Touring with Xandria and Stoneman, the album "Leave and Enter Empty Rooms" - high time to check out the Austrians Mely. Despite their long band history it seems that only now they emerge a bit more from the underground and from their status as an insider tip. Mastermind Andy tells us why, and what keeps a band alive for a whole decade. (Live on stage: Oct 2 at Austria Rock Festival Warm Up Party, check our Short News & Tourdates!)
For all those who donīt know you, please introduce the band and the band members.
Well, Mely are 5 guys from Southern Austria, namely Andreas Mataln (Vox/Git), Peter Lengfeldner (Vox/Git), Martin Mataln (Vox/Keys), Daniel Huber (Bass) and Helmut Waltl (Drums). We are located somewhere between Grunge, Dark Metal, Gothic and a bit of Prog influences, but we cannot and we donīt want to give a definition. We have been enjoying it for 10 years, and this is the most important thing in playing music.
Is there a story behind the band name? Did you have problems with it?
Mely is somewhat the short version of "melancholy" which describes our sound quite well, as itīs not always that depressive, but thereīs no Happy-Metal either. I donīt remember any problems with the band name. There is a Rapper with a similar title, but thatīs not really anything that we would mind!
How would you describe your style?
As mentioned before, something rather dark with elements of Grunge, Dark Metal, Gothic and Prog. For us this genre thinking doesnīt really make sense, this is probably more interesting for the experts. The best idea would be to listen to hour CDs and to find your own definition.
Is it particularly difficult in Austria to survive as a Rock/Metalband? What is the scene like, what has changed in all those years in a positive / negative way?
Where isnīt it difficult for a band? Haha! Surely it would be easier to earn money as mere entertainment/cover combo at Oktoberfest, weddings or the like, but whatīs the point of earning more money if you need at least 20 drinks just to endure the sound you have to play. We enjoy what we are doing, and if itīs more difficult or not is not so important for us. Itīs all a matter of attitude, Iīd say. What we would need more in Austria would be labels, promoters and some kind of management that shows the bands a way out of the underground, in my opinion.
There is this one label Napalm Records, but naturally they have to make some money, too, and cannot sign all of those excellent underground bands that have emerged in big numbers. On the other hand the situation is not that bad, in recent years bands have learned that cooperations make a lot of things easier, and especially new bands take a lot to "exchange gigs". Musically thereīs a lot of interesting stuff going on, and also this "cooperation" idea is great. What has changed it also the fact that we are soon a senior citizen club and the number of colleagues from our early days becomes few and far between
What are you doing besides music?
40 h of work every week to pay our bills, and studying, for the same reason.
How did you manage to survive all those years despite the usual obstacles, like army service, studying or working in another town etc. in the same line-up?
Well, until this year it worked out nicely, music was always nr. 1, and so we never thought about quitting or splitting up. But just recently our drummer Helmut has decided with a heavy heart to put his focus on life outside the band, and so we are in the situation now to look for a replacement. We donīt really like that, but also such an obstacle can be overcome. And after many many MelySeeksADrummer-Sessions (yet without Paula Abdul) we have found a certain Mr. Hannes Ganeider...
Some time ago you released a new album, can you tell us a bit about the background: who writes the lyrics, if those lyrics are based on real events or fiction, which studio etc.?
Leave and enter empty rooms emerged slowly. We didnīt have the time or the money after our second (self-produced) 2003 album to get ASAP to a studio, therefore we decided to take our time with the song writing and play much more live shows instead. That we did and gathered more live experience, then last year we spent more time in the rehearsal room and for song writing. Generally speaking, more songs on this new album were written by me, but the reason is also that as the "main songwriter" I am the one with most idea input. In May 2007 we went into our own studio for the recording sessions, with assistance of Mario Lochert, and then for mix and mastering to Dreamscape and MSM-Studios in Munich. That was a great time, and we long for a "re-run". The lyrics are based on real events, emotions and thoughts, but I prefer to leave room for interpretation; the listener should have a chance to dive into his/her own little world.
In Austria you supported the Swedish Top act Deathstars - what was it like to play with such big stars?
This is indeed great, being support of a big band, the clubs are always full, the audience is great and the conditions are in most cases very professional. Sure, you are only the support and not much more, but a gig is a gig, and what is better than playing live? We donīt want to sound arrogant, but that is nothing really special for us any more, basically it is like playing any other normal show - which means to give the best performance you can, on the highest possible level, to inspire the audience and to make sure that everybody there has a lot of fun.
As a support act you had to "survive" headliners from many and totally different musical genres, e.g. Graveworm, Emil Bulls, Spout - what was that like? What was the reaction of the headlinersī fans?
All quite positive. As we are no typical genre band, therefore fans from different music genres like us, and this is what somehow makes us proud of our own sound. Sure, you will hardly ever see a moshpit during our shows, for that we lack the beats and tempo, but people enjoy it and have a blast, and this is the way it should be.
In April you have been on tour with the Germans Xandria and the Swiss band Stoneman, how did you get to be part of this tour package?
We got this request and we agreed, something like that. It was our tour debut, we were admittedly quite nervous about it, as we did not really know if our music would fit in, but then we caught the tour fever from day 1 and it should also end for us as a real success. The tour package was quite diverse, as we should find out, and basically exactly what I want to have as a fan in the audience on an evening out - good bands and a lot of different sounds.
What are your goals for next year?
Definitely to go the next step forward. We are currently writing new songs, that means a new album is planned, we are planning to get on another tour, and also the festival season 2009 will not take place without Mely!
Describe a typical Mely-day/Mely-weekend!
Ok, getting up at 07:00 (not quite "rockstar-like"), going to work, coming back home, eating something and then to our studio to work on new songs. On weekends we have rehearsals or play shows.
What happened during your best/ your worst gig?
Ouch - you donīt really want to know. That was a couple of years ago, involved way too much Jägermeister, and after horrible 30 min we had to cut the gig short... Once and never again. Alcohol and going on stage, that doesnīt go together...
What is the most absurd thing that happened to you?
Well, the old story, you write and perform those songs that other people make money with...
Do you have another cover version in your program besides "Lady In Black", if yes, which one? And why Uriah Heep?
Lady in Black is at the moment the only cover, and that one was kind of a joke. We enjoyed that joke a lot, and so this song has been part of our repertoire ever since.
What kind of treatment is Peter using for his great long hair (even women become envious ...)?
Nothing at all, that is the bad thing about it! We are reaching the point that we can count our hair, and he seems to grow even more and longer hair day by day.
Finally - what is worse regarding side- and after-effects - Austrian "moonshine" or Finnish Minttu?
LOOOOL, cheers to the editor-in-chief! Our "moonshine" is definitely worse, as it gives you nothing but a hangover and some irritating black holes in your memory, thatīs it. But with Minttu you donīt really have to be so strict with your oral hygiene, even 3 days after drinking it...
Thanks for the interview!
No problem, we thank you!
Author: Sandy Mahrer, transl. K. Weber, photos: regurge.at Date: 2008-09-18