The Meltdowns
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The Meltdowns

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Nov
22
The Meltdowns @ Montclair Public Library

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Oct
23
The Meltdowns @ Jajo Art Gallery Masquerade

Newark, New Jersey, USA

Newark, New Jersey, USA

Oct
03
The Meltdowns @ 4th St. Music Festival

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

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This band has not uploaded any videos

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THE MELTDOWNS – Them Letdowns (http://letdowns.themeltdowns.com)

Yes, it’s an anagram, almost worse than a pun, and all too typical of this band’s self-deprecating sense of humor. But don’t believe the title of this 4-song EP for a second. Far from a letdown, these tunes actually mark the first time that the Meltdowns have managed to capture all the manic live energy of their stage show on disc. More than that, these four tunes showcase the range of talent that this young Brooklyn quartet musters – a freaky, frenetic funk workout, a post-psychedelic wah-wah fest with guitar and bass solos that absolutely shred, and to top it all off, a bouncy pop tune with a strutting temp and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The humor, the funk, and the musicianship can’t help but bring to mind the Dismemberment Plan, another band that existed outside of any scene other than its own eclectic awesomeness. Bands today don’t show off and they don’t get down often enough; the Meltdowns do. And I haven’t even mentioned the choreography yet. You’re going to have to wait for the live show for that; in the meantime, download this now and have yourself a party. - Jersey Beat


MELTDOWNS, THE:
No Authority, Direction, or Control: CD
Though they really don’t sound much like them, these guys remind me a lot of the sorely missed Minutemen—it’s obvious from the first couple of notes that they love their jazz and their funk. Their rhythm section is taut and tense, and they ain’t apprehensive in the least to use their lyrics to convey something a bit more substantive than, “Babe, I’m gonna leave you....” It’s also obvious that they know how to pen a catchy tune, even if they sometimes go on a wee bit too long for my hardcore-bludgeoned senses to wrap my mind around. On the whole, this is thinkin’ man’s rock, and since lord knows there ain’t enough of that around these days to fill a bell jar, it’s most welcome. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.themeltdowns.com) - Razorcake Zine


I can kinda feel The Meltdowns on several levels. The first track that came up, “Tonight We Dine,” reminds me of what Michael Jackson would put out if he were raised on the Papa Roach cover of his own “Smooth Criminal,” but then decided about a year and a half later that he was “too indie” for Papa Roach anymore, sold off his Ibanez 7-string and downloaded every Gang of Four track he could find on SoulSeek. Unfortunately, he still ended up with a shipwrecked career all because he fondled a little boy’s penis. But now he writes frenetic, dancy-y, house party, dancing on the countertops punk and gets MAD GASH and free PBRs everywhere he goes. That’s just reason #1.

Also, I would like to point out that by swapping letters in the band name “Gang of Four,” you get “Fang of Gore”; and when you type “Fang of Gore” into a google image search, you get this:

That’s just reason #2 why you should click on The Meltdowns’ MySpace Page, befriend them, and then let them crash at your house when they’re on tour.


The Meltdowns’ debut EP, “No Authority, Direction, or Control” was released in January and should be purchased HERE. It sounds like demon dance party dogs tearing through a sweaty basement club and nipping at the heels of rad chicks with ugly-ass haircuts.

Don’t worry: Unlike both the real and the alternate reality Michael Jacksons, The MELTDOWNS WILL NOT TOUCH YOUR PENIS. (maybe.)

The Meltdowns have East Coast shows coming up. You can find them after the jump.

