Caleb Lionheart are pop-punk rockers with passion

For the members of pop-punk band Caleb Lionheart, music is not a hobby. It's not a fun distraction or a pastime. It's a passion.

"That's how it is for everyone in Caleb," said guitarist and student at The College of Saint Rose Kris Wildermuth. "If we got signed tomorrow and they wanted us to quit our jobs and leave school to go on tour, we all would."

Caleb Lionheart, which formed in late 2007, also includes fellow Saint Rose student Tony Bucci. Wildermuth and Bucci are longtime friends and have been band mates since high school at Hudson High School in Hudson, NY.

"I don't remember how I met Kris Wild, but I know I invited him to my fifth birthday party," said Bucci.

Bucci began as a drummer, and the two have been involved in a number of different bands, separately and together, but usually as a unit.

Craig Jaufmann, the guitarist, is also from Hudson and attended high school with Wildermuth and Bucci. He plays in another project as well, involving the members of Caleb Lionheart, a hardcore band called Put Out. Some may know Put Out better by their former name, Pom Pom Death. Pom Pom Death has played many shows at Saint Rose and has been active both in the Albany scene and as a touring band for over two years.

Mike Cox, the bassist, played in the band Making Up The Truth with drummer Ron Greico before joining Caleb Lionheart. Cox works full time at Hudson-based independent record label Equal Vision Records doing screen-printing in their merchandise department. Greico has also previously worked at the record label, and got involved with Caleb Lionheart through his active presence in the Albany music scene.

"He's the Pete Wentz of the band," Wildermuth said of Greico. "He's the one that knows everybody."

Twenty-year-old Greico isn't from Albany, but has strong ties to the area and currently lives in the city.

"It's more home to me than any place else," said Greico.

He had known Bucci from going to shows in the area, and also booked a show for Pom Pom Death. At that time Bucci had expressed interest in a fast-paced melodic pop-punk band. While on tour with Making up the Truth and the band Trophy Scars, he had been listening to a pop-punk called Red Light Green Light and thought of Bucci.

"I texted him and said 'you would love this band,' and then asked if he still wanted to do a pop-punk band," Greico said.

When Greico got back from tour in October 2007, he joined up with the rest of the band to complete Caleb Lionheart.

For Bucci and Wildermuth, Caleb Lionheart rose from the ashes of Titans, formerly known as The Fabulous Funky Freedom, a progressive rock band that also included fellow Saint Rose student and Hudson High School graduate Chris Tenerowicz. Bucci and Wildermuth gained touring experience with Titans, who did a nationwide tour last year.

A relatively newly-formed band, they played their first show on December 8, 2007 with local hardcore favorite After the Fall, Connecticut-based Offsides, Bring Out Your Dead, from the Long Island area, and Caleb Lionheart's brother band Put Out. The show took place in the basement of Bucci and Wildermuth's apartment, which serves as a popular location for their shows, including one that took place on Friday, March 14.

Even though a majority of the members of Caleb Lionheart either currently or have previously played more aggressive hardcore music, the switch to pop-punk and acoustic hasn't been difficult for them.

Their acoustic songs hearken back to the type of music that the members listened to when they first got into music. The multi-genre band Saves the Day is a favorite of the band, and the influence is shown in the melodic, lyric-driven songs that lead singer Bucci belts out with eyes closed and hands clapping.

On March 15, 2008 at a show at local favorite The Muddy Cup, a packed coffeehouse was clapping along with him. The show, which also included performances by Caroline and the Beards, Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, and The Luxury Flatts, was acoustic, and only Bucci, Wildermuth, and Jaufmann played to the crowd.

"The great thing about acoustic is that we can play all together, or just with one person," Bucci said.

Caleb Lionheart also plays faster electric pop-punk fare, creating a dichotomy that the members and fans both appreciate. Although to date they've only recorded an acoustic EP, when recording a full-length album they intend to include both the acoustic and electric material.

Caleb Lionheart is currently recording at The Recording Company in Schenectady. According to Greico, they hadn't been practicing very often, but now that bassist Cox has switched from working nights at Equal Vision Records to working during the day, they're hoping to practice two or three times a week to tighten up before going on tour this summer. They're currently booking a tour down the east coast to Florida and back to Albany for June and July, and then a Northeast/Midwest tour to Chicago and back later in the summer. They've already booked shows in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Before the tour, however, they're playing a string of Albany shows, including a show on April 12 at Valentine's that doubles as the last show of local band Public Access, which is also a favorite of Caleb Lionheart. The show will include performances by The Flaming Tsunamis, The Fad, Stuck Lucky, and Brunt of It. They are also planning two more basement shows before summer, and plan to be finished with their full-length album soon as well.

For now, Caleb Lionheart is keeping busy, enjoying the ride, and playing its music for anyone who will listen. Bucci, who was previously a drummer, is especially excited about his role as lead singer.

"At first I was nervous," Bucci said. "But when I got the microphone in my hand, it was like, I forgot how amazing this is."

More information about upcoming shows can also be found at:

© Copyright 2009 The Saint Rose Chronicle

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