Bare Wires Frontman Matthew Melton Wants To Party All The Time, Party All The Time.
For the past couple of years, the San Francisco Bay Area has become known for the glut of bands coming out of there with a similarly sunny take on the popular lo-fi indie punk and garage rock that's currently enjoying popularity. It doesn't take much more than a cursory glance at the bands playing this year's 35 Denton festival to realize just how trendy this style is.
Oakland trio Bare Wires errs on the glamm-ier side of that genre — a style they frequently refer to as “soft punk.”
After first gaining some traction in 2007 the trio has taken to life on the road, playing house parties and pretty much whatever they can book on their non-stop touring lifestyle.
In anticipation of their upcoming their upcoming 35 Denton set this weekend, we caught up with Bare Wires mastermind Matthew Melton who told us why he'll never stop playing house shows, his upcoming solo project, and why he is terrified of getting home from tour.
Throughout your history, you guys have always played a lot of house shows. Are you guys still trying to play a lot of house shows these days?
Yeah, man. I love playing house shows. It's, like, as soon as you play, you're already at a party so it eliminates that step of having to load all your gear out and transport yourself to something to do. A lot of times, you'll play some type of random dive bar or something and everybody gets kicked out and ends up getting separated and then you end up driving around looking for something to do. At a house party you can just, like, party.
In the way that people like Dave Bazan still continue to play house shows no matter how popular they get, do you guys think that even if you're super famous one day you'll still be playing house shows every now and again?
Hell yeah! I don't think we'll ever reach a point where we wouldn't play a free show or house party because that's kind of at the core of what we stand for. We're definitely not a band that's going to sell out and get signed to a big record label. That's not even on our radar. I'd much rather put out our album with a small record label that's going to do the record right. Getting to a point where we're only playing shows that somebody is requiring us to play? That's not even an option.
What was the wildest house party you've ever been to? What is the craziest thing that's happened at a house party that you've been at?
On this tour, we played a warehouse party in Houston, Texas. There were six bands on the bill, and it was pretty cool at first. Everything was good. And then this one band played — this really terrible, almost hardcore band. They took like 40 minutes to set up, they played for eight minutes, then they stole our cymbals before we played and peeled out on these motorcycles — like straight up in our face peeled out. Then some other guy got dropped — he got beat up — and all hell was breaking loose. Meanwhile, these chicks were coming into our van and talking all this shit. It was a bunch of nonsense happening at once. That was definitely the weirdest show of this tour.
What's the most unconventional place that you've played?
We played at some funny spots in San Francisco — like some art galleries and vintage stores and random stuff like that. Our entire band is homeless and unemployed and we have a van that has all of the gear we need to set up and play anywhere. So as long as we have a power supply — even a generator — we can show up and play. We can play in your front yard. We can play in your back yard. We can play in a mall parking lot. We've got microphones and everything we need to play just about anywhere, so it's kind of cool. We're a completely mobile setup.
You guys seem like you get pretty antsy if you stay in one place for too long. I guess that kind of plays into the whole homeless/jobless aspect of things?
Well, we're touring pretty constantly so there's really no reason to pay rent at a place. It's kind of like a waste of money and just an added thing that you don't really need to worry about. We were in Europe for six weeks and then we got back and we were just chilling out in San Fransicso for about a month and now we're back on a pretty lengthy tour. I really feel like the wind-in-your-hair vagabond lifestyle sort of informs what our music is all about. We've literally been doing this for three years now. In a way, how could it end up not informing the idea for our music? Like that slacker mentality, that, sort of throw-caution-to-the-wind idea, and all that.
That would kind of eliminate girlfriends and jobs and anything like that.
Yeah, a girlfriend is basically not in the equation. Jobs? Nobody would hire us. We're just going to push forth and keep doing the same thing. It's a lot of fun. We're in Florida, I just woke up, and it's pretty nice here, man. It's pretty unbelievable to wake up in Florida and think, “Whoa, we just drove all the way across the country in this shitty van that I bought for like a thousand bucks and painted myself!”
The longer you're on the road, do you find you have to start pacing yourself to make it through or are you just as rowdy at the end of a tour as you are at the beginning?
I feel like it takes about 10 to 12 days to get into your mode. But once you get your mode on, I think you can continue on for a long time. Once you get in that mode, you have the high of that feeling of the wind in your hair and that just pushes you forward. We've done some super long tours and I personally dread when the end hits.
It's like going from 60 to zero and hitting a brick wall. You get back to Oakland from a two or three month tour and you've got no place to be and no objective. Every day [on tour] we've got an objective; we're traveling to this city to play this show. Not having that objective after having it every day for a long period of time is kind of terrifying. It's like you're useless.
What's the next big challenge for you guys? What are you looking forward to? What's the next big thing you have in store?
We just are finishing our new album and we were trying to figure out who would be putting it out for a little bit of time. Then I realized that the best place for our new album was a small, cool record label that is run by a guy who I really trust and respect. That is Rob Fales at Southpaw Records. We're doing our next record on Southpaw. We're really excited to release this new full-length. We recorded six of the songs in Memphis. I record bands for a living on the side when we're not on tour, and I actually traveled with my own board, a Tascam 388, to Memphis. We recorded six songs in the studio and then we actually went on the road recording our album between shows and stuff on our last tour. We recorded some songs in Detroit in the basement of the Lager House. Here and there, I would track vocals at people's houses. What we ended up with is kind of a patchwork quilt of an album. It's going to be really cool to have it out because I put a lot of work into it. I've also got my follow up solo album, which I'm just now finishing at the same time. I'm really excited about releasing those two.
What is the name of your solo project?
I'm not sure. I've got about 20 songs that I've worked up. I kind of wait until the last minute to figure out how to connect the dots. It's up in the air at the moment, but I've got a lot of material. I even recorded with a couple of really good studio musicians in the Bay Area. I was excited to work with those guys. I think I'm just going to release the record as Matthew Melton because it's just such a personal adventure in songwriting.
What do you know, if anything, about the 35 Denton festival that you're playing this weekend?
Being on the road, we don't have much electronic communication. We don't have a computer or anything like that. Every day, we are driving to the next city to score grass and figure things out. We're so caught up in just our daily survival that I don't get much chance to even think about what the next show is or what's coming up ahead. We literally pull up and just figure it out on a seat-of-the-pants basis. So I don't know that much about the 35 Denton festival at all. But I know that we're going to show up and rock. We're not going to overthink anything. We pull up and it's like a blank canvas. We're going to show up and crank it out. I'm definitely looking forward to playing it.
Bare Wires performs at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday night at Andy's in Denton as part of the 35 Denton festival.
Bare Wires photo by Erin Maiden.