Melonvine Interview

SBS:  Welcome Melonvine – stoked to have you in this interview with us – I love what I’ve heard from the latest self-titled EP & there’s lots I want to talk to you fellow Canadians about!  Everything I heard from the new record made me think of my own hometown in Vancouver, BC and how well your sound would work in that particular city.  We’re in Ottawa now…different vibe here but they’re catching on.  Tell us about Moncton, NB though…because I’ve never been there and I have the feeling a lot of the people out there are going to assume that the three people that knew how to play instruments there magically found themselves and started up a band – but obviously (or hopefully!) that’s not the case.  Tell us about what brought Melonvine together as a band…people love them origin-stories…but I’d also like to know about the Moncton scene itself and whether or not your immediate surroundings in New Brunswick offer you enough places, venues, support to keep on being a band in the years to follow…

Melonvine:  Thanks for having us man! MELONVINE originally started in mid- 2016 as a cover band. We covered songs by Nirvana, Weezer, RCHP and STP. It kept us busy throughout the early summer. I had just purchased a recording interface and a few mics. The guys had heard some of the pre-MELONVINE material as we soon began tracking. Chris, our current bass player began laying down bass tracks, I tracked drums and guitars/vocals for the EP; tracking didn’t pan out for the guitar player we had at the time. Soon after, Taylor came into the picture on drums, I transitioned to guitars/vocals with Chris on the bass and we instantly glued. MELONVINE was more official at that point even after releasing the EP a few months prior. We turned into a full original band, Chris and Taylor took in new songs I brought to practice weekly and killed them. They made the songs 100% better with their feel and energy. We began booking gigs shortly after.
As far as Moncton goes, there are lots of solid bands, great people and talented musicians. Venue selection is limited, but there is hope for the future. We have a blast here but also look forward to sharing our music in various areas.

SBS:  I wouldn’t disagree with the different bands I’ve seen listed in comparison to your sound…bands from the grunge-era like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day etc. – but we can agree that there’s a much more quintessential Canadian sound that runs through your music can’t we?  I hear bands like Age Of Electric, Change Of Heart, Treble Charger, Limblifter, Zuckerbaby…you’ve actually got quite a bit in common with the best of our scene that rose up just past the grunge-era in my opinion.  I was a bit indifferent on Change Of Heart so I’ll admit, I can’t speak about their music as much by comparison – but I hear the other three bands and their influence on your sound quite a bit.  Might be purposeful…might just happen by proxy of being Canadian…but I can hear it – you’d fit right in with some of my absolute favorites.  That being said…no matter what comparison I found or even made myself…it all ended up comparing you to bands that experienced the bulk of their excitement & followings about like…jeez I hate doing this part…probably 15-25 years ago now?  Don’t get me wrong…it’s certainly not uncommon for musicians to grow up on the music they love and end up playing something similar themselves – that’s a huge reason for the cyclical-nature of music & exactly why decade after decade we see the rise & fall of genres we love echoing the influences of where they came from all over again.  But tell me about taking an ‘old’ (and believe me, I really don’t think that’s the term that should apply here) sound and making it new again.  Essentially – with the sound of Melonvine being compared to bands from two decades ago – what would make you so sure that the people out there would connect to your sound today?  Is that a factor in any of the decision-making surrounding your music & careers or something you feel like you’d need to adapt to?  Should bands ever factor something like that in – or should they just do what they do and hope for the best?  What makes Melonvine relevant for today’s music-scene…or does it matter?

Melonvine:  There is a lot of music out there nowadays where a lot has been done, music trends have changed overtime and people move onto new things. The 90’s Nirvana influence never left us I guess. We really enjoy the punk rock mixed with grunge vibes and I basically brought those influences into the Melonvine music. Some older 90’s and early 2000’s rock music sounds terrific where it sounds brand new even today which is what we are aiming for.

