The Melismatics
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The Melismatics

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Melismatics- Indy-Pop Candy"

Their latest release MANIA! has the quality to make them a huge commercial success. ...vocal hooks that make for a very addictive dance record. The Melismatics are now catching a fire with their latest release MANIA! -


They remind us of a combination of a 21st-century Blondie and a room full of bouncy balls. The Melismatics have only been on the music scene for a few years, but have already garnered the attention of big-name producers and have been featured on a handful of MTV shows. - Flagstaff Live

"The Melismatics"

"It’s the sum of all of its parts that gives The Melismatics their unique, tight-knit style" - IQ (Albuquerque, NM)

"The Melismatics Mania! Pravada Records"

"The Melismatics are an energy-laced rock band breaking ground but holding to the rock spirit, with a great sound, superb production values and wunderkind music writing skills." - KC Active

"Ever had a sonic Jacuzzi? Minneapolis band will set rock music on its ear with Dubuque album release"

"The only thing wrong with The Melismatics is that I cannot find anything wrong with The Melismatics… I join an army of music critics across the nation waking up to the band’s charisma." - Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

"The Melismatics redefine their sound on their new album, 'MANIA!'"

"Listening to their new album, MANIA!, can be compared to taking part in a spelunking adventure where on the surface the song may seem ordinary, but it contains so many layers -- gems hidden amongst other gems." - Gimme Noise/City Pages

"The Melismatics – Mania! (Pravda)"

The Melismatics are just so palatable that even the most sour critic will have a tough time not becoming enamored with their irresistible brand of indie pop.

These songs give Gaga a run for her money on sheer accessibility..... Single “Your Love Is A Poison,” is almost Katy Perry on steroids.... “Face To Face,” bears a resemblance to Superchunk.... - The Big Takeover

"Melismatics "Mania!""

"Seek this band out. Trust me."
- The Daily News (Pittsburgh/Philadelphia)

"Indie darlings Melismatics show who’s boss at Senate Bar"

"Those lucky enough to experience The Melismatics show at the Senate Jan. 15 walked away knowing that the future of indie rock is in good hands." - Beyond the Fold (Pueblo, CO)

"Take One: Melismatics at Melody Inn"

It’s Friday night and the temperature is below freezing. A large red van with more miles than any dignified “lady” would care to admit pulls up in front of The Melody Inn, cargo trailer in tow. From the van exits four cold and weary musicians. They are The Melismatics: Ryan Smith (lead guitar, vocals), Kathie “Pony” Hixon-Smith (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Mark Wade (bass, vocals), and Ron Caron (drums). Their outfits are a mix of long coats and skinny jeans, leather boots and even one bright red miniskirt.

On the street they seem somewhat out of place but, as they slip into the Melody, they are home amongst friends and “family” at a location they have frequented more than most local bands. The door man greets them with smiles and hugs, more like relatives coming in for the holidays then a band that spends over half the year on the road touring.

The Melismatics have been featured on MTV, played the likes of Lollapalooza, and recorded with some of the biggest names in the pop/indie scene. They answered a few questions about life, their new upcoming album, and life as a traveling would-be rock stars for NUVO

NUVO: So how did you come up with the name the Melismatics?

Ryan: I was a freshman in college and the band had a gig scheduled. We needed a band name and the members of the band couldn’t come up with anything. At the time I was taking a music theory class and just picked a word at random from my vocab list. The word was Melisma. It was supposed to be a temporary fix and we would change it later but it stuck. After ten years I guess it stuck pretty well.

NUVO: The name of your new album MANIA! is rather unique, as well. How do you come up with your album names?

Ryan: Song lyrics, random thoughts, themes?

Ron: We tend to make a list and collectively agree on one. We vote.

Ryan: We wanted simple on this record also. MANIA! just fit the idea of what we needed. The excitement we felt about the album and the overall energy we brought to it, MANIA! just fit.

NUVO: How does the music on MANIA! differ from your previous albums?

Ryan: It’s more complex, layered. We had a lot of time to record this album so it allowed us to develop the sound more. Also on this album Pony was more comfortable in her role as a vocalist. On “The Acid Test”, Pony singing was experimental and a new direction for us. On this album she had the experience and confidence that comes with time. It really shows in the album.

Pony: I had always wanted to sing in a band. I always wanted to be out front and when John (Fields) mentioned that we should consider it, exploit that aspect of our band that we hadn’t tapped into, I was all for it. That being said, it took some time for me to feel comfortable in that role. After we decided to give that a try, me and Ryan spent time writing at home more. Instead of adapting parts of songs for my voice and giving me parts in already written songs, we were writing with both our voices in mind. It opened up new possibilities that we had yet to explore.

NUVO: Where did you find the time to write MANIA! and how do you write your songs?

