Melt Dunes are one of the best live acts in the country, and we've been obsessed a while. The Southampton four piece pull together doomy guitars, banshee-like stage prowess, and songs that flow together seamlessly to make their sets into one continuous freakout. All of this ensures that they've rose to prominence as one of our favourite bands in times of late.
At their Southampton support slot with Seattle's garage rock provocateurs Night Beats, we caught up with them for a chat on new releases, influences and future plans.
I've heard you're planning to put out an EP. Could you tell us a bit about it?
James Todd: It's all falling to place at the moment, all ticking over, we're just getting lots of stuff ready
Alex Brown: The recordings are ready
JT: Now it's just discussions on specific dates. We're not going to do it prematurely, we'll do it all at our own pace. It'll be an EP, a four track EP
AB: Possibly the length of an album anyway, but we'll call it an EP
JT: Depends how we feel on the day
Jamie Easton: Yeah, it's recorded, home recorded. We recorded it in a number of places, like we went to Brighton, down in a bunker and basically just went with it, adding bits to it as we went along.
Is it like your live show at all?
JE: Well, it is and it isn't, I mean we were kinda limited throughout with what we could do, production-wise. Because of the rush to get it out, we couldn't get it quite how wanted to - to make it gapless - there are some changes in it. We went to Brighton, there was a load of new gear there, and we were just trying to find our feet with it, putting things in as we go along. We listened to it so many fucking times, so it was sending it to someone else in London, with fresh ears, and letting him kind of take his stance on it and get back to us with a different mix.
Chris Williamson: Just kind of really opened it up
JE: So we gave him everything, everything we recorded. All the guitar takes, all the base takes and just kind of given us back a track
JT: It's not quite as eclectic as our live shows, but I think it's a lot more streamlined and we've spent a lot of time taking stuff out, rather than throwing everything in
How are you going to release it, then?
JE: I mean, with regards to the music and everything else on the release, we're quite keen to keep it through people we know. So we're going to release it with Strong Island, down in Portsmouth. And all the artwork's done by Gritt, who's Southampton based. So we're just trying to do that kinda thing, pull things along as we go.
So are you going to release a single beforehand?
JE: Yeah, we've done a video and live video, with JP Bouix (French film director), for one track and all that all just needs to be pulled together before we can release it
Are you a Southampton band?
JE: But we've always been given more oppurtunities in Portsmouth
CW: Our spiritual home is Portsmouth
JE: Yeah, yeah, I think because of the music scene down there, I think they've always been more open to us doing stuff. We haven't played in Southampton in ages...
CW: We do the odd one down here, yeah
Do you reckon there's a real scene in Southampton?
JT: Much more in Portsmouth than here
JE: Well, I think someone could take the bull by the horns and do something here
AB: There's enough good bands, locally, from around here to have, to have something, but there's not the promoters, or the push for it.
CW: Portsmouth's a different beast as well, because you've got Albert Road - so many venues in close proximity - and you can have things like Icebreaker festival, like Southsea festival, all on one street and here you don't really have that, you have The Joiners in St Mary's, or you have here... (The 1865, a venue near the docks)
JT: You still get the touring bands here, like for example tonight (Night Beats are a garage rock band from Seattle), which you don't really get in Portsmouth. But from people putting together gigs an dit being like a DIY thing, there is a dedicated following of people in Portsmouth. You've just got much more of a community feel in Portsmouth, even though there's not a huge pool of people, and it doesn't often reach outside of that community, everyone supports each other and helps each other.
JE: - I think Southampton's just waiting for someone to really push it
Who are the best band you've played with recently?
All: Fumaca Preta
JT: Yeah, we played with The Oscillation as well, in a loft
AB: Up three flights of stairs
JE: I think it might have been four actually
CW: But Fumaca Preta was the one
JE: The One
CW: But they were incredible, they're all from all over the place as well. A lot of stories, and they're really good at what they do
JT: Yeah, it's really cool at the moment we're playing with a lot of bands that have the same sort of feel as us, but not necessarily the same genre. We're not just getting thrown in the psych basket, and we're getting to play with loads of great bands
AB: Thrown in the psych basket?
