Life is very unpredictable. Mel Washington can attest to this, and the ups and downs that led to the writing, recording, and release of his first true full length album Houses.
When Washington started writing Houses with close friend and music confidant Chris Perot, they weren’t sure exactly what they were going for, but they did know a couple of things. They wanted the album to be honest, and they wanted it to be a reflection of their lives.
Washington said “All we knew when we went to write this record was that we wanted something that sounded Southern.” And it’s something they’ve found with the first record, and the first two singles wear both as a badge of honor.
The first single released off the new album flows effortlessly with a familiar melody and sing along chorus. Washington says it was one of the oldest songs he’d written for this album.
“Come Back was a chorus that I’d written a long time ago and never done anything with. We revisited it and wrote the verses and post chorus sections in about 30 minutes. It felt natural to write that one.”
“Whiskey Bent” is the opening track of the album, and one of the more explosive in your face songs. It’s the black sheep of the album style wise, and one that really caught people’s ears with its’ release for being out of the box for Washington and crew.
“I knew that the record needed to open with something that was gonna grab your attention in such a way that said, “Hey! I got something to say!” and left you with no other choice but to listen.”
Washington says “Whiskey Bent” “captured where both of us had been in our lives in our early 20s.” Speaking of himself and Perot, that song especially captures the recklessness of that time of their lives and begins telling the stories that make up the album.
While the first half of Houses holds the first two singles released, the second half is where Washington shines. “Alyx’s Song” is powerful with its use of imagery and it’s slow build before releasing into a beautiful string arrangement and ending with just Washington’s deep soothing voice and guitar.
Followed by “Woe is Me” which stands out for its guitar work alone. The plucks and pulls instantly grab your attention as a change in the listening experience.
With Houses Washington checked any insecurities he might have about what to say and what not to say at the door of Glow in the Dark Studio in Atlanta, GA. “I wasn’t afraid to convey my soul with no reservations. I’ve got a story to tell. And I hope that someone maybe finds their story in my story, ya know?”
Part of that story is All Get Out, a band he helped found, and is no longer a member of. The departure of Washington and bass play Mike Rogers is surrounded by rumors, and Washington doesn’t deny that it stung. But listening to Houses everything seems alright, like it’s where he’s supposed to be at this stage in life, with this album, on his way home.
Washington glows with excitement when he talks about the recording of the album and the fact that Matt Goldman (Copeland, Underoath) played drums on it. He was actually producing another album in Goldman’s Glow in the Dark Studio when it all came about.
“When he offered to play drums on the project, I almost dropped my phone.” Washington said. He had only heard two demos from the upcoming album and was already expressing interest in working on it. This meant a lot coming from the man who has so many bands to his credit that were influential to Washington over the years. “Goldman had worked on so many great records. Underoath, As Cities Burn, The Chariot, The Explorers Club, Third Day, Casting Crowns, and one of my favorites, The New Frontiers.”
Washington was more focused with the recording of this album than anything he had worked on before. It tested his patience, his will, and his pride, but the result is something he couldn’t be more proud of.
“Even though I felt blind walking in. I still had some sort of faith that this would come together.”
He was right.