Venezuelan vocalist, Jessica Pons has come far to start a new life, and becoming what she was meant to be, a musician. Tampa’s Red Calling is one serious metal band. I came across them on facebook and was pleasantly surprised to see a fierce woman on the front lines. It’s not that common to see bad ass women in the metal scene. They hold their own, they’re independent and speak their minds.
The sound has a mysterious kind of vibe layers with heavy riffs, and a touch of industrial alternative. Its reminiscent of Evanescence, but the band has its own vibe. Along with her smooth vocals next to the sound and music is perfection. Red Calling is knocking all the doors down. As hard rock band they’ve come far from playing a couple gigs. They are now a force to be reckoned with in metal scene. I have a feeling we are going to see them continue to rise to the top, nothing is stopping them.
Their new single “Fight or Run” is exploding on the web and this is just a taste of more to come from them! I had a chance to chat it up with lead front woman Jessica Pons. She is very intelligent and passionate it was truly a great experience to learn more about their story.
When did you guys get together?
- Jessica: In 2010 magic happened when I met a close group of friends; brothers Javier & Luis Pons and Destiny Covault (former drummer). We started playing in a 7-piece Latin rock band for few months. After that band ended and the remaining 4 of us noticed we shared a huge passion for hard rock/metal music, and we formed Red Calling officially that year. Destiny quit the band in 2019 due to personal reasons, then Deven Starr joined the band the same year. We played a lot of shows in Florida with him until COVID hit. He left the band during the pandemic then Alessandro Kobleur joined the band in June 2021.
What did you guys do when COVID hit?
- We released 2 video/singles, created lots of social media content and did some writing. We learned a lot about online marketing, demographics, online music festivals, we did tons of online interviews, and our music went to places we never thought of before like Ireland, Turkey, England, Argentina, Brazil, among others.
Most difficult time or struggles in the music Industry, huh?
- Moving to a new country (United States) and starting a band from scratch was very challenging and much harder than I could’ve imagined. I was born and raised in a small oil town in Venezuela. I founded an all-girls rock band called Naturaleza Muerta (“Still Life”) and began playing as a touring musician in my country and recorded an EP. Our love for music took us over 2,000 miles in our travel from our hometown to Tampa, FL in 2007. The band disbanded a year later. Lack of support, money issues and personal struggles ruined it all. I spent 2 years after that looking for the right people to form a new band. I finally met the guys in 2010 and we started Red Calling.
Can you tell us about your favs you like to perform live?
- I’m visceral when I write music and lyrics. When I’m on stage I feel compelled to act on the lyrics, dance and engage with the audience. “Torture” is one of my favorite songs to perform because it has a very personal meaning. We’re on crazy times full of anxiety, fear, depression, uncertainty and mental health issues have been like a second pandemic. The lyrics are about not hanging on to one’s hurt anymore and finding relief through a special relationship, a calming voice that can silence the “torture” inside our heads. Another song I love to perform live is our new single “Fight or Run” where I get to play a seven strings guitar with a lower tuning. This song has a totally different sound and it’s about fighting and defeating our own demons, instead of running away from them.
What’s the process look like with your music?
- We’ve been releasing singles/videos as part of our strategy instead of albums. Our first and only full-length self-titled album Red Calling was released in 2016 containing 10 songs. We’re living in times where content and music are being consumed at a fast pace so releasing singles seems like the way to go. Javier (Guitar) and I are the main lyricists, but I tend to write more melodic lines and music arrangements. Usually, we write the music first then the lines come easy to me. Sometimes I might change a few words to make it sound better. It is different every time. Sometimes we all start jamming and something comes out of it, some other times i bring a full song with lyrics. In other cases, Javier brings a guitar riff, and we start building the song from there.
What do you love most about touring?
- Being able to enjoy our passion to the fullest, express ourselves, travel and meet tons of people while bringing a positive message to rockers and metalheads. We fight against suicide and mental health issues through our music. I love hanging out with other musicians as well. People are the most important thing to me.
Have you guys collaborated with anyone if not wd you like to?
- No, never. We’d love to collaborate musically with Jonathan Davis (Korn), Spiritbox, Deftones, and Radiohead. These are amazing artists that have deeply influenced us.
Who would you like to tour with?
- It’d be awesome to tour with Spiritbox, Architects, Korn, Jinjer. These are very talented hard-working musicians whose music we love.
Any crazy tour stories or scary close calls on tour?
- A couple of months before the pandemic, we played a show in Summerfield, FL. On our way back home, I was driving one of our cars and Javier (my husband/our guitar player) was driving our other car. I was driving behind him. When were just a couple of miles from home but still on the highway, I got rear ended by a car. The driver was going so fast that my car started spinning. His car kept going after hitting me and rear-ended Javier. Long story short, he totaled both of our cars and damaged some of our guitar cabs. The police report said he was racing and doing at least 120mph. It was a scary moment. At the end of the day, we walked away with just a few bruises and we look at it as a blessing as it could’ve been worse.
How’s the music scene where you live and did it help push you? Or inspire you?
- Tampa is known by many metal fans as the “capital of death metal”. The music scene is and always has been vibrant, people are hungry for music, and it shows. When it comes to booking gigs or breaking into new music scenes connections with bands and the community are key. Gig swaps with other bands, working with venue owners and booking agents, supporting nonprofit organizations and local businesses have opened many doors to our band
Do you have any specific favorite venues or specific locations you’re hoping to play in the future?
- We have played in summer festivals like Rockapalooza in Jackson, MI, Megaton Toledo, OH, Rockfest Charleston, SC. We’d love to play in Welcome to Rockville in Daytona, FL!
Can you provide any insight into your perspective as a female in this insane music industry?
- I always hear people talk about sexism in the music industry and I’d really love to see more women in key positions at the top. I’ve heard some terrible stories about sexual harassment and misogyny from other female musicians and it’s very sad. I feel blessed I’ve never experienced anything like that in my career, but we must speak up if we see ourselves in these kinds of situations. But it’s been great seeing lots of female fronted bands and bands with female musicians emerging in the past 10 years, that was very uncommon before.
Any advice for other musicians looking to pursue a career in music?
- Take your time looking for the right bandmates, personal and musical chemistry are super important. Be disciplined and have consistency. Focus on all aspects of your music project, having a band involves a great deal of commitment and a lot of boring stuff too. Also, practice with your instrument every day, work out and eat healthy, you always want to be energetic when performing on stage. Fight for your dreams.
Awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us at Top Shelf Music. Do you have any last words for fans and music lovers?
- We’d like to thank you, Suzanne, for this opportunity to share our music and thoughts. We’d also like to thank our fans for their love and support. And to those that are just learning about our band, we hope you like our music! Also, if anyone reading this is dealing with any kind of suicidal tendencies, anxiety, depression or any other mental health issues, please reach out! REACH OUT! You can talk to us, we’re on all social media platforms as Red Calling Please know that you’re precious, you’re loved and there’s always a second chance if you’re alive and breathing!
Red Calling consists of Jessica Pons (vocals, guitar, keys), Javier Pons (guitar, programming), Luis Pons (bass), and Alessandra Kobleur (drums). Make sure to check them out in the artist links below!