Self-proclaimed ‘O.C.’ softies take on the world

Adam Griffiths


Playing with The Early November, The Rocket Summer and Nothing Ever Stays

Where? House of Blues Cleveland

When? Saturday at 7 p.m.

How much? $13-15

Playing with Amber Pacific, Monty Are I and Powerspace

Where? Agora Theater

When? May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

How much? $10

“The O.C.” It’s where trust fund babies are bred. It’s the southern Californian community whose residents have done wonders for MTV’s ratings. It’s trendy. It’s expensive.

“It’s actually kind of normal,” said Chris Cron, lead singer for the up-and-coming pop-rock quartet Mˆl‚e who Tuesday released its second album, Devils & Angels.

“It’s just a normal suburban area,” Cron said. “Everyone thinks it’s the coolest place, and maybe it is because I grew up there, but I don’t think so.”

Cron, who does vocals, keyboards and occasionally guitar for the band, grew up with his band mates guitarist/vocalist Ricky Sans and bassist/vocalist Ryan Malloy. Attending junior and senior high school together, they started performing together in 1999 at friends’ houses and high school dances. The trio met their drummer, Mike Nader, four years ago when he was 16, and what today is Mˆl‚e was born.

A piano player since five, Cron said despite the stereotypes Orange County, California carries, their location has inspired their music.

“There’s a lot of music coming out of (Orange County),” he said. “We were big into jazz and swing a while. When No Doubt came out, that was a big influence, and Weezer and power pop.

“I think wherever you have a port, there’s a lot of music coming out of it. A lot of kids want something to do, and music is something to do there.”

The band released its first album, Everyday Behavior, in September 2005, and toured locally to promote it. The indie release has sold almost 15,000 copies, and the band played shows in San Francisco to promote their music.

Mˆl‚e got its first real taste of tour life in summer 2003 when they played 12 days on Warped Tour.

“That tour is the hardest thing we’ve done,” Cron said. “We had no idea what to expect. It was amazing and a nightmare. It makes you aware of what you really have to do to start off.”

Writing for Devils & Angels started around Christmas in 2004, he said. After writing songs while touring in 2005, the band took off the first half of 2006 to begin recording.

Warner Bros., who signed the band after the success of their first album, brought producer Howard Benson of My Chemical Romance and Chris Daughtry fame aboard to help the band finish their sophomore release. Cron said, at first, he was skeptical about Benson’s background and ability to jive with the sound the group was developing.

“We’re a keyboard band, and I wanted someone who could capture that and what we do live,” Cron said. “But he’s really into ’60s and ’70s pop, Steely Dan, Emerson Palmer, stuff like that. He’s a piano player himself, and he got what we were trying to do.”

After label delays and making sure they had chosen the right songs, recording wrapped in August 2006.

“I almost had a nervous breakdown, and I feel I’m pretty level headed,” Cron said. “We really put everything we could into this album. I think the songwriting is the best we’ve done.”

Cron said the band “grew up” on its second major release.

“I think we learned how to write songs better, making them more concise and arrangement-wise,” he said. “This is more what we wanted to do all along. I like the way I sing better on this record. I think we all really grew up.”

Their labors seem to have paid off. Mˆl‚e is currently playing an 11-song set with The Early November and will start up for a second round with Amber Pacific next month.

“We’re seeing more and more kids coming out and singing along,” he said. “I guessed the album leaked online, but I don’t care, as long as people hear it.”

There has been talk about taking the band to England for a set of shows this summer and a possible headline tour this fall, Cron said, but nothing official at this point.

Even as things “keep building up,” he said, Cron doesn’t feel like Mˆl‚e is at a point to claim success just yet.

“We’re a little garage band,” he said. “I don’t feel like we’ve made it, I feel like it’s a process of making it. We’ve gone on the road a bunch, put out a second record, signed to a major label. I guess if you’ve sold a million, you’ve made it, but it’s a gradual process of getting better.”

And as these four O.C. natives work on blowing up and showing the world southern California has more to offer than bronze beauties and yacht clubs, Cron said their music is simply their experiences shared “to make people’s lives better.”

“It’s all us really,” he said. “We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we’ve never really hidden it either.”

Contact ALL correspondent Adam Griffiths at [email protected].