“We called this new record What You Stand To Lose due to many monumental changes in my personal life,” forthrightly explained Brendan Scholz, Mercy Music’s vocalist and guitarist. “My world was kind of flipped upside down between this album and the last.”
On the new record – and in real life – Scholz, who penned all the songs, is at once regretful, wistful, and hopeful. Somehow, despite the turmoil, What You Stand To Lose belies the actual circumstances of its origins.
“It’s actually the cleanest and poppiest record we’ve done,” said Scholz.
And he’s absolutely right. Over the course of 11 tracks, Scholz, bassist Jarred Cooper, and drummer Rye Martin, mostly sound downright happy. So long as you don’t listen too closely to the lyrics, What You Stand To Lose just sounds…fun and good and poppy. This isn’t just happenstance. This is by design.
“I like to describe Mercy Music as pop hooks with guitar solos,” said Scholz. “We fall somewhere in between Superdrag, Squeeze, Samiam, Jawbreaker, and Thin Lizzy.”
“I just tell people we’re a straight up pop rock band,” adds Cooper.
Once the songs for What You Stand To Lose started taking shape, Mercy Music knew this album was going to be particularly memorable, so it needed extra special treatment. There was only one producer in the world who they knew could help them bring the album to life, and there was only one studio in the world where that magic could possibly take place. That producer was Bill Stevenson, known the world over for his work with Descendents, ALL, and Black Flag. And that – equally famous – studio was The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado, longtime home to Stevenson and his studio partner, Jason Livermore.
“The Blasting Room was where so many of my favorite records were made – Mass Nerder from All, Everything Sucks from Descendents, Lady Melody from Audio Karate, Exister from Hot Water Music, and all of the [A] Wilhelm Scream records, and that’s just to name a few,” Scholz rattled off. “So I knew that’s where our new album needed to be recorded. And I’d worked with Bill once before when I was still in high school, but it was a total clusterfuck. This was a kind of redemption for me.”
According to plan, working first with Stevenson at The Blasting Room to record the album and then with Livermore to mix and master it, injected exactly the right amount of magic and finely trained knowhow into What You Stand To Lose that it required. Plus, there are the memories of the experience that will never be forgotten.
“There was this moment Bill and I had when we were tracking bass,” recalled Cooper. “Right in the middle of tracking he looks at me and says, ‘You know you’re going to owe Karl [Alvarez, bassist for Descendents/ALL] royalties when this record comes out right?’ I’ve always admired Karl Alvarez’s playing and that was quite the compliment. Also, having Bill Stevenson just pick us up from the airport like it was no big deal was pretty crazy.”
The spirit of their studio experience – surreal, but also completely down to earth – resonates loud and clear on What You Stand To Lose: amidst angelically-contoured vocals, jaw-dropping guitar solos, fret-defying finger-picked bass riffs, and massively stalwart drumming, Mercy Music rocks like it is no big deal. And yes, it’s pretty crazy.
When all is said and done, Scholz, Cooper, and Martin are just good people who care a whole lot about the people who depend on them – all three of them are devoted fathers, the latter two to very young children – and they also care a whole lot about the people who turn to Mercy Music for solace.
“I want people to know they’re not alone in whatever they’re struggling with,” said Scholz, thoughtfully. “I hope they find comfort in the record the same way I do in the records I love.”
“When people listen to our new album, I want them to feel happy, sad, inspired, and depressed,” said Cooper. “And then I want them to feel happy again. That last part is critically important.”
Following 2020’s Nothing in the Dark, which was produced by Cameron Webb (Alkaline Trio/Motörhead), What You Stand To Lose (Double Helix Records/SBÄM Records) is Mercy Music’s fourth full-length album since they formed in 2014. Over the course of their career, Mercy Music have extensively toured the United States and the European Union, appeared at high-profile U.S. festivals like SXSW, Punk Rock Bowling, and Life is Beautiful, and shared the stage with a host of legendary acts, including The Offspring, Rise Against, MxPx, Descendents, Face to Face, Flogging Molly, Against Me!, Unwritten Law, and Bob Mould.
On What You Stand To Lose, Mercy Music sound every bit like the seasoned veterans they are. And as no strangers to the road, Mercy Music intend to pound the pavement on both sides of the pond to make sure that everyone, everywhere hears this record and knows the name Mercy Music.
After all, this new record’s inspiration has proven to Mercy Music that nothing should be taken for granted, no time should be wasted, and there is everything in the world to lose by not collectively fighting hard enough to succeed.