May 29 2008 10:00P Clash Bar! Clifton
May 31 2008 8:00P Matchless Brooklyn, New York
Jun 7 2008 8:00P Somewhere Charlottesville, Virginia
Jun 8 2008 8:00P Longbranch Saloon Knoxville, Tennessee
Jun 10 2008 8:00P BABYHOLE @ Toy Eater’s Jersey City, New Jersey
Jun 28 2008 9:00P Tierney’s Montclair, New Jersey
Jul 4 2008 9:00P Spike Hill - Independence Day Show Brooklyn, New York - Synthesis Music Blog


The Meltdowns
No Authority, Direction, Or Control

From: The North Jersey exurbs. Much of No Authority, Direction, Or Control was recorded in Edison, and the rest in Verona. For awhile, the lead guitarist was living in bucolic Montclair – an artsy-establishment town with a solid antiauthoritarian punk rock tradition. These days, the Meltdowns are based in Jersey City, which is probably not a wise career move, but they fit here anyway. While they play things quite a bit rougher than either group, No Authority, Direction, Or Control is occasionally reminiscent of American Watercolor Movement and Flaming Fire. Like those bands, the Meltdowns make music best suited to all-night spazz-out dance parties in basements, squats, crumbling warehouses, and art galleries. They’ve even written a song about it: on “Shelter”, one of the more moving tracks on this very affecting EP, Adam Copeland sings “no sign on the door, no name, no warning, no maximum occupancy, and no insurance.” Yes, we’ve all been there. This version of Jersey City is rapidly becoming outdated, and you get the sense that The Meltdowns are only sticking around as long as there’s still some semblance of an unauthorized-rock subculture operating here.

Format: Six-song EP. These are relatively long songs, though. The last track, a surf-punk demolition tellingly titled “Dick Dale the Vampire”, feels like a bit of a tack-on, but it’s not like it isn’t enjoyable, or consistent with the hyperactive tone and astringent taste of the rest of the set.

Fidelity: Okay. The Meltdowns have only themselves to blame for the mud that often clogs their midrange: they dig their effects processors, and they haven’t yet figured out how to tame their delay units. But theirs are sins of enthusiasm, and as such, they’re easily forgiven – especially since the vocals and drums are generally clear.

Genre: There’s an old strategic tradition among leftist songwriters that goes something like this: let’s get ‘em dancing, and when we do, we’ll drop a whole bunch of incendiary anti-war and anti-capitalist stuff on them. That way, the mind and the booty are equally stimulated; you know, to each according to its need. Guitarist Billy Gray does not (or will not) play like Andy Gill, but his band is closer to the anarchic spirit of Gang Of Four than any of the recent spate of dance-rock imitators. That said, The Meltdowns are almost reflexively funky: almost every part played in every song is syncopated. Sometimes, the beat gets subdivided electronically (delay and phasing will do that), but usually they’re all playing so frenetically that they create their own white-boy polyrhythms. I bring up the band’s dancefloor moves as a caution to trend-spotters: I could call this GOF-inspired funk-punk, see, but then you might think it sounds like Franz Ferdinand. And it doesn’t, not at all. But more importantly, nobody in Franz Ferdinand is ever going to hurl an accusation at its audience like “you fund the murder of your brothers and you consent to the rape of your sisters.” That sort of thing cuts away from the corporate bottom line. The Meltdowns are not businessman-rockers; they’re not mining nuggets from the lost caverns of London ‘79. They’re just playing it as it comes to them, and speaking out as they do.

Arrangements: Busy. Drums, bass, and a maelstrom of percussion; rhythm guitar and digitally-effected lead, electric piano; vox, chants, random shouts. And everything hits at once.

