Keith Calveric Interview
Johny Vegas

This band has been around since 1993, and what a reputation they've established! Their first two CD's, Super Cool American and Dog have sold over 14,000 copies. Their songs have been placed on network television programs such as “Touched By An Angel”, "Promised Land" and "Pacific Palisades".

Their touring schedule has taken them to Wisconsin, Colorado, and New Mexico.

By now you have to know we're talking about Johny Vegas!!

" Forest Hill Drive" is the title of their latest CD.

Lead vocalist Keith Calveric spoke with us about Johny Vegas.

Q - Keith, how is it that Johny Vegas can afford to go out on the road without a major label behind you?
A- (Laughs). Good question. Luckily, we've found a good place to live, it's not too expensive. We've been a full-time band for six years. We've figured out a way to make enough money at the shows we've played. We do pretty well in about 5 or 6 different towns, that we can do every 2 months or so, and make some decent money on those shows. That really affords us the opportunity to get out and play all over the place for next to nothing.

Q - So, you can actually make money on touring?
A -Well, I don't know if I'd go that far. We've made enough money to support ourselves, pay the rent, and put a couple of extra dollars in our pocket. But we're definitely not losing money on tour, which is the case with almost all acts.

Q - Leprechaun Records, is that your own label?
A - Yeah, sure.

Q - Where'd you debut this group six years ago? In Syracuse?
A - We actually got started in Oswego. The guitar player, Mike Shimshack and I went to school there. That's where we formed, and got our start.

Q - Where was the first gig?
A - At the Shacki Patch in Oswego.

Q - You could not survive if you just performed in Syracuse, could you?
A - We probably could, I don't think we could do what we're doing now. We'd possibly have to be doing a lot more cover material, in order to get a different group of people to see us all the time. But, that's one of the things I think a lot of local bands have a problem with; when you're playing three nights a week in town, it's one thing if you're playing all cover tunes and you're kind of like a party band, but when you're playing original stuff, you bring out a different kind of music fan. In order to keep it fresh here in town, we need to share the wealth of it, get out on the road and play it, in other places.

Q - How many gigs do you play a month?
A - I would say we usually do about 15.

Q - And you travel all over the U.S.?
A - Yeah. As a matter of fact, we just got back from Wisconsin. We've been in Colorado and New Mexico, and that's as far west as we've gotten so far. Each time we go out we try to expand a little bit further.

Q - What does your name Johny Vegas mean? It almost sounds like the name of a 50's group. I'm sure you've heard that before.
A- We sure have. But, actually, it was just the nickname of a friend in Oswego. We ended up having our first gig, and not even realizing we had a gig, and needed a name, and just kind of grabbed it out of the air, for no particular reason. And, now we are stuck with it. Not that I don't like it, because it seems to be a name people have heard of. It seems to be working well for us, so I'm not gonna complain about it.

Q - How'd you get one of your songs on the TV show "Touched By An Angel"?
A - We have a publisher that does that for us. She works out of Boston. She has a library of material of different artists. They'll call her up and say they're looking for a Tom Petty type song. They don't want to pay Tom Petty for his songs. So, she goes through her stuff and when she finds something that fits, she plugs us in. She's doing a great job for us actually. Touched By An Angel, Pacific Palisades, The Young And The Restless. All kinds of stuff. Our biggest thing was through someone else actually. We have a friend who works at ESPN. She does their video editing for their highlight shows. When John Elway retired she did the first song on our new record "Favorite One" to back it up. They played nearly the whole song, no talking or anything, just video footage of John Elway throwing touchdown passes, and our song cranking in the background. So, that was a lot of fun.

Q - You've got a New York manager, a Los Angeles P.R. firm, and a Miami based promotional company to promote your CD's. That takes a lot of money to fund all that doesn't it?
A - Yeah, it definitely does.

Q - That's probably why you're on the road so much, isn't it?
A - That's one of the reasons for sure. We try to even find a lot of college shows. We have a college booking agent in Chicago now, too, that we just hired. The P.R. stuff is something we do in spurts, when we have an album release. The company we use in L.A., Hoopla, is fantastic.

Q - Is this the first band for all the members or are you veterans of other groups?
A - We've all been playing for quite a while. Our bass player Mike Miller used to be in the Full Moon Band.

Q - What exactly are you looking to do? Are you looking for a major label deal?
A - I would say that's definitely a goal of ours, but, we feel we're doing pretty well on our own. We're not really in any particular rush to get there. We've been approached by a lot of people. We're just kind of trying to do it by our own terms. I think we're all pretty happy with the way it's done.

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