It’s been a year since Melotone made their presence known with their swift one-two of singles in Dances on Tableaus and Entre Ondas, and following a seemingly tireless run of dates in the months since, the Bristol-based foursome are now coming forth with their debut EP, And… Beyond due out today.
Drawing inspiration from the rich musical tapestries of Brazilian tropicalia from the 60s and 70s, the group deliver a refreshing take on modern psychedelia while stripping things back to a subtle and minimalist level. The record develops on the gentle and reflective nature of their previous tracks, allowing each member the breathing space to showcase the deft craftsmanship they apply to their songs. While Pete Carey tickles out luscious guitar lines that casually saunter over the top of the tight samba-indebted rhythms of Ant Nicklin [bass] and Ed Pearson [drums], frontman Alec Madeley softly croons in a comforting fashion, flitting between English and Portuguese.
The four tracks demonstrate a growing confidence in the band, as they begin to carve out a distinctive style that allows their vibrant music to stand out further, and for them to emerge as a bright prospect not only in Bristol, but in far-reaching places beyond. Prior to the EP’s release, we sat down with the group to discuss how their humble beginnings in the Midlands brought them together, how they incorporated the South American influences from both a background of appreciation and personal connection, and the artistic directions that the band are keen to pursue in the near future.  
To start off, how are things in the world of Melotone? 
Alec: We’re oozing ideas. I feel like often what happens with artists is when you start releasing music, you're instantly thinking about what you're next going to release, and I feel like we're already in that frame of mind, which I think is completely normal. We’re playing a lot of shows, and when you play shows, you start to discover a lot about yourself and some of the music you're going to write.  
When you say about improving the live show, are you adding elements to what you have?
Alec: Yeah, we’re just trying to get the most out of the four of us on stage. Obviously we spent so much time thinking of the intricacies of recording the EP, and trying to translate that live is often quite difficult, so we spent a lot of time improving certain elements, and even just introducing live effects and things like that. New vests just to grab people – you know what I mean?
Pete: I think we've been quite shy on the performance side for a while - none of us are particularly big characters. I had this realisation because we were having this conversation about how to spruce up our live performance and convey our personalities a bit more. We've taken this approach so far of being kind of nonchalant and just here to play the music, but I think now we're realising that the music is one thing, but what people see on stage and how they engage with you is a completely different element that we're just trying to integrate. You end up being very inward, and when it comes to presenting it to people you forget that you have about 30 minutes max to leave an impression. 
Were you involved in projects prior to Melotone? 
Alec: Melotone was my inauguration into music. I mean, I'd never even sung before I joined the band.
Pete: Melotone pre-existed when me and Ant, our bassist, had Melotone were 18, but it was with a different singer and a different drummer. It was radically different to be honest, but the experience of playing on stage transformed into new Melotone. 
Ed: I used to play at school in little bands and stuff. It was very different to Melotone. I would have referred to myself as Slipknot's second drummer if I could have, because all I used to do was smack through their live performances and play along all night long.  
So it's the first time you've had to really think about that presence? 
Pete: I would say so, yeah.
What made you feel that now was the appropriate time to put out a statement of an EP and say “this is what we're all about”? Why did you think this collection of songs would work well together? 
Alec: If you listen to the EP, you can kind of gauge that we're still finding our sound, but there's definitely a coherent energy and direction, which is great. It was a slow process - I mean, the band started when we were at uni, so you don't have that much headspace to think about a big project like an EP, so it's only really in the last couple of years that we've really buckled down and started thinking about what we want to make and how we want people to receive us.
Ed: I feel like the Melotone baby is at the teenager stage right now where it's confused; it's got a bit of self-awareness and crippling doubt about who it is, but there are some strokes of a future vision in the music. We've obviously expressed ourselves in this EP, but I think what it's showed us is how much potential we have beyond the EP. 
Pete: I think you've got to be public with that journey as well, it doesn't happen behind closed doors. You have to go through the whole process of putting it into an EP and releasing it for you to evolve to the next stage, and I think if it's all done without showcasing it, it means that you don't develop past that stage.  
The first two singles prior to the EP came out around this time last year - do you feel like the recordings that you've got of these four new songs develop on those or do they feel part of the same family? 
Alec: Yeah, part of the same family for sure. The crux of it is the same, the sound is the same, the way we recorded it is the same. It definitely laid the foundations for these four tracks. It's not like we've just gone on some crazy tangent.
Pete: I mean it's recorded live still, with four instruments. 
Alec: The way the songs have been written are potentially slightly different. The first two singles had quite acoustic origins where a lot of it was written with me and Pete with vocals and guitar in a room, whereas these latest tracks were written with bass and drums from the start. In terms of the sound, though, it's definitely a continuation of the first couple of singles.  
I guess you have a less is more approach and let each instrument breathe rather than overdubbing with loads of other elements. Considering how the influences you talk about can quite often be rich with other sounds, what made you adopt the approach you chose? 
