South Bay band Melvus samples the voice of deceased River Bottom Rocker Kenny Diaz into their music.
  • South Bay band Melvus samples the voice of deceased River Bottom Rocker Kenny Diaz into their music.
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On June 5 the Los Angeles Times noted how bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns ’N Roses survive while the scenes they created 30 years ago have “withered” due to fewer live instrumentalists and because of the rise of pop, hip-hop, and EDM.

Melvus is covering all bases.

Video:

"Better This Time"

...by Melvus

...by Melvus

The two-year-old South Bay quintet starts with a guitar/bass/drums foundation laying out funk, rock, folk, and jazz.

And then there is DJ Pops, “The Medic,” who uses the latest in DJ technology to overlay his digital audio arsenal over Melvus material. He draws from obscure sources, such as random synth squeaks or spoken lines from movie soundtracks.

“I grab clips like actual voices,” DJ Pops says. “Like the line from Wedding Singer, where [Adam Sandler] says ‘Get up and dance!’”

Pops keeps his collection of audio drops in his Serato DJ unit. During a live Melvus show, he plays (forward or backward) the audio drop based on how he manipulates the Serato turntable. Each drop is playfully reworked by Pops.

While Incubus, Portishead, and Slipknot use the band/DJ format, “We haven’t come across any other local band that does it,” says Pops. “Incubus was a big influence on us.”

The Serato allows Melvus to keep alive an early influence on the band. They often use a sample of Kenny Diaz, the lead singer of Chula Vista’s River Bottom Rockers who died in a car accident seven years ago at the age of 20. “We all grew up listening to him,” says Pops about his deceased brother.

“One of the reasons I started singing in the first place was because of Kenny,” says Melvus lead singer Melina Alvarez. “We all want to keep his memory alive.”

All members of Melvus grew up together in the South Bay except guitarist Dylan Rother, who grew up in Maui and moved here three years ago.

The Salty Frog

992 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach

“Hawaii is more reggae-based,” says Rother, who is now a student at Grossmont. “There is a huge reggae scene in the South Bay, but it’s different. The scene in Hawaii is very island style, very happy, very carefree. We call it Jawaiian reggae. Out here it’s a little bit darker, a little bit heavier. A lot more about struggle and madness. Jawaiian still talks about the struggle but it sounds happier.”

What does Melvus mean?

“It’s Latin for ‘wolves,’” says bassist Bubba Abril.

Melvus appears Friday, June 17, at the Salty Frog in Imperial Beach.

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