Meet: 10 questions with The Melbies 

Emily McNamara

After the release of the bands album ‘If Only We Were Serious’ to huge critical acclaim the band have returned with with new album ‘Song for Harambe (Vol. I)’.  Produced by Charlie Creese at Magpie Studios, Kent between 2019 and 2021. Originally due to be just an EP, then two EPs (‘Vol. 1’ and ‘Vol. B’, naturally), then something called COVID happened and the band realised that, given the extra time to finish it off, they had actually made an album; argument still rages as to whether this was on purpose. 

Backseat Mafia sat down with the band to find out who they are and what makes them tick musically.

Give us a potted history of the band

We are The Melbies, a 3 piece fun punk band from Dover. We originally started in 2016 under the name ‘Melisandre’s Beaver’, but much like Tyrannosaurus Rex, realized that was far too long and un-spellable. This year we joined the roster of DIY label Bad Granola Records and released our album ‘Songs for Harambe (Vol. 1)’ which we are super proud of, and are humbled to say received great reviews. It’s 13 tracks of sometimes fun, sometimes nerdy, sometimes thought provoking melodic punk, which Vive Le Rock called ‘a clarion call for nerd punk’.

Who inspired you to start making music

We have discussed this before and I think we all have slightly different inspirations, but broadly speaking whilst we were in our formative years, there was just such a buzz around alternative music, the sort of stuff that was on MTV2 and Kerrang when you came home from school. Information about bands was much less accessible than it is now, there was no YouTube, so there was much more the air of mystique and coolness when you saw them ‘rocking up MTV’ (as Avril would say). All these bands that were just exploding around the late 90s and early 2000s like Sum 41, Blink, The Bloodhound Gang, The Darkness, The Vines, OK Go – the list could go on for ages, and even then I’m probably forgetting some of my favourites. For the most part none of them took themselves too seriously but were just making this incredible relatable and energetic music. I think it was hard not to want to be a part of that. Clearly kids these days may feel differently, but I’m just not sure there are bands like that coming through any more, it all just seems so self important and over produced nowadays. Spotify Killed the Video Star.

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

We have actually done one each because it probably explains a lot when you listen to our music, blending these three influences together basically gives you The Melbies. 

Dan: Supergrass – I Should Coco.  They’re one of the John Peel bands I think, where he just heard one song (Caught by the Fuzz) and just knew they had something, championing it until they got a record deal. It’s a subversive, pop-punk-rock album full of a whole range of fast, in your face, out there tunes, that just sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday and must have sounded incredibly fresh and exciting when it came out. Not a duff song on it (although I’ll admit ‘Alright’ is definitely their Wonderwall). I probably listen to it at least two or three times a month.

Mac: Weezer – Pinkerton. Weezer were massive, basically co-inventing pop-punk in the early 90s with Greenday, so to come out with a second album relatively late (what 3 years after The Blue Album?), and for it to be so, them, must have been pretty difficult to achieve. The sound of this album, whether they recorded it this way or not, is the sound of a band recording songs live, jamming with each other in the same room and not caring about the red light being on. The album just sounds like they dont give a fuck, and yet the songs are so good, the album flows so well. It’s become a bit of a cult hit I think, and rightfully so. This album, when we were recording ours, would become a bit of a touchstone if we’re were becoming too picky: someone would just say ‘Pinkerton baby!’ and we would move on.

Nesbo: Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American. To quote Nesbo, via whatsapp ‘Their songs inspire me melodically, to create catchy and powerful songs? Fuck knows’.

If you’re trying to explain whom you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

Were like a British Greenday but you can hear the lyrics.  And we try to have a bit more fun with our lyrics generally, although we write the odd serious one too when we’re in the mood.

Tell us about your new track

‘King of my Castle’ is the penultimate track from our recently released album (‘Songs for Harambe (Vol. 1)’ – Bad Granola Records) and a favourite of ours. It was actually the last to be written and recorded for the album, basically a bonus that we had time for thanks to some pandemic induced delays. It was one of those songs that just effortlessly comes together in the practice room and studio, and is about enjoying the simpler things in life and not worrying about the constant acquisition of wealth and things. Mac wrote many of the lyrics with Dan in mind, largely because Dan thinks flashy cars and watches are stupid.  Fun Fact: The audible chat at the beginning of the track is Dan offering Nesbo a sausage roll if he nails his drum take. He earned the sausage roll and that is the take you hear.

Where can we get hold of it

The song is out now in all the usual streaming and download places, and the physical CD is available from Bandcamp. All links at  @TheMelbies | Linktree

Tell us how you write

Mac and Dan are the main writers. We generally write the core of a song on our own, get it to about 75% there with the music (sometimes lyrics too, but not always), and then take it to the other to see what they think, and to finish off the music and melody.  We have always prided ourselves on having an absolute no ego approach to the whole thing – and often in that last 25% writing session the songs might end up somewhere different, but it’s all about what’s best for the band and getting the most awesome song that we possibly can. On ‘King of My Castle’ for instance, Mac had the bridge and chorus music and all of the words. Dan filled in the verse music and added one more bridge lyrics and that was basically it. It all came together very quickly, and generally does, because we will inspire each other with what we’ve written, so it’s easy to get onboard with and find ways to add to it. And then of course Nesbo gets hold of it at practice and somehow, without fail, finds a unique and interesting way to give the whole thing a life and vibe we hadn’t even considered.

Tell us about your live show and how much have you been missing it recently

So we actually describe ourselves as a 3 and a half piece band sometimes because we have our good chum Charlie who plays with us as a second guitarist, but he cant always make it as he’s at uni studying music (so he can come back and tell us what we’re supposed to be doing). So we will hit up a joint with 3 or 4 of us, but however many of us there is, it will always be a tight, fast paced hit of guitars, drums and melody. Twinkle in the eye and tongue in cheek guaranteed.

What can we expect from you in the near future

This is the last single to be released off the album – so we’re just aiming to get out there touring. We’ve got dates in Sheffield, Blackpool, Gateshead, Kent and were booking up more now, so keep an eye out for us on the road this Autumn. 

Tell us your favourite records that’s rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

Skiv – ‘No Context Bangers’  and our label mates Mr Shiraz – ‘Glorious’. Seriously, check them out.

Check out the bands video for track King Of My Castle, below:

Find out more via the band’s Facebook

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