Melodramas Rock the Penh, Head to Saigon

August 31, 2010

Photo by Nick Sells

Up-and-coming UK indie act Melodramas took the audience by storm at Darlin’ Darlin’ Lounge in Phnom Penh on Aug. 26. Performing at the inaugural Tiger Beer Translate event, the four-man crew brought some much needed rock to the Penh before they head to HCM City for a pair of shows at the Hard Rock Cafe on September 2 and Apocalypse Now on September 4.

Clad in skinny jeans and donning long hairdos, twenty-somethings Matt, Greg, Rob, and Sam, treated the crowd to two sets of original indie-cum-pop rock tunes, making the upper class club sound like a bar in London’s Camden Town.

Describing their approach to music as DIY, frontman Matt says the four friends first started playing in a backyard garage, recording seven tunes on a portable eight-track.

“We did it on a budget of forty quid,” he says. “Then we put the songs on myspace and started attracting a bit of local interest.”

That was almost two years ago. Since then, interest has only increased and Melodramas have shared the stage with some real industry heavyweights, including supporting the New York Dolls on their UK tour in 2009.

Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters’ drummer, has described them as “one of the best supporting bands I’ve had” after the group joined his other band, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, on tour.

Now on a 23-day Asia and Australia tour, the band is broadening its fan base away from the over-crowded British indie scene. So far, it’s been a positive experience.

“Everyone in Asia seems to be a lot more enthusiastic, people seem to get into [the music] a lot more,” says Sam.

Cambodia, where the band will play a total of three gigs, has proved particularly welcoming.
“It is probably our favourite place so far, people seem so friendly and approachable,” says Greg. “That really makes a difference when you’re playing a show.”

With influences from The Coral, Blur, and Supergrass, the band has a distinct indie feel, though Matt likes to think of the group as a pop band.

“My mission statement is to try to reclaim pop,” he says. “The Beatles were a pop band and they were one of the best bands of all time. Just because you’ve got X Factor and so on now, they should not be allowed to hijack the term pop.”

On stage, the band forms a solid, dynamic unit, with Matt’s distinct vocals and rock ‘n’ roll swagger leading the way. The group’s name reflects both its sound and stage presence.

“Melodramas are old theatrical productions, over-emphasised, histrionic,” Matt says. “We think that is a fair representation of what we do as a band musically, and on stage live as well.”

The band’s current tour is set to finish at festivals in Australia, though there is talk of a potential return to Southeast Asia before November. Then Melodramas will hit the studio to record their debut album with producer Sam Williams, known for having worked with Supergrass, Noisettes, and Plan B.

Melodramas will play at Spark in Phnom Penh on Aug. 28 at 9pm, and in Ho Chi Minh City on Sep.2 at Hard Rock Café and Sep. 4 at Apocalypse Now (tbc).

To find out more about the band, visit www.myspace.com/melodramastheband

Contributed by Nora Lindstrom, photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com).

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