probably. We assume it will. We'll see.”
What do you boys listen to in there? Got a tape deck or anything?
Alex: “We got a CD Player.”
Conor: “We'll show you some of the CDs we got in here.”
Alex: “We got some really good music.”
Conor: “We'll show you how disgusting it really is in here. Welcome to hell.”
Alex: “Yeah, it's super fucked. “
Conor: “Yeah, we just cleaned it out today. Here we got some Barenaked Ladies — Canadian content. What else we got? Lou Reed.”
I see you have a bunch of Monster Energy paraphernalia down there, too.
Alex: “Yeah, that's all Conor's stuff.”
Conor: “I got these sick beads in Hawaii. I don't know where [the Monster stuff] came from. Oh, we played a show and it was sponsored by Monster! I got a bunch of stickers. I think Pop Montreal hooked us with Monster.”
What are those blue forms there on the dash?
Alex: “Those are just permits for when you have to park at places.”
So, you guys aren't lying. It's super dirty. Is this as bad as you've ever let it get?
Alex:“Oh yeah. It's actually pretty fucked right now. But it's been worse, for sure. We just need to get a big old garbage bag and dump everything.”
Conor: “We'll just dump the van in a river after the tour. Submerge it some lake in Northern Canada.”
Alex: “Yeah, me and my friend one time got in a huge car accident, flipped it and just left it somewhere. It was really sketchy.”
Anything else you'd like to add about the Shag Shack?
Alex: “What's another name we had for it?”
Conor: “Ah, I don't know. The Fuckmobile?”
Alex: “I think that's probably it about the car. It's some dirty piece of shit.”
Conor: “But we love it!”