SUCKER INTERVIEWS MELTED
By Yvonne Villasenor
Photo by Michael Haight
On the final day of Burger Records and The Observatory’s five year collaboration celebration, I was able to get musicians’ perspectives on the significance behind the event and interview some of the raddest dudes who play the sickest tunes.
MELTED is a punk band from Corona, California that consists of Justin Eckley on vocals/guitar, Sam Mankinen on drums and Thomas Jones on bass. These guys put on a phenomenal show Sunday afternoon in the Constellation Room and brought an exhilarating rush of energy to everyone who was present.
SUCKER: What is your fondest memory at The Observatory, whether you were a guest or playing?
Thomas: The spread for the No Parents/SWMRS show. It was pretty good.
Justin: We played a show and it was with No Parents and The Aquadolls. While The Aquadolls were playing, Yellowcard was playing in the big room and we all went to the big room and watched ‘Ocean Avenue’ and it was so tight. That’s probably my fondest memory.
Sam: I’d say mine was today. I’ve had cool experiences at shows, but today was really cool.
SUCKER: Do you guys prefer these shows to the smaller shows?
Sam: I don’t really have a preference – I just really like playing shows. If there’s anybody there and people like us, then I have a good night.
SUCKER: Is there anything more fun compared to the other ones?
Sam: It sounds really good. *laughs*
Justin: What I like about stuff like this is that there are so many different bands that we don’t get to really see or play with all the time. So it’s like, Too $hort…we’re probably never gonna get a chance to see Too $hort again.
Thomas: Especially with the big shows like this, people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to your shows or if they haven’t seen you before, they get to learn about you.
SUCKER: How would you describe Burger Records to someone who has never listened to them?
Thomas: Maybe it’s not what people think. I think there’s kind of a stigma around it, but I don’t think we sound like a “Burger” rock band.
Justin: True, I don’t think we sound very Burger either, but we are definitely a part of the scene. If someone was to say, “What is Burger Records?” I’d say it’s Orange County music. It’s everything.
Thomas: There’s so many different people – there’s goths, there’s punks, there’s greasers, Tumblr kids…
Justin: There’s everything. So that’s what’s cool about Burger. It’s a young thing.
SUCKER: Would you say there’s anything that makes them [Burger] different from any other record label that you know of?
Justin: Well, they solely put out tapes. They put out records and stuff, but they do a lot of tapes and their catalog is about to hit a thousand releases. And that is insane. I can’t even believe that – over what, eight years?
Thomas: They put Orange County back on the map. Before, no one would ever come here. And now, people have shows on Fridays and Saturdays at The Observatory and just in general.
Photo by Michael Haight
SUCKER: Do you think it would be different if shows weren’t held here at The Observatory?
Thomas: Yeah, I think so.
Sam: Definitely. It’s been very progressive in the last two or three years.
Justin: There’s no other all-ages big venue. The small room is great because it holds like 300 people and it feels packed, you know? And the big room is like 1,200ish. So those places, like where else in Orange County can you go to a show other than the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre that holds like 10,000 people?
Thomas: Especially even in Santa Ana, it’s a really big help since it’s just so close to Orange County as opposed to Irvine or L.A…There would be no home for all these rock n’ roll weirdos if it weren’t for them [Burger]. They’d be playing bars every day.
Justin: Like we usually do when we don’t play here *laughs*
SUCKER: Are there any bands on Burger that heavily influenced your guys’ music?
Justin: It’s easy to say yes- like FIDLAR, Pangea and bands like that.
Sam: But even like bands that we’re associated with like…we like King Tuff a lot, but they also have a lot of heavy, cool bands.
Justin: It’s really hard to say that we are influenced by bands on the label. I would say for myself, an inspiration is when we see our friends do cool shit, we’re like, “dang, our friends are doing cool stuff – we should do cool shit too.” Not like ripping them off, but that’s working for them and that’s cool. We should try to emulate that with them.
