Frank Melendez co-founded Sprung Monkey in 1989, though he left the group a few years later in search of more challenging musical adventures.
"Viking on the Mountaintop petitioning the gods" is how Melendez describes the sound of Riververb, his 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."
Musicians known to sit in with Riververb include members of Wolves, the Dirty Finger, Ghost Ship, Zsa Zsa Gabor (the band, not the cop-slapping actress), Vomit Comet, and Mr. & Mrs. Tribute to Ugliness.
As of 2011, Melendez has a day job as a woodworker, a skill that comes in handy when he builds his own experimental guitars from sheet metal, wood scraps, recycled oil drums, titanium gaskets, pipes and plumbing, metal springs, and other unlikely components.