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Dan Melchior has been turning out great records for quite a while now, as I’m sure most TB readers know. In the early 00’s he was the leader of the Broke Revue (who recorded a couple of pretty violent sounding records for In the Red), and before that he collaborated with various Medway Legends back in his native England. I was pretty surprised, as a long time resident of Raleigh NC to hear that Melchior had relocated to neighbouring Durham from NYC in 2006. I first talked to him after a local show a year ago, and since then we’ve met up for a drink a few times.

To conduct this interview I met Dan in a mall bar called the Carolina Ale House, because (he assured me) there would be "no cool people there."

TB: What do you do in Durham? Don’t you find it boring?
DM: Well, I work at a restaurant. I write songs, record songs, paint a lot, watch a lot of what would probably be considered bad TV. I don’t find it boring at all. Boredom is for the unimaginative. (laughs)
TB: It’s funny that you talk about watching TV, because no one will admit to watching it anymore.
DM: I do! I watch it all the time. But only from 6pm on, I will not tolerate the judge shows.
TB: There has to be some limit.
DM: There does.

TB: Do you record all your stuff in Durham?
DM: Yeah, it’s all recorded in my house. All the Das Menace stuff. I don’t like to go to studios anymore. I can’t see the point. It’s always a compromise with you using the engineer as an intermediary between you and what you actually want to happen.

TB: Have you had a lot of bad experiences in studios?
DM: Very early on I did. I would save money up and go into recording studios in the Nineties. I was just a lamb to the slaughter. Some bloke who was trying to get the same drum sound as they had on a Cyndi Lauper record would be setting up 15 mics around the drum kit and charging you for every second. I have been in some good studios, but they weren’t good enough that I went to them twice. Only when someone else was paying for it.

TB: Do you like playing live better than recording?
DM: It’s totally different. I like playing the show. I don’t like the rest of it much. I hate sitting around a venue for six hours waiting to play. I always end up walking around the most dangerous part of the city on my own like an idiot. But you do see a lot if interesting stuff that way. I really enjoy recording, but only if it all happens quickly. I can’t stand getting caught up in some intricate process with anything, I just like immediacy, which is why it’s hard to record with other people.

TB: Who have you played with recently that you liked?
DM: Home Blitz were really great at SXSW. Have you ever seen them? They’re like an eccentric punk fantasy team, especially the drummer. That guy is great. I think he has a bit of a fan club up in New York.

TB: Is it as chaotic as it is on record?
DM: Yeah, it is. But at the same time you get to see how controlled the chaos is. I found it very inspiring.

TB: What other current bands do you like?
DM: I really like Pink Reason, Hospitals, Sic Alps, El Jesus de Magico, Los Llamarada. I like a lot of current bands. More than I have at any other time since I started playing music. I really like the new D. Charles Speer record a lot too, and Hank IV are great as well.

TB: Have your influences changed since you first started playing music? I ask that because there seems to be a strong thread running right through, but in some ways what you’re doing is completely different from what it was back then.
DM: I used to be a lot heavier on the blues/old time country side of things. I haven’t listened to a blues record for about six years. By that I mean a real old time country blues or Chess type thing. I have listened to Bo Diddley and Lee Dorsey.
See, I always liked Roy Wood, Syd Barrett, Vic Godard, Sexton Ming, the sort of the Edward Lear school of English songwriters, but I wouldn’t have really considered them influences until recently. I used to be a bit in denial of my Englishness. I still have a weird relationship with it.I get really frustrated trying to find genuinely maverick/outsider, or whatever you want to call it records, which is one of the reasons I have to make my own. I sort of try and make what I would want to hear. I try to surprise myself. Scott Soriano from SS records has been trying to help me find some more weirdo records.

TB: So, you don’t listen to any old blues records anymore?
DM: No, not really. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not great. I just overindulged. I found myself getting obsessed with some record just because a song had a slightly more fucked up guitar sound than 20 other records I had with almost exactly the same songs. I think that’s a bad thing. I don’t like to get caught up in genres.

TB: What would you say are your three favourite record out of the ones that you’ve done?
DM: I'm not sure. At the moment I’d say ‘Bitterness, Spite, Rage and Scorn’, ‘Christmas for the Crows’ and the new one that’s coming out next year.

TB: Do you set out to release as many records as you do? Is it a master plan?
DM: No, it really isn’t. I write and record a lot, and a lot of labels that I think are good and have good taste keep asking me to give them stuff. I was happy that Columbus Discount asked me to send them stuff, because that label puts out such good stuff. I love that Tommy Jay record.

TB: One thing I want to ask you about is the fact that live you play a lot of lead guitar, but you don’t do the same on records. Why is that? Because I really like the guitar playing.
DM: Thanks. I suppose I just never thought the songs seemed to call for it. Someone else I’m working with said the same thing recently - so I put some more guitar on this next one.

TB: Who are some of your favorite guitar players?
DM: Link Wray, Bo Diddley for their sound and approach. For lead I like more fucked up stuff like Neil Hagerty, TS Mc Phee from the Groundhogs, Greg Ginn. I also really like very early Santana, and that record by Peter Green – ‘The End of the Game’ – Have you ever heard it?

TB: No.
DM: I'll burn it for you, you’ll probably hate it!

TB: What are your future plans– recording and touring wise?
DM: I want to do a double album where I do some songs with the guys I play with live, and some alone with an acoustic guitar. I haven’t done either thing for a while, and I think I have the right songs now.
I want to tour Europe next year too. I’ve been wanting to do it for a few years, but I think now would be a good time. I have another record of Das Menace stuff coming out on SS next year, called ‘Thank you very much’ which I’m really happy with. I think the musical climate is really good right now, the best it’s been for a long time.

TB: Do you feel a part of "the scene"?
DM: Which one? The garage scene?
TB: I don’t know what to call it. The stuff that seems to be prevalent now, - the Terminal Boredom, Z-Gun, Siltblog type of thing.
DM: Yes, I actually sort of do. I’m happy to be a part of it. I really like a lot of records that are coming out now, and I hope people like my records as much as I like those records. That Hospitals record 'Hairdryer Peace’ is incredible. I find that very inspiring. That’s not an easy thing to achieve.
When I first came over here all I ever heard about was Medway this, Medway that, and we used to play with some very corny Sixties revival types. Which I found very depressing, and even then it was an extreme improvement on what was happening in England. But now, things have really changed. I think that the kind of thing I was trying to do back then has finally become something that people actually want to hear, if that makes sense. I even meet people who like Alternative Television!

END INTERVIEW


DAN MELCHIOR UN DAS MENACE DISCOGRAPHY
Your Lousy Floor 7” (Bughouse Records – 2006)
Elev to Mezz 7” (Daggerman Records – 2007)
The Pink Scream 12” EP (Shake Appeal – 2007)
Du Rag 7” (Disordered Records – 2007)
Madame Nhu 7” (Plastic Idol Records - 2007)
Christmas for the Crows LP (Daggerman Records – 2008)
She’s So Blank 7” (Almost Ready Records - 2008)

Compilation appearances
"Elev to Mezz" appears on 'The Topplers Free See Dee' (Topplers Records – 2007)
"Stacked Sally Plummer" appears on 'The World’s lousy with Ideas Vol. 5' (Almost Ready Records - 2008)
"The Empty Days Pile Up" appears on the 'Dusty Tales' 2XCD (Dust Wind Tales - 2008)

Dan has more than 20 other recordings to his name, as part of the Broke Revue and solo – as well as those he did in collaboration with other people. You can find out more at danmelchior.com.

Interview by Ted Laramy.
Pics graciously provided by Dan and his lovely wife.


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