SBS:  I was about a quarter or halfway through the opening track “Control” on your latest EP before I absolutely knew I’d love it – that’s a hell of a first impression guys!  Won’t lie to ya…downloaded it immediately because I was positive I’d end up digging whatever came next and Melonvine never let me down once – we clearly love a lot of the same sounds in alternative rock.  As much as I can hear why Smashing Pumpkins, Incubus and Nirvana were listed in comparison…felt like we missed Silverchair in this first comparison!  But let’s face facts…if Silverchair ever had to write anything to describe their music they’d have to be putting Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Incubus on their list as well…so I get why they could be left off your list, but I sure hear the comparisons to Silverchair in “Control” in the chorus and certainly around the 2:15-2:30 mark.  I’ll put it to you this way…”Control” also brought me back to the first time listening to Finger Eleven and their first record with “Quicksand” leading the tracklist…that opening song had SO MANY solid hooks – just like the way your EP opens up.  It took them a startling like…what…3-4 more records before they finally caught on with the people out there and by that time, their best material was already written & behind them.  So…there’s a question in here somewhere…I suppose what I’m wondering is what’s the formula?  Is being a musician all about being patient and waiting for the people to catch up?  Your entire EP is so loaded with solid writing and incredible hooks that I just can’t accept waiting for people to come around – so what would you say that you’re actively doing as a band that might be different in your approach to your music/career that would get you noticed sooner rather than later by the people out there?

Melonvine:  The entire first Finger Eleven record was a masterpiece. When I first heard Quicksand I had that immediate “I need this album” approach. That’s a huge goal of ours… To make a record with 10 solid songs VS having a 10 song record with 1 great song and 9 cringey ones. I think the unspoken rule with our band is to have no filler songs. We want nothing more than people who enjoy our music to enjoy our songs from beginning to end. We want to make our songs as “hooky” as possible so people can dig it!

SBS:  I’m not even remotely kidding when I say this EP of yours is an easy 5/5, 100% kind of record – you’ve got even song written to perfection when it comes to the hooks that pull us in to listen and more than enough energy & punch in the music to keep us interested.  I always say – I’m not here to rub NUTS – there’d be no point in me telling you you’re awesome if you’re really not, that wouldn’t help anyone.  Fact is – Melonvine is a seriously kicking all the ass in my opinion – this EP fucking rocks!  But here’s the thing…it makes life more interesting in the sense that you’ve got some of the weirdest/hardest decisions to make as a result.  Like – what’s the single here?  How on earth did you justify one song over the others when they ALL have the potential to be hits out there?  As many times as I went through it…I think I kept coming back to a split between either “Control” or “Round & Round” being what would be my number-one choices as a lead-single…but really, ANY of them could potentially bring people into the Melonvine sound and would be a justifiable choice.  But my point I guess…is that there are bands out there that struggle to write ONE hook into their songs…it wasn’t until just now that I realized the reason that is, is because you’re clearly hoarding them all in Melonvine!  Leave a few for the rest of us eh?  Tell us about what a Melonvine song HAS to have in order to make the cut for you…five songs on the EP, I’m guessing there were probably a few more that didn’t make it to this first recording…so what are YOU listening for in your own music that tells you that you’ve got a song exactly the way you want it?

Melonvine:  The EP was originally set to be a full length 11 song record, but we cut it down due to still being new to the Moncton scene. We wanted to give people a taste of our hardest hitting tracks. Control is basically set to be a single due to the diverse parts of the song.  The song should get a hold of the person less than 5 seconds in because people are now overfed with entertainment that the key parts of the song should be played right away. People are not going to wait 3 minutes into the song to hear a cool part. I guess songs that make the cut need to have all those ingredients!

SBS:  Geographically-speaking…are there extra challenges that face Melonvine that other bands don’t necessarily go through?  My most relevant experience with something I’d imagine to be similar was dealing with bands on the west-coast on Vancouver Island…they had to instantly take a ferry-ride over to the mainland to start the beginning of every tour.  Maybe you guys would go through something similar…I’m honestly not sure.  But not only is it a 2-hour trip each way, it’s also an instant expense that could run a four-piece band anywhere from an extra $300-$500 just to get across, which obviously SUCKS for any touring band – you instantly start off minus-money, which isn’t exactly the most stable thing when it comes to going out on a long tour.  Moncton’s made it out of NB before – those that know their Canadian music-history know that Eric’s Trip was doing garage/indie/grunge before those labels/genres were even a thing yet…so I know it’s possible to get over to the rest of Canada from there…but what’s the reality?  Are tours in the plans?  What obstacles stand between you and going out on the road for a full-on Canadian tour or even beyond our own country perhaps?

