When Rod Melancon was just 18 years old, he left Louisiana—the only home he ever knew—and moved west to Los Angeles. There, he discovered his love for music, specifically older country and rock.
Since then, he has been creating music nonstop. He discovered his love for music in L.A., but his sound is reminiscent of his childhood in Louisiana—rough and edgy with a hint of Southern twang.
Rod Melancon will perform a free show on the rooftop of Georgia Theatre Mon., April 10 at 9 p.m.
The Red and Black: What got you first interested in playing music?
Rod Melancon: I moved to L.A. from South Louisiana when I was 18 years old. I got a guitar to pass the time, because I didn’t know anyone there. I was just messing with it, and when I came home for Christmas, I got my grandpa a Hank Williams CD, and I saw the way it affected him, and it made me think about the possibility of songwriting. I started getting into Hank Williams, and since he only has a handful of chords in his songs, it was easy for me to learn.
How would you describe your sound to someone who never heard you?
RM: I started out playing traditional country music, but eventually I got bored with it. The more comfortable I got with music, the more I was able to expand my sound into a harder sound with rougher edges. It’s kind of gritty, swampy rock ‘n’ roll. It has a lot of storytelling.
How many tours have you done so far?
This is my fourth tour. I did a tour previously with Chris Shiflett, the guitar player from the Foo Fighters. This is my third tour with a full band going through the Southeast.
What made you want to play in Athens?
We played at Nowhere Bar before, plus I think the B-52’s is from Athens. We had a good time then, and Athens is a cool place.
What is your favorite type of venue to play?
My favorite place to play is the White Horse in Austin, Texas. That has become my favorite because it’s a dance hall setting. When you’re out on the road, sometimes you play for two to three hours, and it can get kind of dull if people aren’t participating. My favorite type of place is where people can get up and dance.
What do you do to pass the time on tour?
I just try to make sure the guys don’t get into trouble. I don’t drink anymore—I’ve been sober for two years. I’m kind of like a father to the other guys. We watch a lot of Forensic Files on T.V. We read a lot, and obviously listen to a lot of music.
Who are your musical inspirations?
I love Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty is pretty cool. I love John Prine—he’s probably one of the greatest of all time.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
We usually listen to some music and just try to get in the zone. Lately, the drummer and guitar player have been eating super-hot peppers before they go on stage.
What’s your favorite food to eat on tour?
We have a love-hate relationship with Waffle House, because they don’t have them in California. There was one week where we ate it about four times, and then we got sick of it.
What would you do if you weren’t playing music?
I would either be a theater teacher or a shrimp boat captain.
How do you feel about the release of your next album, “Southern Gospel”?
We’re super excited about it; I think it’s going to go over really well. I can’t wait to tour off of it.
How did you meet the other members of your band?
I met them from the music scene in east Los Angeles. My band members sometimes change, it’s really whoever is available to tour.
What is your goal as a band?
The goal is to just keep touring. We’ve got a great new publicist, the label has been great, and the goal is to just keep doing what we’re doing. It’s a process, and you have to keep putting in the work until it never really feels like work.