Artist Spotlight: Commodore Calipso

An intimate show of eclectic indie music took place at East Side DIY venue Frenia House Tuesday night featuring Brantwood of Nashville, Superkick of Chicago, Porn on VHS of LA, and the new Milwaukee band Commodore Calipso.

Commodore Calipso consists of vocalist/pianist Joe Humiston, guitarist Isaac Repinski, bassist Brent Gastrau, and drummer Sterling Dorsey. The project began this past fall when Humiston sought a new project after Pineapple Migraine disbanded.

“Me and Isaac really just like Japanese city pop; it’s a genre from the 80’s that became really popular. Because of the YouTube algorithm with “Plastic Love” we started diving into Tatsuro Yamashita and we take inspiration from his chord progressions. It’s also not at all city pop because we do whatever we want…kind of Radiohead sound-y sometimes. There’s a lot of jazz chords too since that’s how I learned how to play piano.”

Humiston talks a bit about the band’s first recording.

“The single is called “Dreamworld” and we recorded it a while ago. We’re doing all our recordings DIY purely; we did it at the Murray Attic (RIP). I think Sterling did a really good job mixing it and there’s always room for improvement, but we’ll get there.”

The project is being renamed once the single drops. Humiston explains why.

“Commodore Calipso is kind of long. It sounds cool but I’m tired of telling people that we’re not a calypso band – it was originally based off of Calipso the satellite.”

He describes how his songwriting process is different in this project than in Pineapple Migraine.

“I have a lot more involvement in it. I learned a lot about how to write songs and play piano better since then; most of the songs we’re playing are written by me. A couple are written by Isaac and one is by Brent, so there’s a good mix. The songwriting is simple and we crank through songs faster; Pineapple Migraine would spend months on just two songs, and we’re trying to be a more productive band releasing more and not being so detail-oriented.”

Commodore Calipso (soon to be a new name) plans to record and release a debut album in 2020. They play MKE Music Night at Linneman’s on the 26th and The Venue on Winnebago St. in Madison on June 12th.

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