Stryder Callison just got a new app for his iPhone. “Voice Tutor” is a vocal warm-up that helps singers like himself perfect pitch, and it’s a sign that the local rocker’s old habits—he “used to smoke cigarettes, stay up until six, and scream” the night before a show—are long gone. He’s finally taking himself seriously. After recording his first solo album, Years in the Making, Callison learned first hand what happens when you push your voice to its limit. “The more you abuse your vocal cords, it creates a little red bump,” he says. “When you sing or even talk, your vocal cords won’t vibrate at the right speed.” Callison’s late night jam sessions earned him a vocal polyp—a swollen growth on one of his vocal cords—that Whitney Houston and Julie Andrews can sympathize with. Over the following year, Callison began repairing his voice by allowing himself to speak for only one minute every hour. While watching movies at home, he constantly thought, “I should probably be writing a song right now.” He compares his songwriting process to rebuilding his vocal cords: “I really work the songs, and don’t let the genre deter me from writing something that I should write.” Picking up the guitar in the early ’90s, Callison began strumming to Nirvana and Sublime, weaving reggae-dub-punk with the country music he enjoyed as a child at the rodeo. So where does he find the fuel to feed his songwriting fire? “It’s pretty much what I’m around and who I’m talking to,” he says. “I meet people anywhere, at a restaurant or a bar, and after hearing their story, I’m like, ‘Dang, that’s a song right there.’ It’s funny to talk about myself all the time—you’ve got to draw from sources other than your own life to be able to write good songs.”
INFO: 9 p.m., Tuesday, August 9. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $10/door. 423-1338. 21+.