Ryan: It’s a process. We are on the road for almost half the year, so we write when we are home. Music is our lives. It’s not a hobby, it is what we love and that means you write when you’re not on tour. Usually the music comes first, an idea or a melody that is a seed. Sometimes it’s a hook that I just get into my head and I flesh it out. Writing at home with Pony has really sped up the process also. Being married and living under the same roof, when I get an idea for a song, weather its in the middle of the night, I can pick her brain, I can bounce ideas off of her and can hear her voice actually sing the parts I envision for her.

NUVO: Talk about the songwriting and recording process for MANIA and what makes this record different.

Ryan: I think the biggest difference was we had already recorded demos for the songs before we went into the studio with John and Ed. With previous albums we have went into the studio with ideas and written songs but the actual composition and arrangements were still fluid. In contrast from this album where the producers added minor tweaks to the record, layers if you will, when we were in the earlier works we actually relied on Ed quite a bit more. For MANIA! This complete ideas were there and we had the overall structure mapped out.

Ron: The other big difference was we know what were doing in the studio now. We are experienced with the recording process, we know the shortcuts, and we didn’t make the little mistakes like we might have in the past. Over all the whole thing was just faster and less painful.

Ryan: Another major difference was we recorded MANIA! over the course of a year. We staggered it out and that really helped. Each song was fresh and polished and we had the ability to take our time with the album.

NUVO: Is MANIA! a build off of The Acid Test or a step in a differ - NUVO

"Melismatics Vocals on Top"

The Melismatics have a soft spot in their hearts for St. Joseph, MO. Being from Minnesota it isn’t exactly a short trip down to Missouri but the band still makes a few appearances a year at the Rendezvous. It is a great treat that the energetic band comes around so often.

The band is getting ready to release their long-awaited second full length album, Mania! on January 10th, 2012. The show contained a mixture of upcoming material from the record as well as a heavy dose of their other album The Acid Test along with other originals and some covers. The Acid Test is a shining example of punk-pop and Mania! looks to be no different.

The show began a few minutes before 11:00 but the late start time wouldn’t lead to a shortened set as the Melismatics tore through their catalog of songs without a break until 12:40 for one of the longest small bar shows I have ever seen.

Melismatics In St. Joseph, MO on 12/4/11

Their songs are made better live than on record. Their energy on stage adds so much to the songs that is almost impossible to capture in the studio. Songs like “Industry of Cool” “Modern Machine” and the sing-along favorite “The Stranger” really come to life on stage.

Being from Minneapolis it was only natural that the band would pay homage to The Replacements, luckily this would happen twice in the set with “Bastards of the Young” and a striking version achingly beautiful “Unsatisfied.” They would also get the crowd jumping with such other covers as “What I Like About You” and The Darkness’ best known song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.”

It’s always great to have such a talented band wanting to come to as small of market as St. Joseph. Hopefully Melismatics will return in January to let the locals pick up a copy of Mania! in person.
- Vocals on Top

"Home away from home: Indie rockers The Melismatics keep coming back to St. Joe"

Most bands in the middle of a cross-country tour with a stop in Northwest Missouri tend to frequent a larger city, oh, about 45 miles south of St. Joseph. The Melismatics are not one of them.

The music the Minneapolis, Minn., indie rockers craft has been featured on TV shows like MTV’s “Laguna Beach” "The City” and "The Hills" and the band’s made it into the regular rotation on some of the MTV channels that actually still show music videos. This is a band that’s played Lollapalooza and just finished a tour of Ireland. At the least, the Beaumont Club in Kansas City or The Granada in Lawrence, Kan., might seem a more appropriate venue.

Read more at - St. Joseph Live

"Billboard Underground: The Melismatics"

When Melismatics frontman Ryan Smith first joined the ranks as a songwriter at publisher Iowa Homegrown Music earlier this decade, he'd turn in "half stuff that was weird and another half that was pop-rock. They said to me, 'You got to write the pop songs first. After that, do whatever you want.' For a while I had to think like that."

Nowadays, Smith has a number of other filters for his songwriting. The rest of the four-piece band, for instance, which has been together in its current incarnation since late 2005 with bassist Mark Wade, guitarist/vocalist Pony and drummer Ron Caron.

Of late, a more famous friend has helped the group suss out its arena-sized modern rock sound and songs. Producer John Fields (Switchfoot, the Jonas Brothers), who picked up on the band at this year's South by Southwest, had his hands all over "Acid Test," the Twin Cities-based band's fourth album, due Sept. 30.

According to band manager Mike Buenting, formerly of booking agency Bull Productions, the band sold out of its 2000 debut, "Post Modern Rock," after two pressings of 1,000; "New Infection" has sold between 2,500 and 3,000 copies, and "Turn It On" has moved roughly 2,500.

Particularly with the added, prominent vocals from Pony and the polished production from Fields, the Melismatics are poised to reach an even wider audience with "Acid Test," to be distributed by Koch. That new material will be put to the "Test" as the group takes the stage July 30 at Chicago's Double Door, where it will be competing in the Lollapalooza Last Band Standing competition, having garnered thousands of peer votes.

