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Melted Vinyl: Not Your Average Classic Rock Band

Classic bluesy rhythm and riff rock simmered in Southern Rock and served with a sprinkling of Californication

“Growing up, my parents would always play a lot of classic rock music. When I began to study and develop my skills as a guitarist I found myself gravitating to this music as it was what I knew and loved,” related Alex Bender, lead guitarist of Melted Vinyl. Alex was gracious enough to communicate with me and share some insight into Melted Vinyl, one of Shutter 16’s chosen ReverbNation Spotlight bands. The moment I heard Melted Vinyl’s eponymous EP release, I was swept up in Alex’s Jimmy Page-like rhythms and riffs so it was no surprise to me that his earliest influences would be Page.

“Page had a way of saying things on guitar that no one else I listened to could,” continued Alex. “I became really interested in the entirety of Page’s catalogue, listening and transcribing pieces from his early days as a session musician, to his work with The Yardbirds, even to the few albums he did with Bad Company and Free Paul Rodgers and Deep Purple (briefly) and Whitesnake’s David Coverdale.”

The Page influence is particularly strong on Melted Vinyl’s smoldering “Driving Me Mad.” It’s the first song off of their aforementioned 2016 EP. It’s a powerful track, as well as a bold choice for an album opener. Most bands in this genre would hit the listener over the head with a full out rocker full of blazing riffs and wails. Melted Vinyl instead chooses to draw the listener in with the type of track that perfectly highlights every member of the band’s distinct skills. Much like Alex’s main influence’s band, Led Zeppelin, Melted Vinyl isn’t afraid to challenge their listeners to listen deeper early out of the box. Remember, Led Zeppelin’s second track on their debut album was similarly a slow burner of a album opener: “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”  

One might be asking oneself at this point though, “Do we really need another Led Zepp inspired band? There’s already been so many.” Upon closer listen, it’s easy to discern that Melted Vinyl isn’t just another Led Zepp knock off, nor are they just another average classic rock inspired band.

These guys display a talent level that has been honed over the past six years together, and collaboratively they resist being pigeonholed into being a Led Zepp tribute type band. Lead singer Wolfgang King takes his cues more from Ronnie Van Zant than Robert Plant. While this still places them firmly in the “sounds like they’re from the 1970s” camp, it is indicative of their range and versatility of sound. “Reflections” is a perfect example of this versatility. It’s another slow burner that leans heavily on the blues, thematically in the lyrics as well as in the riffs. It’s also a perfect example of where the Californication aspect seeps into the sound. King sings about “boulevards of broken dreams,” which immediately conjures up images of failed stars on Hollywood Blvd still holding out hope that their dreams may come true in the magic land of LA. The theme continues in “Look To The Sky,” a rocker that leans a little more towards pop rock than blues based classic rock. It’s a welcome addition to the band’s repertoire that, even with it’s pop rock chorus, still manages to swing the blues in the middle thanks to another brilliant solo from Alex. “Reflections” and “Look To The Sky” affirm that although Melted Vinyl might be spiritual brothers musically to Jimmy Page they are much more grounded in the blues thematically with their lyrics and Van Zant-like delivery. Paeans to misty mountain hops and stairways to heaven are nowhere to be heard here, to the band’s lyrical benefit.

One suspects that the grounded lyrics and hard time themes extends from their status as yet another band striving to make a living off doing what they love in the crowded SoCal music scene. The band is labelless at the current time.

As Alex related, “Melted Vinyl is currently self-sustained. We’ve found there to be positives and negatives with this. It’s great to have complete creative control over our music and our image, something newly-signed artists typically don’t have. However, a large drawback we’ve found is that as a DIY band, we don’t have as many resources as a label. For example, any promotional efforts, touring, or recording in a studio, has to come from our own pockets.”

Paying for one’s own tours and studio time certainly explains why we here on the East Coast haven’t had the opportunity or pleasure of seeing Melted Vinyl live. I asked Alex about the possibility of them hitting the East Coast or the Southeast any time soon and the answer was what we expected: “Thus far, Melted Vinyl typically sticks to playing more local shows.” responded Alex. “We always love playing clubs down on the Sunset Strip, like the Troubadour and Whiskey A Go Go. However, having grown up in Connecticut myself, I would love to have the band play some shows back home for an East Coast crowd!”

The band will get to the East Coast soon though. When I asked about new material on the horizon from Melted Vinyl, Alex gave me some great news.

“As a matter of fact, the band has been in rehearsals working really hard writing new material. In early 2018, Melted Vinyl is going to have an awesome opportunity to travel to Studio G in Brooklyn, NY to work with grammy-nominated producer, Joel Hamilton. Joel’s worked with some amazing acts including one of our bands’ favorites, Highly Suspect. We plan to record the band’s second EP and hopefully be able to support its release with a tour.”

The new EP will lead to even wider exposure and greater success, and hopefully I, and everyone else who’s fallen in love with Melted Vinyl’s sound out here on the East Coast, will get to see them on tour. Headlining or supporting, they’d be THE band to see on the bill now while they’re still on the rise.

Photos courtesy of Melted Vinyl’s ReverbNation page.

Carolina's based writer/journalist Andy Frisk love music, and writing, and when he gets to intermingle the two he feels most alive. Covering concerts and albums by both local and national acts, Andy strives to make the world a better place and prove Gen X really can still save the world.

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