Episode 9 of the Agents of Innovation podcast was a truly special one for me because it gave me the opportunity to interview one of my favorite bands, Melodime. Why are they one of my favorites? There are many reasons. First, of course, is their music, which is quite amazing. As their website states, they are “a rock band that blends haunting bittersweet melodies with emotionally rich vocals atop a bed of Southern-flavored alt rock.”
They are also amazing dudes who I’ve gotten to know through my experience with Rock By The Sea. And on top of their great music and personalities, they also have caring hearts. A few years ago they started a charity called Now I Play Along Too, which provides musical instruments and education for orphans, victims of disasters, and underprivileged kids locally and around the world. In fact all the proceeds from their album Where the Sinners and Saints Collide go directly to this great charity.
This September 24-26, 2015, Melodime will be teaming up with Rock By The Sea for an event on St. George Island, Florida. Proceeds will support the start up of a music program at the Franklin County Library (the Florida county which St. George Island is located) for kids who otherwise would not have access to musical instruments and training.
The band actually took a trip to Haiti last year to make their first instrument drop. They spent a week there not only interacting with more than 80 kids who were orphaned after the earthquake that struck that island several years earlier, but they also partnered with local music teachers who continue to provide training for those kids today. The band is currently on their way back to Haiti this week to check back in with those kids and extend the mission of Now I Play Along Too.
We were privileged to have all four members of Melodime join us on Episode 9 of the Agents of Innovation Podcast: Bradley Rhodes (vocals/guitar), Sammy Duis (keys,/bass), Tyler Duis (drums), and Jonathan Wiley (guitar).
The band recounted one of the major reasons they started a charity to give away musical instruments: It’s a lesson that runs in the family. The Duis brothers, Sammy and Tyler, had great grandparents who immigrated to the United States from Ireland and lived in a very destitute situation in Missouri, where they grew up. One day someone made an anonymous donation to their home that included musical instruments. From there, they started to learn how to play and later even went out and played in the streets to earn money to help their family. That story served as inspiration for their charity and also for a recent song they created called “Brothers,” which is played at the end of episode 9.
The band has a great sound, which is especially captivated in the high energy of their live shows, but also in the deep lyrics of theirs songs that tells stories such as this one about the Duis brothers’ family and the formation of the Now I Play Along Too charity.
But a decision they made nine years ago was perhaps pivotal to their career today and the ability to form this charity. The three longtime band members, Brad, Sammy, and Tyler, all left college in their first year to come back to northern Virginia (where Tyler and Sammy first met Brad years before) and formed Melodime.
As Tyler Duis recounted on the podcast, “I think if we would have stayed in college – it’s kind of like an unknown because you kind of get involved in everything. Over time, I don’t know if we would have kept going.” He added, “So we wanted to get back and to make sure that we could have kept doing this. We’d kind of lose a lot of ground of ‘wasting’ four years on college.”
Brad Rhodes remembers that “There were definitely a lot of people I think in the first couple of years that, when we would show our faces at home again, who were like, ‘oh, when are you going back (to college) and what’s your plan moving forward?’ I think once people saw our actual commitment to the band and saw that it wasn’t just like a hobby, but that it was a business startup, for the most part for us, people began to understand that a little bit more. We knew exactly what we wanted to do when we were 18, 19 years old. So we wanted to start [the band] up as soon as possible.”
“We can always go back to school if we need to,” said Rhodes. “The band was something that we felt like we needed to start as soon as possible, given how competitive the music industry is. So that’s what kind of helped us make that decision.”
The passion they had for the music they wanted to create couldn’t be delayed. And for fans of Melodime, like me, I’m glad they chose to pursue their passion. I’m not the only one. Today, the band has quite the following. Recently a fan club was formed (independent of the band) called the Melomaniacs. They have a Facebook group with more than 1,230 fans and many travel all over the country to see the band play live.
If you live anywhere in Florida or the Southeast, you’ll have a chance to see Melodime play live for a good cause at Rock By The Sea “Lite” on September 24-26, 2015. For now, tune in to Episode 9 via iTunes or Stitcher. Hear more about how you can see Melodime Play Along Too.