Beyond Melismatics synchs in MTV's "Laguna Beach" and NBC's "Windfall," Smith's songs have been routinely adapted for opportunities from Iowa Homegrown Music and Chicago-based agency Leo Burnett. Additionally, the band will be working closely with Jim Baltutis, formerly of Warner Bros., and his new company Global Brand Media on merchandising/fashion crossover opportunities, as well as trying to find key sponsorships while it is on the road. - Billboard Magazine

"Maximum Ink (Cover Story)"

The Melismatics
Minneapolis' The Melismatics on the cover of Maximum Ink for August 2009 CD: The Acid Test
Record Label: CC Entertainment
by Joshua Miller
August 2009

With edgy and energetic shows heating up with undiluted charisma and passion, Minneapolis-based rock band The Melismatics pioneer their way ahead with a dynamic, ever-shifting sonic landscape. While the band’s latest and fourth album, “The Acid Test,” touches in 80s new wave and post punk-influenced power pop realms, their sound is constantly growing.

“As the band evolves so do our influences that we focus on,” says singer Ryan Smith, of the band’s four distinctly different albums. “Like the music’s gone over the years I think we go to different places and every song doesn’t sound the same.”

With this attitude, the band’s earned popularity around the Midwest and the country, with several songs being used on several television shows. This includes invitations to play several major festivals like South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and Summerfest. Milwaukee’s hosted a number of their shows and August 15 they add Mad Planet to their venues visited.

For the Melismatics, the band is more than just a bunch of close friends. In fact, one of the first things people usually comment to him on is that his band acts like a tight-knit gang or a family. While many bands can easily claim to function like a family, the Melismatics have something even more: co-lead singers Ryan Smith and Pony are married.

Rounded out by close friends Ron and Mark, who’ve been a big part of the band’s changing lineups for the last eight to nine years, the band’s chemistry continues to grow. That leads to a productive mentality, Smith says.

“Pony and I are married which for the vast majority of the time it makes it easier,” Smith says. “The band’s beyond friendship because it’s like family. If something does get tense it’s just a reality that you deal with and it always works out. Everyone has different influences and coming from a different place but there is that unity.”

Minneapolis' The MelismaticsWith his wife adding vocals to the band, Smith says it’s helped push what the band’s sound was to a whole new territory they can explore. Even before he met Pony and she joined the band, Smith says he always envisioned female vocals in their music.

“With Pony in the band it clicks in a way that it maybe never has before just because of the dynamic that she has, her voice and personality on stage,” says Smith of his wife, who certainly adds a burst of energy to their show. “I think it helps creates an identity for our band, with the two vocals and figuring out how they work best together. It compliments what we were doing before and took it to a whole new place.”

With this formula the band’s music quickly grabbed attention around the nation and on television programs. MTV programs such as “The City,” “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” have aired several of their songs such as their hits “Soul Sucker” and “Digging Deep” while NBC’s “Windfall” used the band’s song “Automatic.”

Despite the success and attracting many to their shows, the band doesn’t plan to take it easy. Ready to make further discovery what they can do with their voices and instruments, the Melismatics plan to make a statement with their fifth album. While some of the past album’s elements will carry over, such as jagged rhythms, Smith says the guitar tones and overall feel of the songs are shaping differently and will go to different places.

“With the new stuff I think we’re going into a more dance-ier feel to it, which we did touch on in the last album,” says Smith. “I think the guitar tones are going to be more 60s sounding feel instead of a 80s feel that we were trying to go for in the last one and there might be a little more psychedelia in this one too.”

This is an exciting time for the band and Smiths says that even though they’ve been around for a while, he thinks they’re coming into their own artistically.

“I think our next albums will be a statement with who we are, unique albums capturing what we’re doing at that moment.”

Smith says of many things they have accomplished, the people they’ve meet along the way make it all worth it. They’ve met many fans and a mix of musicians and producers they’ve looked up to. This includes producer John Fields, who came up to them after their 2007 South by Southwest performances and asked about producing their next album, “The Acid Test.”

“He’s one of the most successful producers in the world and that was pretty exciting,” says Smith. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of hard things about it and there are moments that are vindicating or at least give you energy and incentive to keep doing it,” Smith says.

Smith adds that despite their changing sound, their attitude about how to put on a powerful show will never change. They come with the same attitude every show.

“We play every show no matter how big or small it is we always put t - Maximum Ink

"The Melismatics: The Acid Test"

Hey viewers your in for a real treat this week. The Melismatics had their CD release concert last Saturday at the Fineline Music Cafe with White Light Riot warming up. The CD is called The Acid Test and was produced by John Fields who has also produced the Jonas Brothers, Jimmy Eats World and others. The Melismatics have added a girl singer nicknamed Pony who is also the wife of the singer Ryan Smith. The bassist Mark Wade teaches bass guitar at Twin Town which is where I take guitar lessons. My favorite song on the CD is "Soul Sucker" which they play a lot on The Current. It is a mix between pop and rock. The band is currently on tour in the Midwest coming home to Minnesota frequently. I hope you go out and buy their CD. It is available at iTunes, Electric Fetus and other music stores in Minneapolis. Now here is a review of the concert by The DJ Kare E. Fresh.

