by Joshua Miller
Minneapolis' The Melismatics on the cover of Maximum Ink for August 2009
With edgy and energetic shows heating up with undiluted charisma and passion, Minneapolis-based rock band The Melismatics pioneer their way ahead with a dynamic, ever-shifting sonic landscape. While the band’s latest and fourth album, “The Acid Test,” touches in 80s new wave and post punk-influenced power pop realms, their sound is constantly growing.
“As the band evolves so do our influences that we focus on,” says singer Ryan Smith, of the band’s four distinctly different albums. “Like the music’s gone over the years I think we go to different places and every song doesn’t sound the same.”
With this attitude, the band’s earned popularity around the Midwest and the country, with several songs being used on several television shows. This includes invitations to play several major festivals like South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and Summerfest. Milwaukee’s hosted a number of their shows and August 15 they add Mad Planet to their venues visited.
For the Melismatics, the band is more than just a bunch of close friends. In fact, one of the first things people usually comment to him on is that his band acts like a tight-knit gang or a family. While many bands can easily claim to function like a family, the Melismatics have something even more: co-lead singers Ryan Smith and Pony are married.
Rounded out by close friends Ron and Mark, who’ve been a big part of the band’s changing lineups for the last eight to nine years, the band’s chemistry continues to grow. That leads to a productive mentality, Smith says.
“Pony and I are married which for the vast majority of the time it makes it easier,” Smith says. “The band’s beyond friendship because it’s like family. If something does get tense it’s just a reality that you deal with and it always works out. Everyone has different influences and coming from a different place but there is that unity.”
With his wife adding vocals to the band, Smith says it’s helped push what the band’s sound was to a whole new territory they can explore. Even before he met Pony and she joined the band, Smith says he always envisioned female vocals in their music.
“With Pony in the band it clicks in a way that it maybe never has before just because of the dynamic that she has, her voice and personality on stage,” says Smith of his wife, who certainly adds a burst of energy to their show. “I think it helps creates an identity for our band, with the two vocals and figuring out how they work best together. It compliments what we were doing before and took it to a whole new place.”
With this formula the band’s music quickly grabbed attention around the nation and on television programs. MTV programs such as “The City,” “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” have aired several of their songs such as their hits “Soul Sucker” and “Digging Deep” while NBC’s “Windfall” used the band’s song “Automatic.”
Despite the success and attracting many to their shows, the band doesn’t plan to take it easy. Ready to make further discovery what they can do with their voices and instruments, the Melismatics plan to make a statement with their fifth album. While some of the past album’s elements will carry over, such as jagged rhythms, Smith says the guitar tones and overall feel of the songs are shaping differently and will go to different places.
“With the new stuff I think we’re going into a more dance-ier feel to it, which we did touch on in the last album,” says Smith. “I think the guitar tones are going to be more 60s sounding feel instead of a 80s feel that we were trying to go for in the last one and there might be a little more psychedelia in this one too.”
This is an exciting time for the band and Smiths says that even though they’ve been around for a while, he thinks they’re coming into their own artistically.
“I think our next albums will be a statement with who we are, unique albums capturing what we’re doing at that moment.”
Smith says of many things they have accomplished, the people they’ve meet along the way make it all worth it. They’ve met many fans and a mix of musicians and producers they’ve looked up to. This includes producer John Fields, who came up to them after their 2007 South by Southwest performances and asked about producing their next album, “The Acid Test.”
“He’s one of the most successful producers in the world and that was pretty exciting,” says Smith. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of hard things about it and there are moments that are vindicating or at least give you energy and incentive to keep doing it,” Smith says.
Smith adds that despite their changing sound, their attitude about how to put on a powerful show will never change. They come with the same attitude every show.
“We play every show no matter how big or small it is we always put the same energy and same effort and same motion into it,” says Smith.
Catch the charisma of The Melismatics at Mad Planet in Milwaukee on August 15th with Grammar Debate and Bloodline.(10090) Page Views Melismatics Online:
CD: The Acid Test Record Label: CC Entertainment
• Purchase The Acid Test on Amazon
• Download The Acid Test on Amazon