Photo by Simon Mooney
Melt Yourself Down are not your average band. For one thing they’re something of a supergroup, featuring member of acts as revered as Acoustic Ladyland, Zun Zun Egui and Sons of Kemet. For another, they create a frantic jazz hybrid that you don’t hear very often, a mash up of sounds that sits just as easily on 6Music as in a small jazz club in South America.
When Danny Wright caught up with Pete Wareham, whose prodigious talent as a saxophonist has been showcased in Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, he’s understandably excited. It was he who had the brainchild for the group – and it seems it was a rather easy sell to the band. ‘I decided to try and make some Nubian-inspired party punk music, so I called everyone and they said ‘yes’.’ Of course, it makes sense. I mean who could turn down the opportunity to make Nubian-inspired party punk music? Even the name sounds fun.
Writing the whole record first allowed the band to hone their sound and create this brightly coloured cocktail of Afrocentric tribal pop mixed in with funk and krautrock. ‘This is the first project I’ve done where all the music has been written, rehearsed and recorded before any gigs so it was all a big secret and all the more exciting for it.’
And there was an almost instant feeling that this was something special. ‘There was an immediate chemistry. The first tunes we played were ‘Release!’ and ‘Fix My Life’ which I brought to the first rehearsal and we nailed them right away. It felt amazing.’
With all these incredible musicians, such as Shabaka Hutchings and Kushal Gaya, the band were able to build these bright, euphoric soundscapes. I ask if that was one of the most exciting things about the band – that it’s a melting pot of ideas? ‘Absolutely! And the instrumentation – no chords – allows me to write with space and dynamics, while keeping a rhythmic propulsion. The musicians in the band have lots of experience of playing all kinds of music from all over the world so obviously those rhythmic, harmonic, melodic and dynamic elements find their way into the music.’
It’s all these ideas that make Melt Yourself Down such a thrilling proposition and even on record they manage to maintain the energy of a live band. How did they achieve this? ‘The studio – Lightship95 – was a hot and sweaty boat at Trinity Buoy Wharf which had bags of vibe so we got really into it. And we’re all essentially ‘live’ players who hadn’t gigged this yet so the anticipation and compressed energy were strong.’
Finally, I ask about their plans for the summer? After all, theirs is a sound which seems perfect for festivals. His answer is simple and unequivocal: ‘We want to play anywhere that will have us!’.