By: Matt Terl
There’s schoolroom learning and there’s learning through experience, and people will argue forever about which is more valuable. Mellowdrone singer/guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Bates is the beneficiary of both. A guitar prodigy at 17, he went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he learned how to bend his guitar virtuosity in the service of songcraft. At 20, he left school, formed Mellowdrone, recorded an EP, and went on tour with ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Following that, Mellowdrone played alongside bands like the Killers, the Fire Theft, and Phantom Planet, leading up to the release of their first full-length, Box.
Like some sort of synth-pop Bruce Wayne, Bates has essentially traveled the world learning from some of the best at their craft. With Box, he has returned to the Gotham City of alternative music as the Dark Knight of really catchy vengeance. Box is an album whose sonic variety — from the swooping, Muse-esque single “Fashionably Uninvited” to the Meat Puppets grind of music biz flick-off “And Repeat” to the Monster Movie loops of “Four Leaf Clover” — all linked together by a consistently firm aesthetic. Even better, Bates possesses one of the most underrated talents a musician can have: a wicked, bratty sense of humor that bubbles up whenever the music threatens to become ponderously serious.
Mellowdrone tour dates:
3/2, Costa Mesa, CA (Detroit Bar) * 3/3, Pasadena, CA (No Future Cafe) 3/17, Los Angeles, CA (Troubadour) (* – with Your Enemies Friends)