What’s this record about?: Though the writing is often evocative and occasionally even figurative, there’s nothing cryptic about No Authority, Direction, Or Control. The Meltdowns are convinced that Western consumer capitalism and its accompanying militarism have made a hash of the world, and their words are meant to be an intervention. They don’t have messianic visions of their band or anything; they just want to get you to think about what you’re doing, and how you’re cooperating with the death machine. The narrators of “Tonight We Dine” are ripping up the earth to ensure their own luxury; they barely care that they’re killing their own capacities for sympathy and humanity as they do. In order to live large on the bones of the underclass, we’ve got to desensitize ourselves to our own casual violence. “Club Sedition” draws a not-so-tenuous connection between exclusive nightclubs and the black sites and secret torture chambers overseen by the CIA and the U.S. military. (Just in case you don’t get it, there’s a spoken-word section about waterboarding during the “disco” breakdown between verses two and three.) The most scathing track on a set of acidic anti-establishment broadsides, “Comeback” calls the American people “gears in a vast machine that rains fire on the helpless.” “You know what your taxes pay for”, sneers Copeland. By now we all do, or we ought to, anyway. The Meltdowns betray some fondness for love-amidst-the-ruins narratives; “For Tomorrow” is a post-apocalyptic love story that is, to be fair, less erotic than it is politically defiant. Then again, Prince’s fantasies of nuclear holocaust aside, there’s nothing sexy about trenches, mass graves, or air-raid sirens. “Shelter”, the penultimate track, could be the story of Jersey City circa summer ‘07: kids crowded in a basement to hear rock music, and not merely because there’s no place else to go. It’s an acknowledgement that as autocrats strip away our right to assembly, parties in unauthorized spaces might be fertile territory for fruitful dissent. A telling clause in the infamous JC noise ordinance exempts the local government from any of the restrictions slapped on private rockers. The message is clear: the authorities are fine with making a racket as long as they’re the ones behind the bullhorns. After years of shutting down anything that looks suspicious, social control becomes a habit. Worse than that, it becomes a comfortable and widely-accepted state of affairs; just the way we do things around here. The Meltdowns are asking us to step back and take a good look at what we’ve accepted – things done in our name by those with power over our lives. Their vision of a cruel, fascist and militarist state may be extreme, but in 2008, I am afraid it’s no caricature.

The singer: Frontmen in earnest-progressive bands like The Meltdowns are supposed to chant their choruses, keep time, shout their heads off when they have to, and stay out of the way of the guitars. Holding pitch isn’t generally an issue, and nor is displaying much emotional range. To his credit, Adam Copeland transcends the stereotype: he’s a strong and sure singer who enunciates clearly, and who rarely resorts to cheap bellowing. True, he falls back on his “breathless” voice a little too frequently, but it suits the subject matter – part of the problem with The Thermals’ left-wing concept album was that Hutch Harris never sounded like he was on the run from the Feds. Copeland, on the other hand, seems genuinely beleaguered, and that really helps keep No Authority, Direction, Or Control from tipping into straight agitprop. He’s not detached or diagnostic, hectoring at us from a position safety; he’s right there in the shit, a young man lost in America, beset by an establishment drunk on its own aggression and adrenaline.

The band: You could dance to this funk-punk, I guess, though you might break your ankles if you try. Almost everything is played fast and hard, and most songs build to some kind of thunderous instrumental climax. Copeland and Gray don’t trade guitar licks as much as they set their six-strings against each other like roosters in a cock-fight. There’s usually a rhythm guitar part scrobbling away in the background, another part reinforcing the bottom-end, and an effect-saturated lead soaring over the top; often, this is all going on while Copeland is singing. Bassist Gerry Griffin V adds his own instrument to the fray; he holds down the roots pretty firmly, but he also editorializes, syncopates, and boldly ventures into the midrange. Then there’s the frantic percussion, the nosy electric piano that refuses to sit comfortably in the mix, or those signal-warping effects that The Meltdowns dig. Drummer Lloyd Naideck has the brutal task of holding all of this together and making it move, and he’s generally up to it – but, as always, when there’s this much rhythmic complexity going on, there are a few noticeable speedups and slowdowns. Or to put it more precisely, there are moments when no matter how steady they’re keeping it, it feels like the band is speeding up or slowing down. This is particularly true on the multi-section “Comeback”, which must have been a nightmare to record. But since all Meltdown songs are constructed according to an additive logic, they’re all susceptible to the kind of rhythmic lurches caused by sonic overload. It’s only a problem if you are trying to dance. Honestly, saturating the midrange like this assists the group’s theme: it really does sound like Copeland is surrounded by hostile elements beyond his control. I ought to mention that several of Gray’s solos are imaginative, and arise, mushroom-cloud like, from the chaos; “For Tomorrow” is probably the best ride, but this technique is repeated elsewhere on the EP. I doubt he has any patience for an elitist form like art-prog, but I have to believe Robert Fripp would approve.