Pete: It probably comes from the way that we play together, where we only rely on our own instruments. I think we try to take whatever we've got into the studio without adding too much beforehand. Naturally, we'll have a phone recording of something that happens in the moment, we listen back to it, and then we try to recreate it and put structure to it. By keeping it simple you set your parameters, and that's how we flourish I suppose, rather than just whipping out synths and asking people to come and play strings. One day we'd like to explore that sort of stuff, but for this quote unquote teenager stage Melotone, I feel like we know what our parameters are, and the music sounds really good staying in that realm.
Ed: With time, I think we'll become more courageous and reach out, but for now, it's almost like we're testing ourselves and seeing how much we can squeeze out of just our instruments. I feel with that logic, when we bring in other instruments, we'll already be playing at our best, so adding anything on top will hopefully only augment that. 
Alec: It's hard to be patient though. Sometimes we just think about wanting this huge live sound, but at the end of the day, it's not always the right thing to chase those extra bodies. A lot of people say we sound so much like the record live - for a lot of bands, you can't really say that.  
Do you have a lot of people who have commented on it the other way and are kind of surprised that you're like this live? 
Pete: I think Alec's performance live is different to what you would expect from listening to the record. Alec doesn't play an instrument, so it's quite a theatrical, bold presence on stage. I think sometimes when you call yourself a psychedelic band, people expect you all to just be - I know this is a bit of a cliche, but to just all have long hair, everyone's got their guitars out and you're looking down. Not to diss those bands or anything, but I think because of the way Alec performs, we automatically have a different presence on stage to what you would expect from the record and what you would expect from a psych band.
Ed: The psychedelic music that springs to mind at the moment, you think of visuals, you think of flowers, you think of colours. There’s phasers and flangers and all these effects where it's all warping, but I feel like that it doesn't have to be that. Music can be very psychedelic without all of the facade.   
There’s so much psychedelic stuff that is literally just one person and a guitar, but it still has the same effect. 
Pete: It has the same hypnotic effect on you. It's enchanting.
Alec: We spoke to someone recently who had never seen us live, they'd just listened to the songs on Spotify. He said, “I'm just trying to figure you guys out, are you guys one of those chill, psych bands on Spotify that just get shitloads of views but have no live presence?”, and we were like, “no, that's really not what we are.” I guess if you see us live, you really see the different sides to it. It's a bit more theatrical and lends itself more to the alternative rock scene in London and Bristol rather than this digital audience.  
You’re also very influenced by music of South America, which kind of brings me on to what I was going to ask you next. Alec - how does it feel for you personally to combine the English and Portuguese lyrics? Why was it important to you to put both those parts of your heritage and culture into the music? 
Alec: I guess it's just fun to try something different. It feels very natural to freely roam from English to Portuguese and back. For me, it's obviously such a pleasure to be able to sing, albeit in my second language, but my native language. Luckily, the four of us adore Brazilian music, and I think a lot of people here do too.
Ed: It's such a percussive language, and when you sing in Portuguese, it's like there's another instrument. English is very slurry, but with Portuguese, there's so many different sounds that knock you around a little bit. 
Alec: It opens up melodies and completely different ways of delivery. Sometimes I write songs in English, and then I translate the melodies into Portuguese. It’s incredibly liberating, and to not exploit that would be kind of crazy.   
So it wasn't just solely your influence that brought the South American influence to the band? 
Alec: Definitely not. Ed's been there from the start pushing that kind of sound on drums and percussion, so the two just married. With Pete on the guitar as well, the three of us definitely have taken so much inspiration from Brazil and that whole 60s and 70s scene.
Pete: I seem to remember the first song that Alec wrote in Portuguese had the music there before the lyrics, and the music was so obviously samba and tropicalia inspired. Alec came along and before the prospect had ever been proposed, you just sung in Portuguese. It was suddenly like, “oh my God, this is legitimately Brazilian sounding music,” and no one really premeditated that. 
Alec: It's not like we write authentic Brazilian music. Melodically, it just adds a completely different element to the music.   
Like Ed was saying, the language adds a percussive element. It was quite funny when you said, Entre Ondas with a Portuguese accent because it hits so much differently than it does when you read it to yourself in English. 
Alec: It's funny actually, I didn't like the name at first. When I first came up with the name, the song was coming out and I said I'd come up with the name - Entre Ondas means between waves. Pete was just like, “mate, I don't think that's going to go. I don't think people are going to enjoy that name, it's not snappy enough”. 
Pete: Funnily enough, it’s spoken way more beautifully in Portuguese than it is in English, especially in our Black Country accents.
Alec: A lot of people think when I'm singing in Portuguese, they think it's a really strong Black Country accent sometimes. 
