Nate Stone: vocals * Jeff Lusby: Guitar
Kieran Smiley: Bass * Ethan Rea: Drums
"FOR THE TAKEN" is a provocative and powerful debut for the Flagstaff, Arizona-based foursome known as Mercy Fall. Marked by expansive sonic strength and unique lyrical expression, the album traverses a vast terrain of emotions, veering from brooding atmospherics to rousing heavy rock dynamism, all marked by singer Nate Stone?s distinctive vocal range and phrasing. With "FOR THE TAKEN" - produced by Howard Benson (P.O.D., My Chemical Romance, Cold) - Mercy Fall has crafted a work of extraordinary potency, demonstrating rock?s remarkable capacity for examining and exploring the human condition.
"Nowadays most rock songs are about a big melody and a big hook, but if you take them apart, you?re left to wonder what they?re actually about," says Stone. "We want to bring back the idea that music can say something real."
From the start, Mercy Fall?s goal was to create something passionate and honest. Though the members proudly have what Smiley describes as "schizophrenic tastes" -from jazz to blues, folk to hardcore - they all share a love of mid-Nineties alternative rock outfits like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
"Those bands all made really meaningful music that I think will last a long time," Smiley says. "Underneath the distortion and the drums and the darkness, there are a lot of really beautiful melodies. That?s what we want out of our songs, to go beyond the explosive sonics of what rock has to be."
Between 2002 and 2004, Mercy Fall honed their sound and vision, recording a series of demos that eventually led to their signing with Atlantic. From there, Mercy Fall headed to Los Angeles, where they spent spring 2005 in the studio, with producer Howard Benson.
"We?re pretty willing to have a fifth perspective and try other ideas," says Lusby. "We think that?s the best way to make our art. We never want to limit our songs."
Those songs reflect what Smiley describes as "the etherealness and mysticism and creative chaos that?s behind art and music." Without diminishing the focus and effort the band put into their craft, Mercy Fall see themselves as conduits for the songs, giving flesh to ideas and music born on another plane.
"Without fail, a certain line or word will pop out that we all latch onto," Stone says, "then the song builds itself around that. It really feels like we?re pulling it from somewhere else. It?s like the music is trying to guide us."
"We look at it as receiving transmissions from somewhere," says Lusby. "As they come across the divide, they get kind of jumbled and it?s our job to put ?em together in the way that whoever it is that made ?em in the beginning wanted them."
Tracks like "Hush" and "Here I Am" dance with a wide span of ideas, from the inscrutable interconnectedness of the universe to the opposing forces in nature that define our lives - tension and release, answers and mysteries, love and fear. "I Got Life," the album?s razor-riffed first single, is perhaps the definitive Mercy Fall song in its expression of strength through positivity.
With "FOR THE TAKEN" ready for release, the band is energized by the prospect of returning to what they consider their greatest strength - putting their music across in a live setting. "The live show is what it?s all about," Stone enthuses. "That?s where we connect with people. I?m just so excited to get out there and start making new fans.
"It?s not just about connecting with fans," Smiley notes. "Playing live also gives us a chance to connect with ourselves. Sometimes when we?re playing we just kind of check out - we just leave our bodies. Ideally, we want to take the audience with us whenever that happens." Having begun their quest for answers, Mercy Fall looks forward to inspiring similar philosophical inquiries in those who care to join them on the journey.