The songs: Minor-key; verse, chorus, and middle-breakdown. Most are built from grooves that are subsequently soaked in acid, machine-washed, and hung out to dry in a radioactive breeze. In plain, non-hyperbolic English, that means that while Meltdown songs often feel section-heavy, the band doesn’t really assemble their songs from parts. Instead, basic guitar and bass patterns are allowed to develop and change as they’re repeated – and when a band is as hyperactive as this one is, the rate of mutation is accelerated. The exception is “For Tomorrow”, the closest thing on No Authority, Direction, Or Control to a modern-rock radio cut.


What distinguishes this record from others of its genre?: Many notable liberal rockers have made careers out of finger-wagging in the general direction of the White House. George W. Bush, we are told, is an awful tyrant who has done terrible things; should we impeach him or otherwise get free of him, the sun will shine again. He’s the offender, and we’re his victims. This is not how The Meltdowns roll. Copeland is the rare neo-progressive singer willing to risk the affections of his audience members by implicating them all in the grand sphere of national wrongdoing. The military death machine he sings about in “Comeback” wouldn’t need to exist if it weren’t for the demands of the material-minded American consumers in “Tonight We Dine”. The Meltdowns are outraged by the current regime, sure, but they’re also furious about mainstream complicity with what they see as state-sanctioned cruelty. “When you know what’s being done in your name” (and who doesn’t?), “you look away, you feel no shame.” Rhetorical strategies like these are most closely associated with the radical fringes of the academy and certain passé strains of hardcore punk. Most contemporary indie bands run screaming from any kind of critique, but even those who do not are loath to call out their listeners. Consider how a politically-engaged writer like Bruce Springsteen would handle something like “Club Sedition”: chances are, he’d try to get inside the head of the reluctant torturer, “just doin’ his job” under the cover of the flag, or the conflicted home-front warrior with his child in jail, or some other portrait in pained, star-spangled ambivalence. None of that for The Meltdowns – they turn to the crowd and say “you, fellow first-world Anglo, you’ve got blood on your hands”. American self-flagellation might be a growth industry in the near future, but The Meltdowns’ stance won’t endear them to those members of the mainstream media establishment who bother to listen to lyrics. Commendably, they don’t seem to care.

What’s not so good?: Guitar delay is no way to treat a drummer. All joking aside, effects in the delay, echo, and echoplus family have an unfortunate tendency to cloud the mix and trip up the groove. I don’t know what sort of processors The Meltdowns use, but the rule still applies: the more guitars in a mix, the less the effect is necessary. As I said in the “band” section, part of this is intentional, or at least unintentionally-intentional – sometimes The Meltdowns just want to prove a point by making a mess. I feel them on that. But there are other moments where it seems like the band wants to clear away the racket and deliver something tight and powerful, and the fingers won’t quite come together to make a fist. For the next release, they’ll want to strip away some of the guitar, eliminate a bit of the syncopation and cross-rhythmic complexity, dial down the effects, and simplify some of their kitchen-sink arrangements. Not all the time; God forbid, but some of the time. Occasionally, guys, occasionally; just as a contrast.

Recommended?: I had a professor in college – a really good professor – who used to complain bitterly about sweeping indictments made by leftists. The problem with hardcore progressives, he argued, was that their assignation of moral culpability to people with no stake in corrupt regimes. He singled out the popular reception of Eichmann in Jersualem for abuse: no, no matter how banal and commonplace evil might be, we’re not “all Adolf Eichmann”. That was the early Nineties and the very beginning of the first Clinton administration, and things were, ever so briefly, looking up. Since then, we’ve seen plenty. We’ve fought two wars of choice (funny how often Democrats forget about our misadventures in Yugoslavia). President Clinton ordered his first aerial bombardment of Baghdad in June 1993; since then, it seems as if the bombs have never stopped falling. Evidence continues to pile up that our extravagant, consumption-based lifestyles are contributing to the destruction of the planet. In the past fifteen years, the national incarceration rate has blown past Russia’s and Iran’s: with close to two and a half million Americans behind bars, we’re now the world’s leading jailer. That means, according to the Pew Center, that about 1 in 100 U.S. citizens are currently on lockdown. No, you didn’t do that, and neither did I; it’s not the world we wanted. Still, like Ronald Reagan used to say, it happened on our watch. What’s more, much of America got rich and comfortable on our watch – we settled in as the world burned around us. We don’t have to torch our possessions and take up arms, but it is incumbent on all of us to speak out, even when those in power don’t want to hear what we have to say. Or, as Adam Copeland puts it, “if you cannot see your victims, if you turn your eyes away from the dead, if you keep your mouth shut when they scream, you sign the bottom line”. You know what? He’s right.

