NEW YORK -- Two years ago, the Calling burst onto the charts with "Wherever You Will Go." Alex Band and Aaron Kamin were young, excited - and, they admit, a little naive.
Now the pair, who met when one started dating the other's sister, is back with "Two," the follow-up album that has already spawned the hit single "Our Lives." But this time around, they are a little wiser when it comes to their music and their lives.
"I think we've just grown up. We're a little more grounded," Band, 23, told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "You can't go through what we've experienced the past couple of years and not learn from it."
The lessons are apparent on "Two," which brims with songs that address hope and despair, love and loss, survival and redemption. The result: an album where the tracks feel connected, with one song leading into another.
"I don't know if we sat down with the intention of doing that," said Kamin, 27. "I think it reflects us having more freedom then we did last time around."
One of those freedoms, Kamin said, was having a bigger say in what songs to include on the album. Last time, someone else made most of the decisions about their songs, the Los Angeles-based duo said. This time, they decided what to include, what to leave out and what to fight for.
For instance, one of their songs, "Chasing the Sun," was initially sold to another band for use on the soundtrack to the 2001 movie "Summer Catch," starring Freddie Prinze Jr. The song, as it was recorded, was unrecognizable to the two members who always intended it be a rock ballad. The Calling was able to regain rights to the song and re-record it.
Another freedom, Kamin says, is the ability to say no.
When the duo were starting out, they did every interview, every publicity appearance offered to them. Now, they can be a little more picky with their choices.
"Now I ask why: 'Why are we doing this one or that one?"' Kamin said.
But the best freedom may be the opportunity to work with various artists and producers.
In between debut CD "Camino Palmero" and "Two," Band performed with Carlos Santana on the music video "Why Can't You and I." Kamin wrote and produced music with blues great Johnny Lang and scored two short films, including Shaina Fewell's "Ghost of Genius." The duo also wrote songs for various movie soundtracks, including "Kate and Leopold," "Daredevil" and "Sweet Home Alabama."
They have even rejected a few offers to have their music included on television and movie soundtracks. "Some of it just wasn't right for us," Band said.
The duo met when Kamin, then a premed student at UCLA, began dating Band's sister. When Kamin, who plays six instruments, saw guitars lying around Band's San Fernando Valley house, the two immediately bonded musically.
Over time, Kamin began to spend more time writing music with Band than taking out his girlfriend. Then came "the ultimatum" from Band's sister. His choice? Music.
Band and Kamin spent years toiling in the studio, writing and recording songs before ever putting out "Camino Palmero" in 2002. Kamin estimated they wrote more than 100 songs as they waited for RCA, the label that signed them as teenagers, to let them put out album.
On "Two," Kamin and Band worked with the legendary Clive Davis, head of BMG North America. Davis engineered Santana's smash "Supernatural" and has worked to develop artists from Pink to Whitney Houston. Kamin and Band said Davis had them record and re-record the same song dozens of times. "We would do 20 mixes of the same song," Band said.
Each time, he said Davis would find something in a song to improve.
Davis told the AP he wanted to work with the band after hearing their first album.
"When I heard their material, I was knocked out by it," he said. "They've taken their time in writing their new material. ... The lyric content and the songwriting has matured beautifully."
There have been other changes, too.
Band and Kamin are being sued by bass player Billy Mohler and drummer Nate Wood, who were brought in late in the recording of the Calling's first album, then toured with the band. The two allege they were promised royalties, which they say they were not paid. Kamin has said they were hired and not actual band members.
But the duo, who don't discuss the lawsuit, prefer to focus on the music of "Two."
"We all want the same things in life. We all fear the same things in life," Kamin said. "This album is meant to be a reminder of the commonality in people's lives."
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