Melbourne rockers Mellowtonic offer a peek behind the curtain of each track on their debut EP, Holy Ghost.
Sometimes a project is so rich that it begs pertinent questions. How did this get made? What was the genesis of that hook? What instrument was that? All these thoughts and more will emerge after listening to Holy Ghost, the debut EP from Mellowtonic.
Thankfully for us, the Melbourne five-piece have swung by Happy Mag to answer all those questions in the form of an exclusive track-by-track guide through Holy Ghost.
Catch the full rundown below, and scroll down to listen to the five-song project in full.
We wrote these songs at the end of 2021 and early 2022 with the intention of recording a 5-6 track EP as soon as possible.
It took us quite a while to get this project completed due to various external distractions, such as gigging and some turbulence in our personal lives.
Getting the project over the finish line was also hindered by our unwillingness to compromise on quality in an attempt to release it sooner.
We initially recorded around 5 songs and ended up cutting 1 because we felt that the message was sufficiently clear after the 4 tracks, we considered the strongest.
A significant amount of effort went into writing this EP, especially when dealing with complex sections that required precise perfection to do justice to the recordings.
Our drummer, Max, dedicated countless hours to recording and editing for this project, and without his commitment, it wouldn’t have been finalized yet.
Thanks to his contributions, we were able to take the project to Adam at Toyland Recording Studio, which significantly boosted the quality of the project.
We believe that the project demonstrates a higher level of quality than what many independent artists can achieve in terms of songwriting, production, and recording quality.
The songs are written based on that period of time in our lives, referencing the turbulence, the good times, and the bad, all while staying true to what Mellowtonic represents.
We are extremely proud of what we have created and couldn’t be happier with the finished product, which seamlessly reflects the unpredictability of Mellowtonic.
It’s something we feel we can finally hang our hat on and proudly say, “This is ours.” We hope it brings as much joy to people listening to it as we had creating it.
Thisal: The concept behind this song was to create something vibrant and energetic, offering the audience a blend of familiarity and a touch of creativity and originality for a surprising experience.
What truly makes this song special is its ability to take you on a journey, transporting you from one place to another and then seamlessly bringing you back.
Shea: The lyrics of this song were inspired by a trip in Byron Bay. For me, whenever I’m writing lyrics involving a woman, I imagine a sort of mysterious feminine energy that frolics and dances with carelessness.
She represents what it means to be free and feminine. However, there is this underlying uneasiness about her, as if she’s lost and needs someone to guide her on where to go.
This song is written about her and how her beauty can draw you in, chew you up, and spit you out, and the music behind these lyrics reflects that.
The song goes from quite an upbeat Latin influence to a soft sombre ballad type of bridge that sounds psychedelic and dreamy, which then leads into a chaotic rock section. These sections represent the unpredictability of time spent with her.
Dave: Feels like a drive to the beach with the roof open and the windows down on a sunny day down the Australian coast.
The memorable experience in recording this song was getting to the end of the song and deciding that the last section needs something else. Thisal hands me the guitar and says, “play a solo.”
This was a surprise as I had just recently joined the band and had the opportunity to add my own flavour. 20 minutes later, we had the final take of the solo.
Max: A high-energy pop-rock tune with a unique Mellowtonic twist. This song is crafted for the stage, and I relish performing it live for the sheer energy it injects into the crowd. Drums play a vital role in maintaining the song’s energy throughout the performance.
Nathan: Playing the bass in this song was a real delight.
Thisal: This song embodies pure rock ‘n’ roll, featuring punchy riffs and hard-hitting drums that’ll keep you headbanging all the way through.
Shea: I remember coming to rehearsal one night, and these guys had pretty much written the whole song. They said, “Can you write some rocky lyrics for this?”
I had just watched ‘The Song Remains the Same’ a few days before, so I was really into it. I wanted to create lyrics that captured the backstage vibe of Zeppelin or Sabbath during the height of all the madness.
Dave: ‘Gimme Love’ feels like a classic rock tune to me, reminiscent of the music I grew up listening to, but with Mellowtonic’s unique sound.
Just like ‘Holy Ghosts,’ this was another chance for me to add my personal touch to the song, which you can hear in the guitar harmonies of the main riff.
