An In-Depth Interview With The Rock Band MESSER on Their Forthcoming Self-Titled Debut Album And More!
Posted On 18 Apr 2018
Dallas, Texas band Messer are set to release their self-titled debut album this Friday, April 20th via Maddpants Records. The album was mixed by Ben Grosse (Marilyn Manson, Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed) and mastered by Tom Baker (Papa Roach, David Bowie, Motley Crue).
Messer has been touring in support of the release in March and April with Red, Lacey Sturm, and Righteous Vendetta; and Shallow Side in late April and May.
Messer means knife in German, and the band is cutting a memorable swath through the Rock world in 2018, starting with their 1st single “Make This Life“. The song is off to a fast start at Active Rock radio – already playing on SiriusXM Octane and Music Choice/Rock and 47 other stations, cracking the Top 40 at Active Radio after only 5 weeks. The song is also featured on Key Hard Rock playlists @ Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, Youtube and Slacker Radio.
The band’s cutting edge modern rock sound was born through serendipitous connections in the thriving Deep Ellum music scene of Dallas, an area that has given rise to iconic Hard Rock and Metal bands like Pantera, Drowning Pool, Hell Yeah, and King’s X. Dereak knew he wanted to pursue singing as a career while in High School in Iowa and started honing his chops with local bands. After high school he moved to Dallas to pursue his music career professionally. His first contact was with Dallas native Javier, who was making a name for himself playing in Jagermeister sponsored bands Mudflap and Pimpadelic. The two bonded at a show and became the genesis of Messer. While looking for a place to get his hair cut, Dereak walked into Maddox’s Hair salon on a whim. The two struck up a conversation about music and another connection was made. Kenny was traveling from his home in Canada to an audition in Phoenix when his car broke down in Dallas. He ended up staying in town and found success playing with the band Strangleweed, who made an appearance on the nationally televised Courtroom show “Eye for an Eye”. That caught the attention of the members of Messer, and Kenny became part of the family. Donnie was playing in various Dallas bands and gaining attention as an award-winning Tattoo artist. Maddox would play Donnie tracks the band was working on and in turn, Donnie would play music he was recording at his own home studio. As Messer continued to develop as a band, they knew they wanted to add an additional guitar player, and they all agreed that Donnie was a great fit. The lineup for Messer was solidified.
The band grew their fan base locally, and began to branch out regionally and nationally, opening for notable bands such as Sick Puppies, Candlebox, Hinder, Vince Neil, Black Stone Cherry, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, and Buck Cherry. It was on one of these tours that the band caught the attention of Los Angeles based writer/producer, Chad Gendason. The band felt an immediate comradery with Chad and a lasting bond was made. Messer started writing with Chad, and their first collaboration became “Simple Man”. Fan favorite “Whiskey” soon followed and the songs started to flow into what would eventually become their self-titled debut album “Messer.“
Learn more about Messer in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how has 2018 been treating you all so far? What is one musical goal that you have for this year?
Maddox: So far so good! We are only 4 months into this year and we have played over 40 plus shows, our single is climbing the charts, pre-sales of the Album have been going superb… Yeah, I would say we are off to a great 2018! As for one musical goal? I would say to crack the Top 10 on the Rock radio charts would be Rad!
Can you recall the moment when you all thought you could be in this band together? Was it hard to come up with a name that you all thought fit your sound and who you are? What was your runner up band name?
Maddox: Yes – when we started it was just the four of us (Maddox, Dereak, Javier, Kenny). It wasn’t until about 2 and half years ago that Donnie joined. I remember the 4 of us sitting in our studio in Fort Worth (Texas) with our producer, co-writer, and Best Friend Chad Gendason. We were either going quit or go big. It was a real “come to Jesus” moment, for sure. We decided that as a band we had to put everything on the line or walk away, and at the end of that meeting we all decided this was going be our life mission from here on out. And of course adding Donnie was a perfect fit because we had all had spent countless hours with him getting Tattooed (He is a world-class Tattoo artist) so he was like a cousin ….We just made him a brother. It really was the perfect scenario. As for our name it means “Knife” in German and we felt we had a cutting edge sound and songs that would cut to the soul. It’s also Dereak’s last name IRL. The original name was to going be Shit Faced, lol. The late Dimebag (Darrell of Pantera) had told Javier over a few too many Black Tooth Grin’s (Dimebag’s signature drink) that he should name his band “Shit Faced” and Javier took it to heart – HA! We actually played our first show at The House of Blues in Dallas under that name – but they refused to put it on the marquee!
How do you think being from your hometown of Dallas has influenced your sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
Maddox: Being from Dallas there is a certain standard we hold ourselves to. While we are always trying to raising the bar, we know that the expectations of bands from the Metroplex are high. We are completely honored and humbled to be included in the same sentence as great bands like Pantera and Drowning Pool and we take a great deal of pride in carrying on the torch. We consider ourselves big brothers to our music community and always try to spotlight some of the great bands in Dallas when we can.
