“If I’m a musician when I’m older, I’m going to look back at this and be like, ‘Wow I’m naïve,’ but I pulled an all-nighter, drove home Thursday from school, left for the airport at 3 a.m., flew to Austin at 6 a.m., got off the plane, changed, rehearsed and was on stage within like two hours—and it’s like, ‘I’m doing this; this is so cool.’” Josh Greenzeig ’20 recounted the beginning of his spring break, during which he furiously packed up all his things in Williamstown before heading to the South by Southwest (SXSW) cultural festival in Austin this March. There, he played drums with his band Melt, whose new single “Oh Brother” was released last Thursday.
Melt is a young band that has already found tremendous success—its first single, “Sour Candy,” was posted last spring to the music subreddit “listen to this” and quickly accumulated hundreds of up-votes. The song has since reached more than a million streams on Spotify, its music video has more than 200,000 views on YouTube and it has charted at number five on Billboard’s Viral 50 chart and number six on Spotify Canada’s Top 50 Chart.
The band was born after Eric Dickstein and Veronica Stewart-Frommer, Melt’s keyboardist and former lead singer, respectively, created “Sour Candy” as a senior project while attending The Dalton School in New York City. Greenzeig joined the band soon after, having met and collaborated with the band’s guitarist, Marlo Shankweiler, at a Stanford jazz camp. However, Greenzeig is not on the recorded version of “Sour Candy”— “On the heels of a wonderful spring break in Miami, it became financially unfeasible for me to get a zip car to help contribute to studio time,” he explained, but he is now the committed drummer of the group, even contributing some vocals to its newest song. Stewart-Frommer has since left the band, but in addition to Greenzeig, Dickstein and Shankweiler, the band is currently comprised of guitarist Jack Florio, Saxophonist Nick Sare, trumpeter Aaron Alcouloumre and bassist Lucas Saur.
Greenzeig is personally averse to labeling music under genres, but if the band’s vibe had to be categorized, it would probably fall under pop or funk, with the members’ jazz backgrounds seeping into their sound. “If we are pop music, we’re not pop music as you’d expect it,” Greenzeig said, clarifying that he by no means intended to demean the genre. “We all just share this love of a good -ass pop song.” A perfect pop song, he explained, should have the same effect as a pithy SparkNotes page “that distills everything down in five minutes, and you just get everything you need right there.”
Melt’s own music is a distillation of all the members’ musical interests. Greenzeig’s background is in jazz, but he’s also a jam band aficionado. He and the other members draw inspiration from D’Angelo, Vulfpeck, Stevie Wonder and Beach House-esque synth pop bands; “‘What if D’Angelo had a baby with The Grateful Dead? What would that sound like?’ — that’s how our rehearsals start,” he said. From these jam sessions, the band will record riffs and bits that ultimately become singles.
Unfortunately, being comprised of college students that all attend different universities means that Melt faces the unique challenge of balancing musical commitments with contrasting time zones and school breaks. Greenzeig has a midterm the morning that Melt will be playing at Bucknell’s spring concert, and he had planned on studying for said midterm this weekend, when Melt is playing at Skidmore, “so that’s not going to happen,” he noted. There have been countless nights, Greenzeig recalled, “when I’ve been out on the weekend this year and gotten an email or a phone call, and I’ve just turned around and left wherever I was and went back to my room and had to just work on some stuff with people.”
Such discipline has undoubtedly paid off; the band’s plan is to have a whole EP done by June. After winning a battle of the bands last year in the spring, the group could finally afford to record at The Bunker Studio in Williamsburg, where Tune-Yards, Esperanza Spalding and many other notable artists have recorded. This summer, Melt plans on playing as many live shows as possible around the New York City area and hopefully touring — “Let’s get in a van, and let’s just go,” he said.
Greenzeig finds just as much pleasure in the smaller thrills of playing professionally. At SXSW, one father on a business trip to Austin went to Melt’s show and facetimed his son who was a huge Melt fan but studying abroad. More commonly, he said, “random people will [direct message] you on Instagram or comment on videos about something that you did, and it’s so cool that this stranger that you’ve never met before can just enjoy something that you made.”