The Mellons dive into their captivating debut album ‘Introducing… The Mellons!’, a sweet, psychedelic ’60s-soaked record of sunshine and sadness that soars on the shoulders of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s.
“What a Time to Be Alive” – The Mellons
Verily, with a clap of uproarious thunder, the record was plucked hence from celestial vine hanging low above our bobbling heads as though a fruit. And with a jovial intoxication, we did, oh my good brother, slice into four the fruit, and we did sup.
– Andrew Beck
“I have so much to say, it’s hard to begin,” Rob Jepson sings at the top of The Mellons’ debut album. “… I wanna get closer, I wanna go deeper; I wanna know it all in time.” From the outset, the Salt Lake City-based band draw listeners close, beckoning us into their world with unbridled intimacy, connection, and longing. That world, it turns out, is quite the rarity in the 2020s – for while The Mellons are undeniably new, their music feels more in line with the work of The Beach Boys and The Beatles than it does any of their modern contemporaries. Rich harmonies and sweet psychedelia coalesce on Introducing… The Mellons!, a captivating record of sunshine and sadness that soars on the shoulders of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s.
Wouldn’t you know it
It happened to me
Just like I dreamed it would
In less than a minute
Got swept in the scene
Just like in Hollywood
Just for a moment
Lost in a moment
Caught in a dream
Just for a moment
Lost in a moment
What a time to be alive
What a time…
Released October 21, 2022 via Earth Libraries, Introducing… The Mellons! is a truly enchanting, heartwarming, and nostalgia-inducing affair. The Mellons’ self-produced “2020s does 1960s” debut album is a lush and wondrous immersion into an entrancing, psych pop style they’ve dubbed “baroque pop”: It feels old, but it’s equally fresh, new, and forward-facing. Think of The Mellons as a new take on pop from the late ’60s.
“We all love the late ’60s, but none of us wanted to create a pastiche record,” The Mellons’ Rob Jepson tells Atwood Magazine. “I think the challenge throughout the entire process was honoring those influences we love, while still bringing our own voices and experiences to the table. Hopefully we landed somewhere near the mark! Personally, I am in love with Pet Sounds, late-period Beatles, and anything from Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, and Van Morrison. But I also listen to a lot of old-time country, choral music, modern psych rock, and a lot of today’s most prominent singer/songwriters. It was challenging to bring it all of that together without getting pigeonholed or straying too far in a random direction. Hopefully we pulled it off. Now that the record is finally coming out, I guess we’ll see whether we did or not!”
Comprised of Jepson, Andrew Beck, Denney Fuller, and Ian Francis, The Mellons are a singular spark in the modern musical canon. As they candidly explain, this album is a long time coming – its songs of loneliness and longing, belonging and acceptance largely written and recorded in during the COVID-19 pandemic’s height in 2020 and 2021. Denney Fuller affectionately calls it “a charcuterie board of songs,” recognizing the diversity of musical ideas that ultimately came together in this collection.
I see the sun
Slide down your face
The evening sky
Down in a blaze
I come undone
When in the haze
Through drooping eyes
I see your face
– “Prelude (In E Major),” The Mellons
“It’s a long story,” Rob Jepson begins. “A lot of these songs have been sitting on our respective shelves for years, waiting for The Mellons to come along and finally put them into final form. Andrew and I have a long history of being in bands together (going back to our freshman year of high school), and Ian and Denney have collaborated in a dozen different projects over the years. So even though The Mellons is only now coming to life, we’ve really been developing these songs and this collaboration for a long time.”
“We definitely wanted the album to sound authentic,” he continues. “In an age where there’s so much access like sampling, auto-tuning, and programming, we wanted to get back to the basics of just singing and playing our instruments. Of course, that’s not to say that we didn’t take full advantage of the studio environment. A few of the songs have more than 100 tracks baked into them (which has been tricky to translate into our live show, let me tell you). But everything on there is really played and really sung, and we used a lot of the same engineering techniques that gave those classic ’60s records their warmth.”
“Outside of that, I’m not sure that we really had a cohesive vision! Part of the joy of being in a band is seeing what your bandmates bring to the table and keeping yourself open to different ideas and directions. A year ago, I don’t think I could have predicted that this is how the album would turn out. But I have many fond memories of coming to the studio and watching it all unfold.”
That love for the ’60s sounds is shared between all four Mellons.
