Creating a kind of music that’s hard to categorise, aside from to say that – as the name suggests – it sets out with an intent to challenge and shock, Dublin act Meltybrains? have taken the slow road to debut album ‘You’.
Described as an exploration of what it is to be a man in his 20s, ‘You’ explores anxieties and internal journeys, and examines what the band view as a kind of symbiosis between the self and the universe. It is, for want of a better explanation, an attempt to put the bigger picture of their lives – the grand questions – to music.
The record’s been a process, so much so that Meltybrains? have only just made a post-covid return, meaning until recently it had been three or four years since their last show. “I don’t really know what to expect from our gigs,” Dillon laughs. “It’s mad music. I sometimes look at the audience and think ‘do they actually like this’?”
“We absolutely intend to be a bit jarring, get people out of their comfort zone. I think all of us would be into harsh noises, unpleasant music, especially in a live setting where volume is so important.”
“With ‘You’, we tried to use song structure a little bit more, but still the structures are quite unusual a lot of the time,” he continues. “There are a lot of moving parts in Meltybrains? and it’s been a while since this was our main thing. There are a lot of logistical, practical and emotional moving parts. We’re very comfortable with each other without offending anyone, it’s been a very personal process with no real main songwriter. Which is great but it definitely takes longer.”
The themes, too, are complex. “The album looks at a person as an analog for the universe,” Dillon says. “We thought about that while we were writing. One song, ‘Yes Man’ dates back to 2013 or 2014. I guess it’s a recollection or a reflection of our lives over the last ten or so years. Not many tracks were created just for the album.”
“At the start of last year we got in touch with the label about doing the album release, and that was when everything was put in motion. We started rehearsing, trying to recreate the album for shows as far as possible. It lacked spontaneity. Now it sounds somewhat different. I think we’ve done a good job, but some of it is quite difficult to do live. We’re pretty meticulous rehearsers, but some of them we just practised doing the same three or four bars over and over again for half an hour, stuff like that.”
A huge part of the Meltybrains? show is that both the band and the audience where masks, adding a surreal element to an already unusual set up.
“The masks started as a bit of a laugh,” Dillon recalls. “For our first gig, three of the guys were living together, and started writing silly songs in Logic. They decided to enter a song contest at the college, which went well, so a few weeks later they were asked to do another show, and that’s when I joined.”
“My role for that first night was I was going to run on stage in a mask and play a keyboard solo. Initially it was a bit of fun. Then it morphed into something else. There’s this quote, I think it’s Oscar Wilde, ‘give a man a mask and you’ll see his true self’. We think there’s a lot of truth to that. Inhibitions are gone.”
Meltybrains? Album ‘You’ is out now