When Melismatics frontman Ryan Smith first joined the ranks as a songwriter at publisher Iowa Homegrown Music earlier this decade, he'd turn in "half stuff that was weird and another half that was pop

When Melismatics frontman Ryan Smith first joined the ranks as a songwriter at publisher Iowa Homegrown Music earlier this decade, he'd turn in "half stuff that was weird and another half that was pop-rock. They said to me, 'You got to write the pop songs first. After that, do whatever you want.' For a while I had to think like that."

Nowadays, Smith has a number of other filters for his songwriting. The rest of the four-piece band, for instance, which has been together in its current incarnation since late 2005 with bassist Mark Wade, guitarist/vocalist Pony and drummer Ron Caron.

Of late, a more famous friend has helped the group suss out its arena-sized modern rock sound and songs. Producer John Fields (Switchfoot, the Jonas Brothers), who picked up on the band at this year's South by Southwest, had his hands all over "Acid Test," the Twin Cities-based band's fourth album, due Sept. 30.

According to band manager Mike Buenting, formerly of booking agency Bull Productions, the band sold out of its 2000 debut, "Post Modern Rock," after two pressings of 1,000; "New Infection" has sold between 2,500 and 3,000 copies, and "Turn It On" has moved roughly 2,500.

Particularly with the added, prominent vocals from Pony and the polished production from Fields, the Melismatics are poised to reach an even wider audience with "Acid Test," to be distributed by Koch. That new material will be put to the "Test" as the group takes the stage July 30 at Chicago's Double Door, where it will be competing in the Lollapalooza Last Band Standing competition, having garnered thousands of peer votes.

Beyond Melismatics synchs in MTV's "Laguna Beach" and NBC's "Windfall," Smith's songs have been routinely adapted for opportunities from Iowa Homegrown Music and Chicago-based agency Leo Burnett. Additionally, the band will be working closely with Jim Baltutis, formerly of Warner Bros., and his new company Global Brand Media on merchandising/fashion crossover opportunities, as well as trying to find key sponsorships while it is on the road.

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