Melonvine:  Finances play a huge part in an independent band trying to tour. We are currently looking into setting up a 1 week mini tour in August and we must plan ahead of time to figure out expenses. It’s more difficult when you plan these tours independently, but passion overrides a lot of expenses. We enjoy every aspect of it.

SBS:  Aside from specific bands – what influences your songwriting and what you choose to write about?  I’ve heard it all by this point, songs about love, songs about cars, songs about refrigerators, songs about SONGS…you get the idea, the list could go on forever…I always find it fascinating to hear about what it is that gets people’s wheels turning.  Because we COULD write about anything right?  What’s important for Melonvine to communicate in their songs and express through the lyrics?  Would you say that there’s a common thread that exists between all the songs when it comes to their themes or what you choose to sing about on in the attitude of the writing?  What would you say is Melonvine ultimately looking to say, achieve or express through the music you make?

Melonvine:  I tend to base lyrics off the mood and feeling of the riff and melody. I find it difficult to throw lyrics down, and then base the music off of it. It doesn’t feel as right. You can find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper for hours and be left with nothing and then there nights when you wake up with great chorus lyrics in your head. It’s hit or miss, but I usually let people figure out what our songs are about. That’s the beauty of it.  Our songs are really all over the place, but we make it fun for the listener to figure it out.

SBS:  You ever take a look at each other while jamming together and think to yourselves…’what if we ended up being around as long as The Rolling Stones have been?’  I always laugh when I think about that…we all start bands without any issues but no one really thinks about the scenario where you might just end up spending the next 60-70 YEARS with the people in your band!  Obviously The Stones are a rare case…I’m sure a humble 30-40 years will suit Melonvine just fine – ha!  What’s going to keep you guys together throughout the years to come?  How do decisions get made within the band?  How do you ensure that the musical ‘needs’ of each member get fully incorporated into the writing & recordings so that no one gets tempted to break-up the group and go start a solo-career as a giant pop-star?  Alright alright…probably wouldn’t be pop-stardom you’d split-up for…hopefully there isn’t any reason Melonvine would call it quits, but nevermind what might make that happen – I’m interested in what will keep you together as a band over time.

Melonvine:  We’ve played music together for a year now and we can’t believe how we’ve accomplished the little important things in that time. Shared motivation plays a huge role in the commitment of the band. We get together to practice every week , I’ll bring a new song to the table and the guys just power through it and make it much better. It’s a fun process. We see ourselves performing for a good while.  We’re all on the same wavelength.

SBS:  Suppose I should ask about the short-term plans as well…just forget about the whole Rolling Stones thing for a moment and let’s talk about the upcoming summer – what’s in the cards for you guys for the rest of this year?  Shows coming up this summer?  New songs in the works already?  What’s happening with Melonvine for the rest of 2017?

Melonvine:  We are playing shows in late May, mid-June, late July and a mini tour in early August along a few festivals in between those times. We also plan to begin tracking for an upcoming EP in the middle of all that.

SBS:  Cheers and thank-you Melonvine…for both your time & for the seriously rad music!  Take this final space here in our SBS ‘Open Floor’ to tell us anything else you wanna let the people know about.  Appreciate you taking the time to answer all these rambling questions & I’m very much looking forward to that show in Ottawa *cough *cough that I’m sure you’ll be booking soon!  You’ll find me right in the front row guys – consider me a huge fan, sincerely.  Anyhow…my best to you all in Melonvine – lay some final words of wisdom on the people out there & keep in touch!

Melonvine:  Thank you so much for the kind words my man. We had a killer time answering these questions and we look to book some shows out your end very soon. Stay up to date with MELONVINE on socials for upcoming shows, and some brand new tracks! Cheers!

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