Interview: Rod Melancon On His Upcoming Release, ‘Parish Lines’
A Los Angeles resident with Southern Louisiana roots, Rod Melancon has a pure and honest songwriting style that reflects an admiration for greats like Cash and Springsteen, with the classic swagger of Elvis.
For his upcoming full length Parish Lines, Melancon teamed with Dwight Yoakam guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Brian Whelan to create a collection of Americana-rooted rock ‘n’ roll.
Almost equal parts distorted guitars and stripped-down acoustics, the songs provide the perfect backdrop for Melancon’s stories of love and loss that could only be set in Louisiana bayou country.
Rod Melancon’s Parish Lines is set for release on March 4th. Find out more here.
You're originally from Southern Louisiana. Why the move to Los Angeles? How has living in LA influenced your songwriting?
I first came to Los Angeles for acting. My mom was a theater teacher and I had grown up on the stage. I got my first guitar a few months after I moved here. I had never tried to write before but I had always been interested in it. I couldn't wait to leave my hometown growing up. I wanted to get out as fast as I could. Once I left Louisiana and moved to LA, I realized the beauty of the south and the place I grew up. It took me leaving to realize the connection I had with it. It was in my blood. That's what drove me to start writing songs. That feeling of missing home. So I realized I needed to teach myself how to play a few chords. I learned around three chords which was enough to write a song with. Nowadays, I know about four.
Hear "Feathers" from the upcoming album Parish Lines
How do your Cajun roots play into your musicality?
My roots are the basis of everything I write. I'm very proud of my heritage. South Louisiana is the setting for most of my songs.
What is the story behind the title of your new record, Parish Lines?
My grandpa had this old framed map of Louisiana in his house. I remember thinking it looked like it was put together with puzzle pieces. The whole state was divided with these lines. I asked him what they were and he told me they were parish lines.
What is your songwriting process like? Are your lyrics based on personal or made up stories, or based on the stories others?
All of the above. I usually know when a song is coming on. I start to visualize something or get a theme in my head. I let it sit for a few days before I try to write anything. If you rush it you're going to get a less than average version of what it could've been. It's hard to explain where this all stems from. I just learned to stop questioning it.
Tell us about some of the acoustic guitars you played on the new record.
For a few of the songs, I used my producer, Brian Whelan's Epiphone EJ-200VS (Brian is guitarist and instrumentalist for Dwight Yoakam). We also used a Gibson and a Martin. They were both studio guitars.
I wrote most of the songs from this album on a Epiphone EJ-200. People told me I should wait and save up for the Gibson version. You don't need a $5,000 guitar for songwriting. Plus, writing the kind of songs I write on a guitar that's worth more than my car just wouldn't feel right.