Band of the Week: Duo Decibel System

MEET THE BAND: Miss Melvis (vocals, guitar), John Scully (drums)

MORE MILES THAN MONEY: Over the years, this local band's two members have played with acts such as the Heathers, Chump, Flat Can Company, Numbskull, Starvation Army and the SLAP Jazz Quartet. The group came together shortly after Melvis moved back to Cleveland after a stint in Texas. She mostly played solo shows but had a gig scheduled at the Empire that required her to play with a drummer. Her drummer at the time bailed and she knew Scully had just left the band he was in. He played with her and the two have played together as Duo Decibel System ever since. "It kept going," Melvis says. "He contributes songwriting, and I was anxious to do his stuff that he never had an outlet for. We're comfortable with each other's writing, and now we're switching to this format where I sing, and he composes. It's worked out really well."

A BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY:  The story of two local rockers who struggle to overcome a breakup, the duo's new album, Exit Stage Love, features a wide array of musical styles as the two dabble in punk, folk, ambient noise and "sequenced minimalism." The songs are about living in Texas and the subsequent breakup that Melvis endured before coming home. "The songs are about a lost love really," says Melvis. "When we were recording and writing it, we realized it fits that theme of sadness but hope too. I'm talking a lot about how beautiful the love was. There's a song called 'Bittersweet' that sums up the album."

WATT'S UP: Count Firehose/Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who plays bass with Melvis on a solo single she put out a couple of years back, as a supporter. He interviewed the band last months on his Watt from Pedro show and has played the new album on his podcast. "It's a great show," Melvis says of Watt's program. "He plays some different stuff — some you may have heard of, some you haven't."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Album opener "It Only Hurts" includes snarling guitars and hiccupping vocals as the two manage to create quite a post-punk racket. "We wanted a big sound for the duo but we still wanted to show a sensitive side," says Melvis. "I'm influenced by so much. From the past, it was people like Alice Cooper and Freddie Mercury. Now, I listen to a lot of Lucinda Williams. John and I have been going to the third Tuesday show called Outlab at Bop Stop. We started popping up there and getting into that scene a little bit which is more jazz and improv. We were influenced by that a little bit on the album too. John is into electronic beats and really loves sequencing stuff. We just wanted a good balance of styles."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Duo Decibel System performs with Tom Adams and the Last Resort at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Brothers Lounge.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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