pretty amazing sometimes the kind of diverse artists you hear out there
on the indie landscape. One that got me right from the start
was a band that started on IAC out of the blue pretty much.
Not sure how they found us but I'm really glad they did.
I was listening to the various new songs that came on to the
site at the time and this band had not one but numerous songs that
filled me with bliss, for lack of a better word to describe it.
T'was a playful sound, with traces of hippie - the singer
had a sweet yet matter-of-fact vocal delivery and the lyrics were very
clear and quite entertaining. Their music delivered me to a
different place, a different world. I wanted to be riding
along with the singer. That singer turned out to be Mel
Whittle, who is the force behind The Hermit Crabs. This band had
3 top 5 songs on our KIAC Big 50 and 2 of them made it all the way to
Number One! When
reviewing some of the bands I loved for the new site, IMP, I decided to
contact the band to see if they had new music, the email I had from
several years ago did not work but I found the band had a page on facebook. It
was there I found out there is new Hermit Crabs' music coming and
approached Mel to do this interview. Her answers were
straight-forward and concise just like her songs are.
Mel: I’ll usually have some sort of riff or line in my head - words and music -and then I’ll take to the guitar to finish off the song. Sometimes I have particular parts in my head for certain instruments but mostly whoever plays the other instruments can create their own part.
Scott: I found out today that the band is more of a solo act now. How has that evolved or has it always been that way more or less?
Mel: I guess it’s always been the way more or less, lots of different people have come and gone, I’ve always been the songwriter and singer and had an idea of how I wanted the songs to sound.
Scott: Your songs always seems so festive, like they were conceived to be played at a picnic or something like that. Did you sing around the campfire a lot as a kid ? :)
Mel: Ha, I was in the Girl Guides for a time! I’ve been camping quite a lot in the past though not sang around campfires much.
Scott: The Hermit Crabs is a cool name. Does it have anything to do with being antisocial? and what's your favorite crab dish? :)
Mel: I think at the time of picking it, two other people in the band really liked it but didn’t actually know that hermit crabs were real living things. I like the connotation with being anti-social, I can be a bit anti-social at times. I like crab meat in a salad.
Scott: What has been your best ever moment with this band?
Mel: Probably playing a couple of shows in the U.S. was the best moment. Our Feel Good Factor song was a winner of a songwriting competition in Scotland called Burnsong and being involved in that whole event was quite special.
Scott: When did you start singing and at what point did your style (as heard on this bands' songs) come forward do you think?
Mel: Prior to the hermit crabs I had sung in other bands. I shouted/screamed (and probably damaged my voice) in a punk/hardcore band for a time and then sang properly in a post-punk emo type band. My style has just come naturally I’ve not really consciously thought about it.
Scott: Was it exciting when your song got to the top of the KIAC Big 50 at the time? :)
Mel: For sure!
Scott: Some of your songs exude such warmth. Friend's Folk Festival brings a smile to my face every time. I was trying to guess your influences but gave up. Any of those come to mind?
Mel: The first lyric line of that song was actually something that the guitarist at the time came out with, I put a melody to it and finished writing the song. It’s hard to think who my influences are, I like a lot of female and male singer/songwriters. Some of my favourites would be Carole King, Karen Carpenter, Kim Deal.
Scott: Has it been frustrating at all knowing how good your songs are yet being trapped in the glut of internet bands? Does it bother you when you hear shitty uninspired music in the mainstream?
Mel: I don’t mind being an internet band, I think to be on matinee recordings is really special. It doesn’t really bother me to hear uninspired music in the mainstream, some of it I like, but it’s kind of a place I wouldn’t like to be also.
Scott: Here's something we ask all who we interview. Have you ever had any experiences of high strangeness as in UFOs, the supernatural, etc. ?
Mel: I had a strange dream the morning that I got a phone call that one of my friends had died. The dream was about the person who phoned me to pass on the news, she had something to say in the dream but wouldn’t/couldn’t say it.
Scott: Tell us about your new music. What are your future plans for Hermit Crabs?
Mel: I recorded 9 songs at ‘The Slopes’ in Idaho nearly three years ago, with Jeremy Jensen and Jake Hite from The Very Most. Eight of these are being put together in a mini-album due for release on matinee soon. The songs span quite a long time frame of my life, I think the musicianship on these songs is amongst the best The Hermit Crabs have sounded. I plan to record more songs.