How a Utah rock band, back after hiatus, found its chemistry ‘is still there’

MELŌ members say of their musical reunion: “It isn’t awkward, it isn’t weird, it isn’t old.”

(Courtesy of MELŌ) The Utah hard-rock band MELŌ — from left: bassist Mikey Collard, guitarist Zakk Hale and drummer Jordan Davis — is scheduled to perform at Soundwell, 149 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Once upon a time, 18 years ago, a rock band in Utah called Melodramus started performing.

After a few years and some lineup changes, three of the original bandmates — guitarist Zakk Hale, drummer Jordan Davis and bassist Mikey Collard — found life was pulling them apart. Collard moved to Los Angeles for grad school, Hale went to Seattle, and Davis enrolled in dental school.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the band came back together with a new name — MELŌ, a bit ironic considering their loud, hard-rock sound — and the same old thrill of making music together.

“There’s intention behind it,” Hale said of the reunion, “It’s like we want to do it still. … There’s this great chemistry, and years later, it’s still there. Coming back home figuratively, literally and musically has been a gift.”

“It feels like we’re supposed to play together,” Davis said. “It isn’t awkward, it isn’t weird, it isn’t old.”

When the band started, its members said, they were driven by the excitement and love of different genres of music — metal, classic rock and even progressive rock. Bands like Queen, Dream Theater and Depeche mode were among their favorites.

“When you’re younger, you want to maybe show off your skills,” Davis said. “As you mature musically, you want it to feel right. A lot of it comes down to feeling: How does this come across? What feeling or imagery does it elicit in people’s minds? How do they feel when they listen to this?”

Hale added, “all three of us have very signature personalities when it comes to music. The sound has changed, but it’s from the same seed… it’s a lot more refined and mature [now].”

All three members contribute to the songwriting — sometimes a tag-team effort, with each song coming together in a different way, they said. So far, the process has produced such singles as “The Self,” “Broken Hands,” “Calling a Change” and “Nothing More Nothing Less.”

Though the members have different strengths, Collard said the three today are on the “same wavelength” — able to seamlessly play off each other’s cues, ideas and skills, even after all these years.

Being more “refined and mature,” as Hale put it, extends to the band’s new name, MELŌ.

Hale and his brother, a former band member, invented the name Melodramus in their mom’s kitchen. They were “obsessed with melodies,” Hale said, and were playing around with the word “melodramatic” when they came up with it.

The new name, MELŌ, is a nod to the band’s winding history — three previous albums, and bandmates no longer performing with them — while also signaling their new era of music.

“The running joke was to cut out the drama,” Hale said. “Let’s just call it MELŌ.”

And, yes, the band is well aware the name is a bit of a contradiction, since their music is “anything but mellow,” Hale said.

MELŌ is gearing up for their first big show in months — a July 20 show at Soundwell in downtown Salt Lake City. The show is a chance to start new, for a phoenix to be born once again from the ashes.

The band is aiming to create a “lasting relationship” with its fans through this music, Hale said — and, in some ways, they already have.

At a recent show, the band saw fans they seen in 10 years — then teens, now adults. One fan showed up in one of the band’s t-shirts from 15 years ago, a shirt that Collard said he doesn’t have anymore.

“You just think, ‘Where did the time go?’” Hale said. “The connection is still there.”

MELŌ is scheduled to perform Wednesday, July 20, at Soundwell, 149 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City. Sleepeatr and Born of Two Nations will open the show, which starts at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $10, at soundwellslc.com.