Despite only turning 23 yesterday, it seems like Dave Melillo has been around forever. Some will remember him from his tenture at Drive Thru Records as a teenage-heartthrob singer-songwriter, others will remember his spell in Cute Is What We Aim For. This is 2011 however, and Melillo is as driven and fueled as ever. His new project, Nocturnal Me, penned to newly founded Apparition Records earlier this year, hitting the studio and preparing a summer release. We spoke to Dave about the recording process for the new EP, what we can expect from his new material, his upcoming solo material, labels, and he even offered a little exclusive for us. Read on!
Shawn@RRR: You recently completed recording your third EP, which is out this summer through Apparition Records. Tell us about both the writing and recording process - how did it compare to anything you’ve done previously?
Dave Melillo: With the previous EP's we kept the songwriting process strictly between Jeff, myself and Mikey. This time we opened up this process to several other writers and friends. Almost all of these songs have influence from outside sources that I came in contact with throughout 2010... All of these songs were written during different writing sessions with each respective songwriter... They were all written in different locations at different times for different reasons, but once we decided to record another Nocturnal Me EP, we chose to include these songs because they were standout records. Simply put? This EP is a compilation of the best songs I wrote in 2010.
Shawn@RRR: Tell us about the production of the album. You didn't work with an external "producer" as most artists do, and though you had a studio engineer, it’s been said that a lot of the work was done by you. How do you feel your experience as a musician played into the final product?
Dave Melillo: In 2010 I was lucky enough to work on several great projects as a producer. Through those experiences I learned how to bring an album together on my own, and I thought it would be ridiculous to hire a producer to make the Nocturnal Me records come to life. Our engineer, Jay Zubricky, definitely helped with the production, making sure that we stayed on track, captured quality audio and maintained integrity throughout the composition of each record. Before I even brought these songs to the guys in the band, and Jay, I had demoed them about pretty comprehensively, so from the get-go I knew I had to be involved in a big way for these songs to get to the next level. I'm sure some people will argue that you need an outside source to keep you in check, but I'd like to believe I know what I'm doing.
Shawn@RRR: It's been said that the new material has an eclectic range of influences - can you expand a little on these?
Dave Melillo: This EP definitely signifies a transformation of the band. There is probably 1 or 2 records that reflect the work we've done on the last two EPs, but the rest of the records explore uncharted territory for Nocturnal Me. In a way, this EP embodies what the band WAS supposed to be from the beginning... I always imagined Nocturnal Me as a white suburban kid's view of this high brow, upper class night life that America seems to be obsessed with. Unfortunately, on the first two EPs we were still too close to earlier influences and we only got the point across through songs like "This Isn't Love"/"Second Chance"... This time, I feel like we nailed the vibe of this project in a way more concise manner. These records can be translated as club bangers or more of a tongue and cheek satirical dissertation on our generation ... just depends how hard you want to think
Shawn@RRR: How do you feel the release compares to anything else in both your own and Nocturnal Me's discography?
Dave Melillo: Song for song, this EP kills the other two. The other two EPs were built around strong singles like "This Isn't Love" & "Second Chance"... This EP has amazing songs from top to bottom. Every song could be a "single" even though the represent several genres/vibes/messages. In my mind, this is the EP we should have released in the summer of 2009
Shawn@RRR: We've been told that there is an album title that you would like to exclusively share it with us. What is the album title and could you perhaps expand a little on the meaning behind it?
Dave Melillo: The title of the album is "Two Faced" and it has several meanings. When it comes down to it, I've done a lot of things recently that made me question the person I was and the values I've had up until now. I saw a different side to me than I ever did before and a lot of these songs came about because of that discovery ... Thats why this album is "two faced" ... some of these songs are written from my previous perspective, and some of them are written from my brand new perspective. Each record also differs from one another in a sonic way. There are some tracks that include the full band, others that dont have any real instruments, some tracks use mad auto tune, some tracks dont use any at all ... There is just a HUGE vacillation in sound/message throughout these 5 records and I thought it only fitting to give this EP a title vindictive of it's sound.
Shawn@RRR: Is there any one central underlying theme lyrically on the album?
