This marks the next step in the band’s ascent since they first started gigging on the London scene five years ago.
Melic, who open TNT’s 30th birthday party at Koko this month before legend Ash Grunwald headlines, first took to the stages of the capital in 2008 and have found themselves playing iconic venues such as The Borderline and Cargo. In this time, they’ve released three independently recorded EPs, the third being last year’s Nowhere I’d Rather Be. It was a chance gig early last year, however, that put them on the path to their debut album deal.
“We performed at The Garage at the end of April and the label [Beatnik Geek Records] happened to be in the audience scouting for a new act – then we got a call a few days later,” Hitchcock explains of the serendipitous meeting.
Last year’s taste-whetting EP Nowhere I’d Rather Be – the standout titular lead track was a funk-fuelled love letter to their adopted GB homeland – won them new fans and delighted those who’d been addicted since first catching them live. The foursome have prided themselves on two things – their raucous live shows, and their totally-unlike-anything-else sound.
Fusing the diverse talents and musical leanings of the band’s four members – funk rock bassist Steve Hitchcock, metal drummer Andrew Coogan, classically trained pianist and saxophonist Romy Bylin and their rock singer-songwriter frontman, often found in his Brian Johnson-recalling hat (see above left) – theirs is a sound that pulls from many different corners of the musical landscape to create a seamless whole. The varied influences organically unite when the four pick up their instruments together.
The 13 tracks on Anywhere, the first fruits of the Melic- Beatnik union, are set to take their trademark sound one step further, though.
“There’s always a large range of influences apparent in our songs from the disparate musical tastes of Andrew, Steve Romy and I,” Hitchcock says of the Melic sound.
“You’ll hear subtle metal drum fills – if there is such a thing – sneaking in there, Flea-like funk bass riffs, and an array of all sorts from Romy and me in and around the sounds of Dave Matthews Band, Incubus and Pearl Jam.”
“We’ve learned how to best write music together now,” he adds of the way the band have grown and evolved as a unit.
“We know when something is working and similarly when to abandon a track and move on. And over the last few years we’ve been sending each other music to listen to – Andrew now has us all fascinated with British prog-rock band Porcupine Tree; Steve and I introduced the other two to singer-songwriter [Irishman] Glen Hansard, and this has helped develop our sound, bringing us together and finding where the middle ground lies.”
Despite this evolution, the recording of the debut at three separate studios across the capital – “there were some long days and some very late nights!” – proved a test for the band, its confines far from their usual habitat. “Recording is actually a bit of a mongrel,” Hitchcock says.
“It’s just not a very natural thing to play to a metronome and concentrate so hard on being so precise. Whereas it’s awesome getting into a natural groove with the musicians around you on stage, with no constraints.”
Melic’s live drive did spill over into this recording time in the end, despite the ‘clockwork’ routines the studio demands.
“We found that no matter how rehearsed we were or how planned all the parts were, every track changed and came out slightly differently,” the frontman reveals.
Anywhere is slated for an August 5 release, with the band launching it at west London’s Bush Hall on August 1, before then taking the new tunes out to the masses. After all, these guys are not ones to let anything keep them from the road.
“We were performing in Christchurch [recently] and were due in Wellington the next day, but we woke up to a snowstorm – all flights cancelled,” Hitchcock recalls of a particularly fraught gig that called on all the band’s resolve.
“We hired a four-wheel drive for the five-hour road trip northbound through the snow and made our way up the coast, talking our way through road blocks to Blenheim (top of the North Island) where we squeezed into a tiny single-engine plane to cross the strait. It was pretty rock ‘n’ roll.
“There were some pretty bad taste references to La Bamba [the song made famous by Ritchie Valens in 1959 before his death in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly] being thrown about as the plane bounced around in the turbulence, but we made it!”
Surviving their brush with danger at several thousand feet hasn’t diluted Melic’s thirst for touring. “We’ll be playing all over the UK [this summer],” Hitchcock says excitedly, with the anticipation of taking the new tracks out on tour clear to see.
And seemingly unperturbed by their dalliances with rock ‘n’ roll’s aero-peril history, he adds: “And we’d love to get back out to New Zealand and Oz again, and maybe a couple of dates in Asia and the US while we’re travelling.”
This summer is Melic’s moment, their hard work and five-year slog taking them to exactly this point now – the launch of the first long player, which you’ll be able to check out at our birthday bash at Koko on the 28th.
“We’ll run through many of the songs from the album,” Hitchcock says of their plans for TNT’s 30th birthday show. “Might do a bit of a jam – we’ll see you there!”
Melic play TNT’s 30th Birthday Party, headlined by Ash Grunwald, June 28. Koko. £15. There’ll also be huge travel giveaways on the night, including an Oktoberfest trip for two and Busabout flexi trips. But you have to be there to win!
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Debut album An Hour To Anywhere is out August 5 through Beatnik Geek Records.