We recently conducted an interview with guitarist and songwriter
ALEXX CALISE, who combines hard rock, electronica and urban-edged
pop with crunchy guitars, angsty lyrics. But she has another project
coming up.. Alexx Calise and Dennis Morehouse found they'd stumbled upon
an amazing formula and so they formed SOUND OF CANCER, a new
music project that combines Calise's love of rock, blues and jazz with
Morehouse's penchant for all things dark and disturbing. Sound Of Cancer
(named after the band's zodiac signs) will take you on a genre-defying
epic journey, incorporating hauntingly beautiful melodies with heavy
distortion, ominous sounds, and intricate choral harmonies.
As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Alexx Calise is an international
recording artist who has appeared in major publications such as Blender
magazine, Guitar World, and the how-to/method book "How to Succeed as a
Female Musician." Her original music is in heavy rotation on several TV
networks and on thousands of charting radio stations. Calise will be
releasing the follow up to her critically-acclaimed album, "Morning
Pill" simultaneously with Sound Of Cancer's debut.
Drummer/songwriter Dennis Morehouse has played with such notable acts as
Triple Seven, Diatribe, 16 Volt, Brain Pudding and Marc Ford's Fuzz
Machine, and he has recorded or shared the stage with George Clinton,
Todd Rundgren, Tim Gorman (The Who), Vernon Reed (Living Color), Alex
Skolnick (Testament), and Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions). Currently, Morehouse
is playing drums for Gilby Clarke (Guns 'n' Roses, Rockstar Supernova)
and BRAW (also featuring Fishbone's Norwood Fisher).
With their debut album on the horizon, Calise and Morehouse will be
spreading their "cancer" to the masses in a couple of weeks. After
having done an interview with Alexx Calise we were curious about
her other project. So, here you can read what she had to say about Sound
First of all, could you start this interview off with a
short introduction of Sound Of Cancer?
Alexx : Sound of Cancer is the brainchild of drummer/songwriter Dennis
Morehouse and I. We never had any intention of ever starting a band
together actually. Den had just approached me for help on a song for an
indie movie, and we found that we really worked well together. When our
“powers” combine, so to speak, we sound like a cross between The Cure,
Massive Attack and Portishead.
The band is named after our zodiac signs. Our birthdays are only 5 days
apart. I suppose that’s why we get along as well as we do. That, and
we’re both just awesome.
Which approach did you choose to create this album, did
you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your
previous other works, or something all together different?
Alexx : The beautiful thing about Sound of Cancer is that it is 100
percent performance based and raw. I won’t lie; it’s been an absolutely
brutal and painstaking process. But we didn’t really want to get
involved with Melodyne or Beat Detective or anything of that nature.
When you start shifting and correcting everything, you change the feel
of the performance.
Some of the greatest albums ever made are littered with pops, hisses,
distortion, and mistakes. There’s beauty in imperfection, and we wanted
to prove that we could get that same effect without tuning and chopping
everything beyond recognition.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Alexx : For the most part, Sound of Cancer has been extremely laborious,
time consuming and frustrating. One of our songs, “Vamp” took nearly 4
months to finish. And that’s just the writing part. Because SOC is so
calculated, and so heavily orchestrated (and also because Den and I are
musical elitists/perfectionists), we’ll spend months composing a song.
The melody and lyrics are the easy part (and that’s not easy). It’s all
of the choral harmonies and ear candy that take up so much time.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record this album, any elements you definitely wanted to include on it?
Alexx : Well, because we never really had any intention of starting a
band together, we didn’t really have a set goal. It just started out as
us getting together and writing songs for the hell of it. You know,
When we decided to become a band however, our focus and our goals
completely shifted. We wanted to have a cohesive, conceptual and epic
record, much like Rush’s “2112” or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”
How can we imagine you work on new songs for Sound Of
Cancer, do you work differently than when you write your solo albums?
Alexx : I work a lot differently when I write for Sound of Cancer. Den
writes the bulk of the music and I do all of the harmonies, lyrics and
melodies. Having either job is no picnic, I assure you. Not one of our
songs has been easy to produce because of all the elaborate
orchestration involved. I dreaded tracking vocals for SOC in particular
because I chose to perform all the classical harmonies I wrote as
opposed to Melodyning them. It’s really tempting to go the easy route,
but we wanted this record to sound real.
Have you given the album a title yet? I couldn’t find
Alexx : We don’t have a title just yet. I’m sure it will be dark and
evil sounding though., ha ha.
Can you give us a little background information on the
songs? Is there a story behind them?
Alexx : Each song tells its own story, but for the most part, they’re
all very existential and brooding (without whining of course). For
example, one of our songs, “Love,” is about being ‘unhappy’ with
happiness (because complacency in life equals certain death). Another
one of our songs, “Say,” is of the self-loathing variety, but it offers
a resolution of sorts in the lyric “this pain can’t last forever, tell
me it’s getting better.”
Whenever I finish a song and I show it to my father (who is my true
litmus test), he always sighs, “another ball and chain song, huh?” When
my father says that then I know that my work is done.
How did the recording process proceed and how much time
did you spend in the studio working on this album?
Alexx : We recorded everything on a laptop using the audio engineering
software Logic. The whole recording process took a little over a year.
We played it pretty smart. We just recorded everything as we wrote, and
whenever we didn’t feel like working on a particular song, we’d move on
to the next one. Everything was done entirely by Dennis and I, so it’s
been extremely time consuming and labor intensive. The only outside help
we’ve received is from our friend, Eric Klein, who assisted us with some
of the mixing and production concepts. He’s been an absolute sweetheart
We’re hoping that this record will be hugely successful so we can have
more helping hands like him on the next record.
How would you sum up this album to someone that has never
listened to it?
Alexx : It’s sounds like The Cure, Massive Attack and Portishead got
together and had a delightful tea party.
How would you describe your own music and what are your
Alexx : It sounds like afternoon delight mixed with sunshine, moonbeams,
lollipops, rainbows, and multi-colored Jet Puffed marshmallows.
What can we expect from Sound Of Cancer in the near
future, any touring plans?
Alexx : We plan to tour as soon as the record is complete. I think it
would be pretty funny if my solo project opened up for SOC on tour. I
wonder if anyone could tell the difference…
Where do you see Sound Of Cancer going within the next
couple of years, and where do you see Sound Of Cancer’s musical
direction going for the next album?
Alexx : I think SOC will have to marinade with people, because it’s
extremely involved and contemplative. You really have to be in a
certain space to truly appreciate it. It’s kind of like how I felt when
I first heard Muse. I absolutely hated them and thought their music was
pretentious at first listen. After I heard them a few more times though,
I thought they were one of the greatest bands I’d ever heard. I’m hoping
SOC will have that kind of effect on people. That’s what creates
I think we have the potential to be huge; at least within a niche
market. If we blow up bigger than that, then that would be great. We
just want to be able to pay our bills and have a home to come back to
after we finish touring, haha.
As far as the next album goes, we haven’t even thought that far. We’re
still scrambling to get this one finished by the deadline.
A last statement?
Alexx : Yes, please be on the lookout for our debut album, which will be
available on Soundofcancer.com, Alexxcalise.com, Dennismorehouse.com,
iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and many other major online media outlets next
Thanks for your time,
Alexx Calise – Vocals, Guitars
Dennis Morehouse – Drums
(2010) - Sound Of Cancer