Playing to a nearly full house last week at the Fine Line, The Melismatics showed an eager crowed that they were ready for the big time. Not only was the music dead on, but they matched it with energy and style. The Melismatics are on tour for the rest of the year. Hopefully they will make an appearance at an all-age venue when they return.

Hope your rockin!
~Mx2007 - Are You Rockin (Blog)

"The Melismatics: Everyday Rock Stars"

The Melismatics: Everyday rock stars

The Melismatics' hard work and full-tilt rock shows don't always pay off. But often enough they do, as evidenced by their new, unlikely Jonas Brothers connection.


Last update: October 9, 2008 - 7:28 PM
Chris Riemenschneider

ST. CLOUD -- A sign of either the smallness of St. Cloud's downtown area or the enormity of one sandwich shop's reputation, the disparate worlds of cover bands and original rock acts uncharacteristically met up over 6-inchers at Erbert & Gerbert's two Friday nights ago.

Two bands -- 10,000 Days (a Tool tribute group) and the Melismatics (pop-rockers who play their own songs) -- happened upon each other following their sound checks at St. Cloud's two main rock clubs. Neither said a word to the other, but plenty was said by how their gigs would turn out.

A couple of hours later at the Red Carpet, 10,000 Days drew several hundred people. Around the corner at the Rox Tavern, the Melismatics played to about 40, including a super-drunk guy carrying two oversized White Russians who tried to pick a fight with everyone (and thus cleared out a few of the 40).

The Melismatics themselves never back down from a fight. They learned to stand tall a couple years ago at a club in Chicago, where they and another band from Minneapolis that shall remain nameless played to a paid attendance of four. Yep, four.

"We went up there and did our regular, full-on show," recounted frontman Ryan Smith, "and the other band sort of screwed around. They even made fun of us for giving it our all."

It turned out that one of the people in attendance that night was an advertising exec who would later hand the band a $15,000 check for use of one of its songs.

"Every gig matters" was the moral of Smith's story.

The Melismatics lived up to that lesson at the Rox. Despite the meager crowd, the band played as if it was at Madison Square Garden, making a DVD and double-disc live album. Smoke machines, flying leg kicks, climbing on the drum riser, artfully arched necks -- you name it, the band delivered it all alongside their feisty, fast, '80s-poppy, '90s-alt-rocky brand of tunes.

Smith's red-haired wife, who goes by the nickname Pony, was especially animated, bouncing between guitar and keyboards, providing undeniable sex appeal. Messy-haired bassist Mark Wade stole moves from Sid Vicious and Tommy Stinson. Drummer Ron Caron even hammered out a short drum solo.

Rock 'n' roll was alive and well and thriving on a stomach of subs and Red Bull.


A few hours before rocking the Rox, the Melismatics were huddled in their van on the way to St. Cloud, talking about everything from Kiss' worst song ever ("Shandi," which they named their van's female-voiced GPS system after) to Lollapalooza in Chicago (where they performed this summer after winning a contest sponsored by the music-promotion site to, on several different occasions, the Jonas Brothers.

The Brothers -- America's favorite tween band of the moment, and proud virgins -- first came up in response to a question raised by Pony's school homework: "What are positive examples of sexuality in today's modern world?"

Weirder than the question was the fact that Pony is simultaneously going to school to become a sign-language interpreter (both her parents are deaf) and a massage therapist (a sure line of work). She's also still waiting tables. Oh, yeah, and she plays in a very busy band.

All the members of the Melismatics juggle everyday duties like these along with their band's ambitious schedule, which was around 100 gigs last year alone.

"We'll come home for like two weeks and really, really work our asses off," Wade explained, "and then we'll go back on the road and work just as hard there. It's nuts. But it works out."

For this band, things seem to work out in weird and unforeseeable ways -- not unlike the encounter with the ad exec doling out 15 grand (even though their song never appeared in an ad). They also met the owner of an Indy race-car team at a show in Indianapolis, one of their most-frequented cities. He wound up putting the band's logo on the nose cone of two of his cars, one of which happened to crash on national TV last month (to the band's good fortune).

"I taped the race, and lo and behold, the ESPN2 cameras closed right in on 'The Melismatics,'" Caron enthusiastically recounted.

And then there was the chance meeting last year at a gig in Austin, Texas, with the guy who wound up producing the new Melismatics record -- around the same time he was also working on the Jonas Brothers' latest, craze-heightening No. 1 album.

"I saw their set and was like, 'Wow, they're really tight, and there are real rock stars in this band,'" recounted the producer, John Fields, who hails from Minneapolis but now works mainly out of Los Angeles. "Then I saw them afterward, packing up all their gear super-efficiently in their hip - Star Tribune

"The Melismatics In Indianapolis"

Stereo Deluxe, The Milwaukees, The Melismatics, Reckless Edward
by Josh Flynn
The Melismatics

Stereo Deluxe, The Milwaukees, The Melismatics, Reckless Edward
Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St.
Friday, Feb. 8, 9:45 p.m., $6, 21+

Local favorites Stereo Deluxe will stop by the Melody Inn for their second Indianapolis show of the month this Friday night. The band, currently working on the follow-up to its 2006 self-titled debut, will anchor a power pop showcase that also includes Minneapolis’ the Melismatics.

