SA’s Hydra Melody on Third Eye Blind, Austin’s Downside and Making Smarter Music
Published: January 22, 2014
Three good-looking, well-dressed men approach the ’50s-style booth in the corner of the bar at Chuy’s—it seems appropriate to meet one of San Antonio’s more outwardly successful bands in the ever-expanding Texas-born chain restaurant.
As the rest of the members of Hydra Melody trickle in, they all casually introduce themselves to talk about Friday’s show at Jack’s Bar, the first local concert since last November. With three EPs, two nationwide contests (finalists in one, winners in the other) and a monumental tour behind them, the Hydra Melody members give off a certain confidence. Though the alt-rock band initially formed in 2005, the most recent—and most successful—lineup has been together since 2011.
“We’ve all been in and out of bands for a really long time,” Jordan Berlanga, lead vocalist and founding member, told the Current. “I’ve known our two percussionists [Manny Prince and Matt Gomez] since middle school and high school and we’ve all been jamming together for over a decade now.”
Once Jason Harari, bassist, and Taylor Ferguson, lead guitar, joined Hydra Melody, Berlanga said the focus shifted to touring, branding and the business side of the industry—not that they’re looking to get famous by any means necessary. All five agree tending to business themselves for as long as possible is preferable to having a label do it for them.
“We don’t want to do anything that involves signing our lives away until we know we have our business in order,” said Harari. “Unless somebody offers us something that is undeniable—like in The Godfather, they make an offer you can’t refuse—I think the dream come true would be that we never sign. We’re not willing to take the risk of being thrown to the bottom of the stack because Katy Perry wants to do a new record.”
Prince agreed when Berlanga, equating a music label’s support to a loan, said many bands don’t realize that money must be paid back before revenue can be generated.
“It’s great doing it homegrown, though,” Prince said. “From the business aspect, we’ve really figured out what a record label is—it’s just money from a bank.”
Big Gigs and Teen Dreams
Perhaps the biggest break for Hydra Melody in 2013 was an invitation to join ’90s alternative rock icons Third Eye Blind for a 20th anniversary tour sponsored by House of Blues. The headliners chose a different band to open on each leg of the tour, and Hydra Melody joined the likes of Gentlemen Hall and Team (the latter is ex-Boys Like Girls bass player Bryan Donahue’s new project).
In spite of little name recognition, Hydra Melody’s manager Chad Richardson contacted artists he knew would be touring in the upcoming months to solidify a spot for the band. Third Eye Blind, a last-ditch, shot-in-the-dark effort, was the band that bit.
“We got lucky,” Harari said. “We were the underdog and the indie band.”
The nine-day tour began November 17 in Orlando, Fla., and ended December 1 in New Orleans.