Where can I get a copy/hear more?: Ever the good collectivists, the boys in The Meltdowns run Tankcrash!, their own record cartel. I’ll never understand why more indie bands don’t get together and do this – it doesn’t cost anybody anything, and nobody’s life gets signed away to a multinational entertainment conglomerate. The band will be hitting the road this spring; before then, they’ll be doing radio sets on WFMU and WRSU . They’ll also be playing a legal fundraiser for the Powerhouse Arts District in Jersey City, which, given the band’s proto-anarchist and anti-government sympathies, may strike you as an odd thing for them to do. Then again, it certainly beats singing for the cops. - Tris McCall for Jersey Beat


Discography

JUL 2008 - THEM LETDOWNS Digital EP
JAN 2008 - NO AUTHORITY, DIRECTION OR CONTROL - CD EP
DEC 2007 - YULE TIDE - Digital Single

Listen to it all on-line:
http://themeltdowns.com/music.php

All titles released on Tank Crash (tankcrash.com)

Photos

Bio

"The Meltdowns' debut won't let your heart stop at any moment." Adam Pfleider, Absolute Punk

"The humor, the funk, and the musicianship can't help but bring to mind the Dismemberment Plan..." - Jim Testa, Jersey Beat

"It sounds like demon dance party dogs tearing through a sweaty basement club and nipping at the heels of rad chicks with ugly-ass haircuts." - Spencer, Synthesis Blog

"Copeland is the rare neo-progressive singer willing to risk the affections of his audience members by implicating them all in the grand sphere of national wrongdoing." - Tris McCall, Jersey Beat, March 2008

It was the second night of the WE Festival at the Soapbox in Wilmington, NC in May 2008 when the last slot on the main stage opened up. The Meltdowns had driven 800 miles to play one much-anticipated set the night before in the basement of the Soapbox to a handful of people in the know. They were just minding their own business when a couple of the festival organizers who had loved their set picked them to fill in. It was the perfect opportunity and just the right band: a large crowd of indie and punk heads who were looking for something that sounded new, something that dared them not to dance, and The Meltdowns threw down a torrent of biting, blistering, dance-rock. It was a ferocious and fun show that saw overwhelming applause and climaxed when the band joined the crowd in a wild dance.

The Meltdowns are a rock and roll band from New York and New Jersey. They solidified their line-up in Jan 2007, and have been as busy recording as they are organizing shows - in the last 12 months they've put out three releases and played 40 shows. The collections capture the scope of The Meltdowns' confrontational lyrics, musical dexterity, and tongue-in-cheek humor. The songs invite listeners to consider the ironic relationship between the dubious directives of our leaders and the dead-end hypocrisy of our professional lives.

At once taunting and empathetic, the songs on NO AUTHORITY, DIRECTION OR CONTROL have the rarely–realized ability to compel listeners to question the future they are being offered, and to get up out of their seats in the meantime. The four tunes on THEM LETDOWNS are a scathing quartet of tongue-in-cheek song writing, ranging from a sarcastic treatise on the sexualization of religion, to a psychedelic shred-fest, to an alt-country tune about the pitfalls of gainful employment. Their single "Yule Tide" marries Tom Waits and Phil Spector in an unholy celebration of spending the holidays with relatives. A joyful wrecking ball in the broadside of the status quo, The Meltdowns are making music to change the world to, one manic dance party at a time.

Born out of Montclair, NJ, The Meltdowns now rehearse in Jersey City, and performances have taken them all around the NY Metro area. Occasional trips have sent them to Philly and down to North Carolina & Georgia as well. They are currently playing about once a month in NYC and working on new material for a full-length release. All the boys live in the North Jersey burbs except Billy, who moved back home to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.