It”s always nice to sometimes shut off all the loud music and delve into some downtempo tunes. MASON MERCER is a man who understands it perfectly, that’s why he’s decided to go outside his hardcore punk projects and dust off some of his creative passions. His new release “God’s Creatures” came out on June 9th and I am very pleased to give you the full stream of the record, along with my extensive interview revealing the real face of MASON MERCER.
Hey Mason! How’s the tour going? How are the rest of the guys from FREE AT LAST and what are your hopes for the rest of the trek?
So far tour has been really awesome. The shows have all been with great bands that also fit our style, we’ve got to swim at the beach twice and our van hasn’t broken down yet (so far every FAL tour we’ve ever been has had at least one van breakdown). The not so glamorous side includes 10 people in a van with no air conditioning in the sexy 90 degree+ humid Southern temperatures
For the rest of the trek, I hope to keep finding places to swim, and friendly local punks to join us! I hope we can make just enough money to cover the fuel to get to the shows. I hope our relationships in the van continue to grow, and I hope to finish some of these books I brought with me.
Can you tell us more about how the band formed and how it relates to FOCUSEDxMINDS and your other projects?
FREE AT LAST formed in my brother Chandler’s bedroom at my parents’ house. I was living there at the time so to join the band and practice all I had to do was walk across the hall. FAL started as an attempt to bring some fiery youth crew to Missouri. It was originally called NEVER MEANT, and then changed to FREE AT LAST, along with some member changes (including me joining the band). The whole journey of the band has been unbelievable every step of the way. In the beginning I was stoked out of my mind to get to get to play a fest 3 hours away in St. Louis, now we travel all over the country and I can’t believe we get to do this, talk about a dream come true. I’m just so grateful and awestruck.
During our fall tour in 2013, our bass player at the time got asked to fill on for FOCUSED x MIND’s Canadian/American tour. Due to work obligations he was unable to do it, and at the time I hadn’t been to canada so I jumped on the opportunity and a few days later was on a plane to Milwaukee to play for FOCUSED MINDS. The tour went great and there was a lot of chemistry between the rest of the band and me, so I joined the band and we have got to do so much since that moment including touring Europe!
Awesome! Are there some hot news or exciting plans for the band coming up later this year? New recordings, or another European tour perhaps?
FREE AT LAST has a lot of new music written we are recording in September and will be releasing in the near future. We are playing a pretty sick fest this December and then lots more touring!
FOCUSED MINDS is recording a new seven inch in Seattle this fall and we will tour off that once it is released.
Would absolutely love to get back to Europe with either band next year!
By the way, how do you recall touring abroad? What did you learn from your European adventure?
FOCUSED MINDS did a European tour last summer and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Having someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you sing along or stage dive to your band is one of the most poignant things to happen to me in my music career. the shows were incredible, the people at the shows demonstrated hospitality that was humbling and challenged me to be more accommodating myself.
The massive scope of the operation created the such flavorful adventures that I can’t believe I survived.
I learned so much. I saw how overestimated the influence of vastly different cultures on the human being is. Everyone I met I could relate to and we were basically the same. People are people all over the globe, culture is just flavor, not a substance altering ingredient.
I learned a lot about self-reliance, and became a lot more confident in myself. The logistics of the tour were pretty wild, and I had to do things like fly from Hungary to France by myself and meet our vocalist (john) at this obscure bus stop in the middle of Paris with no cell service and some good old fashioned tentative planning. john and I had to figure out how to get from France to Germany. In Germany I had to rent a bass in Hamburg and make arrangements to return the bass in Berlin. It was just all over the place, but it all worked out. Every last bit of it. That seriously gave me a lot more faith in myself.
Playing shows all over Europe was never something I thought would happen to me, and I still sit in bed sometimes and just feel absolutely dumbfounded and blessed to have got to take part in that. It’s amazing how fiddling around on a guitar in your bedroom when you are young can eventually take you all over the world. Music is a potent thing, a little drop here or there, and you never know what will sprout.
Ok Mason, let’s leave the hardcore stuff behind and let’s learn more about your solo project. The “God’s Creatures” is finally out! How does it feel?
Every time I put out new solo music it’s usually the day before I leave for a trip, and in this case it was tour. So I feel a little stressed, I have to do a lot of stuff on the road that I should have done a while back. For instance I’m doing this interview sitting in the tour van during our 15 hour drive from South Florida to Virginia. But those stresses are kind of fun too. Post release work is enjoyable because the hard part is over.
Beyond that I feel really excited about the music being out. I was able to get the songs out in lots of new ways this time. For instance I released my first ever music video, I got an album stream on a website, and my favorite of all: my music is on Spotify now. I’m a huge Spotify-head. I use it every day and I used to intern at a company in NYC that makes ads for Spotify, so my roots run deep.
Another feeling I have is relief. I’ve been sitting on these songs for a while and they embodied the period of life they were written in so closely, that I didn’t feel like I could move in to the next chapter of life till the songs were set free to the public ear.
The creation of God’s Creatures led to a discovery of a fountain of inspiration within me that I didn’t know was there. I have so many new projects I want to work on and things I want to create now. I’m chomping on the bit to make new stuff of all types and different forms of media now.
Are your family and friends supportive of what you do with this strange chaotic post punk / jungle experiment?
Yes, in fact they provide the best support. My brother Chandler performs with me when I play live. My friend Jordan is my go-to creative critic to bounce off of. He gives me the most honest evaluations of my ideas and helps me see the root value in otherwise complex ideas. My family is very conscious of my need for alone time to be creative. My roommates in college told me the music I was making sounded like child-sacrifice music (which I took for a compliment.)
