Wednesday night I hit up East London to catch the brilliant Dan Melchior perform songs from his latest record, Assemblage Blues (released by Siltbreeze). Aside from a keen interest in hearing his live show, I was proud to witness it feature two musicians well-known to the Columbus scene. Mat Bisaro (Guinea Worms, Necropolis) and Tony Allman (El Jesus de Magico) were chosen by Melchior for this ten date European tour through five countries.
I caught up with Mat and Tony for a bit after the show to chat about the tour and playing with Melchior.
DW: Did either of you work on Assemblage Blues?
Tony: He sent me stuff a long time ago, probably over a year ago now and some of it he’s gonna record hopefully with us at some point for and LP on Columbus Discount. One of the songs we played on was one of those. But normally he records everything himself.. the guitar, the vocals, the drums, the bass. So eventually we’re gonna try to do live recordings in Columbus.
DW: How did the two of you get hooked up with him to do this tour?
Mat: He put out two records with Adam and BJ on CDR and ended up being in town for their barbeque last year.
Tony: Yeah, my old band had played with him a few times and we got on pretty well. We played with him at SXSW and around and we have the same booking agent.
DW: Had you two played with him before that?
Mat: Just at the barbeque.
DW: How have you found getting through Europe so far?
Mat: Driving on the wrong side of the road. Not being able to read road signs.
DW: How have things been different for you playing to European crowds?
Tony: It’s similar to playing in the States in towns you’re not from just because of having to feeling out how together the show is. Like with the promoter and the interest and the venue, even down to the soundman and bartenders, how competent or existent they are. Sometimes they aren’t even there, like last night we played at a place that didn’t have a soundman.
Mat: Just different culturally too. Shows here start at 8? 7? Bars close here at 12?
Tony: We’re pretty fresh into this whole thing, but I think in Lyon there was a night and day difference from here (London) with the way people hear a sound and they’re just like ‘Whoa!’ and then they rush over and want to see what’s going on and probably think ‘Oh, I’m gonna experience something now’.
DW: So you guys are playing Primavera Sound at the end of the tour. I know you’ve played at other big festivals but this is..
Tony: It’s different. You know what it reminds me of…. I’ve been to Coachella a few times and it’s fun the first time and horrible the second time because it’s in the desert and you just get sick of being around people. But it seems like the same kinda thing where there are a few stages and everything is really well curated whereas SXSW is completely different where there are all of these outside shadowy hands reaching in and Pepsi’s got it’s thing and Sony and Warner Brothers, you know?
DW: Who are you looking forward to catching while you’re there?
Tony: Well I really wanted to see Broadcast, that’s the one thing that I’m completely bummed out about. But I’m excited to see John Cale.
Mat: Glenn Branca.
Tony: Yeah, Glenn Branca.
Mat: Pere Ubu, Suicide, Einstürzende Neubauten. Reading the blurbs, I really wanna see this Polish band Woody Alien.
Tony: Yeah, I haven’t really dug into it too much, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t recognize.
Mat: I like that there’s a bunch of Spanish bands.
DW: What’s it like playing with Dan who’s interconnected and appreciative of the music that’s come from and continues to be made in Columbus?
Tony: It’s fun with Dan because he’s a little bit older and it’s not like just talkin’ to some kid about the new stuff. He’s really got a nice perspective on everything that has ever come out of the city, so it’s cool.
DW: What are you guys listening to on the road to get you through all the driving hassles?
Mat: Well, we listened to drum and bass yesterday while trying to get to the venue.
Tony: So there’s no mp3 thing in the van and all we had were our ipods and we can’t hook them up, but luckily Dan brought CDs.
Mat: My favorite so far was Room To Live, The Fall record.
Tony: Well I really liked that Mayo Thompson record (Corky’s Debt To His Father). It’s probably one of my top 5 favorite records and it’s one of the first things he pulled out to play. It’s the most bizarrely psycho-sexual pop record that doesn’t bother me. It’s not kinky, it’s this record that was made out of a necessity to express how he feels because you can tell maybe he’s just not a sexual person. He’s just like ‘Oh, I’m gonna write these songs and talk about it’. It’s cool. It’s an anomaly.
Photo credit A. Memon