Stereorrific is an expanding Boston record label that is run by two brothers, Jeff and Joel Mellin. Both the Mellins are also talented musicians, and while Joel fronts his own five piece band, retro-sixties boy-girl act the Oscillators, Jeff, the older brother, is a solo artist who plays songs in both a pop and a folk style. The two brothers set up Stereorrific in early 1998 primarily as a means for releasing their own records, but since then have developed their roster to also include several other acts from the North Eastern United States. With a parallel release planned for later this year with the British label WIAIWYA, which has released records by Marine Research and Stereolab, Stereorrific also is beginning to develop an international reputation.

In its first two years Stereorrific released just three CDs, two Oscillators albums, ‘Let’s Rock Instead’ SR0001) and ‘In-cog-neat-o’ (SR0003), which came out in April 1998 and November 1999 respectively, and a Jeff Mellin solo album ‘Jeff Mellin Saves the World Parts 1 and 2’ (SR0002) which was released in March 1999.

“ The title Stereorrific came out of a little joke that we had with the credits of the first Oscillators record ” Jeff Mellin explains, talking to Pennyblackmusic in an exclusive interview . “We wanted to give it the feel of one of those old early sixties stereo demonstration records. A lot of those records had really detailed instructions about the technology they had used, and, therefore, we called it a Stereorrific release, to make it seem as if it had to be played on a special kind of record player or something like that. When the next record came around, it seemed like a fitting name. It was our own word, and noone else could claim it, so we decided to stick with it.”

The Mellin brothers were brought up in Reading, a quiet suburb on the outskirts of Boston and began playing music seperately and also occasionally together in “basement bands” while they were still at High School.

After graduating from High School, Joel moved to New Hampshire to attend university and started up the Oscillators while he was there. He has since moved to New York where he is currently taking a postgraduate degree in computer music.

“The Oscillators started up in 1996, a couple of years or so before they did ‘Let’s Rock Instead’” Jeff reflects, describing his brother’s band. “They actually started out as a solo project for Joel, and several of the songs that appear on that first record are actually songs that he recorded completely by himself. Some of those songs started to get local radio airplay and so he decided that he needed to get a band together to play them, and that’s when the rest of the group fell in.”

As well as Joel on guitars, keyboards and vocals, the Oscillators features several Boston and New York musicians in its line-up and also includes singers Samantha Blake and Miss Mary (Mary Stopas) ; drummer Wendy Morrill and bassist M@ Saunders

When Jeff Mellin left High School, he moved to New Brunswick in New Jersey again to attend university, and began to perform as an acoustic solo act to “occasionally increasing audiences” both in local coffee houses and also in Greenwich Village in New York.

Upon completing university, he moved back to Boston and temporarily abandoning his solo career, formed “mod pop band”, The Eddies, with some of his former High School band mates. The Eddies received some critical acclaim , but otherwise "largely ignored" had difficulty finding a record deal. They only ever released one song, a jangle-pop tune ‘Breakfast Blues #154’ which appeared on a 1997 split seven inch EP that also featured songs from three other local Boston bands Charlie Chesterman and the Legendary Motorbikes ; Pete Weiss and the Rock Band and Penguin.

When the Eddies broke up amicably after five years together at the end of 1997 , Jeff Mellin decided to turn solo again. ‘Jeff Mellin Saves the World Parts 1 and 2’ was released just over a year later, and described as “a double EP”, is an album of two distinct halves. The first half was recorded with various Boston session musicians and reminiscent in style of the Eddies, is humorous and has songs in a jangle pop and mod format. The second half is, however, darker and more experimental and featuring “swamp rock outfit” Slide as back-up musicians, was recorded live in the studio with no rehearsal and in just one take.

“It was my original intention to release just the one EP” Mellin recalls. “And then the opportunity to record with Slide came around, and I had two very different records on my hands. It was just more economical to put them together. “

“We did go into the studio without having played anything together” he continues, talking about the recording of the second part of the CD. “ I gave each member of Slide a really rough acoustic demo which had twice as many songs as we needed, and I said to them “Listen to these ! Pick the ones you like, and when you get to the studio we’ll play whichever ones you decide on !” I , therefore, didn’t know which songs beforehand we were going to play , and we did all the arrangements on the fly, but everything kind of fell into place on the day.Anything which is rough about it I think really adds to its character.”

