Melanin | via

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Melanin / Chicago, IL

Melanin has been ripping up the Chicago scene for the past year. As they explain in the interview below, they are very much “catchy punk rock” in their sound. But unlike all those soulless punk bands of yesteryear that just had songs about getting dumped and drinking beer, Melanin not only has a lot to say but the musical –  and lyrical – ability to make you want to listen and care.

1) Who is in the band, how long have you been around for, and how would you describe what you’re doing to someone who might not be familiar?

Michael does the singing, Alberto does the drumming, Milo and Thaib on guitars and Noe on bass. At this point we’ve been playing together a little over a year with some time before that writing and coming up with the ideas for this band. It all kind of grew out of an idea for a band that didn’t come to be but turned into something I think we all really enjoy.

We love the influences that come out in the songs we write because as much as we love hardcore and all this harder stuff, catchy punk rock is something we all really love and seem to be really driven by. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re writing very fluidly and always as a very collaborative effort. We’re trying not to sound like the rest of our scene, which isn’t a bad thing, but more of a challenge that the scene in Chicago accepts by pumping out some very unique and very good bands. Maybe like some people have said we’re a better version of the Misfits, but that’s just cause Michael can sing really good.

2) What are you most excited about when it comes to Break Free Fest?

The most exciting thing for important gatherings like Break Free Fest is to feel like we’re not alone in creating. In Chicago, it’s nice because we feel there’s been a boom of inclusive spaces carved out by amazing people, but even they will tell you that things get significantly “whiter” and less exciting than Chicago. It’s not true everywhere exactly and it is awesome to see these like-minded hard-working artists getting together.

We have yet to go out of town together and for some of us it has been a long time so it’s exciting to think of how much more PoC are taking these places to claim for ourselves and assert our importance and our contributions.

3) Talk to me about your local scene/community and some bands or anything else going on that you want to rep: 

Chicago doesn’t have time for posturing and playing around. If you’re genuine and want to get involved with stuff, you will be welcomed, but if it’s just for show or for grandstanding or whatever shallow nonsense you come with, it’s going to be rough for you. For a long time, there’s been a lot of really important organizing coming from some hard-working people, and it shows now that there’s so many new people coming to shows and starting bands and supporting in some way.

For a long time, there was also this lame division of like “South Side shows” (read: black or brown folks) and “North Side shows” (read: white) that seems to have kind of fallen off for the most part because black and brown folks are city wide! And it really is because of those hard-working people starting important events like Black and Brown Punk Show Festival and Fed Up Fest and all the organizing and events that go along with it. We always want to rep all bands we’ve played with, the amazing PoC who have shared their talent with us, all the people that have helped us with shows, recording, tapes, merch, our lives, everything.

Break Free Fest takes place April 26th and 27th at The Rotunda at 40th and Walnut in West Philadelphia; single-day tickets and all-weekend passes to the all-ages event are available here.