"Viking on the Mountaintop petitioning the gods" is how Frank Melendez describes the sound of Riververb, his one-man experimental noise band. After watching him set up and suit up, his seven-word description makes sense. He has a full-sized drum kit, a homemade bass guitar built from a 20-gallon oil drum, a foot-controlled synthesizer, and effects pedals. He plugs everything into an 800-watt amplifier and then straps on a helmet that has a built-in microphone.
"The microphone is made from a set of headphones," says Melendez. "I just cut up a pair of headphones where one of the speakers was blown and bolted it to the front of this helmet. My girlfriend has this collection of deer antlers, so I mounted some of those to the top and painted it."
With the helmet strapped on, Melendez looks like a postapocalyptic warrior. He carries a drumbeat and bangs a stick on the bass while standing on a weird synthesizer. The sound is a mix of feedback, thumping beats, and space-age/UFO effects. Melendez has been a singer, bassist, guitarist, and drummer in "traditional" bands.
"For years I've been pursuing the family-unit style of band and ended up frustrated because of flakey fuckers," he says. "The reason I started Riververb was because the band I was in had a show booked with Graves at Sea, which is a pretty big metal band. They flaked on practices about six times in two weeks. I said, 'Fuck you,' and changed the flier and did the show myself."