Utah psych-pop quartet The Mellons are breaking out with a whimsical concoction of tender harmonies and full-bodied melodies. Baroque pop for the 21st century, their debut single “So Much To Say” is a gentle nod to the longing and lust for rich connections from childhood. The track is also a precursor for their much-anticipated LP, set to be released in April 2022.
The single, accompanied by a charismatic video, is masterfully produced and directed by band member Andrew Beck. Its “blue” embodiment represents the synesthesia of singer Rob Jepson’s subconscious and conscious mind, narrated by either side of a surrealistic piano. We see a rational and enriched piano player, and behind them scenes of nature, reminiscent of our wildest thoughts. The track’s layered hums and hahs, alongside the knelling bells and the syncopated rhythms of psych guitar precisely capture the zeitgeist of the late 1960s.
We caught up with The Mellons to chat more about their formation, their distinctively nostalgic musical stylings, and their collective journey as a band.
Congratulations on your new music video. Andrew, as the creative director, what was the inspiration for the video?
Andrew: When I asked Rob to explain what this song “looked like” in his head he mentioned that it was overwhelmingly blue. I wanted to create a blue landscape that represented the two sides of the mind of the singer! Aesthetically, films like A Clockwork Orange, and The Holy Mountain mixed with the campy, staged backdrops of Sesame Street, and the Lawrence Welk Show created a look that I felt would get our message across.
You all clearly have a keen eye for vintage fashion. When did your love for vintage fashion develop? And does your collective music taste inspire your fashion as a group?
Andrew: I think we’ve all been shopping at thrift stores since we were small. Wanting to stand out as an iconoclast from my immediate social culture was really important to me growing up, and realizing that there were entire worlds that had already come and gone by the time I was born was really freeing for me to realize. I could be part of those rich and vibrant imaginary worlds. As far as the visuals affecting the sound, aesthetics, whether auditory or visual, all contribute to the overall artistic experience for me—the Clothes sound like the music, and the music looks like the clothes.
So how did you all come together as a group and form The Mellons?
Andrew: Rob and I have been close friends since freshman year of High School when we were introduced by someone who had only recently realized that we weren’t the same person. One of the first questions Rob asked me was “you wanna start a band?”. We’ve been doing wild and wacky creative stuff together ever since. Eventually the stars aligned and we decided to create a baroque-pop group of our own. During that time we were meeting with our relatively new friend, and powerful scenester, Denney Fuller. To our excitement and before we had a chance to ask, he asked if he could be in the group. After Ian joined us later that month, the rest was, as they say, history.
What was your journey like as artists discovering your 1960s inspired sound?
Rob: When I was a kid, my older siblings introduced me to Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. There were always piles of CDs sitting around our house and I got to sort through them and find what I liked most. That music hit me hard. The fact that they were pre-stamped with the unshakable coolness of my brothers didn’t hurt either, of course. Over time, that impression must have sunk all the way into my bones, because now when I think about how to express myself, it always seems to take the form of the art and music of the 60s. When I met Andrew during high school, it was like finding another sibling. We were both steeped in this genre, though maybe we didn’t totally recognize it’s potential for us yet.
Denney: For me, this is the music we all had wanted to make for years, but we hadn’t found the right group of people to make it with. A few years back, I met Rob when he came to buy my old Hofner bass. We chatted for a while and connected on our love for 60s pop music. A couple of weeks later, he and Andrew came to my studio to review some demos they were working on, including “So Much to Say.” We didn’t form up as a band right then, but I think we could all tell we’d be working together in some capacity in the future.
Most of your tracks were written and recorded during the pandemic. How did your environment inspire your sound and lyrics?
Rob: I think the pandemic gave us two opportunities. First, it allowed us to be very introspective for a while. For me, being isolated for so long gave me a chance to look inside and figure out what I cared about saying. The more I wrote during the pandemic, the less I cared about writing something “catchy” and the more I cared about saying something real. Second, it made the collaboration that much sweeter. After sitting in my own home for so many months and writing by myself, the opportunity to collaborate with others felt like magic. It’s like all of that bottled up energy we stored during the pandemic suddenly got to burst out and flow together. Even after hearing all of these tracks a thousand times, I still get high off of the surprising and unexpected contributions that the other band members made.
If I were to visit Utah for the first time, tell me how to spend the perfect day!
Denney: Grab some brunch at Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeades, head to Randy’s Records, Decades Vintage Clothing, then grab some take-out from Curry Fried Chicken and head to Gilgal Gardens for a picnic. At night, maybe catch a show at any one of our rad venues that we have here near downtown Salt Lake City.
By Stephan Boissonneault
With fresh folklore in abundance, the east coast songwriter’s sophomore offering is a classic tribute to his beloved province.