That I'm crazy. Half of these songs I'm in love, the other half I hate love ... its like listening to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde have a conversation. I'm missing a few screws in some important places, but i think it makes for compelling art.
Shawn@RRR: What songs from the new album are most personal to you and why?
Dave Melillo: I love "Weeknd" for some reason. It's such a departure from who I've been my whole life and when I listen to it I feel like I'm listening to someone else singing. I'm also really excited because I can tell this song is going to ruffles people's feathers ... Melillo singing about champagne? Really?
Shawn@RRR: When can we expect to hear the album, or a single? Are there dates set for either of those?
Dave Melillo: Album comes out mid-July and the single will be up next week!
Shawn@RRR: Straying away from Nocturnal Me a little, you’ve been in the studio recently working on some solo material. Tell us about how that's going so far...
Dave Melillo: It's been going really well. The process has been distorted a little ever since I picked up "Nostalgia/Ultra" by Frank Ocean .. He makes the music I want to and I believe his sound is the future. Really trying to incorporate that inspiration into my solo project
Shawn@RRR: What can fans expect from the new material from your solo project? Any tentative release?
Dave Melillo: After the Nocturnal Me EP. In terms of style, something brand new that feels familiar. There will be acoustic guitars on every track, but the words and the melodies are going to be stronger than anything I've ever released.
Shawn@RRR: Going back to the subject of Nocturnal Me, in a previous interview you had mentioned that you’ve started to incorporate different genres and production techniques into your music. Anything fans might not expect with this new release?
Dave Melillo: I started out wanting to make this EP into a tribute to "Ready" by Trey Songz. That album definitely changed who I am in several ways. There is definitely a great deal of RnB influence on every single record. It obviously sounds way different because its coming from me, but hopefully its a nice combination for most listeners.
Shawn@RRR: As I previously mentioned, the release marks the band’s debut on the label as well as the first album release by the label. It’s widely known that you’ve seen all the trials and tribulations that the industry has to offer. With your prior experience in mind, what made the band decide to sign to a label rather than keep their independence?
Dave Melillo: We decided to sign with Apparition because they have the same mantra as us: Build it and they will come. Apparition Records is trying to make a name for themselves the same way NocMe is ... Through hard work and great songs. I felt that the first time I talked to the label and it made sense to partner with people who have the same mindset as us and would let me be as creative as I wanted to.
Shawn@RRR: How have the label treated you so far? How does working with a small independent like Apparition Records compare to working with some other labels you've worked with in the past, like Drive Thru Records or Fueled By Ramen?
Dave Melillo: Apparition has been nothing short of amazing. They understand what labels need to be now a days ... They need to be a support system for the artist, not a micro manager for the artist. Apparition gave me complete freedom with the song choices, where we wanted to record, the artwork, lyrics, additional content, promo photos, etc, etc. My experience with Fueled By Ramen was similar but obviously Drive Thru has the reputation of completely raping and limiting any artist they touch. This experience has been extremely productive and enjoyable and I thank Apparition Records for being so dope.
Shawn@RRR: You've been quoted in the past as being quite reluctant to tour. Are there any plans to support this release with a tour, or perhaps a release show?
Dave Melillo: Release show is definitely possible. Tour? If the right one pops up. I'm only reluctant because touring is a broken mechanism. People don't want to go to see rock shows anymore... It's boring to this new generation of music listeners. Festivals are cool. Events are cool. But a shitty 2 week van tour hitting VFWs up and down the East Coast? I would rather spend my time sitting on Stickam, making connections with fans and keeping my sanity.
Shawn@RRR: Aside from the release of the Nocturnal Me EP and your solo material, what are you plans for the remainder of the year?
More music, more music, more music.
Shawn@RRR: Ultimately, what do you want people to take away from listening to Nocturnal Me, and what are your ambitions for this EP?
Dave Melillo: My goals for this EP have already been met. I finally feel like this project is what it was meant to be. I am so excited that we even got to the point of releasing a third EP with the help of a label. Remember: This band started as a "spin off" of Cute Is What We Aim For. We should have lasted for 1 release, maybe. But instead, this project has developed into something I will continue to build for the rest of my life. This is my alter ego. I am Nocturnal Me