By Joe Kovack
When like-minded individuals come together with the shared desire to make dynamic music, interesting things can happen. Interesting things like convoluted time signatures, jazz-infused, syncopated rhythms, and the use of quirky pedal effects to fuel unconventional song structure.
That is Tera Melos in a nutshell.
They began when bassist Nathan Latona and guitarist Nick Reinhart met in the early 2000s in the Sacramento, Calif. area. With a shared appreciation for punk and hardcore bands that pushed the limits of the musical spectrum, the two became friends and quickly joined a band, filling a need for an extra guitarist and bass player. But when the band fizzled, the two made a pact to keep playing together. “Nick and I wanted to tour and we started writing stuff that was weirder, which may have led to the other guys’ decision to want to do other things,” laughed Latona in a recent interview with The Marquee. “We started Tera Melos and there wasn’t really a goal in mind to do anything or play any certain style of music. It’s just that’s what was coming naturally was this weirder stuff, and we didn’t even know if it would adhere to any genre.”
As it turns out, not adhering to any one genre is exactly what stimulated the creative energy of the duo. With a plethora of music to receive inspiration from, their philosophy became to accept whatever influenced them with an open mind, incorporating everything into a unique amalgamation of sounds that runs the gamut of funk-imbued post punk to progressive math rock with a pop twist.
“Labels have a tendency to be limiting. It’s not so much that we’re trying to say ‘Don’t label us,’ but the big label that has been applied is the math rock label, and I just think it’s kind of limiting,” Latona said. “But I do understand the need to label so people can understand what type of band you’re referencing. To us we just say we’re like an experimental rock band with some pop elements.”
That description is a modest one. But the goal isn’t to fit into one specific mold or to adhere to anyone’s expectations. It’s to create music that defies convention.
In the early days Tera Melos worked as an instrumental band. But after a few years, vocals slowly eased into the mix, with Reinhart infusing subtle vocals; adding another element to their complex sound. With the release of 2010’s Patagonian Rats, the band found their sonic and conceptual stride. But the process was taxing, pervaded by the pressure to make every moment interesting and complex to the point of perfection. “When we did Patagonian Rats drummer John Clardy was new to the band and we felt this pressure to show that we were still going to be an interesting band and that we could do interesting things,” Latona said. “I think we were all feeling that pressure, there was more of an urgency.” Yet beyond that pressure Patagonian Rats can be considered the band’s seminal album.
But when it came time to write 2013’s X’ed Out, the band learned from their past and emerged with a more mature approach to writing. An openness to accept anything new while not blindly sticking to their past successes, X’ed Out shows a band that isn’t afraid to work within the conventional while still making dynamic music. With a greater pop feel and less convoluted song structures, their latest release still exudes the two-handed guitar tapping from Reinhart, start-stop structure, and syncopated drumming of Clardy while moving their sound in a direction that continues to show their evolution as songwriters and performers.
“When it came time to write X’ed Out, I don’t think any of us wanted to put ourselves through that pressure again and we wanted the process to be a lot more fun,” Latona said. “I think we did the proving with Patagonian Rats that we were still going to be exploring interesting ideas. And it was a much more fun writing process.”
| Tera Melos | | Gothic Theatre | September 23 |
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