Melkbelly are the first signing to Wax Nine, the new label from Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis. Forged out of Chicago’s DIY scene, they’re a raucous bunch who make fuzzy guitar pop about “the miserable bits of life”.
Hey Miranda, introduce yourselves – who are you all, where did you meet and how did you decide to form a band?
Melkbelly is Liam Winters (bass), Bart Winters (guitar), James Wetzel (drums) and myself (guitar and vocals). We met in Chicago through the DIY scene because we all either played in bands or helped to run loft/house spaces that hosted shows. Bart and I were in a band called Coffin Ships but needed to split our practice space, and we roped James into it. Shortly after that, we decided we wanted to start Chicago’s tallest band, so we asked Liam to play bass. It took a couple of weeks, but we ended up with some noise we felt we could hang onto and we forged onward at an average height of 6 feet 1 inch.
You’ve already had an album out, right? Tell us about ‘Pennsylvania’.
‘Pennsylvania’ was the first real recording we did outside of the practice space and it was a rapid-fire session of all the songs we had written at that point. We were still trying to figure out how to merge all of our tastes. There are elements of current Melkbelly within some ‘Pennsylvania’ songs, but there are also songs that represent stylistic elements we decided not to pursue… for now. Recording and mixing that record happened in about three days which is sort of nuts to us when we think back on it now, but, it felt really great to make.
When did you start work on ‘Nothing Valley’? What was your frame of mind like at the time?
We started on ‘Nothing Valley’ in the fall of 2016 and decide to take our time with the recording process so we could spend tons of quality time Dave Vettraino of Public House. Half of the album was written before we started and all the space we allowed ourselves made it possible for us to write the second half in the studio. The actual recording didn’t wrap until springtime and mixing wasn’t completed until we entered summer. I doubt we’ll purposefully take such a lengthy approach again anytime soon.
To what extent do you find your music is influenced by ‘the state of the world’ and current events?
I respect the miserable bits of life because it gives me something to write about but, holy shit, this political climate is bleak. The anxiety of existing right now is finding its way into our songs, both lyrically and instrumentally, for sure and figuring out how we want to speak about it on stage is ever evolving.
You guys recently teamed up with Sadie Dupuis’ Wax Nine Label for the album release, how did that come about?
Sadie wrote some kinds words about our ‘Bathroom At The Beach’ 7″ and then we met in person when we played a show with Speedy Ortiz and Palehound. We kept in touch after that and ran into each other on tour. She let us know when she began work on Wax9 and asked if we’d be interested in putting something out on the label. The timing just happened to be perfect.
And how have you found working with Sadie?
I loved Speedy Ortiz before I knew Sadie so working with her has been pretty dreamy. It‘s nice to have a talented and passionate friend on your side supporting your endeavours. Plus she’s a vegan food expert, so when I’m in a new city, I know who to text in case of a veggie emergency.
What’s the music scene in Chicago like at the mo? Can you recommend us some bands?
It’s incredible, and I’m not just saying that because I live here. Check out The Hecks, Meatwave, Lala Lala, Glyders, Not For You, and although they’ve moved out to a farm closer to St. Louis, The Funs. The Funs rule. Also, Dehd, Deeper, Courtesy, Paper Mice, Oozing Wound, Dim. Dang, there’s just too many.
What are you up to for the rest of the year? Do you have big plans?
Right now we’re looking forward to releasing the album on 10/13 and then going out to the East Coast on tour to support it. After that, well, we’ve committed ourselves to a blissful uncertainty.
Melkbelly’s album ‘Nothing Valley’ is out 13th October.