Meet the Dublin post punks who are riding their own wave into the darkest, heaviest corners of the psychedelic art rock scene
If there’s really such a thing as a calm before the storm, MELTS are in it. Making their name in Dublin before launching their debut, Maelstrom in summer 2022, the band are now staring down a hurricane of their own making.
Formed in 2018 out of ex members of Ghost Estates, The Things, The Mighty Stef, and The North Sea, MELTS are Eoin Kenny, Hugh O’Reilly, Gaz Earle, Robbie Brady, and Colm Giles – setting out to master psychedelic post punk with fuzz, minimalism, and repetition in some of the most electric live shows in the underground.
For anyone who’s been bruised by the album already, MELTS are hard to forget, with nods to My Morning Jacket, Wintersleep and Iron Maiden. More than anything though, MELTS sound as different from their influences as they do alike. The sound of something new, big and heavy that’s just around the next corner.
We caught up with drummer Gaz Earle to find out just what to expect when the storm breaks.
You must be really proud of how the record has been received?
Yeah, we’re already happy with it. We’re all just really happy to get it out though, you know? It was a year since we finished recording it before we were able to release it, which felt like a long time!
What was going on during that time?
So we were actually originally due to go to Berlin to record the album in 2020. We were meant to leave on April 10, because I remember it being Good Friday, but then obviously COVID happened. But even then we kept thinking that COVID was gonna be over in two weeks. And then September came around. By the time Berlin was actually in a green fly zone, we just couldn’t make it anymore.
Well, our studio was closed by that point. We weren’t allowed to go in there, so we were all just out of practice to be honest. That’s when we got in touch with Foxy.
This is Daniel Fox, from Gilla Band?
Yeah, luckily for us, he was available. We went to the Analogue Catalogue studio down in March 2021 for six days. And that was it, you know? We recorded the whole thing in six days, and then the mixing process started… and then COVID came back again! But it finally came out, and it was great. But it was a long road, that’s for sure.
It’s such a great record, and it’s so full of oppression and menace. Where did that atmosphere come from for you all? What headspace were you in during those six days in the studio?
It was a bit of a mad time for everyone. I think we were all just raring to go and actually get something out of ourselves, whatever it was, because we hadn’t really been together that much. And the funny thing is there were only about four tracks on that record that were about a quarter finished before we got to the studio, so we were kind of unprepared in a sense. We were excited.
How long did it take you all to start feeling like a group when you first came together? I know you all had different backgrounds in other bands.
It really all fell together quite well to be honest. It felt natural straight away. We were mostly all in other bands that broke up around the same time, so we started together in May 2017 and we were confident enough to play our first show by August. But I’d say MELTS kind of started feeling like it is now around the middle to end of 2019. Before that we were kind of more of a real indie band. It was… it was alright, you know! [laughs] A lot of those tunes have been dropped. The only one we really held on to was ‘Skyward’, which we re-recorded for the album, you know. I think everything changed when we brought Robbie into the band. He plays organ and synths, and he really shook things up.
The sound you have now is so strong. There’s so much built around repetition too – where does that drive for hypnotic psych-rock come from for you?
Have you ever heard Factory Floor? It basically all goes back to them, and to K-X-P, who are a Finish band that myself and Robbie saw one night in The Hub in Dublin. I remember hearing Adam from Gilla Band doing a DJ set once and he played ‘Lying’ by Factory Floor. I was like, ‘holy f*ck, what was that?!’. The repetition on that track was unreal. It was so hypnotic. I just knew right then that we had to do something like that.
We actually already had an Arturia MicroBrute that we whipped something up on, and ‘Circular’ was the first thing we ever did with a sequencer. And it just went from there really. Was it Brian Eno that said “repetition is a form of change”? That’s basically just stuck in my head all the time. There’s a few subtle changes in the tune, but that sequence on ‘Circular’ just runs for seven-and-a-half minutes or something. We really enjoyed writing tunes like that. They really are the heartbeat of MELTS at the moment.
How different does a song like that feel when you’re playing live?
We all love playing live. That’s pretty much our favourite part of being in the band. The gigs are pretty much always busy too, so that really adds to the feel of the music for sure.
Which song are you proudest of?
Probably, for me, it’s ‘Waltzer’. I’m just really proud of the drumming on that record. Eoin’s lyrics are great on it too, and it’s definitely the best one to play live as well. I look forward to that coming up on the setlist, and I’m always up for it. When I did listen to the record, I was always buzzing off that track too. Not that I listen to it anymore, of course…
You don’t listen to the record anymore?
[laughs] I’ve heard it like, 250 times. Between the mixing process and the mastering, I had it on constantly. And then when we got the record back I had it on driving to and from work, so I probably listened to it twice a day then too. It sort of became homework for me, you know? Listening out to see what you can do next time on the next record.
Do you always scrutinise your work that way?
I kind of always have a mindset of wishing I did better. But then also the album was fully recorded live, so there are some real nice fluffs on there. I don’t know if anyone else notices them, but I do!
What’s next for MELTS?
Hopefully more touring, and then we’re planning on starting the next record in September. Hopefully earlier to be honest, but we just have to see how things pan out. But we definitely want to go back to Foxy at Analogue Catalogues, but we haven’t actually asked him yet… It was just such a great experience recording there last time. And they offered on-site accommodation, which was an absolute game changer. The fact that you’re not driving to and from the studio every day, leaving that environment to go home and like, cook dinner or whatever, you know what I mean? So we were waking up, getting a coffee, and talking about the previous day and about what needs to be done. Everybody stays in the zone. That’s the dream.