Max: This is my favourite song to play because it allows me the freedom to go heavy on the drums and hit them as hard as I want.
Nate: Needs more bass.
Thisal: We crafted this beautiful song with the intention of moving the crowd and tugging on their heartstrings.
We aimed to have them sway during the verses and sing their hearts out in the choruses. Every note I played in this song was carefully chosen to evoke emotions and captivate the listener’s attention.
Shea: My brother used to write a lot of lyrics back in the day and had recently started getting back into it. He reached out to me and shared a song he had written, feeling it could become an iconic Mellowtonic track with some collaboration.
My brother and Thisal came over to my house with acoustic guitars, and we went through the lyrics, making a few adjustments to better fit them with the chords.
My brother typically writes lyrics with a punk orientation, so it took some creative tinkering to align the song with the vision in my head.
I asked if I could turn it into a ballad, and he was on board. We took the idea and ran with it, and it became one of those songs where there’s really nothing I would have done differently or wanted to change. It’s beautiful, and I credit him fully for its creation. It’s just raw emotion.
Dave: The verses needed a keys part to enhance the harmony, and I was able to fulfill that role through my playing, creating an ethereal quality and eliciting emotions in the listener.
Max: This song allowed me to adjust the dynamics and play in a way that elevated the music and gave it a grander, more significant feel, all while injecting my own unique style into the mix.
Nathan: Cool vibe.
Thisal: At the time of writing this song, we had been attempting to compose a blues track for a while. We experimented with various sounds, but nothing seemed to click, as they all came across as too generic and lacked that signature Mellowtonic sound.
One day, while I was in the shower before rehearsals, I composed the harmonies for this song in my head. I mentally mapped out the chords and the song’s structure and swiftly put something together on the guitar.
I shared it with the guys during rehearsals. The song initially carried a heavy blues sound with dark tones and screaming guitar lines, but it was missing that Mellowtonic magic.
I thought to myself, “Why don’t we flip this song on its head and add a thrash metal section?” That’s precisely what we did. The song transitions seamlessly into a heavy metal segment with class, featuring hard-hitting riffs composed by Nathan and myself.
It eventually returns to the heavy blues vibe to conclude the song. I’m immensely proud of this track; it’s original, and I doubt anyone has heard anything quite like it. It allows the entire band to showcase what we’re all about.
Shea: These lyrics emerged during a period when I was grappling with personal issues involving someone relentlessly trying to bring me down.
It felt as if my soul was growing weary from constant arguments. I could see that this person treated me this way due to her own self-image issues.
In the lyrics, I encourage her to learn to love herself, believing it would ease things for everyone and simplify her life. We used to be close, but she became cold, and I could hardly recognize her anymore.
She was always fearful of death and refused to discuss it, expressing a desire to live forever, which I always questioned. The lyrics shift from an attempt at understanding in the first verse to a more direct expression in the second verse.
I believe manipulating a narrative to fit one’s ideals at the expense of others is never acceptable. Everything we do should stem from love.
This song served as a major outlet for me at the time, but I managed to prevent overwhelming emotions from overshadowing the lyrics, avoiding making them too busy.
“Old Soul” is, by far, my favourite track on the EP and my preferred one to perform. I had always wanted a song with a raw metal section that fired me up, and this song finally fulfilled that desire, infusing the lyrics with what I call “Fuck you energy.” No hard feelings, though; I hope she’s doing well.
Dave: This song transports me to a dimly lit jazz club, where the floors are sticky from spilled drinks, and a live band is playing.
It’s predominantly a dark bluesy tune, and then it shifts into a heavy thrash metal section, making it my favourite among our songs to perform.
I spent my entire teenage years immersed in thrash metal music, so hearing this song and its genre change played a significant role in why I joined the band.
Recording this song was a blast, and the quad-tracked guitars in the ‘thrash’ section produced a massive sound, reminiscent of the riffs from classic 80s Metallica songs. I absolutely love performing this song live, especially when the crowds get really into it.
Max: This song allows me to explore dynamics and adapt to various rhythms and feels, giving me the opportunity to showcase my drumming skills and my abilities as a musician.
Nathan: I’m all about that bass.