Every week we feature a new or up-and-coming band, and this week the spotlight is shining on Texas hard rockers Messer, who just released their self-titled album. Vocalist Dereak Messer, guitarists Javier Contreras and Donnie Deville, bassist Maddox Messer and drummer Kenny Youngar introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Messer.
Dereak Messer: It started when I was singing in local bands while in high school in Iowa. When I graduated I moved to Dallas to pursue my music career professionally. I met Javier at a show. I was looking for a place to get my hair cut, and in a fortunate stroke of serendipity walked into Maddox’s hair salon. We 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 we saw his live shows with other bands and were impressed, so we recruited him into Messer.
Donnie was playing in various Dallas bands and gaining attention as an award-winning tattoo artist. Maddox got some of his tattoos from Donnie and would play him songs 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, we knew we wanted to add an additional guitar player, and we all agreed that Donnie was a great fit. The lineup for Messer was solidified.
We’ve grown our fan base locally, and we began to branch out regionally and nationally, opening for bands such as Sick Puppies, Candlebox, Hinder, Vince Neil, Black Stone Cherry, Lynch Mob, Drowning Pool, Local H, Trapt, Metallica, Dokken, Scott Stapp Of Creed, Avenged Sevenfold, and Buckcherry. It was on one of these tours that we connected with our co-writer and producer, Chad Gendason. That’s the genesis of Messer.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for your self-titled debut.
Maddox Messer: We co-wrote our album with our friend and producer Chad Gendason. We initially all submitted riffs or ideas and then we all collaborated to pick the best ones. From there we began to shape the album sonically laying down beds creating soundscapes. Once the music beds were made we then methodically wrote vocal melodies and lyrics. Everything was and always is done by committee with Messer. That way we can put the song and the message first and foremost, keeping egos out of the equation.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Maddox: We set out to create new classic rock songs, songs that would stand the test of time. The album is intended to be played start to finish. It will take the listener on a journey, scripted from our very lives. It was meant to be a positive light in a world of darkness and give hope in a time that seems so hopeless. Our sound is reminiscent of the ’90s and even the ’80s, but also modern. We wanted to create music that blurs the line between nostalgia and modern art, leaving the listener with a sound that is familiar but also new and addictive!
What led you to do a Pledge Music campaign, and are you satisfied with the response?
Maddox: I think it’s a great way to give your fans some unique rewards for being early supporters. In this new music business landscape, you are measured by your first week sales. Doing a pre-sale like the Pledge Music is a way for us to add to our first week sales since they will count as day one album sales on April 20th when it drops.
Our campaign has been going great so far! We have actually almost hit our goal and plan to keep the store going thru the end of the month of April. We extended it to give the new fans we are making on current tour (Unstoppable Screams with Red and Lacey Sturm) the chance to grab one of the diamond packages with the 180gm vinyl. We only released 400 so when they are gone, they are gone. Get ’em while you can!
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Maddox: We just want to reach as many people as possible with these songs. We poured not only our time but our hearts and souls into this album and would love to see radio get behind every single. So far the response has been extremely promising and we want to tour everywhere our fans want to see us. We plan to stay on the road for the rest of this year into 2019.
What has been your most memorable Messer live show?
Dereak: There have been so many but on this current tour, I would say playing at The Machine Shop in Flint, MI. That was a bucket list venue for all of us. The crowd is close to the stage, which always gives the band more energy.
You’re currently on tour with RED. What else do you have coming up?
Maddox: We have a tour coming up with Shallow Side that will take us to the East coast through Florida. You can keep up with out live dates at Bands In Town.
How did you get started in music?
Maddox: My dad was really into good music growing up. We would go to Sound Warehouse every week to buy the newest rock cassettes. He must have had thousands. He always bought a band’s entire catalog and we would drive around for hours listening in his car. In fifth grade I won an essay contest at my school to be one of only 15 students who would take guitar lessons instead of regular music class. We need more music classes in schools, it’s really important and it’s a shame that it’s been eliminated from so many schools’ curriculum.
Dereak: I’ve always loved music and singing for as long as I can remember and was exposed to all types of music from a very young age from older siblings. Once I formed a band in high school I knew this is what I would spend my life doing.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Maddox: I was heavily influenced by Van Halen, Sepultura, and Slayer growing up but I am also into electronic music from Robert Miles to Dedmaus.
Dereak: For me, having older siblings I was exposed to everything from KISS to Peter Frampton to Johnny Cash. But I would say my biggest influence would be Jim Morrison and The Doors.
What was the first concert you attended?
Dereak: Quiet Riot
Kenny: Def Leppard
Describe the first time you heard a Messer song on the radio.
Maddox: We were driving back from a show in Casper, Wyoming. Donnie Rood on KTED-FM in Casper was the very first DJ to ever spin “Simple Man.” It was a super proud moment for us. We still get excited every time we hear one of our songs on the radio now and I hope that never gets old.
Who are your all-time top five Texas rock/metal bands?
Maddox: 1. Pantera 2. Drowning Pool(with Dave) 3. Nothing More 4. ZZ Top 5. Meat Loaf
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
Maddox: I recently watched “Game Over, Man!” from the guys in Workaholics. I freakin’ love those shows. (laughs) We also had family night on the bus watching the new episodes of the Roseanne reboot. That was great. It brought us back to our childhoods as we grew up watching the original.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Maddox: Red, Ghost, Nothing More, Sevendust, Avenged Sevenfold, and always Toto!
(interview published April 21, 2018)
Watch Messer – “Make This Life” Video