- Story by David Wylie Photography by Darren Hull
Search the web for Calvin Lechner and you’ll find two distinct results: one is playing the drums on stage with jet-black shaggy hair, sunglasses and a leather jacket; the other smiles professionally at the camera, clean cut and looking spiffy in a suit and tie. You could be forgiven for thinking they are two different people.
“When I was applying for jobs, the question always came up in interviews — ‘Was this you?’” says Calvin in his Kelowna home studio. “Well, it was at one point.”
“When I look back on it, it was a very strange time in my life,” he says. “It’s not that I would ever want to get rid of that side of my life. It’s just funny when they run into each other.”
Calvin, who grew up in Kitimat, started playing music when he was five years old. He took guitar lessons until he was 12 — that was the year his older brother got a drum kit for Christmas.
“I was obsessed with drums,” he says.
Calvin played in his first band, Anything August, while at Mount Elizabeth secondary school in Kitimat, and the group soon met music video producer Stephano Barberis, who has received at least 35 Director of the Year awards over his career so far. Though they met in Kelowna, they were excited about their “Kitimat connection,” and Barberis landed a $25,000 grant in 2005 to produce a video for Anything August that received airtime on MuchMusic.
“That’s what gave us our first push as kids,” says Calvin. “We were only about 16 or 17 when we started touring and didn’t focus on much else for the next six or seven years. We just really focussed on making a go of it. It was a crazy experience. We had no idea what we were doing. We were just rolling with the punches.”
The band moved to Kelowna where the music scene was blowing up, and a few of the bigger bands at the time had come from the Okanagan.
Calvin was drawn to the marketing aspects of growing a band, and Anything August soon became “Kings of MySpace” and networked with everyone they could.
“We were trying to get clever with how to get bigger shows, how to get on bigger bills,” he says.
Calvin started to promote concerts and paid bands to come to town so that Anything August could open for them.
|Calvin Lechner, moving from music to marketing in Kelowna. Darren Hull photography
When he met Dave Faber, the lead singer of Faber Drive, everything changed. Faber eventually called him, needing a new drummer.
“That call imploded our band Anything August. It was an opportunity for me to go exactly where I saw my own career going. As much as I loved the guys I was playing with, it was something that I felt I had to do.”
The move changed Calvin’s life. He toured with Faber Drive, playing songs from the debut album, Seven Second Surgery, in front of big crowds. He also helped write Faber’s second album, Can’t Keep A Secret, which was nominated as Pop Album of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards.
“It was a totally different game. We had management, we had booking agents, we had tour managers and stage managers. I wasn’t setting up my own drums anymore. We were signing autographs,” he says.
Despite the taste of music fame, being a part of Faber Drive wasn’t bringing Calvin joy in his life. He missed the business side of music. And looking back, he says, the band became too calculated, too formulaic.
“It took the magic out of it,” he says.
He left Faber Drive and moved back to Kitimat with his parents to recalibrate, deciding to pursue a future in marketing. Calvin says he made music to create a connection with others, and saw similarities between the two careers.
“That’s what I do today through marketing. Although it’s a completely different job, my approach is the same. There are a lot of parallels,” he says.
After leaving Faber Drive, he stopped playing music, and his drums gathered dust in a closet. Calvin was asked to join other bands, including well-known Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepson, but he told them he just couldn’t do it.
After a break, he started to dabble again, working alongside local Kelowna artists including award-winning winemaker Jason Parkes in the band Proper Man.
“My favourite thing to do as a musician is the session work.
I don’t like to be the centre of attention, so I really like being able to add that little something that can really help elevate an already-great artist,” he says. “The goal is to make your music and have as many people hear it as possible. If you can accomplish that, I think that’s the dream … doing what you love to do and finding a way to be able to make that a bigger part of your life.”
Calvin is currently in a cover band called The Feels, playing an atypical selection, including songs by the Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, Beatles and Hall & Oates.
Their website is rightinthefeels.ca
To see more of Darren Hull’s photography check out his site here.