The Melismatics: A Decade In

Minneapolis’ The Melismatics turned ten this year. They seem to have been “celebrating” that landmark all year, but it was formally commemorated this October with the release of their...

Minneapolis’ The Melismatics turned ten this year. They seem to have been “celebrating” that landmark all year, but it was formally commemorated this October with the release of their sixth and most accomplished LP, Rising Tide.  The album is a concept album chronicling the lifespan and trials and tribulations of a 21st century man.  While the content can get quite existentially heavy, the album’s sound is a sugary, but potent, kind of power pop that is energetically hopeful to a profound degree.  While the album maintains the core sound that the band has become known for, they also claim that, when you dig a little deeper, you can find them also exploring with their affection for entities such as Brian Wilson and EDM.  The Melismatics are currently on a US tour that will take them through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, but core members, husband/wife duo Ryan Smith and Pony Hixon-Smith, recently took some time to tell me about their tenth year as the Melismatics.

Izzy: What have been your highlights of 2013, in addition to releasing Rising Tide?

Ryan: We spent a good part of the year touring behind our last record, MANIA! The pinnacles of those dates for me was our 10 year anniversary show in St Paul, MN, SXSW in Austin, TX, and Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI.

Pony:  I became “born again” Christian after experiencing horror dabbling with new age, occult, energy healing, mediums (that’s just scraping the surface), and associating with its so-called “healers”.  If anyone that reads this is searching, just go for the bible and a church. Seriously.


Izzy: What are your thoughts on Rising Tide?  How do you think it compares to previous releases?  Do you consider it to be an evolution in your sound or your approach to making music?

Pony: I love it. It’s my favorite. I think it shows maturity in the songwriting and through the instrumentation and lyrics. It is definitely an evolution to our sound as of today but, I know the next album will be completely different.

Ryan: Rising Tide is my favorite record we’ve done so far, and it’s the one I’m most proud of.  I think it is quite different from all of our previous albums, and I suppose it’s all part of a natural progression.  Having said that, we won’t make another record that sounds like this one.  There would be no point in repeating.

Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite track, or one that might be most indicative of where future sounds may be headed?  I quite like “Halo.”

Ryan: I think at some point in time, every track on Rising Tide has been my favorite.  At the moment, I’m partial to “Halo,” “Close To The Vest,” “Delirium,” “If You Want War,” “Gravity,” and “Rising Tide.”

Izzy: Over the years your music has wound up in a number of noteworthy pieces of media, including a plethora of TV shows.  Is there anywhere you dream of your music winding up?

Pony: Some major movie soundtrack would be great.

Ryan: Maybe a theme song for some horrible reality TV show?  The worse the better.

Izzy: You have a bunch of upcoming November live dates.  What should be expected of the live show?

Ryan: The new stuff, the old stuff, and the middle stuff.  We’ll be evolving our set as we go on the tour to keep things fresh for us, which in turn keeps the show exciting for everyone.  Our shows are always high energy, so you can expect that every time.

Pony: Memorable performances and a lot of polka dots.  I hope fans come wearing polka dots.

Izzy: And what about 2014?  What are you hoping and planning for next year?

Ryan: We’ll be releasing music videos for many songs from “Rising Tide.” There may be a string of acoustic shows.  Also, I’m currently working on writing a bunch of new material.  Perhaps some new side projects may emerge in 2014, as well.

Pony: I don’t know about anyone else, but the passage Proverbs 3:5-6 seems promising to me as everything will fall into place.

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.