"I've always been around music, picking up instruments, since I was like 4 or 5," Calderon said. "My sister was a pianist, and she gave me lessons how to play. But I hadn't really decided whether I wanted to be a musician until I was 16. I was taking some music classes in North Bergen High, but there really wasn't much room for a guitarist in the marching band. I figured I would eventually go to college, but I wouldn't be happy unless I pursued a music career first."
So Calderon joined a handful of local bands and honed up on his already immense musical skills. But playing in a band really didn't appeal to an aspiring singer/songwriter, even if he was still a teenager.
"I was always doing all the work for the bands," Calderon said. "People told me that if I didn't have a band, I'd have to deal with some times of silence."
Calderon tried his best to get recognized as a musician, playing on his own at local coffee houses and anywhere that featured amateur open mic nights.
"There was one coffee shop where the owners gave me a free leash to play whatever I wanted," Calderon said. Enter Billy Atwell. The Weehawken resident was the drummer for numerous punk/alt-rock bands including Shirley Temple of Doom, and has been branching out into the world of becoming a music producer.
"Billy came into the coffee shop and heard me play," Calderon said. "He handed me a business card and told me to call him."
"There was a familiarity in his voice," Atwell said. "There were a lot of reminders to someone, but no one I could put my finger on. But I was more than intrigued. He was definitely talented."
For Atwell, it didn't matter that he was a guy with a background in punk spotting a talented 19-year-old who fit the mold of what they call "anti-folk" in popular East Village coffee shops and hangouts.
"Regardless of the genre of the music, I think it was easy for me to switch gears from punk to Efrain's style," Atwell said. "I think it was always my goal to become more diversified in the music business. It was more about his vitality. That was the key. The music was just a means to an end."
Recorded in the bathroom So Calderon and Atwell finally got together and collaborated on a recording that was made in the bathroom and a spare bedroom in Atwell's Weehawken apartment.
"Billy is great," Calderon said. "He's so open-minded. He opened my life to others. He's so unlike any producer I've been with. He makes things so easy for me."
That's why Calderon didn't flinch when Atwell suggested recording in the bathroom.
"We had to take a break when the people upstairs flushed or the Weehawken police drove by with their sirens," Calderon said. "I spent a lot of time [in there], singing and playing. He told me that recording in the bathroom would work, and it did."
"It's a phenomenon now where people are recording albums themselves instead of spending money for 48-track studio in midtown Manhattan," Atwell said. "We're just grabbing the bull by the horns. The proof is in the end result."
The two have combined to produce the CD, "The Rain," on which Calderon appears in his stage name. His name is ironically "In Times of Silence," dedicated to those who thought he could never make it in the music business alone.
In Times of Silence's "The Rain" has already drawn comparisons from Dave Matthews to Pink Floyd. In fact, the engineer who mastered the CD, Mike Fossenkemper, who worked on Madonna's "Bedtime Stories" and Elton John's "Duets," said one track entitled "Dregs in Black" sounded "pretty much like Pink Floyd."
"A lot of people call the style 'anti-folk,' which is very popular in the East Village," Calderon said. "But I don't label it as anything. I like to keep the music moderate and make the lyrics extreme. There's definitely an admiration I have for pop music in the sound."
Kicked off Atwell's production of Calderon's talents were on display last Tuesday night, when there was a CD release party at the Sidewalk Café in New York. Atwell performed with Calderon and cellist Daniel Cho, performing some of the tracks from "The Rain" CD.
"I think we're trying to seize the moment," Calderon said. "You can't capture what happened in words. I'm hoping to find the inspiration to capture everything in music. I don't know if I believe in fate, but it's pretty remarkable and a little weird that a folk singer would get together with a guy who was part of a punk rock band and make this sound."
Added Calderon, "I've written countless songs on days that I never thought I would be able to, so this has definitely inspired me. I'm pretty happy with the way things are going."
So he should. He's 19 and already has a CD released. The star is on the rise.
"He's very promising," Atwell said. "He really has the vision of where he wants to be with his career in five years. The promise and the trajectory are there. He's well on his way. There's a lot of great music to be heard from him."
The release of In Times of Silence's CD "The Rain" can be found in Tunes, a local music store in Hoboken. For more information about the group and the CD, log onto www.intimesofsilence.com.