The Melismatics match up nicely with Stereo Deluxe. The quartet, also working on a new album to follow up their 2006 EP Turn It On, have a guitar-laden sound that’s reminiscent of their Minneapolis musical ancestors the Replacements. The resemblance is most obvious in their song “You’re My Habit.”

But hints of other influences linger in their music. A tinge of the Pixies can be found on “It’s a Drag,” which finds Melismatics Ryan Smith and Kate “Pony” Hixon-Smith exchanging verses with the precision of Black Francis and Kim Deal. “Wave of Sound” opens with a bass guitar hopscotching into a flood of electric guitar, similar to that found at the beginning of the Pixies’ “Debaser.”

The Melismatics also frequently recall the new-wave pop of bands such as Devo and the alt-pop of mid ’90s acts like Third Eye Blind. Still, with all reference points noted, there’s more to the Melismatics than the records that they’ve listened to. Their songs are very much their own, with unique high-energy rhythms and strong lyrics.

Rounding out the night is long-lived local trio Reckless Edward, who infuse manic punk aggression into their straight-up rock sound.

"What's inside a working band's touring van?"

April 5th, 2007
Local music | What's inside a working band's TOUR VAN?
By Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune

A traveling van
Years ago, bands were lucky to have backseats and defrost in their tour vans. Nowadays, you're likely to find iPods and GPS navigators. One thing that hasn't changed, though, is the general importance of every band's ride in the grand scheme of its career. As a primer for aspiring road-hounds -- but actually more for curiosity's sake -- we caught up with one actively touring Twin Cities band, the Melismatics, at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, two weeks ago to take a peek inside their vehicle. Even though the classic pop-rockers plan to hit the studio very soon to make a new album with producer John Fields, they still have tour dates booked through the summer. "We do a lot of Thursday-to-Sunday runs, and we try and go out for at least a 10-day run every month or two," frontman Ryan Smith said. They put in a lot of miles, in other words. Here's a look at what they bring with them:
The Van: A 2005 Chevy Express 3500, with 84,000 miles on it. Said Smith, "We've had it a year, and it's been a workhorse so far."
1 Orange Cone "That's for when we're unloading our gear, especially if we have to double-park, or to save a parking spot. It's kind of a joke, really, like it makes us look more official," said Smith. "We may or may not have stolen it," added bassist Mark Wade.
2 Marshall Amp Head "Right now, all our [amp] gear is Marshall, but that's just sort of by coincidence," Smith said. The rest of their musical equipment is usually kept in the trailer behind the van.
3 Pony The Melismatics' backup guitarist and keyboardist, a k a Kathie Hixon-Smith, who's married to Ryan and plays bass in Mark Mallman's band. Said Wade, "That's usually where she is. She's asleep about 95 percent of the time we're on the road."
4 Gibson SG Guitar One of the band's four SGs. Smith said, "I started playing them at Ed Ackerson's studio and grew to like them. They're cantankerous to tune, but I really like their tone."
5 Quilt from mom A present from Pony's mother, who even sewed in musical notes. "We take a lot blankets with us because there's an air leak where the wind comes through in the back," Wade said. "And they're handy whenever we're crashing on someone's floor."
6 replica dinosaur bone "We found it on the street one day and kept it," Smith said. "We stash it in the dashboard when we're parked, sort of as an imaginary deterrent to stealing our van."
7 Electronic Golf Game "Our manager Mike Buenting gave us that. It's a talking golf game, so it's there really just for when one person wants to annoy everyone else in the van," said Smith.
8 Energy Drink "We drink Red Bull a lot nowadays to keep going. On this trip, when we got farther south, we found another one called Cocaine. It's a lot more heavy with caffeine, but it literally burns your throat when you drink it," said Smith.
9 Liter of Jim Beam "That's Mark's," Smith said. "We always get plenty of drinking privileges and supplies at the venues, but Mark usually brings his own stash regardless." (Wade's response: "No all the venues give you free drinks.")
A Road atlas "We use as much as possible," Smith explained. "But sometimes Mapquest is just plain wrong."
B Visor CD holder Said Smith, "Everybody in the band has an iPod now, and we use one of those adaptors to play them through the radio. But sometimes you gotta go back to CDs. They still sound better. I usually make mixed CDs for the trips. This time, we brought the new Arcade Fire and played it a lot."
C Auto pilot navigator (tellingly inside box) "Somebody in Denver gave it to us as a gift," Smith recalled. "It'll tell where the next gas station is, what exit to take, stuff like that. It's pretty handy, if you know how to use it. But we don't, really. It's mostly just a conversation piece to us."
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 •

- Star Tribune

"The Melismatics: Standardsetting Rockers"

In an era of recycled sounds, The Melismatics are the rare band that nods to past while willingly pushing their genre forward. The best evidence of the bands’ uniqueness can be found on their newest record, New Infection, but for a point of reference, their rock ‘n’ roll equation involves ‘70s-style power pop, in the vein of the Nerves or Piper, combined with a healthy does of the Replacements – with some surprising hints of grunge, and guitar work not too far removed from the likes of Skid Row tossed into the mix. The Melismatics are not a band that is best defined by their influences.

