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When You're Strange

event FEATtera melos 3Tera Melos unleashes the weird, melts faces

The faint of heart may want to steer clear of The Crepe Place when Tera Melos comes to town on Sunday. The band’s raucous brand of experimental indie rock may prove to be too much to handle.

“Usually one of two things happens,” Nick Reinhart says of the band’s shows. “It’s usually a really interactive crowd with dancing and feeling uninhibited, just a big kind of wave of people doing their own thing.

“The flip side is it’s either that or staring,” the guitarist/vocalist goes on. “There’s a lot coming from the stage … there’s a lot of information to process, so sometimes it kind of seems like, ‘Woah, it’s like crickets out there.’ And then a song will end and it will be a roar of applause and cheering and shit. Over the years, we’ve learned to understand that there’s a lot happening, so sometimes it is hard to dance or actually get into it.”

One explanation might be that, from the outset, the band has made the decision to ignore every musical boundary it comes across. “The whole thing for this band is that … we kinda just do what we wanna do and hope that that will wind up being something that people are interested in,” says Reinhart. “We’ve been really lucky that a lot of the things that we’ve done and we’re interested in doing has lined up with what people are interested in.”

Tera Melos got its start in Sacramento, Calif. 10 years ago and has since found a widespread audience—an impressive feat, given its unorthodox style and the fact that the band does not belong to a major label. “There were a lot of people that were receptive to [our music] that had never heard it before … they had no idea what was going on, but they liked it,” says Reinhart.

Known for its complex rhythms, far-reaching melodies and bizarre sounds, the three-piece band—which also features Nathan Latona (bass) and John Clardy (drums)—has a history of reveling in chaos. Lately though, they’ve taken a slightly more nuanced approach to their music. “I think maybe when we were like kids, in our 20s, starting the band, it was more like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be crazy; this will freak people out.’ But that’s the mentality of being young, whereas now we definitely are not really into that.”

On Tera Melos’ latest album, X’ed Out, that musical maturation is recognizable. “This record is probably a little more traditionally structured. There are actual songs; they’re not really really long. There are verses and choruses, which is probably something that we’re more interested in doing now than we were five years ago. It’s definitely a growth.”

Despite the confines of more traditional song structure, X’ed Out is still totally unique. Each track pulses with energy and fresh ideas. Songs range from mellow to absolutely explosive. Waves of sound are thrown up and then immediately dismantled, leaving the listener overwhelmed in a wash of color. Imagine the auditory equivalent of old school 3D stereogram posters—to fully enjoy it, the listener must surrender to the chaos.

“To us, playing live is one of the funnest things,” says Reinhart. “Just having that interaction with the crowd … we really try to break the barrier of audience and band. To us, it’s all just kinda like one big unit. The fun thing about seeing us live is that it’s more like a fun hangout and observing this kind of … crazy thing happening on stage.” 


Tera Melos plays at 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12/adv, $14/door. For more information, call 429-6994.

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