The DePatie Melt – My Best Friend Ran Off With My Wife (And Man Do I Miss Him) | Tragicomedy
John DePatie and his musical group The DePatie Melt takes us all the way back to the sloppily attractive emotions of a downtown bartime melody from the 1950s.
The project, less than a year old, has steadily updated its discography with the release of its previous two tracks I’ll Miss You and The Song We Will Remember, now back with their fresh release My Best Friend Ran Off With My Wife (And Man Do I Miss Him). At its most characteristic level, My Best Friend Ran Off… appears heavily inspired by other musical ventures the band members of The DePatie Melt have been on — particularly with the 1960s pre-classic rock jazz groove, the carefree and moody percussive elements and equally flirtatious electric guitar strums.
The track offers tribute to some of these genre’s most acclaimed elements, but with their own twist of thematic tragi-comedy. Despite the track’s ‘old soul’ mood, the lyricism itself is purely comical, and in the lack of a better term, very banter-like. The vocal performances which feature John DePatie singing for the first time, are more recitative than melodic, offering the track a sense of narrative balladic journey. If someone is in the mood for a bit of the old-timer sway in its most baroque element, coupled with truly enjoyable lyricism, The DePatie Melt is the group that should fit your music department.
We reached out to John DePatie for a small conversation on the track, his music and more. Here is how that went:
Congratulations on your new track! How would you describe ‘My Best Friend Ran Off…’ to someone getting into your discography fresh?
Thanks! I called the group The DePatie Melt for a couple of reasons. The first was that it will (hopefully) be easy for people to remember. The second was that I work with a variety of different musicians and I do a lot of different styles of music. Having the word melt in the name appealed to me because it symbolized those things.
So, as far as my discography this particular track is an odd one in that it’s my first comedy track and also my first vocal. There’s nothing else in my catalog either with The DePatie Melt, or the things I’ve previously released before under my name, to compare it to. Hopefully it will at least give people a little chuckle and maybe that will make them curious about my other releases.
With such names as Nancy Sinatra and Leif Garrett in your musical endeavours, I imagine you must have quite a unique creative process. Guide us how your typical creative process looks like?
I do a lot of writing while I’m on vacation or traveling for gigs. I try to do a song a day minimum when I’m out of town. I also make lots of short demos whenever an idea hits me. They often come when I’m tuning up, or maybe getting ready to prepare some material for someone else’s show.
I try to vary the process so I’m not always starting the same way. It’s maybe a bit easier for me to start with some chords and then put a melody to that, but I do the melody first sometimes too. Or I might start with a drum groove.
I have lots and lots of old song ideas that I have in a playlist that’s roughly chronological. I’ll go through that when I’m looking for something to work on and pick out something that I’m inspired to finish, and then make a plan to properly record it. Sometimes my initial demo has most of the song and I just have to arrange it a little and then take the time to get better sounds than what I started with. Other times I just have one or two sections, no intro or bridge and I might have to write more to finish the song.
The track itself is quite comical and sort of a tragi-comedy. How did the track come to be and what were the inspirations behind it?
Ha, that’s a great way to describe it. I perform monthly at LA’s oldest jazz club, The Baked Potato with Don Randi. Don likes to tell the audience an old hillbilly joke which became the title and inspiration for the song. Lyricist Terri Knudsen and I thought it was funny enough that it could be a whole song on it’s own. We found out after the song had been recorded, the video shot etc. that someone had turned the same joke into a song decades ago.
Terri wrote the lyrics and they sat in my “To Do” pile for six months. One night the inspiration hit and I wrote and tracked the whole song in 90 minutes. I’m no singer but I had an idea for the vocal and I didn’t want to forget it so I did the vocal too, just talk-singing while reading the words. My intention was to play it for Terri and then hire a real vocalist to record it later. Terri loved what I did and played it for a couple of her friends, and I played it for a few friends and people encouraged me to release it as is.
The video was done by Will Faeber. He shot and edited it and was also the one who had the idea for me to be in the jailbird costume, which I thought added a lot of comedy value. He’s helped me with a lot of my tracks as a producer and sounding board, as well as with the video work.
Understandably, the track itself has a groovy nostalgic mid-1950s New York-ish vibe! How do you manage to keep your sound distinct in a music ecosystem where mostly everything appears homogenous?
Wow, thanks very much! I’ve always believed that there’s a staggering amount of musical talent in the world. I appreciate so many different musicians and to be perfectly honest I’m quite intimidated at having my music in the same marketplace as all the people whose music I love. I’m not competitive at all by nature. In a way that could be bad because competition can push people and give them a barometer of how they’re doing. But in the sense of developing my own approach it might have been a helpful trait because from the beginning I’ve always felt that I’d be more successful at my own thing, whatever that was. The real hard part has been finding what that thing or those things are.
Three tracks already under your discography now, what does the future of The DePatie Melt look like?
The next few releases are guitar instrumentals,which is really what I consider my main thing to be. First up is a song called The Place of the Two Ponds. There’s a live version on YouTube with some interesting drone footage but this will be the studio recording I did of it. I’m also planning to release The Viking Princess & The Troll King, which has also been out on YouTube for a while but never been available for streaming or purchase. And I’ve been giving away a download of Paladins’ Song to people who subscribe to my newsletter for a while but I’m going to make that available for streaming and purchase as well.