Mercy FallMercy Fall
By Dave Schwartz
Photos Courtesy of http://www.mercyfall.com/

Mercy Fall is a band that deserves to be known. Since their debut, "For the Taken," out on Atlantic records since last spring, the band has racked up significant miles opening for the likes of Seether, Flywheel, Shinedown and Crossfade. Oddly enough, almost nonstop touring might be one of the few "normal" things makes Mercy Fallís story so interesting.

Letís start with the band hailing from that music hub of the west, Flagstaff Arizona. Yes, it didnít take Mercy Fall long to realize that they were at the beginning of a long road that would first take them to New York City and eventually to your CD player. It should be obvious that this band has grown accustomed to doing things the hard way-- the good news is they persevered.

Vocalist Nate Stone called in from the road. They were traveling through the Southeast on their way to yet another gig. Counting on cell phone reception I didnít waste any time getting down to business.

DB: Congratulations on the record. I picked it up at the P.O. Box a few days ago while running errands. I popped it into the CD player and the wife immediately fell in love with it. Youíve got a sound that is immediately identifiable, it doesnít have to grow on you.

Stone: Thatís cool. Thatís great to hear.

DB: So what can you tell me about the record?

Stone: Thereís a lot into that question! I guess itís been crazy the last four-and-a-half years. A lot of these songs were written over that period of time. The first single, "I Got Life," was written in 2001. It was only the third song we had ever wrote. So that song has been around for so long and been through so many different changes. Itís interesting that itís out now and finally being available. Thereís been such a wide spectrum of emotions that weíve gone through.

DB: I understand that youíve been sending out demos since 2002. Did you follow the path of most bands were you put the band together, write and record some music, send out demos?

Stone: We never actually put anything out. We had kind of a strange approach. Every time we would finish a demo something would come up. We wouldnít be able to put our music out. We would get a manager and they would want us to wait. He wanted us to become the best band we could and then present ourselves at that point. That way the first time people heard us there would be a good impression rather than putting out mediocre music and showing our growth over time. We decided that was a good idea so we spent our time hanging out in the rehearsal space writing music, recording and playing shows locally. For four-and-a-half years we never put out anything! So when we finally put out this first record it was like, itís about time!

DB: I would imagine that in hanging at your rehearsal space you must have written quite a few songs.

Stone: I think we recorded like 30 songs over the course of four years and never put it out. It was frustrating. Especially since thatís really how you connect with the fans. If people see you live thatís one thing, but itís something else to take the record home and listen to it. And then they come back the next time singing the songs. We never had that happen. So itís really exciting that the record is finally out.

DB: Tell me the story of how you got signed. What finally pushed the band over the top and got you noticed?

Stone: That was a real long process. We didnít really go out to a lot of people. One of the big things we did was go to New York. That was back in 2002. The whole purpose for the trip was to meet people and to get into the business on some level because in our hometown, Flagstaff, thereís nothing; thereís no way to really get discovered. So we went to New York and ended up recording a demo. That demo landed in the hands of Lee, our A/R guy who signed us, he was the first A/R guy we met, he was working at Elektra at the time.

Thatís a tragic story too! Lee pushed our band through a list of people and eventually our name landed on the top. The president of Elektra wanted to sign us. And then, suddenly, Elektra folded. They went out of business like the next week. That was really strange. So we just kept rehearsing and writing more music and kept the door open with Lee because we didnít know if he was going to get another job, was out of a job or what was going to happen. We didnít rally have any other options at the time. He ended up moving to Atlantic and doing well over there. Once he was in position he called us up and said he wanted to sign us to Atlantic. So we didnít really do the whole dog and pony show, we found one guy and stuck with it.

Mercy FallDB: Getting signed can be quite challenging for any band. There are certainly a lot of baby bands out there that are sitting in, letís say Des Moines, and wondering how theyíre ever going to meet an A/R person. Itís sounds like you did the right thing by heading to one of the coasts, but I am surprised that you picked New York, weíre certainly closer to LA.

Stone: We went to NYC because early on we made a contact. I was sending out demos to attorneys and managers just trying to get a feel if we were even on to something. We wondered if we had the talent or if we just in a hole and didnít know what was going on. So we met an attorney, in fact sheís still our attorney today. She was working for a large entertainment firm at the time. When we met her we felt we had a good connection so we decided to go to New York instead of L.A.

DB: Tell me about your first video, "Iíve Got Life."

Stone: That was kind of a whirlwind experience. We started talking to people at Atlantic and we told them what we wanted. We were really big fans of "Judith" from A Perfect Circle. I love that band in general. Thereís a simplicity behind it; thereís nothing pretentious about it. We just wanted to make a video that showed off the band and our live show. We didnít want people walking away thinking anything other than, "Wow, that band is cool!"

So we told the label what we wanted and they came back with this director, Darren Doane. We checked out some of his stuff and it was like, perfect, heís the guy! We immediately went out to L.A., shot the video in six hours. I blew my voice out because I sang along with every take. Let me tell you, itís was a bad move to try and sing over the play back!

DB: Your bio really calls attention to your opinion on music, melody and song. It also mentions the mysticism of finding lyrics and how they drift through your head. Letís talk about that for a moment.

Stone: When we first started listening to music it was the early '90s. Stuff like Sound Garden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, it all was the greatest stuff-- that music changed my life. Itís amazing what that music accomplished and how it made people feel. The lyrics behind the songs with their big melodies, if you heard a great song you remembered the melody and later, if you looked through the lyrics, you were just blown away because there was just so many levels to those songs.

Itís seems like a lot of that is disappearing from modern music. For us, lyrics are so important and we want to have layers to the music. The song is the most important thing. We all know that a classic song lives forever and we feel that weíre competing against that or maybe not competing, but rather we want to be a part of that. Itís all about lyrics, itís all about melody and itís all about creating music that people will still be listening to in ten years. We have a platform to say something. I want to say something. I donít know if Iím going to be right but I will say something.

DB: I agree that it is important to have a voice. Reflecting on what you said, I spent a lot of years in bands myself and it was often the hardest sell in the world to convince the guitar player that no one would be walking away from one of our shows humming the guitar solo. I wasnít intended to be an attack on their ability but more so an understanding of what the listener gravitates to. It was and always would be about the song as a whole.

Stone: Yeah, I agree. I think that from early on we all had the same goals as far as music. We have a great understanding of each other and of our music. Itís funny how the guitar solo issue never really came up. We have been blessed. Weíre all on the same page and it is all about the song. Itís not about any one of us, itís about all of us. Thatís what makes writing so easy-- we donít argue about our parts.

DB: It sounds like this has a lot to do with trust and respect too. It sounds like the person that youíre bouncing your idea off of really does have the final product in mind. And speaking of trust, you opened the door to your producer and brought him in as an unofficial member of the band.

Stone: We were given several producers to choose from. Howard Benson came to the top right away. His whole perspective of songs being emotional events was right in line with ours so he was the obvious choice.

Mercy FallBut as far as the fifth perspective, thatís another thing that we talked about early on in this band. Itís hard to be critical of yourself. Itís too easy to get locked into a dark place and not really realize what is going on. Itís about having the proper objectivity. So whatís wrong with getting some help from people who know?

DB: And now the record is out and youíve become a road band. Did you look forward to getting out on the road knowing full well that you could be out for 12 to 18 months?

Stone: We booked six months advance of the release and the tour has continued from there. This is why weíre a band. I mean, making the record was a great part of it, but playing the music is why weíre a band. We love to have to opportunity to connect with people and share our art. Itís amazing.

Mercy Fall continues to be on tour. They will be out with Crossfade through September. If you get a chance, it is worth your while to catch this band-- if not on this tour, there will be others. I want to wish the best of luck to Nate Stone and the rest of Mercy Fall.

Donít forget to check out their Web site!   http://www.mercyfall.com/

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