“I’m fascinated with the way that in the mid/late ’60s, experimental-psychedelic-rock and pop bands were exploring baroque influences,” Andrew Beck reflects. “Orchestral music has long fascinated me and finding ways to squeeze in french horns, harpsichords, trumpets, and timpani is something I want to continue to chase. Mixing that with ’60s pop-culture television campiness, you’ve got my favorite flavor.”
“I feel like we were able to show a lot of our artistic interests and ambitions on this album – hopefully people will have the opportunity to listen to it all in one go, as a unit, as an album. That’s the way we crafted it.”
Fuller concurs. “We were flying by the seat of our pants a lot of the time, and took the record song by song,” he says. “Eventually we started to see different patterns and sounds we really loved, and kept using those when we could. It was super fun to find different combinations of instruments that paired really well together, and lay into that a bit throughout the record!”
For Fuller, this record really an in-depth introduction to The Mellons, looking at who they are and how they’ve come together and grown together in a relatively short period of time.
“Each member of the group had different life changes going on during the recording of this LP, so I feel like it reflects a lot of different (often unspoken) feelings,” he shares. “Sounds a bit on the nose, or trite, but a lot of our favorite artists reflect on their immediate surroundings, ya? It was never, or rarely, spoken of while writing/recording this record, but I feel like lyrically and musically we captured a bit of what was going on in our respective lives at the time. Like Andrew said, it shows our artistic interests and ambition! When I listen back to the record I can usually tell what albums I was into at the time. It most certainly bled in to our recordings a bit.”
The actual album title Introducing… The Mellons! is another loving throwback to the music of the 1960s. For reference, The Beatles’ first studio album released in the United States was called Introducing… The Beatles.
“A lot of the ’60s bands had debut album titles akin to Introducing… The Mellons,” Fuller notes. “I think we liked the idea of the first record being an “Introduction” per se. A sample platter of what sounds The Mellons were making during the band’s inception, & early days. This was essentially a COVID record, and wouldn’t have been made the same way had we tried to be a live band the same time we were recording and writing this LP! Also, we only get one debut record, so we only get one chance to name a record with the word “introducing” in it!” he laughs.
“This album tells a lot of our individual stories,” Jepson adds. “There’s a log of longing, some angst, some hope, some commentary on God, some lightheartedness, and some unbridled psychedelic experimentation… It’s full of yearning for youth and the dream of feeling safe and comfortable. As Denney said, we were all going through a lot of life changes throughout the whole process. I suppose, in a way, the final product was something of a surprise to us. So maybe the title “Introducing the Mellons!” is sort of a tongue-in-cheek note to ourselves. Two years ago we didn’t fully know who we were as a band. Now that the album’s done, I guess we know!”
We hope it can become a timeless piece like all of our favorite records are.
– Denney Fuller
Introducing… The Mellons! opens with a literal introduction, as we hear a rolling snare drum and a carnival barker introducing the group to a live audience. The minute-long opening track acts as the band’s theme song, setting the stage with charismatic, fuzzy guitar licks, groovy beats, and those bold, buoyant vocal harmonies that all come to be a staple of the following twelve tracks.
Yet nothing – no level of expectations set from descriptive language, nor any knowledge of late ’60s psychedelic pop – can properly prepare a listener for the beautiful onslaught to come. Horns smolder, drums pulse a dynamic beat, guitars churn vibrant paths of sonic charm, and tender vocals bustle and glow brightly as The Mellons whisk us away to a Neverland-like sonic euphoria, where the familiar and the nostalgic wash over our ears in waves of dazzling, cathartic sound.
From a thousand miles away
Voices fill your head
You can almost hear them say
Trouble lies ahead
You should know by now
You can’t change
The way the world goes round
It’s just a phase! It’s just a phase!
– “It’s Just a Phase,” The Mellons
Highlights truly abound on this cinematic ’60s-soaked adventure, and it comes as no surprise that every band member has his own individual favorites.
“The bouncy groove of ‘What a Time to Be Alive’ is infectious,” drummer Ian Francis starts off, citing the band’s most commercially successful song to date. “And I don’t say that just because I’m the drummer! Denney did a great job producing the drums and making them sound the way they do. It brings a great energy when we play it live too!”
“I love the way ‘What a Time to Be Alive’ is such a powerful collaboration between the four of us,” Andrew Beck agrees. For him, the colorful, multi-layered “Devil’s Advocate” is a personal standout. “I feel like my heart is really in that song,” he says. “That was a cool early collaboration between Denney and I before The Mellons was even fully formed.”
