September 19, 2003

Interview with Project Mercury

I recently sat down with some of the members of Project Mercury, Marian, Charlene and Craig. We had a great chance to chat in the quiet of a yoga meditation center and talked about everything from the band's unique style to the completely unplugged acoustic show they had just performed. This is a band who are well grounded and know what they want out of the future.

Marian and Charlene have been working together for quite a while, while Craig joined the band about eight months ago to fill out the current line up. Marian and Charlene were working mostly with Rock musicians and the harmonies that are so prevalent in Project Mercury's sound were lost in this atmosphere so they took some time to retool and find the current line up that fit the style of music they want to play. Charlene's violin was lost in the rock sound and it was something Marian considered important for the current sound. Charlene is formally trained in violin and is somewhat stage shy as comes across when you see the band perform. I must say this shyness is unfounded once you hear her play.

She found her current sound when she saw a rock band using violin. After the show she immediately went home and popped in her Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd CDs and started playing along. She soon found that there was a place for violin in this type of music. She is still working on the logistics of using a traditional violin in a rock setting but is feeling more comfortable all the time. She even jokes that her pick up sometimes falls out of the violin and she is toying with the idea of going to an electric violin, but my intuition tells me that this is something that she will do reluctantly, if in fact, she does choose to move to an electric violin.

Marian is the driving force behind the band doing about 90% of the writing, but as the band members become more comfortable together they work on compositions together & they are collaborating more and more on the arrangements. Marian says she never wanted it to be her band, she wanted a band where everyone worked together. They are still in the process of finding their places together & collaborations will become easier as time moves along.

They love the studio because it is so exacting and gives the opportunity to work and rework pieces until they are perfect. Marian jokes about a track Charlene was laying down in the studio and says they had this great chocolate cake waiting for them but she would not let Charlene have a piece until her track was laid down correctly. I personally can think of no better motivation than a piece of good cake.

They are a somewhat grass roots foundation doing their own PR & CD promotion. They tell me CD sales are soft which amazes me when I hear the CD. Reviewers compare Project Mercury to bands from Led Zeppelin to Aimee Mann, but in my opinion they draw comparison to no one. They have a unique sound that must be heard to be appreciated.

Marian lists Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Coldplay as bands she is listening to right now. For Charlene it's Alison Krauss and Nickel Creek. These bands make for quite a soup and help to explain the eclectic nature of Project Mercury's music. Craig lists The Jayhawks, and a lot of country music as his influences.

Marian sums the band's philosophy up perfectly by saying, enjoy the ride, and "savor the ride," which is a line from one of their songs. She says they are not necessarily looking for fame and fortune but would enjoy being a big fish in a little pond. It is this reviewer's opinion that Project Mercury is carving out a sound that will make them successful at whatever level they choose to rise to. This is a band that is absolutely worth a listen regardless of what your musical genre of choice may be. They are also well grounded people who are enjoying making music and enjoying the ride, and this comes across clearly when you speak to the band. LISTEN TO THEM!