Ed: I think that's the comedy as well; the kind of honest truth about us. Half of our selves feels almost like our musical souls belong on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and yet the other half of us is deeply embedded in Birmingham, one of the grimmest areas of the country. It's really beautiful because in the studio, you have Alec like winding these beautiful melodies in Portuguese, and then us just kind of sat there thinking “I don't know what he's fucking saying.” Alec: The breakdown in communication is really nice when you're writing, because it kind of frees you up even more and lets the shackles off you. 
Ed: The illusion is that we're all sophisticated enough to all speak Portuguese. 
Alec: Which is what the audience expects.  
When you say about audience and expectations, have you had any interesting reactions from the opposite end? Have any people in Portugal or Brazil discovered your music and been surprised to hear a band from the Black Country singing in Portuguese? 
Alec: In terms of live performances, yes. When we played back in March at the Finsbury in North London where there’s a massive Brazilian community, there must have been about 15 people in that room that night that were from Brazil. They all came up to me and were just completely shocked - it didn’t really add up for them. The only people that listen to our music in Brazil are probably my mum's friends and my friends.
Pete: We’re probably too far at the nuclear stage to kind of properly figure out what those different opinions are. It will be interesting to see how our audience spans across the world over the next year or so.  
Keeping on the topic of general influences, I wanted each of you to come up with a particular kind of deep cut influence that has influenced your individual part in the EP. 
Alec: So the title track, And… Beyond, when I wrote the lyrics for it I was over in Brazil for Christmas. We kind of restructured the song to involve Portuguese lyrics because we realised that it would definitely work with the sound of the song. When I was over there, I was absolutely rinsing Gal Costa. Her voice is obviously one of a kind, but in terms of what she writes about, I think I definitely took from that and my own experiences while I was in Brazil. Her album Índia was definitely massive for me for that one song. 
Ed: There's one drummer from Brazil I can't get enough of called Airto Moreira; he’s a multi-instrumentalist, but a particularly talented percussionist, and of course his vibe is very much samba and Latin jazz. People should go and check him out, but you can kind of get the vibe on the later tracks in the EP that that's something I've been listening to for a while. It's super difficult because we're obviously not a Latin jazz band, so I can't just slap a samba beat on every single track and expect it to sound good. There are moments where I can use it and moments where I can’t, but nonetheless, he’s a big influence for me. Philip Selway from Radiohead as well; we were listening to In Rainbows a lot at the time of recording, and again, on the later tracks that are coming, a huge influence for us. 
Pete: I’m currently inspired by Oscar Jerome's style of guitar playing, especially as a fellow lone guitarist. He doesn't play with backup rhythm guitars, but he's much better than I am, to put it frankly. I love the jazzy influences that are intertwined in his playing, but also the way that he is quite mainstream and almost pop-y at times. The fusion of that really sophisticated form of jazz guitar in such a palatable form of listening is something that inspires me, and definitely was something that I was thinking of when writing the EP. I was torn between him and Jeff Buckley, but let's save that for a rainy day. 
You've got a video for Running Cold coming out today as well, which you've worked with Tom Whitson again. Tell us all about the concept behind the video. 
Pete: I don't know how to explain. The video involves lots of water, but the video idea was made before the song was called Running Cold. It's one of those instances where for some reason it just coalesces perfectly and the song gets changed to Running Cold before we record the video, and then Tom's like, “oh, so I've based this whole video around flooding a house anyway.” 
Alec: We filmed it in Bruton, which is a lovely town in the Mendips It was a little cottage - to be honest, it was an Airbnb - I don't want to get into that too much. It was very precarious.
Pete: There was literally a tortoise running around the garden. 
Ed: With the music videos, we kind of let Tom just do what he wants. I remember listening to Geordie Greep from black midi talking about the artwork on all their albums, and he said how they have an artist [David Rudnick] who likes to do cool, crazy stuff, so they just leave him to it. I kind of like that philosophy. I don't want to step on his toes because that's his profession, and then it's also more collaborative in terms of multimedia art. 
Alec: The last video we did with him for Dances on Tableaus we definitely curated the idea alongside him, and it was almost like a piece of theatre really. 
Pete: I think that's an important point to note. Although we do let Tom do what he wants, mostly, our criteria is for it to not be really focused on us as individuals. 
Alec: Yeah, I feel like we really wanted to move away from the last video that we did and do something completely different. This video is a lot more abstract, and we play a background role in the narrative of the video.  
Pete: What we like about it is it's so plain. It's set in a house, and it's just us doing household activities.
Any major plans post EP launch? Do you feel like you've got enough already there to kind of rapidly put another record out?
Alec: I think we'd like to work on an album to be honest.
Pete: We’ve actually written quite a few songs. 
Alec: I don't know how extensive the album will be. We see a lot of bands that we look up to just recording albums that are quite a significant body of work, but we're in that place where I feel like we could really explore something that hasn't ever been possible for us.