Matthew Mercury —17 July 2019 on Rocket Shop Radio Hour
On Wednesday, July 17, in the midst of a stifling heat wave, two members of the band Matthew Mercury served chill vibes on Rocket Shop’s radio hour. Lead man and guitarist Ezra Oklan and guitarist Jeremy Mendecino played three songs off of their recent and inaugural album, which was released on June 14.
With only two guitarist on deck, the duo improvised with a minimalist version of their indie-synth-rock sound. The full band includes Chris Hawthorn, drummer Steve Hedeka, and bassist Daniel Bishop. And although we received a pared down recital, Rocket Shop’s crew was not disappointed.
Matthew Mercury opened the evening with a rendition of their song “Contessa,” a tale of sometimes unrequited and ornery love.
Uncovering the inspiration for Matthew Mercury’s songs will prove a difficult task for any investigator. As frontman and songwriter Ezra mentioned, the band’s originals draw from a near decades-long songwriting process. Most songs on the album have been under the scrutiny of pencil and eraser for the past eight years. Some have changed heavily since their conception, and others have marinated in Ezra’s mind for years. Ezra also credits his friend, Matthew Dublin, in the songwriting process.
The songs, whether stagnant or evolving, still sat. Untouched in Ezra’s mind and practice room for years, until at last, “The time was right.” Ezra says he’d been waiting for the right moment for years. What finally instigated the creation of Matthew Mercury and the band’s self-titled album was regret. Ezra realized he never wanted to ask, “What if?”
And so Matthew Mercury was created. Ezra had a long musical resume to draw from when creating his band. Long the support character in bands, whether on guitar or drums, Ezra was used to “watching a lot of [frontmen] from behind.” Ezra never even played in a band with a synth-pop sound before. He’s used to heavier, head-banging material.
Yet like many artists, one of his leading qualities is versatility.
“Where does your indie-rock history come from?” asked Tom.
“Yeah,” said Jeremy. “Tell us the story of the first time you heard My Bloody Valentine.”
Ezra cited his mother’s music collection. Amidst the piles of Prince and U2 were more obscure ones like Pulp, from which Ezra takes influence.
As the evening progressed, Matthew Mercury played two more songs for us: “Cookie” and “Still Aching.”
Matthew Mercury’s music denotes a professionalism and crispness not often heard in newborn bands. This trait comes off clearly in their recordings. With album art by local artist Erik Eickmann and drum tracks recorded at Columbia Studio in New York City (where albums like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue were recorded), Matthew Mercury can boast a clean opening album.
The majority of tracks were recorded in Charlotte, and the band performed their release party at Arts Riot on June 14. The performance marked the band’s second official performance. The band will play their fourth live show at The Monkey House on September 10th. Matthew Mercury follows it up with a performance at Grand Point North festival on Saturday, the fourteenth.
You can also check Matthew Mercury on most music platforms, Instagram, Facebook, and their official website.
Text by Luke Vidic.
Photo by James Lockridge.