“These ones always seem to get me: ‘Devil’s Advocate,’ ‘What a Time,’ ‘Surprise,’ ‘Prelude (in E major),’ and ‘It’s Just a Phase,'” Fuller reflects, listing off nearly half the album. “I really love the back and forth lead vocals of ‘Magic Spell’ as well. There’s something so contrasting and vibrant about that track. It’s a bold statement!”
Wouldn’t you know it
It happened to me
Just like I dreamed it would
In less than a minute
Got swept in the scene
Just like in Hollywood
Caught in the spotlight
Waiting for midnight
Taking my time
Caught in the spotlight
Waiting for midnight
What a time to be alive
What a time…
Meanwhile, Rob Jepson turns our attention toward the album’s finale “Surprise,” a conclusive serenade full of passion, vivacity, and heart.
“That song feels like all four of us turning our creativity to full blast,” he explains. “I still get chills when I hear the final chorus, which merges the A section and B section of the song and brings together all of our individual artistry. Other honorable mentions include the crazy bridge on ‘Strawberry Girl,’ the manic poet on ‘Salad Made of Butterflies,’ the gleeful trumpets on ‘Marmalade,’ the drumming on the bridge and outro of ‘So Much to Say,’ and the ringing phone on ‘Just a Phase.'”
“One of the things I love about this album is the presence of different voices, including lyrical voices,” he continues. “I love the lighthearted, sunny-day feeling of the lyrics in Denney’s ‘Marmalade’: “There’s an autumn wind / In the citrus trees / It’s a blowin’ in / With a scented breeze.” On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Andrew’s almost dismal (but honest) lyrics in ‘Devil’s Advocate’: “Nothing that I say / Can change you anyway. I will play the devil’s advocate / I will play it for the hell of it.” That song – as Andrew has revealed – is an open letter to his mom regarding their open disagreements about faith and spirituality. I love that it’s brutally honest. That’s actually one thing I love about working with Andrew in general. He’s not afraid to be honest about his thoughts, whether they be good, bad, or ugly.”
“For my own lyrics, I think I feel most strongly about the words of ‘Surprise’: “I can see the end from the beginning where I stand. No one else can guarantee it, but you don’t have to just believe it. Step right up…” The song is about a charlatan who claims to be able to see the future. In reality though, they’re just trying to convince everyone to do what they want. It’s a deep song that’s ultimately about fear and wanting to feel in control of your life. I’ve actually never opened up about the lyrics until this interview, so I hope that counts for something!”
I can see the end
From the beginning where I stand
No one else can guarantee it
But you don’t have to just believe it
Pull back the curtain
And see what’s back there hidin’
Dig up the coffin
And see who’s down there dyin’ (Surprise!)
Look through the mirror
And see whose eyes are cryin’
Drink down that potion
And wake from your sighin’ (Surprise!)
Imagine your surprise
When you find
Nothin’ else could be ever be so fine
– “Surprise,” The Mellons
I hope listeners feel both the joy and the sorrow that we poured into this album. The emotions in a particular piece of art are often what make it interesting to me.
– Andrew Beck
There’s no one quite like The Mellons right now.
No one’s making music this radiant and rich, comforting and catchy, buoyant and bold. Yes, Introducing… The Mellons! is unapologetically tied to the 1960s, but it’s of the here and now: It’s refreshingly new, spirited, and full of endless delights that will surely keep listeners coming back to its songs again and again and again. Whether or not you love albums like Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you’re sure to fall headfirst for The Mellons.
“Whether or not people like the record, I hope it will be clear that we didn’t hold back,” Jepson shares. “There’s always the temptation to be bland and safe. We ignored that temptation. This record has a lot of vulnerability, a lot of honesty, and a lot of reckless go-for-it-ness. If the it makes even one person feel a little more alive, then I’ll be satisfied. That’s what it does for me.”
“Hopefully the listener will take from it what they need to, but I’m hoping they get taken on a 37 minute journey of ups and downs and lefts and rights,” Fuller adds. “I truly hope it’s a fun and inviting listen that can bring a rainbow of different emotions! It’s now out of our hands & into the hands of the beholder. Creating this album with these dudes has been a real honor, and we made something that I feel we will all be proud of the rest of our days.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Mellons’ Introducing… The Mellons! with Atwood Magazine as Andrew Beck, Rob Jepson, Denney Fuller, and Ian Francis take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
Stream: ‘Introducing… The Mellons!’ – The Mellons
:: Inside Introducing… The Mellons! ::
Introducing… The Mellons!
Ian: This would be the theme song if The Mellons starred in a sitcom from the ‘60s.
