Photos © 2004 by: Beth Shandles
Mellowdrone are a band that craft songs for the music lover. Best known for their guitar-driven sonic textures, mood-conscious lyrics, and contemporary songwriting prowess – they have this mystic ability to engage your aural sense. Whether it be countless sonic layers, or simply ‘unplugged,’ the common thread is a well-crafted rock song. Today’s bands easily and fashionably portray apathy, claiming to make music only for them selves, but in contrast Mellowdrone – simply put – care a lot. This is becomes evident as you watch and listen to them striving to put their best into each song. And the result is as sweet as Dutch Apple Pie, and well – like music to your ears!
I suppose the story of Mellowdrone started in Venezuela 1979 when principal songwriter Bates was born. Fast-forward through a coming of age in Miami where he mastered his skill at guitar shredding, which then lead to a scholarship to Boston’s famed Berklee School of Music. Once there, Bates realized that though he was technically proficient at guitar – mastering it as an instrument, he felt as if he knew nothing of the songwriting craft itself. A lifetime in the making, this is where Mellowdrone was given a name and thus conceived.
One year shy of graduation and due to a series of good timing and opportunities, Bates found himself leaving Berklee to relocate to Los Angeles. Though he earned a reputation for an electrifying live one-man show, Bates saw a natural evolvement for Mellowdrone upon meeting Tony DeMatteo and recruited him on guitar, who then in turn recruited childhood friend Brian Borg on drums.
Tragically DeMatteo fell victim of a tragic car accident where he was revived from death, in a coma for four days, and upon waking – excruciating recovery following being bed-ridden for three months. DeMatteo spent much of that time putting any remaining energy he had into Mellowdrone’s music.
Throughout the ebb and flow of the aforementioned events, Mellowdrone released a series of EPs and finally their debut album on 3E/Columbia, named “Box.” Naturally, sewn throughout these releases the band was hand-selected to tour throughout Europe, Japan and the US with the likes of Johnny Marr, The Killers, Elbow, Phantom Planet, Secret Machines, The Fire Theft, and She Wants Revenge. Meanwhile, Mellowdrone’s songs went on a tour themselves landing in HBO’s Six Feet Under, the adverts for CBS’s Cane, Nissan commercials; movies like The Invisible and Driv3r; and also was the theme song for Bravo’s Project Runway among others.
In early 2007, Mellowdrone was freed from their record deal with Columbia, allowing them to start anew. This humble, hard-working, and dedicated trio has grown into being a well-oiled machine and they’re always creating new music.
In June 2009 Mellowdrone released their second album, Angry Bear and have been touring in support of it ever since. The vinyl version was released through Coming Home Records, who also act as distributor for all Mellowdrone releases at this point.
Genre: Rock / Pop / Indie
Check out Jonathan Bates’ new project! http://bigblackdelta.com