Mercury Rev Biography
Not so much a band as a sweet odyssey to the center of the heart, the often chaotic MERCURY REV formed in Buffalo in the late 1980's. Consistently solar-powered by Jonathan Donahue (vocalist/acoustic guitar) and Grasshopper (moth-light guitars, etc.) with Dave Fridmann (bass explore, mellotron), their new ALL IS DREAM finds them joined by fellow upstate New Yorker Jeff Mercel (drums/piano).
In the beginning, MERCURY REV's first recordings emerged simply as a means for creating soundtracks to experimental films that they and their friends were creating. David Baker (spoon in the eye vocals), Suzanne Thorpe (flutes), and Jimy Chambers (percussion) joined this loosely connected ensemble, and eventually recorded a demo during off-hours at a small Fredonia N.Y. studio. This demo somehow made its way to the British offices of the Jungle/Mint label, who contacted Donahue about signing the group.
MERCURY REV (a name whose inspiration has been variously attributed to an imaginary Transylvanian ballet dancer, a hermetically sealed thermometer, or a revved-up muscle car) reconvened to record their debut, YERSELF IS STEAM. Highlighted by distorted art-pop epics like "Chasing a Bee", "Coney Island Cyclone", and "Frittering", YERSELF IS STEAM was released to widespread acclaim in 1991. Later that year, the CAR WASH HAIR E.P. further convinced punditsof MERCURY REV's volatile genius, although squabbling among members and wildly unpredictable live shows led to break-up rumors. These rumors were somewhat squashed by the release of BOCES in 1993, a continuation of their marriage of searing noise with crystalline pop. Although this became their first record to hit the UK Top 50, by the next year, musical differences led to the departure of the wayward David Baker. Dave Fridmann, on the other hand, decided to focus on sound engineering and production, and ceased touring with the band.
By the time the beautiful SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE appeared in 1995, the first chapter in MERCURY REV's maverick career had drawn to a close. While critics marveled over the wonderfully eclectic pop-jazz experiments of "Everlasting Arm", and "Racing the Tide", the band tumultuously grappled with personal problems and puzzling predicaments. Donahue and Grasshopper holed up in the Catskill Mountains in New York State with newcomers Adam Snyder (keyboards) and Jeff Mercel. Chambers and Thorpe, unable to deal with the continuous chaos, moved on.
Recorded at the end of 2000/early 2001, ALL IS DREAM finds MERCURY REV once again broadening their musical horizons with cinematic bombast. Older and wiser, the band has stumbled into an exhilarating musical galaxy on songs such as, "The Dark Is Rising", "Tides of the Moon", "Nite and Fog", hell, they're all good.
MERCURY REV will hit the road during the summer of 2001, playing a few European Festivals, and will begin a world tour after that.
Jack Bishop, Senior Editor
The Holographic Press
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