So Much to Say
Rob: You know when you’re hanging out with someone special and it’s time for them to go home, but you don’t really want them to? That’s what this song is about. It’s about wanting to get so much closer to someone but not really knowing how to do it, and being blocked by things like time, social pressures, and other responsibilities. I remember when I was a teenager I always wanted to get so much more out of my relationships. I guess I still feel that way, because this song still feels personal and emotional to me every time!
Andrew: A song of longing. A song of woe. Written by Rob. This is one of the earliest things Rob wrote that really blew my mind.
Denney: This was technically the first song I ever collaborated on with Rob & Andrew! So it’s certainly a special one. Dates back to Fall of 2017 I think…?
Andrew: This is a song I wrote about arguing with my mother about God. It tries to describe that painful feeling when you long for someone to understand you fully, but realize they never will. “Nothing I could say, would change you anyway”, as the lyric goes. While working on this song I was listening to the Lemon Twigs and the Zombies and thinking about how strange chord progressions and odd and experimental song-structures is a really fun genre staple in the 60s. After playing the song on the acoustic guitar for a group of fellow song-writers, I sat with a classical composer who excitedly attempted to explain my own chord progression to me after hearing this song. Haha I still don’t really get it.
Denney: fun fact, back in early 2020, Andrew asked me to throw some horns on this song, & I thought this was going to be for some solo project of his ((because, in my silly opinion, it didn’t really fit the vibe of his current band then, Day Sounds)). I ended up adding some background vocals to it as well, Andrew dug what I had laid down, & then The Mellons happened a few months later & it became one of the first completed songs The Mellons had!
It’s Just a Phase
Ian: “It’s just a phase” is what all our parents quietly assured themselves when they found out we wanted to grow up to be musicians.
Rob: I agree with Ian! Haha. The lyrics are very much about those people in your life who tell you that dreams don’t come true. Every time we perform it live I think about all the people who have told me that you can’t get anywhere with music, that friendships never last, that self-expression is pointless, etc etc. It’s an ode to those who are willing to believe in their own visions, even when others are putting them down.
The creation of this song was really fun. I wrote the verses and Andrew wrote the chorus. Denney helped us put it all together into a cohesive song and layered it with production, and Ian held it together on drums.
Denney: our friend Glenn Brigman of Triptides mixed this one. Love the sonic goodies in this tune! The phone conversations in the instrumental bridge are all hilariously voiced by Rob & Andrew. Haha
Rob: I forgot about that! Everything you hear in that section is the original take. We had a sleepover one night and stayed up late working on the song. At around 5:00 a.m. I woke up with this silly idea in my head and started recording all those voices. We’d intended to re-record it at some point, but the original takes just kind of stuck.
Prelude (in E Major)
Andrew: Adding small interludes, etudes and side-steps was an attempt on our part to bring in a classical flourish to the album. Hopefully some of it makes you feel like you are sitting under a parasol, with opera glasses, fanning yourself while the conductor clicks his baton on the music-stand for attention.
Denney: echoing what Andrew said, & adding to that… We wanted to make the album feel like it was sort of “complete” & had a great flow to it, so we added a few interludes that recycle the chord progression & motifs from “What a Time to Be Alive”. This one started as a voice memo from an iPhone recording, then went through some different band members hands & ended up the way it does on the LP!
Rob: I love the story of this song. Denney is (secretly) very good at guitar. He sent us a voice memo of himself playing those beautiful fingerpicking patterns. Unknown to the rest of us, the patterns are actually a reinterpretation of the chord progression from What a Time to Be Alive. The memo inspired me to lock myself in my garage to write out the melody and lyrics for it. Later we fleshed out the harmonies together and re-recorded it with everyone’s voices.
What a Time to Be Alive
Andrew: During the pandemic, the expression “what a time to be alive” kept coming to my mind. The phrase has such juicy duality. Depending on how you say it, it can be sincere and joyful, or bitter and sardonic. As I was beginning to write the song, I was experiencing some of the lowest lows and highest highs of my life. A global plague, the Trump administration, race riots. But on the other hand, new love, musical breakthroughs and spiritual awakenings like nothing I had ever felt. Each of the Mellons did their part in helping me pluck the song out of the ether. By the time we had finished the track, I felt like it had really become an anthem for that nuanced, bitter-sweet feeling I had been experiencing.
Ian: This song is a nice blend of jolly and melancholy (let’s call it Mellonjolly), which I think is reflective of life in general. Living in and processing the good and the bad all at once.
