When Eric Caldera first came to Madison, he was just a grad student. In the 10 years since, he’s established himself firmly within the local music scene as guitarist for recently extinguished instrumental rock band El Valiente and as the mastermind of Oedipus Tex. But for Caldera, the time has come to go west.
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Caldera played in various bands throughout high school and junior college before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin to study biology. He spent a lot time traveling and studying abroad, which he says kept him from participating in a full band. This was when Oedipus Tex first bloomed.
Informed by Caldera’s Texas roots, this solo musical endeavor retained parts of his upbringing, embodying it in both music and lyrics. It’s about growing up in Texas, from his lyrics to the project’s southwestern country vibe. According to Caldera, this was never intentional.
“I never go out of my way to try and do that. It just sort of happens,” he says.
Caldera says he loves the Madison music scene because while it might seem small at times, it’s big compared to other cities its size. There was a lot of punk and metal floating around in San Antonio when Caldera was there, he says, and trying to pull off indie rock made him feel like an outsider. In Austin, however, there was an overload of indie rock music, so it was a challenge to stand out in a saturated scene. But he found an accepting environment in Madison. “I’ve always felt really comfortable here,” he says.
Oedipus Tex grew into a rotating full band in recent years, including members of various local music projects. Playing with others has allowed Caldera to absorb and learn new styles, he says. “People have been really receptive and warm to me here, which has been really important to me.”
As his last day in town nears, Caldera has been able to reflect on his time here. Ultimately what he’ll miss most about Madison, he says, are the friends he’s made. Being in a band allows you to reach another level of intimacy with that you possibly wouldn’t otherwise experience, he says.
And what will he might miss least? “That’s easy,” he says. “Winter. I don’t have the genes for this.”
Those genes will certainly do him better in sunny Los Angeles, and if Oedipus Tex could survive one move, it can survive another. With the completion of his Ph.D. this spring, Caldera plans on teaching once he’s there, but he has no plans to stop playing music — both as Oedipus Tex and perhaps in a few other potential projects.
Before he leaves, catch him at Oedipus Tex’s farewell show this Friday, June 9 at Mickey’s Tavern.