5 (but actually 7) Questions: Melody Walker

by Chris Snyder

What albums resonated with you growing up?

The second generation bluegrass revival stuff was what my Dad was into. I grew up around Seldom Scene, New Grass Revival, Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, and Alison Krauss.

Are there any players in the scene that you want to share the stage with?

There are bunch of bands that we are close friends with that are sort of doing a similar thing. Bluegrass instrumentation but taking it to all different genres. Taking mandolins, dobros, banjos and fiddles playing pop and rock music. Their own original songs. Band like Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys, The Stray Birds, and Twisted Pines. There is a movement,even though it’s sort of small, of bands that we know and really vibe off each other, and know what we are sort of exploring.

Are there any old school bluegrass tunes that you like to cover?

Our brand as a band is that we are non-traditional. We are rooted in traditional, but everything we do will be non traditional. You have a band like Phish that can come out and play a traditional grass song and do it really well. We don’t really do that because our mission is to take roots into the future and not look back. When we do a traditional song we may rearrange it completely or play a pop song and make it more traditional. We’re always going to be doing something that’s in the nether regions of pop and roots music.

Do you have any pre-show rituals that really get your psyched up for a show?

Trying to find the basic humans needs when on the road like get enough sleep, stay hydrated and making sure I eat something before the show. Actually eat something a few hours before the show so I can actually digest it. That’s much harder than you think, but I need to do it every day. It’s really just surviving on the road. Getting to the gig in one piece, you never know what weather is going to be like.

We are definitely still in the DIY phase of our careers: We don’t have a bus, driver or sound person on the road. We are taking care of every aspect of what we do, and being musicians as well. Getting it all done and going on stage every night is sometimes easy, and sometimes hard. It’s all worth it. We get to choose our lifestyle ultimately.

What are your keys to success?

I think touring is its own little reward in a way. Just getting out there and doing it. You get better on the road every night, your chops are fresh, the band is getting tighter and tighter every night. When you’re out there every night the band is getting tight and communicating, and the audience knows that you put in the work, hours and miles. I feel that it’s something that every musician is curious about when they are starting out. You say “How good would this band be if we spent every night on the road?” It really does pay off and it’s really gratifying. It’s ultimately not having your best be better but having your worst be better. I think John Hartford said “It’s about raising your suck floor.” Even if everything goes wrong, you have feedback all night, the band is still playing at a pretty high level.

Are there any genres that you listen to besides Bluegrass/Americana?

Our band is usually listening to anything but that on the road. We’re listening to new pop and rock albums. We sometimes get collectively obsessed with different things. A lot of us have been listening to The Barr Brothers and Haim. We have been listening to the new Lady Gaga record. For some people it would be sacrilegious to say that but we really love all music and we don’t think that pop music is a bad thing. There’s some really cool stuff going on in all genres.


Does the band have any big news for 2018?

We’ll be touring the West Coast. We have a lot of festivals that we’re starting to book, and very excited about that. There should be a documentary coming out this year. We went on a river trip in Tibet this summer. That’s a whole other story. Hopefully there will be some video content that we will be able to share. There should be some videos with us collaborating with some Tibetan musicians that I’m really excited to see.


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