Calhoon Remembers “Craziest Concert”
Brandon gives us insight into his favorite life-changing moment as a musician and how he got selected to be a contestant on the CBS show “Rock Star: INXS.”
Q: What is a moment in your musical career where you thought, “I can’t believe this is happening to me right now. This is unbelievable.”
I’ve had quite a few unbelievable moments throughout my musical career, but my favorite one was when I was living in Hermosa Beach, California. I wasn’t really writing or playing much at the time, except for a few Friday night acoustic gigs. I spent my time working and hanging out on the beach, soaking up the California sun. One afternoon, my buddy called me and told me I should audition for a TV show called Rock Star: INXS airing on CBS. The final audition was at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I called in sick that Friday morning and got in line behind about 100 people on North Clark Street. I waited about four hours before it was my time to audition.
I wore these funky red and black checkered bell bottom pants and a black and gold T-Shirt. Total rock star wardrobe. I got on stage, turned my amp to 11, and jammed a song I wrote called “Little Things.” I was so nervous, so I kept it short and sweet, and actually ended the song early before the judges got the chance to cut me off with one of those rude “OK, that’s enough dude…get off the stage” comments.
I felt a bit defeated on the drive back to Hermosa because I felt like I bombed, but at the same time, I felt elated that I got a chance to kick out a jam at the famous Whiskey a Go-Go. Later that night, I was playing a gig with my buddy James McKenna at Hennessy’s Tavern when I got a call to come back for round two of auditions at the Whiskey the next morning. I went back, and I nailed it.
A few weeks later, I got another call to tell me that I made the top 50. After another couple weeks, I finally got “the Call” that I made the show. It was a pretty unbelievable moment for two reasons: One, I never imagined myself being on a nationally televised TV show. And two, I told myself when I moved to California that if something cool didn’t happen within a year, I was moving back home to Michigan. A year to the day, I moved into the Hollywood mansion to start filming Rock Star: INXS.
Q: How did that moment leave an impact on you and/or your career?
It opened doors for me. Before Rock Star: INXS, I played in an 80’s cover band, several blues bands in college, and solo acoustic gigs in and around Detroit, but nothing opens doors like being on a national television show. I had fun with it for awhile, but there’s always a downside, too. Being the naive person that I was, I felt like something would automatically happen….like I’d finish the show, get signed to a record contract, and go tour the world. Nope…didn’t work like that for me. But I can’t say it didn’t create some opportunities, and I’m grateful for the experience.
Q: What have you learned from your successes as a musician?
I’ve learned you can’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The music business will toss you around like a yo-yo. I try and stay balanced by doing different styles of music for TV and film, which keeps me half-sane. If I get too much in my own head or take myself too seriously, I can get a little crazy. Everyone has their own interpretation of success. Sometimes just getting on stage and singing a song I wrote is all I need. If I make someone smile, that’s success.
Q: What have you learned from your failures or rejections as a musician?
I learned that you have to have thick skin and a little crazy to be in this business. If you’re in it for the money, get out! You better love it and the lifestyle that comes along with it. It’s kind of like the saying, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.” That’s music. You can’t please everyone….If you try, you will lose. Have fun, and write another song. Bob Dylan said it best when a reporter asked him his favorite song he ever wrote. Bob’s reply? “The one I’m working on right now.”