Mellow Dees: Pinoy band with a ‘provocative’ song

What happens when Wolfgang’s drummer, Sugar Hiccup’s frontwoman, and Martin Nievera’s son form a band in the US?

Illustration by Glenzkie Tolo

The news was a pleasant surprise. Wolf Gemora, Melody del Mundo, and Nievera (he dropped his first name, Robin), all residing in the United States, have formed a band called Mellow Dees.

Its debut single, “Laman,” grooves on a reggae beat and, in the words of Gemora, “provocative” in its lyrics.

The band recently played at the Mint Club in Los Angeles and recorded the set.

The Mellow Dees: Nievera, Melody del Mundo, Wolf Gemora. | Photograph courtesy of Mellow Dees

Daily Tribune engaged Gemora in an email interview.

Daily Tribune (DT): Let’s backtrack, when did you leave Wolfgang and why did you go to the US?

Wolf Gemora (WG): Wolfgang broke up in 2002. I decided to move to the US since my family was in the process of emigrating. I also wanted to pursue a career in rock music in the US which was my ultimate goal as a musician. Since there was no sign that Wolfgang will be together again, I made that final decision to move forward.

DT: What’s life like in America and what kind of jobs did you engage in?

WG: Life in America is about working and having a thriving life as a result. I’ve had various jobs as an employee and presently I am a professional caregiver. I never wanted to work in an office job.

DT: You and Melody have known each other in Manila back in the 90s? Did you meet again in the US by chance?

WG: Actually we’ve never met until here in the US. She came over in the late 90s. We only connected when we formed the Mellow Dees.

DT: How strong was the desire to play music again, and how did you go about it as a group?

WG: The desire to play music never dies for a musician like me. I’ve had two previous bands before this (Lokomotiv and 3 Headed Dog) and it was only a matter of finding the right people to create music with.

When we first convened in late 2019, Melody already had eight songs that were pretty much written out. That’s really what caught my interest in working with Melody. That she’s a prolific songwriter and it would be fun to arrange her songs into what they are now.

We met someone who is now the biggest supporter of the band, Anjelo Alonte. He hooked us up to a great recording studio in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles. He also eventually co-produced the single and upcoming album. That really gave us the energy to record the songs and seriously release an album. It gave the band direction.

DT: How did Nievera come into the picture?

WG: Nievera was referred to us as he himself was looking for a band to play with. He has his own solo project but he always wanted to be part of a band. Luckily he has chosen to commit with the Mellow Dees, and his guitar work on the recordings perfectly compliment what the songs call for. He’s an amazing guitarist.

DT: The Mellow Dees’ debut single “Laman” oozes with sexuality and has a reggae beat. How did the song come about?

WG: It’s all from Melody. I describe the song as “provocative.” I hope it gets played enough where people will react to the song and “provoke” thoughts and feelings. That’s when a song goes to another level, when people react to it, be it positively or negatively. When I first heard it from her on acoustic guitar, I immediately thought of Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer M’aker.” Playing a heavy beat on a reggae-feel worked out pretty well for “Laman.”

DT: How did the Mint gig go?

WG: It was cool. We recorded our set at the Mint on video and we will be releasing it as a pay-per-view event soon.

DT: Are you playing more gigs to promote “Laman”?

WG: Yes. As many gigs as possible.

DT: Are you writing more songs?

WG: Melody always has song ideas that she passes on to me, so yes, there are a couple of new tunes we will start working on after the full album is released in early spring in ‘23. I’m excited about the prospects of some of these new songs. It’s gonna be epic.

DT: Any chance for the band to play in Manila?

WG: Hopefully, yes! We would love to play back in Pinas. It just depends on promoters over there to bring us for a tour so we can show our kababayan the musical power of the Mellow Dees.

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