Mergence Discusses New Album, Recording with Bob Hoag, and Local Shows
Mergence, a Tempe band that "merges" blues, indie, and rock, is gearing up for the release of their debut album Those Young Vibrant Young People are Dead. This album will be available at their CD release party February 4 at the Sail Inn. What Laura Says, Black Carl, Catfish Mustache, and The Diadem are also playing.
We recently caught up with Mergence's singer, Adam Bruce to talk about the new album, Flying Blanket Studios, and local music.
Up On The Sun: Tell me about Those Vibrant Young People are Dead. What are the themes? What do you want listeners to take away from it?
Adam Bruce: When we make a record, we try to convey our life experiences sonically. Some of it is intense emotional stuff that you can't really place, but it's stuff that we've definitely felt. In modern times it seems like people can be lead along to believe what they're supposed to believe and listen to the music they're supposed to listen to. I would say feelings and emotions that are true and real among humans, that's what we're expressing.
UOTS: Why did you decide to record parts of the album live?
AB: Everything was recorded at Flying Blanket Studios with Bob Hoag in Mesa. Four of the tracks were completely live: one take live vocals, everything. The others we recorded as a band to get [our] energy and the vocals were laid after. We just wanted to capture who we were, [and] take a picture of what we sounded like, and just make a record. In my mind, a record is just a record of who you are sound-wise. We'd felt really passionate about playing as a group. [Hoag] used a lot of old, vintage gear, so he had the ability to make it sound really good. We figured we'd take advantage of that, save ourselves all the analyzing, and put our passion into it and just let it be captured. We weren't trying to make anything better than what we were.
UOTS: What was it like working with Bob Hoag?
AB: I loved it. It's like playing with toys with one of your friends when you're 10-years-old. [We were] just exploring sound, creativity, music, and being passionate. Everyone was throwing around passionate ideas and I really enjoyed working with him. I think he's got a really good mind and if you're gonna work with somebody and trust them with your art, it's really good to know that they know more about sound than you do. He's really passionate about his gear and what he uses. He takes it very seriously and he's not just in it for money. It's like how we feel about our music, that's why we chose him. He wants to put his stamp on the world, and his way of doing that is making records. We're the same, we want to leave our mark and make a record that represents the best that we can be. Bob definitely puts his heart into it. I'd definitely work with him again.
UOTS: What's the story behind "At the Salt" and why did you choose it as the closing song of the album?
AB: When I write lyrics I'm improvising with the music and whatever words feel good, I'll just jot 'em down. All the things I was describing were a present moment at the Salt River at five in the morning before sunrise. Sometimes I'll go there to meditate or be at peace. I got up early and went down there, and described what was going on. Some guy in camouflage walked out of the bushes and didn't say anything, he just kept walking. He had something going on, like he knew something we didn't, it was really interesting.
Now [the band] gets this deep nostalgic feeling from that. Someone I know that's close to me told me, "I get this feeling of the thoughts that were going through my head before my motorcycle accident. Right before I crashed, I felt like I almost wanted to crash, and that song reminded me of that," it was weird. We get this feeling. We all go back in time as a band when we perform it live. We chose to close the album [with this song] because it's like a final climax, it's got an intense, but peaceful vibe.
UOTS: You mentioned improvisation. Will your live performances be different from the album?
AB: Any time there's a guitar solo that's long, like "At the Salt" or any bluesier stuff, we'll improvise on that. We're not a jam band by any means. Same with vocals, sometimes I'll just tweak around a little, but we pretty much sound like the CD, since the CD was recorded live. "The Road" was improvised in the studio and wasn't ready to record, but we had just written it a week before and I hadn't even written vocals or lyrics for it. We were in the studio and we really wanted to try this song. We just got into it and ended up keeping it on the record. That's why we wanted to record it live. We wanted to capture something real.
UOTS: How did you select the bands for your CD release show?
AB: Pretty much just people that we we're friends [with], we really respect them. What Laura [Says], Black Carl, Catfish Mustache, they're really good people. Beyond that we really respect all their music and feel like Eric and Tania from Catfish Mustache [are] so humble and talented. Same with Black Carl and What Laura Says...[they] mesh well with our music, but we're all very different.
UOTS: It's a great line up. I saw on your Myspace that you define the word "mergence". Is there a story behind that aside from your mergence of musical styles?
AB: I wanted to have a band name that we'd never grow out of. Something that we could believe really meant what we were doing. If you read into mergence, one of the main things is to take a bunch of different ideas, colors, or sounds and combine them to make one thing. I feel like with music, that's exactly what we're trying to do. Our job is to be together and work together to create one thing. I feel like it would always help me remember that this is different from playing solo. It's like a marriage or a partnership, you're in it together and you're creating something that you can only do with that group. It's a sum of all parts and not necessarily how fancy or cool one part is. We look at the sum of everything and serve the song. We're still merging styles and that's what people seem to take from it. That's the reason we picked it.
UOTS: How do you feel about The College Times saying you're "next on the list to make it big"?
AB: I dunno, I think that's weird. We just don't think like that. "Make it big," what does that mean? When I read stuff like that it makes me feel weird, like I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It's not a bad thing, but we just feel like we're not trying to sneak through any shortcuts or do anything to get to some level. We're just trying to create and we want to make the best records, make the best art, and play the best shows we can. Whatever's gonna come our way as a result of our hard work and passion is great, we'll fucking take it.
When people say "make it big," what does that mean? Like Justin Bieber? Does that mean big like Kings of Leon? I don't know if I'd want to do that. I love to spread my music, but I don't think like that. I can't think like that. It doesn't contribute to art. If I was thinking like that, I would just write music according to their formula to get there as quick as I could.
UOTS: So, you're not out there to make underage girls scream?
AB: No, I've already done that enough, I'm 28-years-old.
UOTS: What are your plans for 2011? Obviously not following Kings of Leon or Bieber's example.
AB: Not that there's anything wrong with that. I don't want to diss on them or anything and I'm sure they're great. We're gonna be playing a lot of shows. We feel like that's what we're here to do. We're gonna be writing more music and trying to get it exposure. People around town have been helping us a lot, like Kinch, [they] share a lot of avenues with us. This year we plan on continuing what we've been doing and to write great music. We definitely don't want to repeat history and do the same thing again.
UOTS: Speaking of Kinch, I saw that you guys [played at their final] residency show.
AB: They've been really good to us. Kinch is one of those bands that believes in what we do. You just work hard and make your art. They've been pretty successful doing that and they reached out to us and realized we were trying to do the same thing. They've been really cool.
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