How we met: ‘We needed a drummer for our band and I thought we should definitely audition him’ | Life and style

In April 2009, Caleb was living in Oakland, California, and was the singer/bassist in an indie band. “We needed to find a drummer,” he remembers. His best friend, the guitarist of the band, asked his younger brother’s friend, John, to audition.

“I was at university in Santa Cruz and wanted a break from studying,” says John. “I was already a big fan of the band and was really excited when I heard they wanted me to try out.” Although they’d never properly met, Caleb says he has a “fuzzy memory” of John listening to one of his practices. “I don’t know why, but I had a really good feeling about him,” he says. “I had this weird flash of knowing it was important and that we should definitely audition John.”

The band soon agreed to have John join them. “Musically, he had a very light touch and the ability to hold back, which we all liked,” says Caleb. Over the next few months, they got to know each other at practices, slowly building a friendship. “I liked his sense of humour and confidence. He was a lot of fun to be around,” says John. At the time, he was dating someone else, but when Caleb invited him to go for ice-cream at the end of the summer, John began to realise there might be a mutual attraction between them.

“We are from the same small town, San Luis Obispo, and we like a lot of the same art,” says Caleb. “And I thought he was really cute.” By the early autumn, John had split with his former boyfriend, and the pair began dating officially. Soon after, they moved in together in Oakland.

Caleb, left, and John in 2020
Caleb, left, and John in 2020. Photograph: Deborah Denker

In 2014, they married in their home town. “We had a really cheap wedding, celebrating with friends, family and a taco truck, but it was great. Everyone loved it,” says Caleb. Two years later, the couple briefly moved to New York for Caleb’s job as a librarian, but soon decided they missed California and moved back. Later the same year, John’s mum died suddenly. “Caleb was really supportive,” says John. “Then, shortly after, Donald Trump got elected. We were at a Hillary Clinton party when the news broke.” At the time, Caleb had been having problems finding a job. “I had just accepted a role in Georgia because I really needed to work,” he says. “Neither of us were excited about moving to a red state but it worked out well. John got a job in [US supermarket] Trader Joe’s and, when I was offered a transfer back to our home town, he was offered one too.”

They returned to San Luis Obispo in 2017 and have since adopted a cat, Arthur, and a dog, Milly. “We’re devoted to them,” says Caleb.

John loves his partner’s caring nature. “Caleb is so adventurous and always looking for something new to do. I’m the opposite by nature, so he’s really helped to pull me out of my shell and show me the world. There’s things we’ve done together that I never would have done on my own,” he says. “We balance each other nicely.”

Caleb appreciates his partner’s kindness. “When I got back into music after a long period away, John was really supportive of me. I’m currently in Wales studying for a PhD in creative writing, and he’s supporting me with that adventure too,” he says. “He flew over with me because I have a horrible phobia of flying and now he’s taking care of the pets in California. It’s a testament to the kind of partner he is.”

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