A wise fan knows to expect the unexpected at a U-Melt show. From the moment the New York City based quartet hits the stage, they grab the crowd with undeniably funky and infectious grooves that hit new levels when Rob Salzer's mind-bending guitar work and Zac Lasher's hypnotic, entrancing keyboards are given room to roam. Their improvisational work is made possible by Adam Bendy's innovative bass work and George Miller's brilliant drumming, which opens doors for Lasher and Salzer to treat the audience to heavy doses of their creative, free-flowing interplay.
While on stage, U-Melt gives each song a full workout, sometimes stretching them to twenty minutes and beyond. Some bands are incapable of reigning in their jamcentric tendencies when they enter the studio; yet on their 2006 album, The I's Mind as well as their 2004 debut The Unbelievable Meltdown, U-Melt had no trouble shortening the solos and creating tightly crafted, studio versions of live staples that retained every ounce of their fun and intensity. Nicely showcasing the various twists and turns that are U-Melt trademarks, The I's Mind not only features a wide variety of catchy hooks and creative musical passages, but also puts their superb songwriting skills on display. Notwithstanding Miller's gift for creating concisely crafted tunes (?Air,? ?Go?), Lasher and Salzer handle the majority of the songwriting duties, but the finished product is a complete group effort. ?The guys are all incredible musicians,? says Lasher. ?So I have to write music that will be challenging and fun for them to play.? Salzer likewise writes with the band in mind: ?We know what we all like, and what will challenge us, so when I'm writing that's what I'm going for. We're now really finding our sound, and a big part of that is because Zac and I have begun to influence each other's songwriting.? U-Melt's late-night gigs have grown to legendary status. The past three years, U-Melt has brought in the New Year in New York City with packed shows. Moving from the cozy Lion's Den to the more spacious rooms at Coda and The Knitting Factory, U-Melt has made a habit of playing for devoted fans until just before sunrise. They derive extra energy from their wee-hour gigs: ?We try to inject something different into our late night sets to make them special,? says Lasher. ?They're a great opportunity to really let spontaneous music happen. We usually have a lot of time at those shows, so we can really stretch out.? Since establishing the night as their domain with a 7 hour overnight set at Strangefolk's 2004 Garden Of Eden Festival, U-Melt's entertained insomniacs at The Gathering of the Vibes, Snoe.down, the Stonehenge Festival, Camp Barefoot, and this summer will be bringing their patented late-night magic to the Wakarusa Music Festival, the Buffalo Creek Music Festival, and Ashefest among others. ?We feel we're at our best when we have the most time to play, and late night is usually when a band is allotted the most performance time,? says Salzer. ?We love to play and we are psyched to be able to rage all night with fans that are up for it.? Even when time comes at a premium, U-Melt can deliver a potent set in whatever time they have. Their appearances at the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival, Green Apple Music Festival, Harvest Jam, Camp Creek, Wormtown Music Festival and the Strange Creek Music Festival, consistently draw rave reviews and leave crowds yelling for more. The I's Mind has been warmly received, with ?Air,? ?415? and The Unbelievable Meltdown's ?Schizophrenia? receiving significant radio airplay on Sirius Satellite Radio and commercial radio stations around the country. Despite competition from a whole host of major label and indie-artists, the self-released album reached 1 on the Jambands.com Radio Charts as the most played album in December of 2006. The tour in support of The I's Mind has seen them headline many prestigious venues across the country, as well as open for such veteran acts as moe. on numerous occasions, the most recent show seeing Salzer joining moe. to lend a hand on guitar while Al Schnier rehabbed an injury. U-Melt's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. In February of 2006, Jambands.com named U-Melt its ?New Groove Of The Month.? This recognition was further validated weeks later when Relix Magazine and the other producers of the Jammy Awards recruited U-Melt to perform at the Official Jammys' After Party at New York City's B.B. King Blues Club, where they kept the crowd dancing until 4:00 a.m. with a lengthy after-hours set. The fans have had their say as well; U-Melt's recent appearance at the 10,000 Lakes Festival came after winning an on-line voting contest against thousands of bands from all across the country. Moreover, the growing list of those praising U-Melt's music includes Richard Gehr of the Village Voice, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Jambase.com, Glide Magazine, State of Mind Music Magazine, KyndMusic.com, Earvolution.com and The Independent. Not only has U-Melt earned praise from the media and the fans, they have also earned the respect of their fellow musicians. Schnier, Rob Derhak, Chuck Garvey and Vinnie Amico of moe. have all separately joined U-Melt on their stage on numerous occasions. Other luminaries have also sat in with U-Melt, including Jake Cinninger and Kris Myers of Umphrey's McGee; Jon Trafton, Russ Lawton, Erik Glocker, Luke Patchen Montgomery and Don Scott of Strangefolk; Rob Somerville of Deep Banana Blackout; Ed Palermo; Gordon Stone as well as members of Addison Groove Project, Perpetual Groove, Brothers Past, Max Creek and The Bridge. Although U-Melt can fall into the jamband genre, to sum them up so succinctly oversimplifies their complexity. By design, U-Melt transcends the jamband label. ?What it does is unify all these bands with different styles into a scene based around one thing: improvisation,? says Salzer. As Lasher explains, ?to say a band is a jamband doesn't really describe the sound. I think it describes a philosophy about performance rather than a sound, and it's definitely a philosophy to which we subscribe.? After parsing through the many various ways to describe U-Melt's sound and vision, Lasher sums it up best, ?There's jambands that are rock bands, jambands that are jazz bands, jambands that are funk bands, jambands that are trance bands, . . . and we're none of those, but then again, at times we're all of those.?