August 18th, 2009 | Interviews

keenan marshall keller

Stream: Bare Wires “Runaway Heart”


(from Artificial Clouds out now on Tic Tac Totally)

Matt Melton is the mastermind behind Bare Wires, Snake Flower 2 and numerous other bands over the years. Originally from Memphis, this mustachioed madman—now based out of Oakland—has never wavered from his musical vision and remains prolific no matter what band name he’s playing under. He shot Jay Reatard’s most famous album cover and is wondering why people have to break everything they can. This interview by John Henry.

Are you still living at that house where they throw all the parties?
Matt Melton (guitar/vocals): I still live there. I basically converted it into my personal practice space—I ran a snake through the wall and made it into a recording studio. I use my room and the living room. We threw one the other night though and somebody broke my toilet. They broke it into pieces. I just didn’t know how it could even happen. There were chunks of porcelain. I was just baffled—it was a totally chill party. People can’t just wait to fuck your shit up. We’re trying to gear it more towards a more productive party place, but we’ll still throw down.
When you started Bare Wires, it was just you and a 4-track—is this three-piece band the next step in the process?
That first batch of stuff I put out it was just me doing some one-offs. I definitely get off working in the solo mode. You get something pretty cool when it’s just one man versus the recorder.
Are you still doing Snake Flower 2?
Yeah—we’re actually playing in Oakland at Ghost Town. I got it back together and I’m currently booking a tour. I have a really young kid who I found who just washed up—he’s 18. I came across this guy and got him playing bass, this guy named Tim who was in a band called Countless Others. I’m keeping Bare Wires as a three-piece and actually making Snake Flower 2 a four-piece—that way I can play rhythm guitar and have a lead dude that can put the icing on the top.
I always wanted to ask you why you called it Snake Flower 2.
I can’t remember how it came about exactly—I went on tour with it as Snake Flower and then kind of stupidly said, ‘Let’s put a “2” on there.’ The bandmates got at each others’ throats and just wanted to keep it rolling with the 2.
You just put out a full length with Tic Tac Totally for Bare Wires and also did a Snake Flower 2 record—are they putting out whatever you throw at them?
It’s kind of incestuous. He wants to put out another Snake Flower 2 7”. He’s selling the records so it works. With the new record, we whipped it together pretty fast—it was just me and that girl from the Time Flys. We just went in my room and did it really simple and fast and just sort of cranked it out. We definitely didn’t toil over it too much.
What about the VHS tape that comes with the release?
It’s pretty retarded. It’s probably the most worthless piece of video you could want. It’s basically us messing up at band practice and getting into fights and doing drugs. He released a chunk of them on white vinyl, so if you get the white vinyl it’s a package deal because it’s a white VHS. I have not even seen them yet.
How far are you going on tour?
We’re going to go down to L.A. and then pop into Mesa to play with Earthmen and Strangers and then Austin to play with Harlem and then down to New Orleans. You know, Matt Muscle or King Louie are going to try hook me up with something. I honestly don’t know who’s playing it but I’m sure it will be somebody affiliated with those guys. Then up to Memphis—I’m excited to be playing Memphis, we’re playing a couple shows with Useless Eaters then up to Chicago. I’m going to try and see if Matt from Tic Tac Totally really exists. Maybe he’s just a computer. I grew up in Memphis. I lived in New York for a year but then moved out to California. I always go to visit Gonerfest to see what’s going on—it’s my home base, you know? It’s weird when you move away from a place—maybe some people they think, ‘Oh, he’s too good for the place!’ I hope it’s not like that—but yeah, I’m curious and I hope to one day move back to the south.
Are you still doing photos?
I did the photo for Jay Reatard’s Blood Visions record and I did the photo for Hunx—the new 7-inch that Jay put out. I also wrote and recorded that too, which I didn’t get any credit for. I’m not upset, though. It’s the 7-inch that just came out—‘I Won’t Get Under You’ and ‘Tear Drops in My Telephone.’ I just recorded this band called Nectarine Pie that just popped up. I’ve been trying to find some people to collaborate with. I’ve been recording these bands in Oakland and trying to branch out a little bit and get into some better facilities. I’ve recorded Shannon and the Clams’ new album and a handful of other stuff. It feels like a lot of people are moving here—Oakland is like Brooklyn in 1997. Cheap rent, crime through the roof and young people moving in—and it’s getting gentrified. Downtown’s getting ridiculous.
Did you see any of the rioting from the transit police shooting in Oakland?
I’ve seen a couple crazy things going down in Oakland but I did not see the riot. I know what you’re talking about and I saw it on the news.
Got any other records coming out other than the new LP?
Jay Reatard’s putting out a new record which is pretty cool on Shattered Records. That label’s up and rolling. It was kind of laying in the gutter for a couple of years. He’s got a pretty cool wave of shit that’s about to come out. I guess he made a little bit of money and he’s ready to throw a few things out there, which is pretty cool. He put out that Hunx and I’m not sure but I think he’s putting out Box Elders. I saw them in Oakland not too long ago—they’re pretty cool. The Box Elders—you got to like them!