How did The Melody Unit begin?
I was in another band years ago that eventually splintered into me and a bass player, and we found Mark Salvadalena in a “musicians wanted” ad in The Rocket. The three of us played together for a while with various keyboard players, female vocalists, and rhythm guitarists. The original bass player left, Mark played with Tim Kappert in a previous band, and we ran into Peter Lynch and Jessica Folsom along the way.
How did you develop your trademark Melody Unit sound?
I suppose everybody is influenced by what they’ve heard throughout their life. Combine that with what you want to play as a musician, and that’s probably how it happens.
Are your songs written by one principal songwriter, or does the whole band take part in the songwriting process?
I write the songs.
I’ve read in reviews and interviews that the Seattle scene has not been extremely kind to the Melody Unit, even though it is your home town. Can you explain to me that situation?
We haven’t played any live shows in almost a year, so we haven’t been around for anybody to like or not like us. We took some time off in ’02 – I don’t think that Seattle is unkind to The Melody Unit. But it’s been said that we are generally ignored by local print media and local radio. I don’t know why. I don’t read the weeklys or listen to the stations here anymore anyway.
Your lyrics are very interesting…what are some of the lyrical themes you like to use in your songs?
I’ve written a few about books that I’ve read, places I’ve been on vacation, and how lyrics aren’t that important.
Are there any authors that particularly influence in your music?
Aldous Huxley, C.S. Lewis, Noam Chomsky.
“Nutation” was the first Melody Unit song I heard, and I loved it right away. Why did you remake it for Choose Your Own Adventure?
We were pretty disappointed with the sound quality of Odds Against Tomorrow, Nutation in particular. It was mixed down at a different time than all the other songs and our ears were very tired and tempers were very…tired…
That’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album, we wanted to do it again, to do it right, accentuate parts that weren’t clearly audible in the first recording. And I have to admit, since the title of the song ended with “tion” I couldn’t resist the temptation to do our own “Revolution 1” (any Beatles fan will know).
The differences between Odds Against Tomorrow, which seemed to be a more ambient and free-form record, and Choose Your Own Adventure, which seemed to be more pop and syncopated, are obvious (at least to me). What made you decide to move a bit away from the approach you used on Odds Against Tomorrow?
I’d say the only conscious decision we made in the sound was just in the clarity of recording. The rest was mostly an evolution of my guitar style and songwriting I guess, and I also wrote most of Choose Your Own Adventure on keyboards. I think every song. Maybe that had something to do with it; on Odds I wrote maybe two songs on keyboards.
Are there any plans to tour, either in North America or Japan, where Choose Your Own Adventure was just released?
If you’ll pay for it. There’s 5 people in the band, we all have day jobs, we’re poor…We’re pretty far away from everything here in Seattle.
Who are some bands that you listen to on a regular basis?
I don’t listen to anybody on a regular basis anymore. Lately I’ve played Led Zeppelin III in my car. It’s one of the only tapes I have in there.
What is in the future for your band, and describe for us the new material you are working on?
We’re still writing new songs, and we’re not really sure what they’ll sound like. At this point it looks like, if anything, it will continue the same path with a “less is more” approach. Probably not so much saturation of “wall of guitar” type shit. I don’t know, we’ll see.
The album is very embryonic at this point. No idea when it’ll be out. Maybe late this summer?
Are any of you in any other bands or side-projects?
Any other comments?
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