Your self-titled debut album was released in April. With the album being a long time in the works, what was the journey like for you guys in getting the album written and recorded? The album has been receiving great reviews and is climbing the charts! How does it feel for you to see your hard work paying off?
The journey was one that changed us completely as a band and as men individually. It was very humbling to say the least. Creating what we now call MESSER required us to be pushed into the most uncomfortable environments at times. Chad Gendason, our producer and co-writer, really opened our eyes to see song writing and performing in a whole new light. I’m extremely happy that we all survived the process and we continue to grow as musicians, as well as men. Having spent so long creating MESSER, it’s been gratifying to see what we already believed in so wholeheartedly actually making an impact on lives. The charts are great but changing lives is what this is really all about.
You have mentioned that a few years ago you guys were sitting with your producer, co-writer and best friend Chad Gendason, discussing either quitting the band or going all out with it. What led to your decision to decide to put everything on the line for the band and have it be your life’s mission? What have some of your biggest accomplishments and challenges been along the way?
I think I just believed in these songs and the band so much and at some point we had come so far that turning back was no longer an option. It definitely seems more appalling to discuss quitting now than to day dream about global success. I mean, no one laughs at me anymore when I mention my goals for MESSER. They’re like, “Yea we can’t wait either” lol … But we have many challenges along the way of just getting to the starting line. A lot of life can just slow you down, and of course that evil thing, money. As long as our Country doesn’t have a way to fund the arts it’s always gonna be a struggle to create. That’s a shame because there’s so much beauty and creativity that could potentially change the world but we will never know it.
So, for us, just being here is a major accomplishment and we are happy to have arrived.
You were dedicated to making your album the old-fashioned way and spending the amount of time necessary to do it right. You realized you needed to become better musicians and perfect your live show. Was dedicating the amount of time needed to perfect the band an easy decision to make? Do you feel, in hindsight, that it was the right decision to make?
It was the only decision to make. We didn’t want to come out as band and have these songs not be heard the way we intended them. We all needed to have the same intentions and motives behind each note so the combined efforts would have the opportunity to be heard and felt. We wanted to connect with our audience in a way they may never have heard music. We just put the songs first and work to serve them the very best we can.
You were recently on the Unstoppable Screams Tour with Red, Lacey Sturm and Righteous Vendetta which took you to some amazing and historic theaters across the country. You guys have mentioned taking the time to admire the architecture of the theaters. Do all of you have an interest in architecture? What were some of your favorite theaters on the tour, from an architectural perspective?
Oh yeah – We are history and food nerds! I think there’s something magical about an old theater or venue. Almost like some of the energies get trapped inside. You get this real sense of some of the artist that have performed there and you’re like, wow – Johnny Cash stood right here! But as for the standout rooms on that tour, I would say the New Daisy theater in Memphis was really cool.
You put a lot of emphasis on the live performance. What do you love most about being on stage and performing? Do you have any special pre-show preparations?
The live show is everything for us. As musicians it’s our goal to not just play perfectly but to play perfectly with feeling. We want to connect with the audience in a multi-dimensional way. We hope the MUSIC, MESSAGE, and the VISUAL layers work together creating a lasting memory in the minds and hearts of those we touch. As far as pre-show rituals, we always have a group huddle to get hyped and mentally connected with each other before we play. I also like to do some yoga stretches as well.
You all come from different places and listen to different kinds of music outside of the band but have all come together for Messer! What do you think it is that makes you guys so compatible as band mates?
That’s simple: Our humility, our passion and our unwillingness to give up. If you have those ingredients then everything else will work itself out.
Your goal as a band is to create an album and songs that would become new classics with an Alice In Chains and Pantera sound with a modern element, adding in electronic and R&B sounds. Can you talk a bit about evolving and developing your sound as a band?
We all have varied and eclectic musical tastes. Our influences span several decades from the earliest 70s-00s. We deliberately placed “tip of the hats” to several influences in addition to the ones you mentioned. There is a song inspired by Toto’s “Africa” as well as one with a New Romantics vibe. Most importantly these songs are Singer-songwriter influenced long before the electronic synths or heavy guitars are created. All of this combines to create a sound that’s New and fresh, yet still familiar.
Your album was designed to be played from start to finish in sequence and you took a lot of time to decide the sequence of the album. What was that process like for you and what inspired you to take that direction with the album?
We feel that while each song can stand on its own, the sequence can take you to a different place. We had been working on the live show and the set order. The live set was chosen for reasons of flow but also because we have so many guitar changes due to our multiple tunings and keys used. So without the constraints of performance we decided to take a long look at album sequence even though it’s rare for an album to be heard that way. It’s our attention to detail that sets us apart. We enlisted the input from Ben Grosse who mixed the album as well as Thom Baker who mastered it. We all mostly landed on similar orders it was Thom’s sequence that ultimately won.We had been closing our show with “Throw it Away” but he felt that was the best way to open the album and we all agreed so the rest is history.
You have mentioned that you have had fans coming up to you after shows and thanking you and telling you how much they are connecting with your music and what you have to say. What has that been like for you guys, to have such a great response from fans? Have you had any especially memorable fan interactions/moments?
“Wow” is all we can really say. We have had more than a few memorable moments, but most recently we had a woman who was currently in a war with cancer. She had been thorough chemo and had already lost her hair. She showed up at show with our “Make This Life” shirt on and told us her story. It was humbling to say the least but that was exactly what we had hoped for. That’s what these songs were meant to do. Inspire and give strength and courage.
We remember sitting around our studio making this album. At some point it became apparent that these songs were going to eclipse us. I think that really helped the final product too, because we began to put even more focus on changing lives. It was always our intention and has now become the fuel that drives us. We are musicians, and music is a great healer and motivator. Music has even been the nucleus of revolution and war …… It’s powerful stuff, and in capable hands you can affect change.
Donnie – In addition to playing music, you are also a tattoo artist and do oil painting. How long have been a tattoo artist and painter and how do you balance that work with being in the band? You had previously given up being in bands before joining Messer. What was it about this band that made you happy to join?
I’ve been tattooing for over 12yrs now, and have been painting since I was a kid. The band spends a lot of time on the road currently, and there is always much to do when we’re home on break, so I don’t tattoo nearly as much as I used to. I’m lucky to have a loyal and patient clientele. It’s ironic how things come full circle….Music led me to tattooing, and tattooing led me back to music.
I met the guys many years ago and developed relationships with them and became their tattoo artist, etc.I would go out to MESSER shows whenever I had the chance because I was a fan…I still am, being in the band. But, it was an obvious “yes” when asked to become a member of MESSER…. We were already like family, and it just felt right to me.
The band is currently on the Hard and Loud Tour with Royal Bliss and Joyous Wolf. What have some tour highlights been so far?
This has been one of the most fun tours we all have ever been a part of. The camaraderie and respect for each other has been amazing. Many nights we have all shared the stage at some point joining together to perform favorites or even a sing along of Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane”. We also have celebrated two birthdays so far: Nick Reese’s (singer of Joyous Wolf) 24th Birthday and Taylor’s Richards (Guitarist for Royal Bliss). We even had the chance to visit Mount Rushmore too!
What’s next for the band? What are your goals going forward?
We have several more radio singles planned for this album as we head towards 2019. Our goal is to crack the top 10 as the only truly independent artist. We will continue to tour and bring our positive messages and energetic live show to earholes far and wide! This is the Fight of our Lives and we Will NOT Back Down!