INTERVIEW WITH JEFF MELIN (GUITAR/VOCALS FOR EMERALD, HEAVY METAL)




1. How would you describe your music?

Our music is heavy, but in the manner of the earlier days of heavy music. We are very much influenced by the bands that originated heavy rock and we like to think we are continuing an honored tradition with our music, both paying tribute to those early pioneers but also bringing our own spin on the theme. Compared to a lot of bands today, we might not be classified as heavy metal, though that's a convenient label and we certainly identify as a metal band in the broad sense. We like to play it heavy, but with a focus on dynamics and melody to go along with monster riffs.

2. What gave you the idea for the single title?

The new CD is titled “Requiem” which can be defined as a mass or chant for the dead, but also can mean a token of remembrance. In this case, it's a combination. There is a lot going on in the world that gives cause to mourn, whether it be for loss of life or loss of ideals and sense of treating each other with compassion, and on and on. The word was part of a title for one of the songs on the album, but we had already decided we would name the album something other than using a song title. We really liked the sound of “Requiem” for the CD, and changed the title of the song instead. I'll let you guess which it is! 

3. Do you work together with others in the writing process?


I write with my partner/co-founder/bassist/brother Duane Hollis. We both contribute pretty much equally towards both music and lyrics. As the singer, I really like the lyrics Duane creates and in many cases I find it easier to sing them compared to those I write. But we do also add to each other's ideas all the time, whatever it takes to pull the best out of a song.

4. How much time to do you take record songs?


The basic tracks happen fairly quickly. Somehow it seems to take 90% of the time to complete the last 10% of the song. There ends up being a lot of layers of sound and details on most tracks which takes a while to sort out with harmonies and such to make it sound how I hear it in my head. I also do the mixes, so sometimes I need to take a break from it all and come back to listen fresh. I would say in general, we write and finish recording a song per month from start to finish.

5. Does this release differ from past music releases? How?

This one feels more fully realized, that the songs are a bit better, the mixes and performances are just a bit better. This is our 4th album in less than 5 years, so we've been working hard at it and learning a lot along the way about mixing and getting our writing chops fine tuned. The previous albums have great songs and performances too, but this one feels just a bit more cohesive as a batch of songs and the range of sounds and styles on it really sums up what we are all about.

6. Do you like to change it up for each release with lyrical themes?

We don't think about it consciously, it's just whatever comes out and then we step back and see what we have. I'd say we would not want too many songs with a similar theme as there are unlimited topics to write about, so why repeat yourself? Often we write somewhat free-form with more an emphasis on interesting words and imagery without it necessarily being “about” anything in particular, but rather trying to paint interesting pictures with words.

7. Where do you draw your influences and inspirations from?

Some of our musical influences are pretty obvious: the classic heavy rock and metal stuff from the late 60's to early 80's, but the less obvious might be something like incorporating harmonies inspired by Queen and dramatic elements from classical music where there is so much that can be adapted to metal.

Lyrically, we are constantly surrounded by potential sources of inspiration , and it can be anything. I think the important thing is to always be open to it and pay attention, then if something hits you, a lyric phrase, potential song title, or guitar riff, get it down before you forget it! I use my phone all the time to record little bits of ideas as they come to me. Then when it comes time to actually write songs, there's already a bunch of ideas waiting to be sorted out and worked on which allows you to hit the ground running and never feel stuck.

8. What has been the most enjoyable thing you have done as a musician/singer?

I would say recording these four Emerald albums with Duane has been my highlight. We met back in 1984 and played in the original band for only a couple years and did not really hit our potential at that point. With many years passed and other projects along the way, we remained friends all during that time and finally it worked out that we can create new music, recording and producing ourselves and releasing albums more than 30 years later and having a great time doing it.

9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge going forward with your career?


In our situation, because we don't live in the same place we don't have the opportunity to play live, which limits our exposure and ability to sell much of anything. It would be great to figure out a way to latch on to some tour or festival circuit if it were somehow economically feasible, but money always seems to be a challenge for independent musicians like ourselves.

10. What do you enjoy outside of music?


There's an assortment of hobbies and outdoor activities I enjoy, but usually I always want to be playing music. Something I really enjoy happens in between album projects where there is time to branch out and try different musical ideas that might not work as part of Emerald. Just to write and play any weird I want, different instruments, different tunings, without the need for it to fit into any specific genre. It's good exercise musically, and I find that when it's time to get back to working on the next Emerald song that my mind is fresher and I have many new ideas.


Emerald:
https://emeraldmetalusa.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/emeraldmetalusa/


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About Ancient Visionz

Gaz Visionz is a writer and Internet Radio DJ with the punk/metal show 'The Wastelands'. He is also a YouTube podcaster/creator, host of Ancient Visionz Talk Radio, co-host of Paradigm Radio with Planet X Films, and a passionate fan of hardcore punk, metal, underground hip hop, movies, science-fiction, comics, and indie film.
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