Denney: might be our most wall of sound moment on the record. I’d like to thank Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, & The Wrecking Crew for this one! Haha. Andrew really planted the seed on this one, & the rest of us Mellons just tended his garden.
Rob: We all love this song. It’s been our most successful single leading up to the album release and it’s a joy to play live.
Salad Made of Butterflies
Andrew: One thing that might be unique to listening to our album on vinyl, is that “Salad Made of Butterflies” is track 1 of side B of the album. So that means that you listen to the album, starting on side A through “What a Time to Be Alive”. Then the needle picks up, and you have to turn the record over. Between sides, the Mellons have gone into a trance. Side B erupts into a psychedelic free-fall that feels like the soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit-hole. This coda of this song contains a poem written by the Strawberry Girl, as read by an old South African man I used to go to church with.
Denney: So many sound nuggets in this one. I feel like I still hear new things every time I listen to this tune! More collage than song, more right than wrong?
Andrew: Strawberry Girl is a song about a love-witch that I met in a psychedelic haze. This song was a joy to explore with Dennis in the Studio. We leaned into influences like “the rain, the park, and other things” by the Cowsills, as well as “Windy” and other arrangements by the Association.
Denney: this song probably has my favorite bridge on the entire record! Was a really wild ride in the studio exploring structures & ways to get from A to B to C to Z & back. Kind of a Burt Bacharach meets The High Llamas meets Harper’s Bizarre…
Andrew: This song is Denney’s time to sparkle and shine. I love what this song adds to the album and I am so excited to get Denney’s voice artistically as well as vocally on this song! I am sure he will mention The Poppees.
Denney: Honestly, just pick your favorite flavor of marmalade whilst listening to the song. You’ll get the idea… kidding. This song originally started out as a song for SLC psych pop group The Poppees, but ended up getting produced for The Mellons instead, haha. It was written by Andres Mitchell ((of The Poppees)) & I back in early 2019. I had been listening to the 50th reissue of Village Green, & was prompted to write a tune about the neighborhoods we all live & love in. Can you hear the Marmalade Parade drift off into the distance at the end of this one…?
Ian: Marmalade! One of the coolest historic neighborhoods in Salt Lake City. We hope this song captures what it feels like to walk those streets.
Rob: Hello, Sun paints the picture of someone waiting for the sun to come up and chase away their problems. On its face, it’s a simple ode to the power of sunlight. However, as the song progresses, you learn that the person waiting for the sun is actually a little unsure that it’s really going to solve anything.
The lyrics are intended to be a subtle nod to my own experiences with spirituality. When I was younger, I believed that an all-powerful entity would eventually show up and solve all my problems. These days, I feel pretty sure that it’s up to us to take on our own issues if we want to see any change. For me, “Hello, Sun” is actually more of a “goodbye” to my former beliefs.
Sonically, this song was a total blast to work on. We recorded it at SunSpell Records in Salt Lake City, and everyone had a hand in the writing and production. I love how intricate and involved it turned out.
Andrew: Another slam-dunk by team-mate, Doctor Robert. Mixed by the one and only Kevin Basko (Rubber band gun, Foxygen).
Denney: What’s brighter than the Sun? Honestly. I wanna know!
Andrew: We wanted to create at least one song on this album where Rob and I would take turns singing different sections of the same song. I really like how that technique comes off in this arrangement. This song also explores something I am very interested in musically which is “bass as hook”. Thinking of songs like “I Want You Back”, by The Jackson Five and “The Less I Know the Better”, by Tame Impala.
Postlude (in E Major)
Andrew: This is an instrumental reprise of “What a Time to be Alive” from side ‘A’ of the album.
Denney: reprise that motif again & again & again!
Ian: This song is a trip and was personally my favorite to record. Lots of interesting transitions that build on each other until the triumphant resolution at the end. It definitely feels like the “finale” of the record.
Andrew: Last song we wrote on the album as well as the final track. Definitely one of my favorites.
Denney: was honestly tons of fun sitting in a room together with the other Mellons writing the 2nd half of this tune! Feels right to end the record with this one. Surprise helps aggrandize the entire record & closes the 1st chapter of The Book of The Mellons.
Rob: This is my favorite song on the record as well. It was by far our most collaborative track and it evolved in such a rich, unexpected way. I wrote the first half of it when we first formed as a band, and the second half is the last thing we worked on together as we finished up the album. To me, it brings together all the emotion, creativity, individuality, and collaborative spirit of our group.
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