“It’s funny because we read all these reviews with all these cool references to bands that we sound like,” says guitarist/singer Jeremy Ylvisaker, “and I don’t know these bands.”

“The music industry likes to see one sound,” says guitarist/singer Ryan Smith. “I’ve never liked that. I want to make a diverse record that you actually want to listen to.”

Though Smith had been kicking around material under the name Melismatics for most of the ’90s, the current history really began when Smith and Ylvisaker combined forces at the tail end of the decade. Despite having “nothing remotely similar in music tastes” they were united by a desire to put their own original spin on noisy, textured, poppy rock. The two began writing the material that would become their debut record, 2001’s Postmodern Rock. Bassist Mark Wade joined midway through the recording.

Postmodern Rock was widely hailed as a great record in the world of indie rock. The Star Tribune said “if there’s such a thing as classic alternative rock, The Melismatics are champions of it.” The record is a collection heavy on college rock friendly ballads infused with a few layers of electronic noise. Songs like “Sunny Day (Please Go Away)” and “Turn the Inside Out” are thoughtful, familiar sounding ballads that fit well on any campus station’s rotation. But the record diversifies with songs like the ferocious stoner rock-type anthem opener “Can’t Relate” and the almost Devo-esque “Like People.”

More importantly, it prompted another Twin Cities original, Polara’s Ed Ackerson, to take the band under his wing and sign the band to his Susstones label.

“I grew up idolizing him,” Smith says of Ackerson. “He remembers me, as a teen, giving him a demo. Now he’s a friend, but the respect is still there.”

While performing the songs off of Postmodern Rock live, the band began to discover it was rapidly evolving passed some of the sound textures afforded by electronics. A lot of the intricate sounds from the record they needed to replicate were getting in the way of a live show that was turning into, as Smith puts it, “Cheap Trick with a bloody nose.” This epiphany helped The Melismatics figure out who they were as rock band, and it became even more evident when they stopped a Spinal Tap-like revolving door of drummers and hooked up with Ron Caron. When it became time to enter into the studio to record the follow-up to Postmodern Rock, they decided to take a new approach.

“We’d previously recorded a record that we’d then try to recreate live,” Ylvsaker said. “This time we wanted to capture the live band on record.”

The Melismatics unleashed New Infection late last September, and kicked off the release with a ferocious live set at the Triple Rock. The band played to a who’s who of the Twin Cities music scene, and called the show “[expletive] awesome.” It’s the kind of energy output and crowd response the band captures on the new record.

The album opens with the title track. A tongue-in-cheek poke at big rock, “New Infection” is a jittery pop sing-along encased by crunchy punk chords and a solo straight out of the Judas Priest tab book. The end result conjures up something along the lines of the perfect song to rock the sock-hop of the future.
From there the record manages to diversify in form and subject matter enough to allow each song it’s own identity, while still maintaining a sound that is distinct and constant throughout. “With a band so manic,” Smith said, “we tried to make as cohesive a record as possible.”

The result is a record that excels at being a “record that you actually want to listen to.” It’s a rare band that can shift gears so smoothly from a sexy ‘70s-style mid tempo rocker like “Rite Where You Belong” to sunny day sing-along feel of “Transfixed” while later flirting with country (“Together We Will Be”), grunge (“Aphasia”), and just plain weird (“Paying for Gas With my Credit Card”) all infused with unforgettable hooks; all without losing a core sound.
The lyrics themselves offer the same quality in their study in diversity. While some songs like “New Infection” and “Rite Where You Belong” are basically party songs, songs like “Hate to Say It” (featuring a guest appearance by Smith’s long time friend, Mark Mallman) are sung with the kind of believable pain that demands at least a slight tightening of the muscles on every li - Pulse of The Twin Cities

"The Melismatics CD Release Party (Triple Rock Social Club, Friday, September 19th, 2003)"

"[Expletive] awesome," I replied when someone asked me what I thought of the show right after the Melismatics wrapped up their CD Release performance at the Triple Rock Friday night. I immediately realized I'd have to come up with something more detailed than that if I was really going to review the show. Sometimes, I wish it were that easy. Still, if I only had two words…you get the picture.

The Melismatics 2002 CD Postmodern Rock made my list of the best local releases of 2002. This made for some high expectations for their imminent release "New Infection" (Susstones, street date September 23rd, 2003). I got my hands on a preview copy just Thursday and to be honest it took a few listens for me to get my ears around it. The first couple times through I missed some of the slower, power ballads of Postmodern Rock (Sunny Day, Turn the Inside Out, Better Days, etc.) "New Infection" has the Melismatics baring their rock fangs, with fewer holds barred, and as such it captures the explosive power of a Melismatics live show. The Melismatics are putting on some of the finest rock shows in town these days, rivaling 12 Rods in their ability to take what on the surface might appear to be a just a gig and turning it into a downright essential rock and roll event.

