On April 16, 2013, Sacramento-based rock band Tera Melos released X’ed Out, their most commercially accessible and musically innovative album yet. Four days later, the band hit the Media Club in downtown Vancouver in support of their fourth album.
“That was probably one of the best shows of the tour last time,” said guitarist, vocalist, and main composer Nick Reinhart in an interview recently. “That show ended up being crazy.”
After a year of touring the world, playing with bands like Minus the Bear and promoting their album, Tera Melos is returning to the Media Club on May 16, ready to close the book on X’ed Out the same way it began.
“In my head, I thought of it as being six months ago. It was only recently that I realized that was already a year ago, which is pretty crazy.”
Tera Melos’ music is difficult to describe, even by the band members themselves. It’s got the energy of punk rock, the complexity of jazz, and the warm glow of a California beach, all beaten together with a railroad spike. In conversation, Reinhart is all beach, speaking with a sort of chilled out Californian timbre that belies the band’s raw stitch-work of sunny pop and grinding metal.
His innovative guitar work is a heavily manipulated soundscape of beeps, whirrs, dives, and swells, and he commands a sizeable pedal board that is slowly taking on a kind of Noah’s Ark approach to pedal acquisition.
“I just remember this guy Pat [Hills] who recorded our last few records. When we first started the band, he had given me this synth pedal, and it was pretty much one of the very first weird pedals that I had ever owned before, and he just gave it to me because I remember him not liking the sounds because they were too spacey and weird,” Reinhart said. “So I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll see what I can do with it,’ and so it was just sort of by default that we started collecting and figuring out, ‘Oh, yeah, well these sound pretty neat, and you can do neat stuff with this.’
“I always find myself thinking I wish I did more stuff with pedals. I’d like to get even deeper into it, which is probably silly because I’m sure from an objective point of view if you listen to our songs and watch our videos, there’s tons and tons of crazy pedal stuff happening.”
It is not surprising then to hear about Reinhart’s plans for his next musical project, which he hopes will see him enter the studio over the summer with Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, who is influential for his effects-laden guitar work.
“It’s this weird rock project that Mike and I had talked about a few years ago when we were in Ireland,” Reinhart said. “Let’s put it this way: I have a plane ticket booked to go to New York and record music.”
But first for Reinhart and Tera Melos is to return to Vancouver, and afterwards Japan – assuming going to Vancouver doesn’t prevent that.
“It’s actually funny: we’re going to Japan, and we need to apply for Japan visas and all this, and in order to do that, we have to send away our passports. Like, today,” Reinhart said. “I had to tell our record label, who was taking care of that for us, that it’s really important that we have our passports back by the time we hit Vancouver because that’s the one Canada show we’re playing, and it would be so awful if we missed that show because we’re anticipating it being a really awesome show.
“And actually, what we ended up doing is we’re not filing for our Japan visas. I mean, Japan is really important to us, but I guess in a way we’re risking getting our Japan visas late in order to make Vancouver happen,” Reinhart said.
“So hopefully, it will be really amazing. I’m assuming it will be.”