Meridene sounds like a beastly, high-energy version of The Shins: a creature with an outer shell of post-modernist disillusionment and a soft underbelly of cautious hope. Their sophomore effort was just released a few days ago, and they are currently on tour throughout the Midwest and Northeastern United States to promote the short but sweet nine track album Something Like Blood. This morning, lead singer Trevor called me from Wisconsin to chat. A Minnesota native myself, I was surprised at his lack of northern accent and charmed by his decidedly un-northerner-like friendliness. He gave me the scoop on his band’s genesis, his first introduction to indie music via shoplifting, and capturing the problems we all face on a daily basis on Something Like Blood.
You grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. How did you find new music and musical inspiration in such isolation from major cities and cultural centers?
Growing up, I went through phases. My mom was a big Garth Brooks and radio coutnry fan. That’s what I grew up listening to. The first band I kind of discovered on my own that wasn’t on the radio was in 8th grade I really got into Metallica (laughs). Through that, I started going through various channels. I think I got to where I am today by listening to heavier music, and then I started playing guitar. I remember buying a Guitar World magazine, and there was a feature on ‘first wave emo music’ like The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate. One day when I was 15 I was at a pawn shop and I shoplifted a copy of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. That was my gateway to what I’m listening to now. Then, the Internet took over and it became a lot easier.
How did you form as a band? Are you all from Wisconsin?
I’m originally from Osseo, Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Eau Claire. I started the band with two best friend from high school. Slowly but surely we went our own separate ways, and vicariously through them I met Paul, our current keyboard palyer. Through him, I met Dave, our drummer, and a few years later we met Britta. She was music-savvy but hadn’t played the bass a whole lot: she had to learn as she played with us.
Sure. Basically, growing upon the first record…the first was kind of me learning how to write songs, trying new things. I was going all different directions: one song might be influenced by Band A that I’m listening to, then later on I want to do something completely different. There was no general theme lyrically either, for me it was more of a collection of songs as opposed to an album. With the new one, we wanted it to be cohesive and have an album feel, somehting you listen to all the way through, like they all belong together while still being diverse enough to stand apart: not the same song nine times. With the recording process, we did the first record by ourselves in a home studio of our old guitar player. We had so much time and could say ‘let’s do that today’ or ‘let’s do this’. With no pressure, it made us sloppy and it wasn’t as tight as it could’ve been. With Something Like Blood, we had four days. Basically, we moved into the studio for four days and had that time crunch where we had to record guitar, bass, keys, and vocals. All that was done was the drums. I think that made us much more effective, making it tight and getting it right.
Is there a specific theme or take-home message of Something Like Blood?
I think with the new record I really wanted to push the boundaries of what the songs I wrote were about. On the first record, I had a few songs that were story songs, things that I made up, a few relationship songs. I wanted to broaden that quite a bit, and still write about something that everyone was feeling. I kind of based it around the idea of what people are going through; how terrible the economy is right now. I tried to make each song be about something that you’re struggling with in the United States that we’re living in today. ‘Bible Belt’ is about questioning or losing your faith, which is also what the last track is about. Wavering, making that decision. There’s one relationship song ‘Parade of Fools’. ‘Gone Baby Gone’ is about losing your home, and the housing crisis. I just wanted to set it in the modern world we’re living in and touch on all of the problems that everyone’s facing right now. I also wanted to put my own touch on it.
Do you have any tours planned after the one you’re currently on?
We’re in the planning stages- once we get back from this tour it’ll be holiday time. We’ll probably lay low, then go out in January again. We’re talking about touring down south this time, going through Texas and whatnot. That’s the immediate plan: we’re hoping to get in to South by Southwest or one of the shows surrounding the festival, but nothing is set in stone.
What are the top three most-listened-to artists on your iPod right now?
I would say…let me grab it here. Number one for me would be Pedro the Lion, or any of Dave Bazan‘s stuff. He was a huge inspiration for me musically for the current record. Also recently Tim Kasher’s solo album (he’s the lead singer of Cursive) The Game of Monogamy. I just love how he writes songs, he’s influenced me so much. Ida Maria’s Fortress ’round My Heart. She’s from Norway and she’s really good- she’s kind of post-punk.