Dave Melillo's new EP, Talk Is Cheap, can be downloaded for free right now at mtvU.com.
He looks like a typical teenager, but there is nothing typical about Dave Melillo. At 17, he is a gifted singer/songwriter, a road-tested club veteran and the latest addition to the Drive-Thru Records roster. Could he someday stand alongside the next generation of rock ‘n' roll prophets? Nobody knows yet, but with the release of his new Drive-Thru EP Talk Is Cheap , all bets are off and all eyes are on the kid from Celebration, FL.
Celebration is a town located perilously close to Disneyworld. But living near such toxic superficiality has had an upside: Dave Melillo is as genuine as they come, writing deeply felt and unflinchingly honest songs.
Produced by James Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory), Talk Is Cheap reflects a turbulent period in Dave's life. The tracks vary, from the touching sentiment of "Sam's Song" to the surprising sophistication of "For the Sake of Remembering" and “Vatican Roulette.” “Morris County Blues” evokes memories of Dave's early years growing up in New Jersey, while the expansive “Knights of the Island Counter” fully captures the redemptive spirit of youth. “I've always been about getting the feeling down,” he says. “People realize when you're bullshitting and when you're telling the truth.” He grew up in New Jersey in a house filled with song. “All my life, I had music around me,” he recalls. “My mom played piano and was a big fan of Billy Joel. My parents used to have Meat Loaf playing in the car. So I always had eclectic tastes.”
Dave's parents encouraged him to explore music, and as a young kid, he gained stage experience performing in local musicals. But moving from Jersey to Florida proved a watershed experience, and he began taking songwriting seriously. Dave found he did not need to look far for inspiration or incentive. “I've always been disconnected,” he says. “I wasn't into stuff the other kids were into. It was more of trying to see where I fit in, observing the trends around me and seeing how I felt about how everyone acted, I don't have the patience for superficiality.”
Once he started performing locally and recording demos, Dave drew attention. He and Drive-Thru co-presidents Stefanie Reines and Richard Reines had been in talks for months prior to Dave's first visit to the label's L.A. offices in late 2004. Dave gave an impromptu performance for the staff, after which the Reinses announced that they would like to sign him.
Dave was subsequently courted by several major labels after his single “Wait For It” appeared on the Drive-Thru Records/PureVolume compilation “Bands You Love, Have Heard Of, And Should Know,” but he chose to sign with Drive-Thru anyway. Says Dave, "The majors don't have the family feel that Drive-Thru does. Richard and Stefanie were the only people whose philosophy was right."
Talk Is Cheap is a prelude of sorts. Distributed exclusively via download at MTVu, it is a teaser to the full-length CD Dave is now writing, apparently all the time. “I couldn't stop writing even if I wanted to,” he says. “When I wake up, I have an idea I have to put down. I have so many voice messages of myself singing tunes I came up with. It's a habit.”
Even before the release of the EP, Dave has been busy touring, including several dates with Drive-Thru labelmates HelloGoodbye. He'll also perform a showcase at South By Southwest 2006. Cool gigs for sure, but for Dave Melillo, it's all part of the plan to share his great gifts with the world. “I just put my music out there,” he says confidently. “This is verbatim from my life.”