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INTERVIEW: Max Rodriguez-Medallo & Tim Bickford – Merge

A band knowing and understanding themselves and their development as their career as it happens is a feature that many up and coming acts can overlook. The combination of progressing a sound, making yourself personally better and achieving musical satisfaction all while gathering a following is hard. Recently we spoke to vocalist Max Rodriguez-Medallo and bassist Tim Bickford of MERGE, Paris’ latest offering, who appear to have a great vision with their Alt Rock sound.

Your sound is very fresh, there’s something dark in there mixed with a very energetic, light sound. How would you describe it?

Max: Describing the music seems pretty difficult for me, since it is something you feel more than you think. But if we talk about inspiration, our sound would be a mix of what comes from our teenage guts and what is surprising us nowadays in term of music, we wanted to catch some of the nostalgic darkness of The Black Parade and some of the surprising energy of  Blurryface.

Tim: Exactly. In the past, our music was more in that kind of post-hardcore style which can maybe explain the dark side of it. We all really wanted the new songs to be more melodic, to give more space to the vocals but keeping the energetic part of it.

There’s also a great amount of musical influences in your sound too. Was there ever a band or a genre of music that really drew you to your sound?

Max: Like we said before, I think there is a lot of bands that influenced us during the process but not one genre or one band, you could find some old CIRCA SURVIVE, Muse, and THE USED, but you can maybe hear influences from THE WEEKEND, 21 PILOTS, BRING ME THE HORIZON. There’s been an ellipsis between 2005 and 2016 in our mind, like we’ve just slept for 11 years haha

In the same vein, what inspires you personally?

Max: Actually, I only realised few days ago that this album was kind of a sub-conscious therapy for me. We gave the name of Ineffable for the album because we loved the definition of it, and after we finished the album, I figured out that all of our songs were dealing with unspoken or taboo subject for me. Pretty naturally I was inspired by everything that surrounds me every day.

Is there a specific process of looking at a sound and developing it when you create a song, or is it more organic?

Max: What is the most difficult for us to compose would be the structure of the songs, so I think we are looking at this instantly when listening to an artist, the rest is really more a feeling to be honest, a lot of things are changed to suit the vocals the most.

This album looks set to be something big, how has the process been for you getting this record together?

Max: Well thank you first of all! It’s been one year of hard composing, I mean the album has been split in two intensive periods of composition because we didn’t want to lack perspective. When we compose, then record, it’s always at home. Julien and I sometimes won’t go out for weeks just to finish what we started. Julien brings the first ideas with a guitar riff for example and a pretty simple drum on it to have an idea of what it would sound like. After that, I’ll try and find the different melodies we can put on them and at the same time Kazu (drummer) will work on more defined drum parts. We keep sending all our ideas by mails all the time and adding more parts to make a song we all love.

Is there a message you want to get out there to your fans with your music? It’s a very driven sort of sound, very inspiring.

Max: This album is about what’s unspoken and vices but also about trust and love, I think I want our fans to know that they’re not alone in this madness, this is part of being human of getting out of the line.

The songs all feel integral to the album, but also have distinctness as individual tracks. It’s impressive! How do you nit the track list and the ideas all together?

Max: I would like to answer to this question so bad, but actually, I still can’t don’t get how we can stick to our universe between Mirage that is really electro/pop and Bloodstream that is more urgent in the drum and the vocals, we just felt that would match, that’s it.

Thinking about where you’ve come from, how have you developed since the release of Transmission and Elysion?

Max: Like I said, I think we’ve just forgot about what we’ve learnt for the 11 past years to go back to basics, keeping a hint of 2016 to make it new again.

Tim: The band actually had lots of line-up issues, the most important one is changing its lead singer. When Max joined the band a bit more than a year ago, he wanted exactly the same things than the rest of band, compose more melodic music and be able to sing more than screaming. People change through the years and even if we’re now far from the band’s first EP, the evolution has been really natural to us.

As a band, you’ve obviously got a big future ahead of you. Is there anywhere you’d like to play in particular?

Tim: Thanks, we really hope the best is yet to come! Oh yes, plenty of places we’d love to go to! Our drummer Kazu is Japanese, to tour in his country would be a dream for all of us. We already had the chance to tour in few European countries but there is still a lot to do. The UK is so hard, we’ve already planned to tours over there and they both have been cancelled last minute for different reasons but we really hope we’ll make it one day. America is also a place we’d love to discover one day. Playing live is the thing we love the most, so everywhere people will ask us to play, we’ll come with pleasure!

What do you find the best thing about preforming live?

Tim: Sharing definitely. Meet new people every night, in a different country. Even if you don’t speak the same language you’ve got that common thing, you wanna have fun at the same time in the same place. It’s something pretty ineffable actually. You know, being far from home with your best friends for three weeks, in a van, driving thousand of kilometres to play 30 minutes or an hour depending if you’re the opening band or the headliner, it’s really for that thing we can’t explain. Composing is interesting but pretty stressful, you don’t know if people are gonna like it, even when the album comes out, you can’t see people’s faces while they listening at it. Live, all the magic comes, we love performing live so much, we’d do that all year long if we could.

Finally, how are you looking forward to the release of the album? Is there a song that you’re most looking forward to people hearing?

Tim: We had three songs out before the release (The Exit, Recovery and Soaring) and we couldn’t wait for people to hear the entire album. When The Exit came out some fans of the early years were a bit disappointed because we stopped playing that kind of post-hardcore music which we can clearly understand, some others loved it and some new fans arrived too. And for example, when Recovery was unveiled, some early disappointed fans came back like “ok, we maybe judged too quickly on one song” so that was funny too. We really worked hard to make Ineffable coherent. We wanted people to be able to appreciate the album in its entirety and go through those different emotion with us instead of just picking one song or another. They’re all linked in a way. After, if we had to pick one song we’re looking forward to people hearing, I’m sure we’d all say Mirage. It’s the last song that has been composed, it’s our favourite one too and it’s the most different one. Hope you’ll like it!

Ineffable is out now via self-release.

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