Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 01:01
Last September, the five members of Mellen, a folk-rock band, were finally in a position to come together and embark on a new, exciting and banter-filled musical journey. Although the unofficial leader of the band, Mary Ellen Funke (SFS ’15), started her musical career at Georgetown as a solo act, she branched out last year and became the head of a band called Mellenfolly. Although this band parted ways due to graduations and study abroad, Funke’s friend, Danny Sullivan (MSB ’14), approached her about forming a new band, and the rest is history.
Sullivan had only participated in a cappella in college and found himself interested in forming a band.
“I knew that Mellenfolly was kind of in reorganization and all up in the air. They are still all friends of ours, but you know, people were travelling,” Sullivan said. “So I approached [Mary Ellen] and was like, ‘Hey, you want to try and do something,’ and then this kind of fell together. She was the one who found everybody.”
The eclectic group also consists of Danny Goldberg (NHS ’14), Phil Rogers (MSB ’14) and Rohan Advani (SFS ’16). Mellen will inevitably face the same reorganization that Mellenfolly did after gradutaion in May, but that is not stopping them from writing and performing music together. While they have yet to record anything as a full band, they hope that will change by the end of the semester/ The quintet plans to get their music online for more recognition and permanence as a group.
“We want to record,” Sullivan said. “I want to record music we’ve written. We’ve written a lot of music, we’re not going to record all of it, but I just want to get that out there.”
When asked how they would describe their sound, the band debated whether the term “folksy” was an accurate descriptor.
“We’re a blend of folk and others. We’re primarily folk,” Funke said.
Although Sullivan also tried to label the band, he struggled to classify it as one musical genre.
While the band does agree that they have a folksy sound, they are less inclined to liken their music to that of any other band in particular.
“I don’t really know if there’s a specific band that we sound like though. I’ve tried really hard to think about it,” Funke said. However, to get an idea about the kind of music Mellen plays, consider noteworthy influences, including Bright Eyes, Bastille, The Tallest Man on the Earth and above all others, Bon Iver.
Although their sound is hard to sum up, the emotions and motivations that fuel their music and songwriting are genuine and heartfelt. However, members of the band can attest that it was not always easy to write and perform the music they wanted.
“My freshman and sophomore years there weren’t really that many venues for quiet, acoustic music,” Funke said. “It kind of drove me to write a lot more upbeat songs than I ever would have possibly wanted to. And then I stopped liking them.”
Mellen has since been able to refocus their music on people and experiences in their lives that truly inspire them.
“I feel like we’ve had a lot more opportunity to just play what we play,” Funke said. Their songs are about the people in their lives, their frustrations and questions and just generally what they know.
“There are definitely some musicians who write stories or write about things that haven’t happened to them. I just write about my life,” Sullivan said. “It’s usually not about me individually; it’s about someone that I care about, that I’m just observing. Whether it’s happy, sad or whatever, I pay attention to people in my life.”
Mellen has both an incredible energy and an entertaining bond that highlight their passion for music. They are playful and joyous, while at the same time sincere and definitely a band worth checking out while their members are still on the Hilltop.