Press On

Remember the Factory Press? Calla and Mercova do

For Gannon, who was playing bass in the Falcon Project at the time and again attending UNT as a music composition student, Mercova provided another outlet for his muse. "I was writing songs that weren't appropriate for school use, but I didn't feel like I could put together the effort to start something on my own," Gannon says. "Playing with Falcon was good because it put me back into playing in a live environment, but I found that I had a hunger to play these songs I was writing. When Mercova asked me to join, it wasn't just me playing a role in a band, it was for me to come in with all my ideas, and this seemed like the perfect project for that."

Mercova sounds like a tweaked Portishead, or a creepier take on To Rocco Rot. A melody is fused from the ripples of fractured beats and programmed textures, which are anchored by structures and sound formations that are directly informed by Gannon's academic studies. "What's carried over from school for me and what I've been trying to explore is not just replacing acoustic instruments with the functionality of electronic instruments," Gannon explains. "If you have a drum machine, the beauty of electronic music is not just replacing a drum kit with electronic-generated sounds, but looking at hitting the drum, the physicality of it, and asking yourself, 'OK, how does that sound if it's metal trash can lids instead of a drum?' It's taking paper being crumbled in a microphone and making it sound like exploding, sparking fire, and how can that be used as a bass drum. That's the freedom that electronics allow you. So I'm trying to push those experiments in a very conventional song format."

After spending a year exclusively as a home-recording project, Mercova first performed live last October. Like Calla, its evolutions have come rather quickly since then. Piersall no longer plays in the band, and Young entered the fold. "Once we played live we just busted open," Gere says. "We just encountered more ideas. We have two different things. The live show is totally different than how we compose. We write a song, and then we start thinking about how we're going to interpret it live after it's been shaped and formed at home."

Calla’s members will be playing in Texas for the first time since they moved to New York in 1995.
Scott Gries
Calla’s members will be playing in Texas for the first time since they moved to New York in 1995.

The live package has been greatly improved by Young's presence, which lends Mercova's eccentric beat package a more organic timbre. Gannon and Gere had toyed with the idea of incorporating a live drummer into Mercova when Young literally walked into the equation. "It had iced over for a couple of days," Gere recalls, "And we had been holed up in Pete's house working on a new song. We finished it and we were sitting there thinking, 'Live drums on this would be cool,' though we had no idea who we could ask to sit in with us. But it was really late, and I wanted to go home. So I grabbed my things and open the door, and Andy was walking down the street. I have never seen Andy walk down Pete's street before. I had never seen him walking. He's always in his car. And I dropped my bags and got Peter, and he asked Andy in. So Andy comes in and we started talking, and we hadn't said anything to him yet, and he says, 'You know I really like what you're doing, and I don't know what you have in mind for Mercova, but I really think live drums would be really cool. I've really been wanting to branch out into electronic music.' He said all the right things, so we gave it a try, and it fit together well."

That's one of those stories that seems too contrived to be true. Sheer luck or not, Mercova isn't about to start relying on serendipity to achieve its goals. "Lately, I keep opening my door looking for a record deal to be walking down the street," Gannon jokes. "But I don't think lightning strikes twice."

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