better days

the meltdown

a smoky evening listening to the soulful twang and downhome beats of the meltdown is a night you won’t soon forget. this melbourne eight-piece are just taking the throat of the city’s stages in their grip. their tunes are birthed by vocalist simon burke and saxophonist lachlan mclean, who bring a wealth of miles spent on the road and listless moments communing with past greats, which culminate in tracks unique but still hearkening back. with the release of their new single better days, simon burke has taken out some time from his hectic schedule to give powder the rundown on where the meltdown is at.
interview with paul gregoire i.t.a.

simon, cheers for joining us here at powder, we’ve been getting down to the new electronic ep here at the studio, although haven’t had the chance to get our grubby mitts on the vinyl yet… it’s a pleasure to have you here.

Thanks for having us.

so you guys just released a limited edition seven inch single better days, on february twenty third, along with a three track electronic ep. how’s the reception been so far? why’d you go down the vinyl road in this digital age? and just what’s the inspiration behind this soulful track?

The reception has been really positive thus far, and we’re looking forward to getting out there and doing some live shows. The hope street guys are pretty much specialist in the vinyl department, so we didn’t have a choice. But in all seriousness, it’s great to have something physical in your hands. I think that’s why vinyl is having such a comeback, and then of course there’s the sound. I was genuinely excited to hear it for the first time on vinyl.

and the second track sweet water, with its deep dulcet tones, gospel backups and spacious organ. what’s the story behind it?

This tune took several forms before it ended up as it is, and thus far it’s the first co-write between Lachlan and myself. Some songs form easily and come together without too many issues, and this wasn’t one of those! But we’re both happy we stuck at it.

the launch party for the single, on march twelfth, is at melbourne’s shebeen, which is always a blast. so what are you expecting on the night?

I guess not too many expectations except to try and put on a great show and have fun. Both Lachy and I have been playing music for many years, but launching a record that is your own creation is extra exciting for us both and it has been a couple of years journey to get to this point.

and you’re being supported by the do yo thangs and karate boogaloo. have you played with these guys before? what are they like?

I haven’t seen them live, but I’ve had a listen online and they both sound great.

what’s the history of the meltdowns. how’d you get it together and how long have you been around for?

Lachy and I were doing some gigs together which involved lots and lots of driving where we’d get chatting and listening to music. We both have a great love for the music of Ray Charles, and initially we put the band together to play similar repertoire (at the great Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne), but over time, it developed, and the age old, yet slightly different version of the cover band going original came about.

the meltdown are an eight piece… just who’s in the lineup and what are their weapons of choice?

We have Hugh Harvey on drums, Mick Meagher on bass, Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Anton Delecca on saxaphone, Chantelle Mitvalsky and Hailey Cramer on backing vocals. You only have to spend a few minutes on google to realise how lucky we are to have any, yet all of these guys in the band, and of course Lachlan Mclean on saxophone and horn arrangements and myself on keys and vocals.

for those powder readers who haven’t caught you as yet, just what can they expect from a meltdown gig?

I’d like to think we let the songs speak for themselves and just play them. I’m a massive fan of songwriters in various styles, and to me the best of the best put on their show by delivering them with purity and honesty – I suppose that’s the aim. Besides I’m a crappy dancer, so that wouldn’t be good for anyone.

you’ve just signed with our favourite melbourne label, hopestreet recordings. how’d that come about and how’s the journey going so far?

It’s a small world, and Lachy had known the Hope Street guys for years and kind of convinced them to come on board with offers of treats. It just seemed like a good fit, and over a period of time we worked towards the deal. I’d like to think we compliment the current crop of bands they have, and that we also offer something a bit different for them as well. It’s been fun so far.

obviously, you guys are heavily influenced by mister ray charles, but which other old timers can one find upon your turntable? and just who of late has been capturing your ears?

I’ve probably spun records like Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway more than any others. Anything from Hi Records (Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles.) Songwriters like Dan Penn. Saying all that, I’m getting into Father John Misty at the moment. He’s like an unhinged and hilarious Rufus Wainwright. Left field I know.

and you’ve been in the outback over the last few years flying small planes and raising a family. what’s been the purpose of you piloting these aircrafts and which towns have you been taking off out of?

A few years ago, I gained my commercial licence, and started teaching airline cadets. Plenty of places in northern Victoria, almost anywhere you can put a pin on the map, although I’m now based back in Melbourne, so I get to see the ocean, something I didn’t see for several years…

and lastly, after a night on the stage, just how do the meltdowns unwind? how do you take in the wee hours of the morning and which melbourne venues can you be found at?

Well I’m a bit of a nanna these days, so Lachlan is more ofey with keeping up the musician party/animal vibe, but he does have some success in guiding me carefully down the wrong path.

once again, thanks so much for chatting with us here at powder. when we’ve caught you, we’ve loved your gigs no end and we look forward to the release of your next full album.


tickets for the shebeen single launch

like meltdown town

blank tape management the meltdown page

label hopestreet recordings