It’s cool to be a punk band. There’s maybe five punk bands on Burger Records right now and they’re currently on Burger Records…No Parents is killing it. We play with them all the time. No Parents would have nobody else to play with if there weren’t punk bands too. I think that’s a big thing.
For us, we’re trying to stand out from the Burger crowd. We’re trying to be what they’re not being. We’re trying to be shit that all these Orange County kids don’t know exist kind of, I guess.
Sam: It also kind of goes back to the roots of old punk bands we like and that’s a big influence. Venturing out in that direction too is an idea. I’d say everything we listen to influences us.
Thomas: Burger does a lot of reissue tapes of the old punk bands like T.S.O.L., Adolescents…those re-releases were not going to be on cassette if it weren’t for them.
Photo by Michael Haight
SUCKER: A lot of bands come to Southern California when they come to tour. What is appealing here compared to elsewhere?
Thomas: Maybe L.A. has that negative connotation of being snooty and nobody’s really into it, but over here, it’s really relaxed.
Sam: I give it that connotation. I hate L.A. – L.A. sucks *laughs*
Justin: It’s funny because people from far away think L.A. and Orange County are the same thing. They’re like, “oh, Orange County is where Disneyland is.” When we play elsewhere, it’s like, “you guys are from L.A.?” but it’s like, “no, that’s an hour away from us…”
I think bands really like to come through here because it’s like a perfect place to play a show and have a good time outside of the show. You go to other major cities like New Orleans, there’s cool stuff to do in New Orleans, or New York and that kind of thing. You got like Charleston, and there’s like a really cool place to get grits. *laughs*
SUCKER: What kind of impact do you think Burger has made on the local scene and all over?
Thomas: It put Orange County back on the map like I have never seen before…
Justin: I agree with that. Orange County was cool like a long, long time ago then –
Sam: That’s the thing. I used to go to a lot of hardcore shows down the street and a few years ago, I had never heard of The Observatory. I heard of Galaxy, obviously. I came here and I didn’t know any of the bands and it was crazy to watch how active kids were at a show like this, and it kind of just progressed from there. It definitely has revitalized the rock scene a little bit out here. There’s still a lot of work, and there’s a lot of things we can still do still, but it’s definitely active.
Thomas: I think it engages a lot of younger people to just want to try things. I think that’s really cool. It’s cool to see people just start bands and listen to older Burger bands.
Justin: Being a band from SoCal, it’s like a goal as a band is like, “we finally got a show at The Observatory” or “we finally got a show at The Echo”. Especially Burger allows a lot younger kids to do that, but it’s like the Orange County scene – there’s no other bands, there’s no other big venues, there’s no other small club that’s all ages. It’s all DIY shows and there’s a lot of them, but it’s not the same press around them. It’s not the same sound. There’s no stages, like that kind of thing…there’s kids playing on the floor. I think that’s why I like The Observatory. When we first started, I was like, “I really want to play The Observatory.” I was already in my twenties by that time, so it’s like not even as a kid, but I feel like a kid in the same sense.
It was the first time this lineup played a show, and it was cool. It was good.
SUCKER: What are your guys’ goals as a band?
Sam: I want to be bigger than Drake.
Justin: He wants to sell out the Forum.
Sam: My goal in music is to sell out The Forum in Inglewood. I want to be at the top…You can do anything in this world, why not?
Justin: I want to be played on the radio and then my mom Shazams it and she’s like, “who is this? This kind of sounds like my son’s band,” and then she Shazams it and it is her son’s band. And that’s gonna be the day we are successful.
Thomas: Just keep playing music, keep playing shows.
MELTED are currently touring and are playing this Thursday-Saturday in Austin, Texas for SXSW and will return home to play a number of local shows. They are also in the process of working on a new album with the help of producer/engineer, Jonny Bell, from Jazzcats Studios in Long Beach.
Keep an ear out and your eyes peeled for these guys – they are certainly a band you don’t want to miss.
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