Giving my fifth listen to the CD this afternoon I'm still convinced that I would have liked the new album immediately easier if the first two songs were reversed. "Right Where You Belong," the CD's second song, is likely my favorite on the disk and is a more likely stand out track. But album sequencing and single selection isn't my job. Actually, neither is writing about rock and roll, but that's another story. In any case, on to the show…

The Melismatics took the stage at the Triple Rock just after midnight bathed in a thick layer of dry ice haze from their fittingly high-tech remote-control smog machine. As the generic male voice from some self-help inspirational tape droned of being good to yourself and keeping your chakras shined, etc, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and bassist Mark Wade made meditative prayer hands.

The release show fittingly opened with the upbeat title track of the CD, "New Infection," and without a moment's rest ploughed right into "Right Where You Belong." One thing that makes Melismatics shows so seemingly tight and, dare I say it in the context of rock and roll, organized--these guys don't mess around--is heading from one song into another with less breathing space than the default CD break.

As the set continued, they deviated from album sequence, but kept right on with the new stuff. After the fourth or fifth song they introduced themselves rather humbly--as if nearly 90% of the audience wasn't specifically there to see them. Front man Ryan Smith said simply, "We're the Melismatics. We're from Minneapolis. We've got a new CD out." Maybe this was practice for Saturday night's out of town show in Milwaukee. Another of my favorites from the new album followed this introduction, the sweet sounding and catchy, "The Hard Way."

Mark Mallman made a special guest appearance on the country ballad, "Hate to Say It." Mallman sings more than essential backup vocals on that song, delivering the standout line "And if I ever thought of turning back, I think that I would have a heart attack." (You've actually got to hear the song to understand what I'm talking about here, so buy the disk, Melismatics and Mallman fans. It's essential for both of you.)

"Like People," one of my favorites from Postmodern Rock found the band bouncing in unison. Guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker pumped his fist in the air (like security guard David Diaz did at the Marilyn Manson show at the Orpheum in October of 2000) as "I, the Undersigned" began, saying, "Let me see your rocking machines." Then he appeared to make some cryptic remark that sounded distinctly like, "Why don't people talk about Slave Raider?" as if he were suggesting Slave Raider was a great and unfairly maligned band. As the song ended he pointed out that the Melismatics are a band who "like to take things as far out as possible. But we pushed the limit for tuning." But seriously, the band gave their sincere thanks to Ed Ackerson for producing the album. Ackerson, ever the supporter of local music and likely one of the busiest musicians in Minneapolis was on hand to support the band.

Speaking of musicians, this would be a good point to point out that half the musicians in town seemed to be in attendance at this show. One was voracious music fan, Sean Sauder (drummer for loud rockers Mars to Mercury), who says he's been toying with the idea of forming a Smiths cover band, but he'd need to find a guitarist who could play like Johnny Marr. I figured there were probably a dozen people in the room right now who would probably like to try. But after looking around the room I corrected myself, figuring that number was likely closer to two dozen or more. (If you're interested in forming a Smiths -

"Press Quotes"


“The Melismatics are the new standard bearers of Twin Cities rock ‘n’ roll....The Twin Cities music scene has long been defined by a class of musicians who dared to play something excitingly fresh and break away from the conventions of the times. With ‘New Infection,’ The Melismatics show that they belong in that class.”
- Pulse (Twin Cities, MN)

"YES THEY DO, THEY KICK ASS....Postmodern Rock seamlessly richochets between Cars-esque New Wave and Big Star-ical power pop and Pavenment-ular indie and Supergrass-y mod rock......this CD is just plain awesome enough to stand out on its own as an example of fun, exciting rock. I've heard demos from a lot of Minnesota bands that have wound up becoming local celebrities, but none of them deserve celebrity more than these guys. TOP HONORS"
- Kickers of Ass for

“It‘ll be months before you get (or want to get) these 13 songs out of your head.....the quartet provides alt-rock power galore"
- Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN)

“The Melismatics write ridiculously catchy pop music driven by twin guitar riffing and impressive vocals... although the band clearly has a lock on writing effective hooks, they are entertaining (and already achieving) loftier expectations.”
-Splendid (Downers Grove, IL)

"The Melismatics' debut release combines high-school angst with grad-student philosophy."
- City Pages (Twin Cities, MN) A-LIST

"Their CD ‘Postmodern Rock’ sounds like The Cars and The Plimsouls had a baby and gave it to Devo to raise---accompanied by a toybox full of socking guitar riffs, stop-start dynamics and whoo-wooing synths."
- Nashville Scene (Nashville, TN) CRITICS’ PICKS

