Many young up and coming bands have dreams of making it big, of hits and platinum records, sold-out tours, and becoming an instantly recognizable name. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Virginia-based Melodime, a rock band that blends haunting bittersweet melodies with emotionally rich vocals atop a bed of Southern-flavored alt rock, does not want to be like most bands. Melodime has a bigger picture, a larger goal in mind. Vocalist/guitarist Bradley Rhodes explains, “There are so many bands trying to do the same thing. But we want to do something with our lives beyond the music to show people that you don’t have to be famous to make an impact in this world.”
Setting them on the path of achievement is their new album, “Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide.” With the album fully funded by their loyal and ever-growing fan base during their “Make an album, change a life” campaign, the band is donating 100% of the profits from album sales to a non-profit foundation they started called Now I Play Along Too, which provides musical instruments and education for orphans, victims of disasters, and underprivileged kids locally and around the world.
Inspired by the gift of an anonymous person, they are continuing that story and putting instruments into the hands of people who would’ve never been able to afford them. The band is living the idea of looking outside yourself described best in, “Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide,” their thematic record about coming together, regardless of our differences, to do some good. “The album carries strong themes of redemption and has songs about picking yourself up from your bootstraps, using those past mistakes and failures to make yourself a better person to help people who may be ‘lost and broken’ so to speak.” says Rhodes, who adds that the theme picks up where the 2011 album “3 Reasons For Fighting” left off.
Melodime is made up of Bradley Rhodes, guitar/vocals, Sammy Duis, keyboards/bass, Tyler Duis (also known as Tyg), drums, and Jon Wiley, guitars and BVGs. Recently, Talk Nerdy With Us had the opportunity to ask the band some questions about their new release, their touring plans, and their charity, Now I Play Along Too. Here’s what they have to say:
I know you are out on the road now. How is the tour going thus far? Will you be expanding it into 2017?
Bradley – The tour has been going well. We definitely hit more than our fair share of roadblocks since starting out in June, but our team and fans have really gone above and beyond to keep us chugging along.
We’ll definitely be on the road in 2017, but it won’t be an expansion of the Big Wheels Tour that we’re on now. We’ll have some new material by that point that we’ll be touring on.
What are your future studio plans?
Sammy – That’s something we’re about to figure out once we get home. Our unreleased catalog is huge and continues to grow at a faster pace than we can keep up with. We’ve got 8 or so tracks recorded now, some of which we’ll roll out as singles in the coming months and others we’ll funnel into future full-length projects. I expect we’ll have a concentrated recording effort this winter or spring.
Bradley, can you describe the band’s songwriting process?
Bradley – We have a couple of different processes.
Individually, I usually start acapella with a melody line and whatever lyrics naturally come out to support it. Harnessing that initial muse is the most important part for me, and I’ve learned that the best thing I can do in those beginning phases is just get out of the way and try to think as little as possible. After most the ideas are fleshed out and put to music, I’ll record a voice memo of the tune on my phone, send it directly to Sammy, then usually not think about it again until it’s time to prepare for recording. Sammy tends to be the care-taker of the new ideas. He’ll organize them, mull over arrangements, and sometimes send some initial feedback. There’s a lot of trust between the two of us after 10 years of doing it this way since he approaches every new song very delicately and with an open mind, which is incredibly conducive to the creative flow.
As a band, we rarely ever sit down and say “let’s write a song”… Instead, we’ll be sound checking before a show, or rehearsing at home, and someone will randomly start playing something that we all begin to jam on. I’ll sing a melody with that same stream-of-consciousness kind of lyric flow and 9 times out of 10; those first lyrics dictate the content of the song.
I think that’s why each of our albums are easily tied together by a certain theme and seem to work as sequels to the previous release. Most every song is inspired by exactly what we’re feeling in the moment it’s being created, and as we evolve as writers, musicians and human beings, you can see the natural progression of what we’re dealing with through each phase of our lives.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Bradley – Billy Joel and Stephen Kellogg.
Sammy – 60’s-90’s rock, classic musicals, gospel and some modern country.
Tyg – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Needtobreathe, Adele, Tonic
Jon – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen, Allman Brothers Band
Please tell us how your charity, “Now I Play Along Too” came about?
Sammy – As we were gearing up to record our 2013 release, “Where the Sinners and the Saints Collide” we decided we wanted to do more than just make the best album we could at that time. A lot of our songs carry themes of being about more than the pursuit of material success and hoarding your treasures, but to challenge people to look out for the less fortunate and making a real difference in other’s lives. Instead of just singing about it we wanted to lead by example. At the time we didn’t know what that would look like, except that we wanted our project to be music related.
Shortly after those conversations began, our dad, oblivious to our intentions, told us the story of when music was introduced to our family. He told Tyg and I about how our Great Grandfather and his four brothers, who didn’t have two pennies to rub together, were one day anonymously gifted with five musical instruments on their front porch. Each of the brothers picked an instrument, taught themselves to play and eventually became good enough to play for functions around town, earning the family some extra money to improve their situation.
As soon as we heard that we knew our mission should be to continue that act of instrument giving. We immediately wrote the ballad, “Brothers” based on that story and derived the name of the charity from it’s lyric. Thus, Now I Play Along Too was born, and 100% of the proceeds from ‘Sinners & Saints’ fund it, as well as donations and instrument drives.
What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish, with “Now I Play Along Too”?
Bradley – One, in particular, would be fulfilling the vision of the music school we started at the Source of Light Orphanage in Haiti. That was the first project we started in 2014 and we have big hopes of what it could grow into. I’d love to get to the point where there’s a Source of Light Orchestra comprised of the kids we’ve invested in over the years. Based on what we saw when we were there this past August, I think that’s just around the corner.
Tyg – I would hope to have Now I Play Along Too be more involved in our own communities. It would be cool to help out more kids closer to home on a regular basis.
Will you be doing another “Rock Boat” cruise?
Jon – Yes, we’re doing our fourth Rock Boat this February. It’s always a highlight of our year, being such a cool environment: before and after our sets, we get to kick back and see some shows for a change. We also know a lot of the artists on this lineup, so it ends up being a great hang.
Our website is Talk Nerdy With us; what things are you into that could be considered nerdy?
Bradley – I can recite every line of the the The Newsies by memory.
Sammy – I’m a Disney fanatic and am currently re-watching all 55 animated classics in chronological order, but nothing nerdy to report, sorry.
Tyg – I’ve been raised on Nintendo since I was a little Tyg. I just got a Dunk Hunt hat for my 29th birthday, and I got a Legend of Zelda T-Shirt for my 28th Christmas. Hoping for some Yoshi undies this Easter.
Jon – My non-musician friends always get sick of how often I’m talking about music, so I probably qualify as a ‘music nerd.’ I also obsess over gear/ music equipment, be it amps, pedals, what not. It’s not that the subject is inherently nerdy, but the amount of time I put into it most definitely is. I have no shame.
If you were interviewing yourself, what is one question you would like to ask yourself, and what would you answer?
Bradley – Q: If you could marry any Disney princess, who would it be and why?
A: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, hands down. Beautiful voice, oh so pretty, sweet spirit and would obviously be down with body hair as we grow old together.
Sammy – Q: Sammy, are you schizophrenic?
A: ……….. I guess so?
Tyg – Q: If someone asked you if you wanted to go skydiving, and they would pay for it, would you accept?
A: Yes, I would.
Jon – Q: How are you?
A: Can’t complain. I’m craving a burrito, though.