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MERGER discuss Delaware punk & alt scene, Impetus Records, and more

In their 3 active years, Delaware local act MERGER has achieved the hefty feat of mastering a melting pot of styles, perfectly fusing together funk and reggae basslines with the harsh vocals, crashing guitar lines, and intricate drum fills of the classic early punk sound.

The band was formed under the guise of a few specific objectives that have shaped and informed both their artistic and managerial trajectory. Their determination to work as collaboratively as possible, offering each member an equal influence in the songwriting process, contributes to their eclectic sound. The principles on which they formed the band helped inspire guitarist Diego Romero-Aros to found Impetus Records, with the help of his bandmates and a few others. Merger’s live presence is an intense and captivating sonic escape; a surefire way to get any music lover moving and grooving.

Merger have crafted six songs of entropic energy that have had me coming back to it constantly discovering new ways to get excited about these songs. Consisting of Diego Romero-Aros (Guitar, Vocals), Eli Gordy-Sith (Bass, Vocals), Shane Spencer (Drums), Ryan Yoder (Guitar), Merger are able to create a world of composed chaos. / Crafted Sounds

MERGER’s debut EP comes out as the seventh offering on Impetus Records catalogue. The label was started two years ago in order to document the scene  in Wilmington, DE. We asked the band’s vocalist/guitarist and the founder of the label Diego RomeroAros to give us some more details on his venture and his motivations to run it, and give us some insights on the local scene od Delaware.

There has been a large (in punk/independent terms) surge in interest in the scene here in DE, but there were very little outlets for these things. Unfortunately many people have come to view Wilmington, and DE in general, as a “drive-thru” place (we’re about halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore), with little to offer to the punk scene. We know this isn’t true, and thanks to the label, among other efforts around the scene, we’re doing our part to change that. We intend to continue Impetus so long as there is a scene for us to connect with in Delaware.

There’s been a punk scene here in Delaware since the early 80’s, maybe even before. I know Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell left a school here to start Television in New York. Jade Tree Records was based out of Wilmington and was fairly influential in the late 90’s punk scene. In the 00’s there was a very strong hardcore/metalcore scene that was centered around a hall in the suburbs called the Harmony Grange. It seems like that place closed out in the early 2010’s and really there hadn’t been a strong scene here since. Many of the folks who are a bit older than me (i’m 22) were playing bar shows, as they were the only shows really happening in the area. A lot of us who make up the scene now were not able to go to these shows, because we were all in high school and not included in the discussion. This was around 2015, when I was 17 or so.

Around this time, the scene as i saw it was an entirely separate and new thing, one centered around my band, Paint The Sun, and some younger kids playing in the band The Subterraneans. This scene was very small, and since we couldn’t play any of the bars with the other bands, began booking our own shows in community centers, churches, friend’s parties, etc. We weren’t aware that this was following in the tradition of many other scenes, or that this might even be something aesthetically “cool.” For us, this was the only way we were able to have shows, and it made the most sense to do these things ourselves, as few cared about this the way that we did.

Paint The Sun and The Subterraneans broke up within a few months of one another, and there was a short lull in the scene (this was 2016.) Eli Gordy-Stith, who played guitar in PTS, went to college, and Shane Spencer and I began writing for a new project. We had moved into a group house together and would write for hours, talking and figuring out what the new band would be like. We decided we would cement as a policy, that while we were now 18, we would only play all-ages shows. Again, this was a logical choice for us. We were sort of the “older” people in the scene, and we simply wouldn’t have an audience if we didn’t allow our friends to come see us. Eli eventually joined back in on the project, and our friend Yoder began sitting in with us on guitar. We eventually played our first show in Dec. 2016 as Merger.

MERGER band live

In the following two years, the band toured throughout the US (including a brief tour in Canada), and played with a bunch of bands, spreading the scene we had helped kickstart in Delaware. I started a zine, which is now run by Boston-transplant Staci Pinkowitz, called DisturbancE, to highlight events going on in Wilmington and the nearby college town of Newark, where many shows began taking place as many of us graduated high school and entered college. While I myself haven’t gone to school, it’s been an interesting development to watch.

The label began as a way to document the two bands that originally made up the scene, and in Oct. 2017, we put out our first release, a 7″ from the Subterraneans, and later a CD from Paint The Sun. Once the records were out, plenty of new bands had started appearing, like Naff (ex-Subs), Kobika, Think Machine, and so on. Mike Clark, who plays in Kobika and co-owns the label, and I realized that there was no focus from the nationwide punk scene on Wilmington, and therefore we would probably have no labels coming to offer anyone a deal, even from a small indie label. So we decided to keep it up, and assuming bands kept forming, we’d put out records from our friends. Soon after the label started, a few of us in the scene moved into a group house in Claymont, just north of the city. We chose the obvious name of Impetus House, and have based the label here, where we converted a dining room area into an office of sorts.

MERGER photo

Now that it’s been a few years since the label has been around, in addition to Merger touring, we’ve been seeing a lot more focus coming into the city. It’s becoming somewhat of a frequent stop on East Coast tours for bands who are part of the network. Bands continue to pop up, like Hive Mind, Noise Plant and A Paramount A Love Supreme. It’s a very tight knit community, and many of us live in various houses that have started up, like the Temple, the Depot, and others. We have potlucks pretty frequently too, as well as various community events, like kickball games, etc. We prefer to try build our friendships with inclusiveness, rather than exclusivity. Not quite sure what will be happening in the future, but we’re hoping to continue with what we’ve built so far. Not going anywhere yet!

MERGER discuss Delaware punk & alt scene, Impetus Records, and more
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