What does it feel like to be about to release your self-titled debut album? Overall, how would you explain the process of putting this collection together? Were there any unexpected surprises or challenges once you got into the recording studio?
Maddox: It’s an incredible feeling because of the amount of time and energy that has gone into this. None of us have ever dedicated so much of lives to any one thing like we did for this. We went all in and right now we are just enjoying the labor pains of birthing this baby! So yeah – it’s a real mix of emotions on a daily basis. As for the process it was very in-depth. We wanted to make this record the old fashion way. It’s made by hand by true craftsman in a day and age where no one spends the time to do it “right”. Because of the level of art we were attempting to create there were many challenges to overcome. In the beginning we naively thought that if we could just record one song that was great, someone would come in and sign us to this fairy tale deal that doesn’t exist anymore. But once we decided to dig in a do this all ourselves, we quickly learned that to record an album at the level we had aspired to make – that we needed to become better musicians. More time was needed to perfect the live show, too. Everything had to be perfect with every “NO” removed from the equation. Then there were personal adversities we all faced. A lot of life stuff had gotten in the way over the few years we spent making this record. We always had a motto “There would be no wine before it’s time”. It’s time to Drink Up buddy, ’cause it’s ready and we’re here! LOL.
While it’s difficult, can you pick out a couple of your favorite songs on the album and talk about how they were created? How did they end up on this collection?
Maddox: That’s super hard because I love them all like they are our children. My personal favorite is probably “Still Better Off”. I just love how the chorus explodes into this great infectious melody with all the harmony vocals. It’s super fun to play live, too. The guitar intro reminds me of a Van Halen type song in the sense that it’s not super heavy on the “Riffage” per se, but more melodic and sonically exciting to the ear. Then the drums kick in with big snare hits. It’s a slower tempo song but it moves nicely thru the verse with a bouncy rhythm. Next would be our re-imagining of our heavy anthemic track “Simple Man” into the humbler acoustic version we included as a bonus track. We had been contemplating a cover song on the album, but we could not decide on which song to do. So we came up with the idea to “cover” one of our songs. It took on a life of its own and turned out to be a real highlight on the album.
How do you think the album’s first single, “Make This Life,” prepares listeners for the rest of this album? What was the inspiration for this track? Has its fast start at Rock Radio surprised you guys at all? (Link to “Make This Life” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfS8P1vBVZs )
Maddox: We put a lot of thought and many discussions into picking the song that would introduce the band to the world. We all had our favorites for different reasons and every panel discussion we had about which song to go with came back inconclusive. ;o) No one could decide. We actually made videos for several songs, so we had options. At the last minute we decided on “Make This Life”. I had the vision for the video months prior, but it’s one of the songs we hadn’t made a video for yet. We shot and edited the video in 7 days, start to finish. The song was inspired by our general distain for the “one sided conversation” being fed to us through the media. I had to quit watching TV as it was “poisoning my well”, so to speak. We were sick of it all, and we thought many other people were, too. We just hated all the hate and wanted to stand up say we’ve had enough. The chorus of the song is meant to empower the listener and encourage them to make their own life worth fighting for. Real change begins within each of us. The song has resonated with radio listeners rather quickly, and the feedback has been great. We are still humbled even being on the charts with all these legendary bands we love. What’s even more inspiring is that we are getting our message heard as it’s cutting through all of the great songs released by the majors at the same time. The fact that we are not only on the charts but moving up into the Top 30 soon is giving us hope that our little band from Dallas, Texas can show the world that good rock music is alive and well!
How has touring been going so far? What have been some favorite venues or crowds? Where are you looking forward to playing at next?
Maddox: Touring has been incredible! Even our worse day of touring is 1000 times better than our day to day jobs. There are many challenges in touring. Getting to the venue is often the biggest challenge with bus breakdowns a regular reality. We own our bus and when you drive a house on wheels tens of thousands of miles, shit is gonna happen! I think one of MESSER’s strongest assets is our ability to overcome and persevere. We are on a zero-fail mission and we intend to keep it that way. This Unstoppable Screams Tour has taken us to some amazing and historic theaters across the county. We always take time to admire the architecture of some of these theaters, it’s cool to imagine all the shows that have taken place… We stand in awe of the energies left behind. We never take these opportunities for granted. We just played at Canton Hall in Dallas and it was one of the highlights of the tour, for sure – It was a sold-out show at home! About 90% of the dates on this tour have been sold-out, and fans have been showing up early to see us, which is thrilling.