“its rapid-fire dissemination of hooks... is both charming and obnoxious.”
- Chicago Reader (Chicago, IL)

“Guitar riffs are as big as the beats on the Melismatics’ ‘New Infection,’ but the heavy sound is balanced by catchy melodies and woo-oohs galore.”
- Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN)

“...Some damn meaty guitar hooks (and a totally rad vaguely 80s production aesthetic)”
- Pulse (Twin Cities, MN) HOT TICKET

"A Minneapolis band throttling out crunchy rock with plenty of pop sensibility"
- PointBlank (Des Moines, IA)

"If there's such a thing as classic alternative rock, The Melismatics are champions of it."
- Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

"What sets this St. Paul quartet apart from the current crop, however, is an ear for melody ('Cant Relate' can be related to, quite easily) and a knack for uncluttered arrangements that would make them a perfect co-bill with Coldplay."
- Amplifier Magazine (National)

“The Melismatics are putting on some of the finest rock shows in town these days....turning it into a downright essential rock and roll event.”

“The disc offers one catchy melody after another with intriguing detours into sitars and beat programming”
-The Pitch (Kansas City, MO) CRITIC’S CHOICE

"The Melismatics' CD "Postmodern Rock" offers some of the most pleasing and catchy
songs of the year from songwriter Ryan Smith."
- Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN)

"Energetic rock four-piece considered one of the best of the current crop in their native Minneapolis."
- The Rage (Nashville, TN)

“This is pop for people with brains”
-Nod Factor (Twin Cities, MN)

“Fantastic. Just fantastic... The songs are simple yet they contain addictive melodic elements that’ll put you in an instant state of bliss... Utilizing just the right blend of sound, style, and image...these guys are headed STRAIGHT UP. Rating: 5++”
-Babysue/ LMNOP (Decatur, GA)

"The first line on this CD is very clear "I don't like the voices on the radio!" and what then follows is a sort of rock we just don't hear enough on our radio simply cos!
- The Original Sin (Germany)

"The Melismatics are a dynamic tour de force"
- Cityview (Des Moines, IA)

"I just call it catchy, growling power-pop that makes you wanna crank up yer tunes an' rip off the knob."
- Pulse (Twin Cities, MN)

“This CD is a rocker from start to finish....All of it worth listening to.”
- Impact Press (Orlando, FL)

- Miscellaneous


1. "Postmodern Rock" (2001) Hygh Tension Records

2. "New Infection" (2003) Susstones Records

3. "Turn It On" (2005) Susstones Records

4. "The Acid Test" (2008) CC Entertainment

5. "MANIA!" (2012) Pravda Records

6. "Rising Tide" (2013) Pravda Records



Passion. Irony. Weirdness. Melody. These are some of the core elements of The Melismatics' sound that has been developed over the past decade through intense recording, heavy touring, and an inhuman intake of caffeinated beverages. With six albums under their belt thus far, The Melismatics have been constantly evolving their own stylings of post-punk and indie-rock. Their latest release "Rising Tide" (Available 10-01-13 on Pravda Records) is a concept album that follows the life of a 21st Century man through birth, high expectations, loss, social exile, and redemption. This record explores new musical territory for the band, illuminating previously less-apparent influences like Brian Wilson and EDM. Jon Auer of The Posies and Big Star produced 7 of the tracks on "Rising Tide," while Melismatics founder Ryan Smith handled production duties on 4 songs, including the title track.

At the center of The Melismatics sound are the duo lead vocals of husband/wife team of Ryan and Pony Smith. Ryan is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, and the primary songwriter for The Melismatics. Pony is an intense and flamboyant performer who was raised by deaf parents, which may have led to her extensive use of histrionics onstage. Mark Wade is the backbone of the group with his angular bass lines and rugged good looks, which often get him mistaken for David Duchovny. Ron Caron is quite literally the heartbeat of the group with his creative drumming that make it nearly impossible to not "get up and shake it."

The Melismatics' live show has become known for its extremely high energy and infectious passion that has been responsible for connecting the band with many of the stellar people they've had the pleasure of working with throughout the years. Back in 2003 Minneapolis indie-rock king pin Ed Ackerson (Motion City Sountrack, The Replacements, The Jayhawks) signed the band to Susstones Records and produced their next two albums "New Infection" and "Turn It On." Renowned producer John Fields caught the band performing at 2007 SXSW in Austin, Texas and signed on to produce "The Acid Test" (CC Entertainment/E1 Music 2008) as well as mix "MANIA!" (Pravda Records 2012) and "Rising Tide." Ryan collaborated with Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Adele) on the track "Out Of Your Mind," from "MANIA!" which received airplay on the legendary LA station KROQ.

Chances are, you can hear The Melismatics on a TV near you. They have had their music featured on many programs including MTV's "The Hills," "The City," "Laguna Beach," "Friendzone," Punkd," NBC's "Windfall," Animal Planet's "Jockeys," TeenNick's "Degrassi,"and they've played such notable events as Lollapalooza, Summerfest, and CMJ. Someday, they may be sleeping on YOUR couch.