You're going to add a synth player in the coming months, what's that going to do to your sound?
JT: Probably ruin it, I expect
CW: Possibly ruin it... but it's going to possibly bring it back from the doomy kinda thing, and it's going to bring it back, so there's going to be less massive riffs, and more-
JT: We discussed the other day, it adds a whole new dynamic to the sound you couldn't really get before. Right now we've got the pinnacle of what you can reach with two guitars really going for it. A synth player just adds another level, not only at the top, but at the bottom. and how much more atmospheric you can make it with a whole other instrument going off and doing its own thing.
CW: I think also if you have one person that's dedicated to one instrument you can think about it a bit more, y'know, so you're not limited to playing guitar and synth at the same time
JT: Yeah, you can feed off each other, can't ya?
What records are you loving at the moment?
CW: It's not out yet, but Kesha's album's gonna be top notch
JT: What did Newton Faulkner last put out?
AB: I dunno mate, but it's mostly around the remit of Newton Faulkner, Jason Mraz, Buble
CW: Buble's Christmas album, that's coming out soon
AB: As in June
CW: But, nah, from this year we've loved...
AB: Savages' album and umm, Fumaca Preta's new album as well
Do you guys, yourselves have any festivals planned? Or anything for the end of the year?
AB: We're going to End of the Road, which hopefully we'll be playing.
In the recording of the record, were there any influences that changed the recording process?
JE: Yeah, there were lots. We had one thing in mind, and we listened to lots of different records, bit o' this, thought "we'll have a bit o' that" and just started incorporated lots of different sounds into it. We were just trying to record it slightly differently and trying to pull in group vocals and bits like that, something we've never really done before. The new stuff's got a lot of synth in it, so we're walking away from just that big droney sound, wall of noise stuff, something that's more defined.
CW: A bit more melody
JE: Yeah, a bit more garagey, something with which we can feed off a crowd with
What influences are pulling you this way?
JE: DAF, NEU!, the German bands, the new stuff's a bit more Krautrock in places, and The Cramps, not so much with the 2 minute songs, but with the intensity
Yeah, I can hear that
JE: And The Fall, as well, Mark E Smith's just incredible
Are there any other bands on or associated with your label, Strong Island, that you're really into?
JE: Yeah man, there's a good scene, and we play with a load of them, like Rickyfitts
AB: Strange Cages
JE: Yeah, Strange Cages, from Brighton, Dead Rabbits from Southampton are really cool guys. And we've definitely grown, since playing with those bands, so yeah there's some really good bands, and it helps to have a good atmosphere with all the bands that you're playing with. Being involved with Strong Island means it's easier to get gigs with bands we're suited to, rather than just being thrown together with bands that we're not really suited to
Have you been thrown together with any bands radically different to you?
JE: We have, but you gotta make the most. We turn up and give it a hundred percent
CW: If we're playing with a pop-punk band, we'll happily still try and weird people out
What are your general future plans for the band?
JE: I think the plan is to just release the EP, go on a short gig spur with it all, and maybe organise to go to France, which is the furthest we've been for a while. We just wanna break out the South Coast, really
AB: As far as Newcastle
JE: We did do Newcastle, and y'know, it was a good experience, and we'll learn from it and y'know, it was good...
Catch Melt Dunes live (you really should) at:
17|06|2016 - GREEN DOOR STORE - BRIGHTON w/Strange Cages
18|06|2016 - THE EDGE OF THE WEDGE - PORTSMOUTH w/Strange Cages
02|07|2016 - THE NEW CROSS INN - LONDON (ALL-DAYER w/ THE TELESCOPES + MORE)
Words: Calum Cashin