The group writes original songs, has a dedicated following, and its distinctive trademark is the lead vocal work by Julie Stepanek.
The band soon settled on the name I Hate Jane, and played out two shows (one at an acoustic extension of CGBG, but the band played electric regardless) before abandoning the name. After the second show Helene's husband, only a temporary bassist, exited the band, leaving Julie, Helene and Steve to post flyers searching for a female bassist.
One of the people to answer the call was Dan Crane, a young lead guitarist and vocalist living in Brooklyn. Julie was skeptical at first, but upon witnessing his audition she immediately welcomed him into the band. With two guitars in play, the keyboard was rendered auxiliary at best, and Steve was soon given the boot from the band. Another male bassist, Doug Mikko, was recruited, and it was this lineup that comprised the second official incarnation of the band, Stephonic.
The band played many shows, including reworked versions of old I Hate Jane songs, newer compositions to later be released as Calamine ("Flicker"), and several tunes that only exist on old, unsurfaced demo recordings ("The Bomb," "Next Big Thing").
One demo recording from this era has surfaced and is now officially posted on Calamine.com It includes "Nightlight's Glow," "Letters," "Stop Me," and an early version of the Calamine classic "Document."
The band renamed itself Calamine and released their self-titled EP, recorded by Nicholas Vernhes (who later went on to produce The Fiery Furnaces and Silver Jews). The disc was self-released via the band's own Squirrel Hut imprint, gaining some minor but very affectionate press attention, including an interview with Rockband.com (see links below).
By the year 2000 it had become apparent that Calamine could no longer sustain itself through the internal tensions developing within the band: Dan, having only sung lead on one of the EP's six tracks, wanted a greater level of creative control in the band, also wanting to play louder and rock harder than Julie would allow. The band played a final, "pre-hiatus" show that summer (rather notably with former drummer Helene in the audience, marking her reconciliation with the band), and then disbanded.
Before splitting for good, however, the band recorded the theme song to popular television show Sealab 2021, a move that garnered the band a new and larger audience. Despite this, it was the last recording the band would record with that lineup. Dan also went on to a successful career as a writer, using the name of his alter ego, Björn Türoque, as the author of "To Air Is Human" (Riverhead; 2006), which described his career competing in air guitar competitions. He appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brian, Last Call with Carson Daly and other programs, and received numerous glowing reviews.
Bassist Jack Campbell, having recently had a baby and moved out of the city, was replaced by Julie's husband, Andrew Webster. Dave Jargowsky resumed drumming responsibilities, and the band continued as a trio for the first time since Julie had played with Helene and Elizabeth in 1995.
In the summer of 2003, the band played a brief series of return gigs in NYC, including one at Calamine's favorite venue, Pete's Candy Store. After "road testing" the songs a bit, Julie finished the writing process for the record in the winter of 2004. The early AM acoustic demos (produced on 4-track) represented an early version of the record, which the band posted song-by-song on their website (currently, only the demo for "The Accident" is available).
By summer 2004, Dave could no longer commit himself to the band, so Julie recruited Steven Albert to play drums, and the band entered NYC's Purple Room with producer Eli Janney (Girls Vs. Boys, DJEJ). She was, at this point, 7 months pregnant.
After laying down the basic tracks at Purple Room, the album was shifted to Fort Knox Studios, where Steve Raskin mixed and edited the record with the band for nearly a month straight. The record was then returned to Janney for a final round of mixing and editing, and the completed 9-song full-length, "What We Forgot to Remember," was self-released in 2005, available exclusively through the band's website. The following January, the album saw international digital release via iTunes.
At this point Julie and Andrew became more concerned with raising their son, Henry, and moving to Massachusetts. They now comprise Calamine on their farm in Pioneer Valley, where they rehearse and play music in their remodeled barn. The band is currently planning a live return to Brooklyn on August 1st, again at Pete's Candy Store. Julie has written and demoed an album's worth of new material, which is currently being refined and polished for eventual recording and release.
Ironically, as writers, Helene and Dan enjoyed considerable success. Although Helene's "Five Finger Discount" was a bigger seller than "Baby Plays Around," the latter still received glowing reviews in USA Today, the New York Observer, Entertainment Weekly and other publications. Dan's "To Air Is Human" was also well reviewed. Publishers Weekly, for example, wrote: "With hilarious detail, Türoque/Crane recounts what became a three-year, nearly full-time immersion into the cutthroat, usually drunken, but always serious world of air guitar competitors, who choreograph detailed 60-second routines of air-jumping, air-fretting, air–power-chording and air-soloing in order to be 'transposed from insignificance into supernatural supershredding superheroes.'" He was prominatnly featured in the film "Air Guitar Nation" -- both on screen and in the poster. Released in March, 2007, the movie comes out on DVD in the summer of 2007. Although he retired as an air guitarist in 2005, Dan writes for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Slate, among others, and plays in the faux French rock-and-roll band, Nous Non Plus.
2. "The Nirvana Song"
3. Next Big Thing
4. Haircut Song
5. Fuck You Song
6. Document [earliest version]
2. The Bomb
3. The Other Side
4. Rip My Tongue Out Song
6. Next Big Thing
2. So Far
3. Nightlight's Glow
4. Stop Me
7. If You Could Read My Mind (Gordon Lightfoot cover)
8. Grinch Who Stole Christmas Song (cover) [learned for 1997 Xmas show]
9. Just Like Honey (Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
11. Brandy (cover)
12. Gone Away [early version of Flicker]
13. Stringbean Boy
4. Repulsion [written by Dan]
6. Horse & Carriage
8. Skinned Knees [written by Dan]
9. Sealab Theme (various versions)
2. New Machine
3. The Accident
4. The Truth About You
5. More Sad Robots
7. Coney Island
8. Asleep In The Sun
10. Aubrey Dance
11. Trampoline [reworked version]
12. Document [reworked version]
13. Flicker [reworked version]
14. Sealab Theme [reworked version]
15. Sealab Theme Redux
16. Holland, 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
17. Passing Afternoon (Iron & Wine cover)
2. Nightlight's Glow
3. Stop Me
1. Porch [different vocal melody, cuts off at 2 minute mark]
2. New Machine [features an unreleased bridge and final chorus]
3. These Days [original second verse lyrics, two choruses, different bridge]
4. The Accident [almost entirely different arrangement and song]
5. More Sad Robots [prominently features piano]
6. The Truth About You [prominently features piano]
8. Aubrey Dance [as of yet unreleased song]
9. Asleep in the Sun
1. These Days [different outro]
2. The Truth About You
3. The Accident
4. More Sad Robots
5. Coney Island [extended]
7. New Machine [features an unreleased bridge and final chorus]
8. Lovey [entirely different percussion]
9. Asleep in the Sun [extended]
1. Arbor Day
2. A Brilliant Tattoo
5. Blue Shirt
8. Joan Of Arc