Where do you think you are all happiest – in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Maddox: That’s easy – We LOVE performing!!! That is what I think makes MESSER unique. We as a group come together for one highly focused purpose. On stage we are methodical and surgical in the delivery of our messages. Like a scalpel we are delivering precision as we cut to core of the audience. It’s all about making that human connection every night: Looking the crowd in the face with honest conviction. You can’t fake that, you have to mean it. We play every note with the intention of conveying the emotion and passion we lived through, in the making of this album. We are also more comfortable in the studio going under the microscope now. The recording process is always a vulnerable learning experience but I equate it to a sharpening stone that shapes and refines a musician.
How do you think being a musician and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Maddox: For us the joy comes from the fans – that is why we do this. We as a band recognize that we have a gift and feel a compelling force to give back freely to the universe. Meeting new fans and hearing how one of our songs has inspired or helped them through life is what it’s all about. It’s a very manic life on the road with highs and lows on the daily but for those few minutes of the day where everything comes together to deliver our message and seeing the reactions in real time…. Yeah, that’s why we’re here.
With everything going on in the world today, how do you think your music is a reflection of it all? And if you don’t think it is at all, why is that? Do you find that the music being made today in general is reflecting these politically and culturally charged times?
Maddox: We are humans, we have everyday lives too. We wrote about what we see and experienced in our lives while we were making this album. It was inspired by our point of views. It’s no doubt our views are shared with millions of others too. Music is a great healer. It’s fully integrated into the lives of all humanity. It’s universal and if you apply some physics to the process you can really affect and touch listeners on a molecular level. But with great power comes great responsibility. There is a real need for change and almost a movement to insure the future of Rock Music right now. After all, Rock Music has been the soundtrack for change since its introduction in the 50’s. I don’t think that will ever die.
How important do you think social media has been to this band? Do all you help to maintain all your sites or is one of you more into it all? Or do you rely on your PR/management team to handle it all?
Maddox: Social Media is that “necessary evil”. I love how accessible artists are, but I also hate how much time it requires to constantly post and blog about our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great – I just wish at times we didn’t have to do so much. I think there should be some mystique, leave some of it the fans imagination. We all try to pitch in and help out and everyone does a pretty good job. We mostly use our PR/Management team to steer us in the right direction, but we make all post ourselves. We truly love to hear from our fans – so keep messaging us and commenting, please!
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group?
Maddox: I honestly hope to keep making music with the same team for the rest of my career. But I would love to work with Mutt Lang. We styled a lot of our production on the way he mixes and produces. He was a big influence on us. Some of my favorite artists right now would be Shinedown and Theory of a Deadman. Both of these bands have great production and killer songs with good messages. I would love to work with Lady Gaga. She is uber talented and I know I could learn a lot from her as a performer. She has that gift of conveyance.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs? What do you hope they take away from one of your shows?
Maddox: The message is the most important part of our songs and everything was designed to support that. These songs were written right out of our lives and talk about issues everyone can relate to. The overtone of the album is “Change” – in fact that could have been the name of the album, had we decided to go that route. The big take away and what we hope is to be a positive light in a world of darkness and offer hope in a time that seems hopeless. We want to get these songs out to as many people as possible because we know in our heart of hearts that these songs will heal, they build up and empower, and they will help you persevere as they have for us.
Would you like to share anything else about your music or this band with our readers?
Maddox: We hope to bring our brand of new Rock Music to the World. Come see a live MESSER show and bathe in the soundscapes we have created especially for you! Stay positive and love one another always! -Mx
Dates with Shallow Side
Thursday – 4/19/2018 – Sidewinder Austin TX
Friday – 4/20/2018 – Trees Dallas TX
Saturday – 4/21/2018 – Satellite Bar – Houston, TX
Sunday – 4/22/2018 – Olde Towne Tavern – Slidell, TX
Wednesday – 4/25/2018 – Ashley Street Station – Valdosta GA
Thursday – 4/26/2018 – The Warrior – Tallahassee, FL
Friday – 4/27/2018 – Working – Tampa, FL
Saturday – 4/28/2018 – Southside – Naples, FL
Sunday – 4/29/2018 – On Hold – Orlando FL
Wednesday – 5/2/2018 – Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
Thursday – 5/3/2018 – Sidetracks Music Hall – Huntsville, AL
Friday – 5/4/2018 – The Warehouse – Clarksville, TN
Saturday – 5/5/2018 – The Warehouse – Clarksville, TN
Wednesday – 5/9/2018 – The Bourbon Hall – Louisville KY
Thursday – 5/10/2018 – Amici’s – Concord, NC
Friday – 5/11/2018 – The Vault – Hickory, NC
Saturday – 5/12/2018 – GroundZero – Spartanburg SC
Saturday – 5/19/2018 – Pit Stop Bar and Grill – North Richland Hills,
Connect with Messer:
Pledge Music Campaign: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/messerband
Official website: https://www.messerband.com
iTunes Pre-order: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/messer/1348892084
Google Play Pre-order: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Messer_Messer?id=Bwgg2vbrw53gkx3q3prnxdhhqua&hl=en