An interview with Carlton Melton

Carlton Melton managed to somehow slip past me unnoticed until a copy of Always Even arrived at the Progress Report office. The album made a big impression on me and a dose of Carlton Melton live made it obvious that I'd been missing out here and the best way to start catching up was with an interview with guitarist Richard Millman. The interview was done via email by David Bourgoin. 

PR: Can you say a little about how Rich and Andy went from Zen Guerrilla to being part of Carlton Melton. .

RM: Zen Guerrilla disbanded in 2003. I stopped playing in bands after my son was born in 2003. Carlton Melton formed in July 2008 during the first time we recorded together at Brian's.

PR: Where did the name Carlton Melton originate from?

RM: That same evening in July 2008, Andy and I spoke a lot about growing up in the state of Delaware. We realized we both knew the same person 'Carlton Melton' . Andy attended school with him. I played little league football against him. Carlton Melton was one of the best athletes in Delaware. We looked at each other and said that would be great name for a band.

PR: And when did Brian McDougall become part of Carlton Melton?

RM: Brian has always been a part of Carlton Melton from day #1

PR: Brian appears on the albums but not live is he likely to become part of the live band or does he prefer the studio side of things?

RM: Brian prefers the studio side of things.

PR: The dome that Brian lives in seems to have played a very important role in Carlton Melton. Can you describe what it looks like and how it came to be and what it is that makes it useful for your music?

RM: The Dome is 24' by 24' and 17' in height. When you step inside you are immediately aware of the acoustics. Amps and drums sound incredible inside. It's the ultimate jam space for heavy psychedelic
sounds. Brian lives there so it is well maintained. Brian has also held off from building a loft inside knowing it may effect the sounds. That to me is true dedication

PR: Have you ever tried recording Carlton Melton material in a more conventional studio and if so what were the results?


RM: No we haven't. We've played live on KFJC and KZSU radio out here in California. That's as close as we have been to recording in a studio. Conventional studios cost money and we don't have any.


PR: I noticed when you played live you had what looked like a Portastudio running. What are using the Portastudio  for?


RM: I have a small collection of 4-track recorders. The sound guys in Europe call it special effects when they plug me in. You can manipulate the pitch and speed of the tape sounds with the 4-tracks..that equals fun in my book. All Carlton Melton recordings in the Dome are recorded to 4-track tape.



PR: Live you seemed to be having to multitask quite a lot with Rich using the keyboard and the Portastudio and Andy starting off on guitar and moving to the drums. Have you considered or would you consider having a bigger line up for the live shows?


RM: Right now we are stripped down to a three piece. When recording, Brian and John McBain add their charm to certain tracks. They are both incredible musicians. Adding more people to our live show is not on the horizon. Adding more people brings a different type of
multi-tasking if you know what I mean. More people can be like conventional studios and require more money.


PR: Are your album tracks all improvised or do you jam find a good part and then use that as a starting off point?


RM: It's all improvised when we get together to record.. We don't stop and say ' Hey , that's a good starting point ' and then hit record
over and over again.


PR: Your music is all instrumental at the moment do you have any plans to incorporate vocals at all?


RM: No plans for vocals. all instrumental , instrumental being as Andy describes the 'universal language.'


PR: I believe you all live quite some distance from each other. How often are you able to get together and play?


RM: Clint and I live in San Francisco. Andy lives in Oakland. We travel 3 hours north roughly twice a year to record at Brian's.

PR: Is Carlton Melton the only projects you are involved in or do you do other music individually or in other bands?

RM: Other bands ? Outfits ? Not that I'm aware of.. those guys may be moonlighting here and there but nothing I can think of at the moment.

What were the musical influences behind Carlton Melton?

RM: Andy and Clint have massive record collections. Influences could fill this entire interview. I think we're influenced by attitude as much as the music. 60's-13th Floor Elevators , Jimi Hendrix. 70's-Hawkwind, Pink Floyd , Funkadelic , Ramones. 80's- My Bloody Valentine , Butthole Surfers , Laughing Hyenas , Eric B. and Rakim, Schooly D.

PR: You had J Mascis playing with you at one of your shows. How did that come about and any plans for him to record at all with you?

RM: J Mascis mentioned our first LP ' Pass It On ' in his 2010 top ten list. Carlton Melton played with his band Sweet Apple in San Francisco. J was playing drums on that tour. We simply asked if he wanted join us on guitar for Pink Floyd's 'When You're In'. J jumped on the opportunity and played a wicked guitar solo.

PR: What’s next for Carlton Melton?

RM: Coming up soon , we have some awesome local shows in November with the likes of Nik Turner and Brother JT. We are supporting Wooden Shjips on some west coast California dates in January . Then off to Europe again for Roadburn 2014 in April. Feeling very fortunate.

And as always digging through recordings for future releases.. as John McBain said after our latest release 'Always Even' was finalized " the experiment continues" !!!!

Our thanks go to Rich for doing the interview and to Nita at GoldStar PR for arranging it. If you want to find out more about what Carlton Melton are up to then visit their web site