With all three of these early albums selling well , the two Mellins decided to expand their label.

“We originally set up Stereorrific as a vehicle for our own things” Mellin reflects, “But once we had established the infrastructure for a label, getting some distribution and figuring out how to operate things, it seemed like a good idea to offer that service to other musicians, and to be able to do their records as well.”

Stereorrific’s releases have since then included ‘Hey Blue’ (SR006), a Miss Mary solo album which merges together the bubblegum kitsch humour of the Oscillators with a tweepop sound, and ‘Bunker’ (SR007), the debut album of Illinois indie rockers Rectangle who combine a Pavement and Pixies influenced guitar sound with snappy lyrical wordplay.

It has also released three CDs by the Boston producer and musician, Pete Weiss, who has recently joined Stereorrific as an its third manager and partner. The first two of these CDS , EP ‘I’m Dreaming of The Weisstronauts’ Christmas’ and album ‘Featuring “Jaunty”’ (SR008) are the debut releases of Weiss’s regular new main band, the largely instrumental but quirky and comic Weisstronauts. The latter, the eponymous debut album (SROO4) of Weiss’s side project Sool, unites sardonic and satirical word humour with a wide range of sixties and early seventies rock influences.

‘Hey Blue’ and ‘Sool’ were both released in September of 2000, while ‘Bunker’ and The Weisstronauts’ Christmas EP came out in October. ‘The Weisstronauts Featuring “Jaunty”, Stereorrific’s latest release, was released in March of this year.

"We're constantly trying to bring interesting new people into the fold who do not necessarily fit into the normal indie rock categories" says Mellin."We are trying to create a niche and to build it from there."

"Our acts all sound quite different from each other, but they are also quite similar" he continues. "They are all pop music acts, but they are all also playing with the idea of pop music, and trying to do something different with it."

The Mellins, continuing to combine humour and experimentation, have developed and streched out this concept still further on the sleeves of each Stereorrific record. Each of these are designed by Jeff Mellin and nearly all feature on the front a photograph by John Soares, a photographer friend , while on the back there are eccentric and surreal linear notes, all of which are written by Garrett Caples.

Caples is a successful San Francisco poet, and a friend of Jeff Mellin's from his college days. His Stereorrific sleeve notes are all written in a stream of consciousness style, and from a different, but always unusual stance. The notes on ‘Hey Blue’ , for example, are written from the viewpoint of an obsessive and lustful promoter, while those on the Weisstronauts’ Christmas record come from the standpoint of a three year old fan.

"I love those old Bob Dylan and Kinks records, and Billy Childish albums,which have those stream of consciousness publications on them" reflects Mellin. "There's no reason not to use the space on the sleeve to do something really interesting. By doing that we are trying again to add something a little unique to each new Stereorrific record ."

In the course of the next few months, Stereorrific will be releasing several new records. Each of the members of the Oscillators will be putting out a solo album.

"They are each going to try to crank out a solo project, just like the Kiss records" Mellin laughs.

Stereorrific will also be releasing in the spring 'The Shady Tree', the debut album of Peter Linnane, a Boston sound engineer and a part-time member of the Willard Grant Conspiracy, while will also feature Samantha Blake on backing vocals on someof the tracks.

'Hey Blue', which is to date Stereorrific's best seller, is meanwhile about to be re-released on ten inch vinyl in Britain on WIASWIA. Jeff Mellin will also be releasing a new EP of approximately eight songs, ‘Good for a Gander’ in late May, while Joel has an album consisting entirely of computer music pencilled in for later in the year.

Over the course of the last three years, Stereorrific has developed a lot, creating a market for itself and moving from being a small self sufficient label to one that can offer genuine help and assistance to other musicians in a similar situation. With more developments planned for this year , and with its international reputation steadily expanding, it seems that the Mellins’ unique vision of Boston rock has an exciting future.

















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