By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On Sep. 18, 2020, Las Vegas-based “sad bastard power pop” trio Mercy Music will release their third full-length album ‘Nothing In The Dark,’ produced by Cameron Webb (Alkaline Trio, Motörhead) via Wiretap Records (United States) and SBAM Records (Europe).
The band already unveiled two singles from the LP, “Living With A Ghost” and “Tuesday,” a welcome follow-up to their 2018 album ‘Until The End Of Your World,’ which spawned hits like “Song For” and “Hang Your Head.”
Composed of frontman Brendan Scholz, bassist Jarred Cooper and drummer Rye Martin, Mercy Music have shared stages with acts like Face To Face, Flogging Molly, Against Me! and The Offspring.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Scholz about ‘Nothing In The Dark’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was it like making your new album ‘Nothing In The Dark’?
Brendan Scholz – Making ‘Nothing In The Dark’ was a great experience. It was our first time working with Cameron Webb. We went out to his studio, Maple, in Orange County. I think we both went into it with the same goal in mind, which was finding a happy medium between us live and something that was still a studio record. I think we came as close as we could. We tracked the entire record in five days. Everything is played, nothing is flown from place-to-place. It definitely has a more raw, rough-around-the-edges feel than our previous records and I like that. I feel it captures us. To me, the beauty of what Cameron does is really capturing the individual bands he records, brings out the best in them. Bayside sounds like Bayside, Alkaline Trio sounds like Alkaline Trio and so on and so forth.
Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Living With A Ghost” as the first single?
Brendan Scholz – “Living With A Ghost” was Jarred’s favorite song on the record. Rob from Wiretap was also into it. I have a strong tendency to overthink everything to death, so I just followed their lead on it. It’s probably the most catchy/sing-alongy type song on the record.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Las Vegas to someone who has never been there before?
Brendan Scholz – There are definitely two sides to this city. There is the tourist side and the local. Locally, it’s much like any other small town. Emphasis on “small,” something that is often overlooked. The only difference is we’re open all the time. (Laughs) Pre-COVID, I loved being able to get groceries at 2 a.m.. We also have a tight-knit, thriving scene that I feel holds its own on the West Coast. As for the tourist side, it’s everything you see and more in the movies and advertisements.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Brendan Scholz – You lose sight of it after being in a band most of your life, but when you stop and take a moment to be grateful, it’s simply just exciting to still be able to play for people night-after-night and make records. It’s a privilege. The COVID situation has certainly helped put this into perspective.
Music Bugle – What are some challenges of being a trio?
Brendan Scholz – I’ve always kinda looked at being a trio as having an advantage, especially from an independent standpoint. Less overhead, less equipment, less drama, etc.. I mean, there are times I wish we had a second guitar player to cover some things live, but honestly, I feel we cover it pretty damn well. We take pride in being one of the tightest, fullest-sounding trios out there. I also consider myself the luckiest dude to have Rye and Jarred playing in the band. They’re unfuckwithable.
Music Bugle – How does your new music compare to ‘Until The End Of Your World’?
Brendan Scholz – With this record, I went in wanting it to be the most cohesive-sounding one we’ve done. Our two previous records have some songs that stray from the path. The subject matter is definitely similar because I write about life as it happens. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, while still sounding like us. I believe we did that. I think the longest song on the record is still under three minutes and 30 seconds. (Laughs)
Music Bugle – What has been your most memorable moment while on the road?
Brendan Scholz – Our last tour and first trip to Europe before COVID was probably the most memorable tour to date. We made lifelong friends with our tour mates Movin In Stereo from Sweden. There were so many funny situations, including, but not limited to – hand-drawn maps to places that don’t exist, heroin spoons, vegetarian pizza, getting stuck in the Amsterdam Airport for 48 hours and bath time. It was also really amazing to be in countries we’d never been before and have no distribution, yet still have people singing along to our songs. That’s the beauty of the internet, I suppose. Huge props and thank you to The Booze Cruise Festival for bringing us over.
Music Bugle – What inspired your band name?
Brendan Scholz – Mercy Music initially started as solo project out of necessity, because my previous project had kind of disbanded. I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life and I just needed to get out and play. I wanted things to turn around or catch a break. Mercy seemed like it fit the theme of my life at that moment. It popped in my head and I went with it. I know it’s not the most clever or original name, but it is what it is at this point.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Brendan Scholz – It’s a double-edge sword. Never has it been easier to get your music directly to a large audience without the help of a label, etc., but with that comes over-saturation, making it harder to stand out or be heard.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Brendan Scholz – I thankfully have been able to keep my day job. Rye lost his apartment, day job, etc.. Jarred has been furloughed and they’re both still on unemployment, so it’s definitely sucked. We’ve only seen each other a few times since lockdown, because we’re trying to be as safe and responsible as possible because we all have lives and families, etc.. We’ve made it a point to be active in other ways though, doing cover videos and livestreams, etc.. It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing.