More than once, I’ve played Paul Melançon’s music for my friends, and I generally get the same reaction from them. They will appreciate it initially with the kind of comfort and ease one has while listening to old favorites. They quickly realize that this is not a familiar song, but by then, it’s too late. His songwriting is no nostalgia trip but, rather, the sound of a man who slipped out of a more creative, (some would say) better time. I came to his Camera Obscura album almost a decade after it was released and wondered where it had been all my life. The Slumberland EP had that same effect. His work with The Arts and Sciences was just as captivating.
It was a shame that I had to sneak it on for folks. They’d often thank me for introducing them to “Finé” after the fact. “Guy Fawkes Day” wound up being a song that people would ask to hear again, sometimes with multiple replays, but only after wrangling on my part.
I get it. Each of us has that music nerd in their life that’s always trying to convince someone that they’re missing out on something great. If you don’t have such a music nerd in your life, you probably are that person. Just as frequently, the music nerd will spring some totally obtuse and weird thing on you and then spend an hour detailing your deficiency for not loving this immediately. I’ve never had this problem with Melançon’s music. Listeners respond as if they’ve been waiting for this.
Yet his musical output has been sporadic over the past eight years. He released a digital single with The New Insecurities and has a series of remarkable covers over on YouTube, but not much more than these. This is about to change. Melançon recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign for a brand new record, The Get-Go’s Action Hour. He’s also setting up stretch goals that, if reached, will allow him to create music videos for the songs in the style of old Hanna-Barbera shows like Scooby Doo.
Popdose had the opportunity to speak with Paul Melançon, and learn about his music, his life, and the struggles he had to get through. What were those exactly? You’ll find out.
The new album comes after an extended period of time. Not an unproductive time, but you haven’t had a project committed to a full album since The Arts and Sciences. What prompted the delay?
How will The Get Go’s Action Hour be a part of explaining your experiences?
The fictional band “The Get Gos” is modeled after the Hanna-Barbara cartoons of the late 60s and early 70s, most notably Scooby Doo. These cartoons often had a weird aside to them in that the main characters had a main job (detective work, crime fighting, baby-sitting, anthropomorphic-animal-being) and were also pop stars. How did you decide on this being the framing device for the new album?
I guess I’m showing my age with this, but I’ve always had an iffy relationship with the term “power-pop.” I don’t hate it the way some people claim to, but growing up, this was rock music. Maybe not hard rock or heavy metal, but all the main components were there. You have regularly embraced the term, but I wonder how you feel about these narrow classifications, that music genres have to be sub-sub-sub-genred to a point where the music is nearly over-described?
Not only did you make this music and work up the concept, but you also designed the artwork. How do the visual arts play into the music work for you, and vice versa?
Having multiple talents like this, did you ever feel like you had to bear the burdens of depression as sort of the price one pays for the work? There’s a lot of romanticism about the “tortured artist” from Vincent Van Gogh on down. Did you ever feel like suffering, for your work or otherwise, was part of the job?
What brought you to that realization that, no, one can be productive and fulfilled and not be taken down by depression – it doesn’t have to be part of the presumed life of a creative person?
Were there superstitions that held you back, such as, “If I get to some degree of inner contentment, I’ll lose something from my work”? I have heard that this, above all, has caused people to reject treatment because they are concerned they’ll miss that edge for their creative endeavors?
Typical interviewer question alert: what were the initial influences on you that caused you to think this is what you wanted to do?
How complete is the new album at the moment, and how far to go with it? Who else is involved?
What are you planning for the project should you gain the “extra innings” of passing your goal and offering stretch goals?
Circling back, if you have the opportunity to speak to others who are dealing with depression, what should they know or think about, coming from someone who understands what they may be going through?