Melancholics and the infinite rock band

Veteran Vegas band spots an opportunity worthy of its (over)time

Melancholics crank it back up while rehearsing for a rare live gig.
Photo: Corlene Byrd

Sitting in the basement studio of a secluded home in the Red Rock foothills, the Melancholics are discussing the Shrek franchise. Drummer Ed Malik has just commented that getting on the soundtrack for the next DreamWorks animated film would be a major milestone for the band. “What number are they on now? Shrek 4?” Malik asks.

Nobody knows for sure. (If you care, the next will indeed be the fourth.) “This is what aging wannabe rock stars talk about,” lead vocalist Jayme Jack jokes.


Barenaked Ladies
With Melancholics
Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m., $49.45-$60.45.
Primm's Star of the Desert Arena

Jack and bassist Dwight David formed the groovy jam band in 1994, building it into one of the longest-lasting bands in the local music scene. “We’ve played everywhere,” guitarist Phil Chamberlain says. “Most of the places don’t exist anymore.”

The band’s last performance? House of Blues, 2007. The two years since have been spent on burgeoning careers, new wives and newborns. Then several weeks ago, the band decided to buckle down and produce another album from dozens of unfinished songs on its hard drive. And when the opportunity arose to open for Barenaked Ladies this weekend in Primm, the Melancholics put their CD plans on temporary hold. “We like playing concerts rather than bars or clubs,” Malik explains. He adds, only half-jokingly, that if he obtained a liquor license for his home, his band could perform a lot more often.

The Melancholics (ages: late 30s to late 40s) don’t have enough acne for Beauty Bar. Or enough patience to compete with video poker at casino bars. And forget gigs in other cities. Malik estimates one night in San Francisco would cost $10,000 in transportation and lost wages.

The members’ day jobs include optometry, real estate and a county position. “We’re all working professionals,” Chamberlain says. “This is a hobby more than a lifestyle.” Or, as David explains, “This is like therapy for us. Some people have golf on Sundays. We have this.”


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