Rock band

How a Utah rock band, back from hiatus, discovered their chemistry ‘is still there’

The members of MELŌ say of their musical reunion, “It’s not awkward, it’s not weird, it’s not old.”

(Courtesy of MELŌ) Utah hard rock band MELŌ—left to right: bassist Mikey Collard, guitarist Zakk Hale and drummer Jordan Davis—is scheduled to perform at Soundwell, 149 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Once upon a time, 18 years ago, a rock band from Utah called Melodramus started performing.

After a few years and some lineup changes, the other three members of the band – guitarist Zakk Hale, drummer Jordan Davis and bassist Mikey Collard – found that life separated them. Collard moved to Los Angeles for college, Hale went to Seattle, and Davis enrolled in dental school.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group returned with a new name – MELŌ, a bit ironic given their loud, hard-rocking sound – and the same old thrill of making music together.

“There’s an intention behind it,” Hale said of the reunion, “It’s like we want to do it again. … There’s this great chemistry, and years later, it’s still there. Coming home figuratively, literally and musically has been a gift.

“It’s like we were meant to play together,” Davis said. “It’s not awkward, it’s not weird, it’s not old.”

When the band started, its members said they were driven by excitement and a love of different genres of music – metal, classic rock, and even progressive rock. Bands like Queen, Dream Theater and Depeche mode were among their favourites.

“When you’re younger, maybe you want to show off your skills,” Davis said. “As you mature musically, you want it to feel good. A lot of it comes down to feeling: how does it come across? What feeling or imagery does it evoke in the people’s minds, how do they feel when they listen to this?

Hale added, “All three of us have very iconic personalities when it comes to music. The sound has changed, but it’s from the same seed…it’s much more refined and mature [now].”

All three members contribute songwriting — sometimes a team effort, with each song coming together in a different way, they said. So far, the process has produced singles such as ‘The Self’, ‘Broken Hands’, ‘Calling a Change’ and ‘Nothing More Nothing Less’.

Although the members have different strengths, Collard said the three are on the “same page” today – able to play seamlessly on each other’s cues, ideas and skills, even after all these years.

Being more “refined and mature”, as Hale puts it, extends to the band’s new name, MELŌ.

Hale and her brother, a former member of the band, came up with the name Melodramus in their mother’s kitchen. They were “obsessed with melodies,” Hale said, and toyed with the word “melodramatic” when they came up with it.

The new name, MELŌ, is a nod to the band’s meandering history – three previous albums, and bandmates no longer play with them – while signaling their new musical era.

“The running joke was to cut the drama,” Hale said. “Let’s just call it MELŌ.”

And, yes, the band are well aware that the name is a bit of a contradiction, since their music is “anything but sweet,” Hale said.

MELŌ is gearing up for its first big show in months — a July 20 show at Soundwell in downtown Salt Lake City. The show is a chance to start over, for a phoenix to rise from its ashes.

The band aims to create a “lasting relationship” with their fans through this music, Hale said — and, in some ways, they already have.

At a recent show, the band saw fans they’ve seen in 10 years – then teenagers, now adults. A fan appeared in one of the group’s t-shirts from 15 years ago, a shirt Collard said he no longer had.

“You just think, ‘Where did the time go?'” Hale said. “The connection is still there.”

MELO is scheduled to perform Wednesday, July 20 at Soundwell, 149 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City. Sleepeatr and Born of Two Nations will open the show, which begins at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $10, at soundwellslc.com.