My inner circle also supports me in a more important way. They don’t let me spend all my hours in the creative lab working. They get me out to spend time together and remind me that relationships come before any “project” or work of the hands. Which helps put my music in perspective and lower the stakes, which also makes creative experimentation more acceptable.
What made you want to get involved in this kind of creative field? Both music-wise and in general, what were you inspirations for “God’s Creatures”?
I’ve always been a creative person, and creative work has always been on the top of my priority list. I played in bands in high school, some of which broke up upon graduation. I wanted to do a solo project so that it’s continuation wasn’t predicated on the life decisions of other members. The freedom of creativity found in weird experimental music is high, and I was really excited by bands pushing the envelope at the time and wanted to get involved. Beyond that, experimental music is one of the more conductive genres of music to do as a solo artist.
God’s Creatures was a title I came up with in early 2014 while living in NYC. I’m an animal lover in and I really hate how a lot of humans think we are like separate and not a part of nature, when really we are animals too just like everything else God put here and you know, God is of the wild, not some civilized coffee cup entity modern churches like to portray. I’ve just really felt more connected to critters and animals and feeling they are more like contemporaries rather than subordinates.
The lyrics on this album deal a lot with the benefits of being a weirdo or an outlier and how you can still have hope in life or maybe you even have a better shot at hope because of yor idiosyncrasies.
You’ve recently released your debut music video. Will there be more?
Making this music video was a game changer for me. This project forced me to flex every creative muscle I have and to work in more mediums simultaneously than I ever have before. Having the ideas in my head and then being able to bring them into reality was such a healthy and satisfying facet of the project. I was reached full satisfaction with the final product.
I think this video is the catalyst that really let the dogs out for me. Expect tons more videos and I really want to be making music videos for other bands too. So if you are reading this please contact me. I just got asked to make a video for a pretty big band and I’m pretty excited about it, will announce soon!
I’m soaked in ideas currently and would like to get these ideas born into the world.
Are you planning some solo shows, or are you focused on simply promoting the new record right now? What are your next steps?
I play solo shows whenever possible. I’m trying to change the way I perform live and I need more people to do so, and I won’t be in a consistent place till I’m back in NYC in January, so I’ll just play shows sporadically till then!
The next steps are just to keep pushing the new stuff as much as I can while traveling but also to take a break and enjoy the summer and not work on music stuff at all. Let the juices refill, and keep myself well rounded and not put all my eggs in one basket!
Apart from music, what are your biggest passions? Tell us more about your adventure with MMA and other activities. What are you interested in beyond music?
Wow, I really appreciate this question. Interviewees normally neglect any external aspect of a musician’s life, but really those external aspects can be the most formative things that influence the music.
So things that I’m currently interested in that have nothing to do with music or anything creative…ok I can think of a lot.
First off I’ve been really into watching NBA with my brother and dad. My family are all Bulls fans and that was fun to watch them compete in the playoffs. We all sit around the basement and pet our dog, eat ice cream and yell at the tv, pure unadulterated fun! My group of friends like to play sports too, I’m not very good but I try hard and have fun. I’m good at things that involve my body only (dancing, running, martial arts) and no external objects (skateboard, ball, bat).
I became serious about reading in early 2014 and read all the time. My brother, my friend Jordan, and I used to run a book club, but it kind of fell apart after a few sessions, so now Jordan and I read the same books and discuss them with each other. So kind of a one on one book club. I mix in trying to read the essentials with reading other books with appealing content. Reading has changed my life, maybe more than any other media, and I know that sounds cliche but boy howdy is it true. I honestly believe so many of the secrets of the world are kept in books and can only be accessed through books and NOT through google search.
I’ll try and rapid fire a few more and not be so wordy. I’m an avid runner. Running is one of the most essential and foundational passions in my life. Most bad mojo can be assuaged with a single run. So many of my creative ideas descend into my mind during my runs. Not to even mention the health benefits.
I love animals and especially dogs in particular. I think dogs are basically angels manifested in the form of a beast, sent to comfort and soothe the ills faced my modern man. The biological heritage of canines backs this up too.
I’ve slowly been getting into rock climbing. My brother was the marketing director for the local rock climbing gym so I got to climb for free and he took me to Arkansas many times to climb outdoors. The gym closed down though, but we still got to Arkansas. I’m just a beginner but I think it’s thrilling and builds courage.
I’m obsessed with Jurassic Park and the new movie was so good that my summer was basically complete upon seeing it.
I’m a man of faith. I believe in Jesus but I hate how most modern Christianity is, so My brother and my friend Jordan and I practice faith on our own terms and we have our own intimate meetings and even get to do them outside sometimes.
I’m interested in entrepreneurship and have been working for myself along with a few buddies for a while now and will be continuing to do so for the foreseeable future. We mainly deal in e-commerce, but we do marketing and event production as well. We are moving more in the marketing research/consulting direction at this point. I don’t spend hardly any money so I really don’t need much to survive.
Yes I started doing MMA. It has been a transformative experience for me and I wrote a huge blog post about it here.
Ok Mason, thanks a lot for your time and very insightful answers. The last words are yours! Cheers!
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide thought out and personal questions. This interview was a blast.
My final words are that I’ve always self-released/promoted my own music and so now I’m just gonna do my own label. So introducing “God’s Creatures Records.” All my music is coming out on GCR now and I’ll start putting out similar bedroom/diy recorded experimental musicians too!: