Mercy Brown is an American metal band from Spokane, Washington. Formed in 2010, the current lineup includes Sera Hatchett (vocals), Chris Tanaka Canwell (guitar), Josh Schultz (bass), and Lunden Herndon (drums). Complimented by a vast array of influences, Mercy Brown is known for their dynamic musical presence, ranging from blackened death metal, to punk rock, to dark ambiance. The diverse nature of their music has allowed them to play shows with various acts. As of currently they have released their Self-Titled debut album, so they have been partaking in showcases here and there, with further plans to write and record new music and play more shows and tour as well. Three out of the four members Chris Tanka Canwell (guitar), Josh Schultz (bass) and Lunden Herndon (drums) discusses their debut release and further activity.
1. So what can you tell me about this new album?
Josh: It’s a pretty diverse collection of songs. It’s very heavy at first, then weaves it’s way in and out of many different styles. It’s definitely a metal album throughout but there are a handful of mellow, almost ambient parts, as well as some thrash/punk riffs and a number of groove-laden sequences. Very dynamic but at the same, every song was written to compliment each other on the album and create a storyline-like flow. It definitely has a darker vibe to it, with lots of dissonance.
Lunden: The other three wrote everything, I just had to practice my ass off so that I could actually play it.
2. With your new album you decided to go Self-Titled. Do you feel that's a big statement? Band's tend to name their albums self-titled when they feel it's indicative of the sound they've been trying to craft. Do you feel this is the sound you've been trying to achieve with the band?
Josh: There wasn’t necessarily a central theme we followed or targeted when writing the album, musically anyways,other than just trying to create the best album we possibly could. I think making it self-titled simplified it and, since it is our first full length album, let’s everyone know that this is what we sound like.We’re very proud of what each person brings to the band, as far as influences and writing ability, and how it allows us to create such a diverse collection of songs. Presenting all these songs in a such a way that every song has it’s perfect place on the album, was primarily the sound we were trying to achieve, I suppose. We’ve never really had a specific target sound we try to write to. We just play to our influences at the time and let the songs come together on their own.
3. Why did you want to release "Red and Yellow", "In the Dark", "One (The Edge Of)", and "News Complaint" as your assortment of singles and why 4 songs?
Josh: We wanted to showcase a handful of songs that we all really enjoyed the most and that we thought were our strongest of the bunch. These four fit well, are fairly accessible, and also showed the kind of musical dynamic that’s represented on the album.
Chris: We didn’t put too much thought into which song would be the single, so it made more sense once the album was finished to put a few different ones out to cover the different styles that are on the album.
4. If you had to pick a favorite out of these foursome which would you pick and why? If you couldn't pick out of these four and had to pick from the other selection of songs, which would you pick as a favorite and why?
Josh: My personal favorite tends to bounce around between different tracks. Of the four released songs, my favorite would probably be ‘In the Dark’ right now. I really like the heavy, driving feel of the verses as well as the vocal melody and chord progression during the bridge. It’s one of my favorite parts on the album. My favorite track on the entire album would probably be ‘To the Sea’. The entire guitar part and the dynamic and climatic ending of the song really put me in a motivated and strong mood. This song kept me inspired and motivated to keep pushing through the album creation process and know that it would payoff in the end.
Lunden: Either “News Complaint” or “In The Dark”. “News” is nice and thrashy while “In The Dark” is just really heavy and really difficult to play so it shows what we’re capable of on our instruments.
Chris: I really like the way that “One” turned out. We struggled with the arrangement for a long time and then all of a sudden it all came together pretty quickly and naturally.
Josh: For me it was just to be create the best album we could and make something that I would love to listen to on a daily basis and be able to be inspired and motivated by the final product. When I was younger and first heard albums that I really loved, start to finish, I had always wanted to be able to create something like that. And I think we did!
6. Did you use any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?
Josh: No, everything was pretty straight forward. Guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. We created ambient effects for some song transitions using a bunch of guitar and bass pedals and then finding some miscellaneous sound clips and samples to add to it, but that was really the only thing different we did that was exclusive to this album.
Chris: The dialogue samples were new, but everything else was the same as on our EP. Most of the strange sounding stuff is just us turning our amps up loud and experimenting with mic positions.
7. When did you start writing for this album?
Josh: Well some of the songs on the album are some of the first songs we ever wrote (Birds, Red and Yellow) so you could say we started writing the day we formed. But we started actually focusing the album creation process shortly after our EP came out in 2012. So the last 2-3 years have been primarily focused on this album.
Chris: One of the riffs at the end of the album I wrote when I was in high school and we finally worked it into a song! Most of it was written in 2013-14 though.
8. Did you feel any pressure whatsoever for this album, whether it'd be writing for it or getting it released or hearing everyone's thoughts was there any type of pressure?
Josh: I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to help get this album done to the best of our ability and really focus on making it great. Since everything was self produced, recorded, and mixed, it made the pressure that much higher. I was never concerned about external expectations, but my own personal expectations really caused me to agonize and stress out more than I ever have before. But it was all completely worth it!
Chris: All of the stuff that went into the production of the album after we were done tracking was miserable and demoralizing, but I put as much into it as I possibly could so I feel like it was worth it! I didn’t think that it would be heard by as many people as it has so there wasn’t as much pressure in that aspect, but finishing the product so that we could move on as a band was totally stressful.
9. How do you think the vibe in the studio had gone for everyone?
Josh: Most of the album was written in the studio, so the studio vibe was pretty much the only vibe during the recording process. I thought the vibe was good. As mentioned before, I had piled a ton of pressure on myself so it was very stressful. However, at the same time, I knew that the whole process was part of me personally achieving one of my ultimate life goals, so I tried to take it all in and really enjoy every aspect of it.
Chris: It was a very dark vibe! We could have had a bit more fun but I don’t think the songs would have turned out as well as they did.
10. How does the album's artwork relate to the music on the album?
Josh: The artist, Scott Shellhamer, based it on the Mercy Brown vampire incident story (which is where our name came from as well), and focused on the medical aspect of the tuberculosis ordeal that was present at the time. He has a very unique and dark style to his artwork and it really fit the musical vibe well.
Lunden: I think the artwork is badass, so it fit the album.
11. Who was the one behind producing this album and what was it like working alongside them?
Josh: We self-produced it at Chris’ studio, so we were all part of the writing/production process. Chris and I engineered the recording process and Chris mixed the album.
12. Have you already gone ahead and written any new material for a follow-up release or is it too soon for that?
Josh: We all individually have our own riffs and ideas in our minds and some of that will come out when were all jamming together, however we haven’t started writing or putting together new songs yet.
Lunden: I’ve been tinkering with some grooves on my own and try to throw them in as fills or flesh them out when we’re warming up or jamming during practice.
13. Where did the idea for the name Mercy Brown come from? Is that an actual person's name or just a name you made up?
Chris: It’s an actual person; Sera stumbled upon her when we were trying to come up with a band name.
14. How would you describe your music to someone who may have never heard your music style beforehand?
Josh: It’s hard because there are so many different subgenres of metal and rock and a lot of people like to be as precise as possible when labeling their sound. I usually just tell people were a metal band with a ton of dynamic.
Lunden: “Encompassing Metal” should be a genre since we don’t follow any one sound.
15. What can the fans expect to see from you in the future?
Josh: Continually playing shows and writing new music and DESTROYING EVERYTHING! We’ll keep going as long as we all still wanna play music and have fun doing it.
Lunden: More power, harder playing, bigger shows. I’m in this for the long run.
16. Is that your final answer?