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Friday, May 8, 2015

Warm Soda's Matthew Melton Talks Symbolic Dream, Moving to Austin, and Immortality

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 3:46 PM

click to enlarge warmsoda.png
Warm Soda is back. Well, they’re not back-back, but on Monday, May 4, the band released its sophomore record, Symbolic Dream, on San Francisco’s Castle Face Records. It’s the ex-Oakland band’s first record since songwriter, singer, and guitar player Matthew Melton moved to Austin last year.

It sounds like a romantic revisit to an idealized youth by 32 year-old Melton. Melton’s confectionery power-pop hasn’t changed much since he fronted Oakland rockers Bare Wires, and for music steeped in adolescent nostalgia, that’s just fine. The invincible naiveté of sweet, compressed fuzzy guitars sounds like it could come packaged in a candy wrapper, but not without first understanding the folly of teenage fantasy.

“When our youth has all been wasted and time, it races past, well it’s plain to see, how they lied to me,” Melton croons on “I Wanna Go Fast,” the record’s lead single. Still, Melton hypes the mantra “I wanna go fast,” maintaining one foothold in his youth and showing that maybe San Francisco isn’t the only Neverland for Peter Pan.

We caught up with Melton to talk about Symbolic Dream, Austin, Oakland and growing up.

SF Weekly: How has it been reforming the band in Austin?
Matthew Melton: It has been incredible. Austin is an exact fit for me, my life, and my wife. We moved here and got a nice house with a home studio. It’s perfect and with Warm Soda it’s the best band I’ve ever had. It couldn’t have been more harmonious.

When did you move to Austin, and why?
I’m in my second year here. A lot of the move had to do with my wife. On the last Warm Soda tour I met and fell in love with, at first sight, my wife Doris, in Rotterdam. We came back to Oakland, but with the rising housing costs and all things considered we couldn’t do it. We wanted to move to somewhere with a different vibe, and we chose Austin. You get that really hot summer here.

Upon moving here I got a job at Hotel Vegas, one of the main rock and roll venues here in town. Its a lot of fun to work there. That’s kind of Warm Soda’s home base.

You are originally from Memphis. What’s it like going back down South?
It definitely feels like I’m coming home. It’s a lot closer to home. You get that Southern hospitality and those intense, radical seasons. The rock 'n' roll scene has a different flavor. Austin is probably the most musically rich city I’ve ever been to. The bands here are all good, that's the thing, everyone is really trying hard here. There’s a great sense of community. There’s something here that I have never seen or felt anywhere else.

You played in Bare Wires, and had a few line-ups with Warm Soda in Oakland. Why did you reform Warm Soda instead of starting a new band?
I already had a third album composed. A lot of events happened at the same time. I kicked out Chase Oren, the bass player, and after dismissing him from the group it sort of came to a turning point for the band. It was also a turning point in my life so I decided to pick up and move to Austin. It’s got a little more of a laid back atmosphere. When I moved here I was no stranger to Austin because I’d played here so many times here before. I got the musicians that make up a couple of great local bands. I borrowed the rhythm section of The Bad Lovers and Sweat Lodge. Caleb Dawson and Austin “Shock”Shockley and then Alex Capistran on guitar. They play in a couple other bands and we were already friends from the Hotel Vegas scene and so I started jamming with them and it just clicked. Caleb (drums) and Shock (bass) had been playing together since they were 13-years-old. I’ve got this secret weapon in the rhythm section. That's who I recorded the new album with. I recorded at my home studio, Fuzz City.

You started Fuzz City in East Oakland with Rob Good, the guitar player from Warm Soda. What’s it like reforming Fuzz City without Rob?
Rob was really my main collaborator for Fuzz City and Warm Soda and everything. He’s my best friend in the Bay Area. He had moved down to San Leandro to avoid the housing cost. Everyone was going their separate directions. It was weird continuing on without Rob Good, he’s the most talented engineer I’ve ever worked with.

Is there anything you miss about the Bay Area?
The Bay is an incredible place to live. I lived there for about seven years. My favorite thing was the regional geography. As I’m growing up into my 30s (I just turned 32 on November 10), I feel like I’m growing towards a stronger connection with nature. I miss going to some of places like the coast.

Have any thoughts on where you think the Bay Area’s music scene is going?
Nope. I don’t really know what’s happening there. I don’t believe in smart phones and I’m not on Facebook. When I left, I really left there. I’ve always operated in a bubble. I can create my music in any scenario because I choose to operate in a bubble. I’ve always felt like an outsider.

Can you tell me a bit about the new album?
Symbolic Dream holds onto a lot of good elements that might have been present on the first album. I feel like I’m in a continual process of refining and further refining my sound in kind of a compressed bubblegum, glam glitter fuzz.

Your sound is always so youthful, even as you get older. It’s like some sort of teenage dream. Is there anything new you want to explore as you explore your thirties?
For me, music is a fountain of youth. Through it I can live as a Peter Pan-like figure and hold on to that element of youth that people lose as they grow old with an office job and grow jaded with their life as they continue on to live as a reflection of when they were truly happy for a moment. For me it’s a way to sort of achieve a sort of immortality and it’s such a great vehicle, through artistic expression, to let go of our hang ups and shed our skin, not unlike that of a snake and rejuvenate ourselves. What better way to do that than to leave a breadcrumb trail of songs as we go through life? That’s the ultimate form of artistic expression, pop music, to leave something that someone can connect with.
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Kyle DaSilva


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