Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Melt
Science fiction has become reality and Melt are here to help us process what that means through their epically heavy music. Their sophomore album Replica of Man continues building on the themes of their debut and features the villain’s anthem “Problem Child.”
Joey, James, and J.J. from Melt recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.
Joey Troupe – guitar and vocals
James May – bass and vocals
J.J. Young – drums and vocals
This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.
What’s your musical history up to this point?
Joey and James formed Melt in January 2020, and then COVID happened. With plenty of time on their hands, they wrote and recorded the first album throughout the shutdown of 2020 and early 2021, and then released the self-titled debut record in July of 2021. Joey has been playing in bands in the Pittsburgh music scene since 2007, primarily with Paddy The Wanderer (and also Blackbird Pie and The Electric Pear). James has also had a long-tenured music career beginning in 2008, appearing in bands such as Spare Arrows and Aberrant Kingdom. In mid-2022 J.J. joined the band. J.J. has been playing around the city since 2012 and has played in bands such as Fortune Teller, Daisy Chain, and his solo project BITE.
How do you describe your sound?
Melt’s sound is thick, visceral, powerful, fuzzy, and loud with an underlying groove that adds depth and rhythm to complement the heavy sound. Our songs have singable melodies, head-bang-able riffs, pounding rhythms, and memorable imagery/feelings. Our sweet spot is getting the crowd to bang their head and move their feet. You feel our songs deep in your bones, and they make you move one way or another. Melt fans want to feel something tangible, experience catharsis, and escape the terrors of the modern world through music.
Tell us more about the song “Problem Child.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?
JJ: “Problem Child” is a song that I had stored as a conceptual idea for a while, and when the band started putting together the groove and instrumentation, I knew that my idea had found a home. “Problem Child” is a boast of sorts – bragging about being a bad guy and doing bad things because sometimes it just feels right. A villain’s anthem. We all shouldn’t be expected to fall in line every time, right? “Problem Child” encourages us to walk on the wild side a little bit. The song is one of my proudest music accomplishments to date. Vocally, I was able to push myself to places that I haven’t gone before, and I’m ecstatic that my bandmates allowed me to go there. I have always tried to one-up myself from song to song, project to project, and this is a very proud addition to that trend.
"Replica of Man" is a very intriguing name for a record. Can you tell us more about how it came to be?
We wrote the title track “Replica of Man” very early on and it immediately connected as the primary theme of the album. The fusion of man and machine and what that means for the world was a very terrifying yet seemingly real concept to explore, and the rise of the machine paired perfectly with the sounds we were creating. It turned out to be very timely, months later, when AI came to the forefront of mainstream media. The album is being released just as AI has gone from a sci-fi fantasy to a legitimate dinner-table conversation that has invaded nearly all corners of modern life. One can think of the album as opening a book and looking at all the many terrors of humanity – shame, doubt, ego, lust, aggression, etc. – and how all those feelings will potentially someday, inevitably, be replicated by non-human beings that have replaced us and/or reimagined human existence, connecting humanity as one hive mind.
This album picks up where our debut album (and the final track “Reanimator”) left off. Musically, we took a step forward, allowing ourselves to be a bit more epic and indulgent while simultaneously being more crafted and adding more diverse sonic elements. We embraced deliberately crafting songs more than just FEELING songs during this album. We also feature all three of us singing lead vocals across the nine tracks, something that makes Melt unique and that we are very proud of. Lyrically, we’re still covering relatively dark themes on a global and personal level like the apocalypse, anxiety, doubt, shame, global catastrophe… you know, all the stuff that really makes people smile.
Joey: “After writing our first album, which came together during the pandemic and shut down in 2020, I was somewhat nervous about how another batch of songs would come together. I thought we had more darkness to unload, but I wasn’t entirely sure that Melt wasn’t a pandemic baby. To our pleasant surprise, the songs came easy and they came heavy. We were proud of how our first album sounded both on the record and live, and we wanted to expand upon that feeling with our second album. Aside from “The Future,” our first album is relatively concise, and we wanted to indulge in heaviness for our second album, really embracing the epic nature of our tastes and performance styles.”
What was the first album that really changed your life?
JJ: The Beatles' "Abbey Road" — to me, a perfect album. One of the few moments in time where a group was all firing on all cylinders and was able to come together in the most tasteful and wonderfully collaborative ways.
Joey: Guns N Roses' "Appetite for Destruction." As a very little kid, GNR seemed both so dangerous and so cool. My dad liked them, my Mom liked them, and the record was ubiquitous in my house and on MTV. It was nasty as hell but you could also sing along to every song (and every guitar solo). It was my introduction to rock and roll, and it had everything; sex, drugs, riffs, melodies, and rhythm.
James: Primus' "Tales From The Punchbowl."
Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?
Sweat, Grand Piano, Astrology Now, Tanay, Outsideinside, Silver Car Crash, Gaadge, Feeble Little Horse, String Machine, and Different Places In Space, just to name a few.
Any other super interesting things we should know about you?
We’ve already started work on album number 3!
Learn more about Melt here:
Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.