MERCH is ultra-catchy experimental-pop cello-rock. The debut album 'Crash Boom Bash' is landing on many of the most influential college radio station charts around the country.


MERCH is the performing and recording moniker of bandleader/songwriter/vocalist Joe Medina (the founder and organizer of the Mondo Cello Fest) and whatever musicians happen to be playing with him at any given time. The resultant sound is loosely categorized as "cello-rock", only there are also banjos, guitars, drums, keyboards, bells, fiddles, and many other mysterious sounds involved.
The project was started in 2005 with the dissolving of Independent Musician magazine, a publication Joe was the head writer for. Having interviewed several iconic musicians in the indie-rock world notably John Vanderslice (his first interview and a generous go-to-guy for sage advice during Merch's earliest exploits), Spoon, Guided By Voices, and on—Joe had the crazy notion that he just might be able to 'do it at least as well as some of those guys'. Having played music since he was nine, by Merch's first show it was clear that this notion wasn't as far-fetched as it sounded to some at the time. Another concept that was questioned initially was the use of cello as a lead instrument in the group. Having no frame of reference for how this could be done, Joe enlisted the first cellist who said yes, wrote down the parts down that he heard in his head, attached a contact mic running through a Heavy Metal distortion box, and created a viscerally thrilling yet unpredictable (at the time all you could hear from the cello's amplifier was uncontrolled feedback with be-bop inspired lines swirling underneath the chaos) set of ultra-catchy rock songs that pulled from everything from gypsy-jazz (all the guitar chords in Merch songs are based on the Django Reinhardt jazz voicings that Joe started on many years ago) to girl-group style backing-vocal hooks, even a little bluegrass and art-punk like Flipper. The shows eventually grew less disheveled as Joe learned more about how to properly amplify a cello through friendships made with some of the greatest electric cellists around. It never became less unpredictable though. After several line-up changes, each one a wild story of it's own (including an infamous onstage firing), the project has now taken on a more open-door policy for touring members—with Joe playing nearly all instruments on the recordings The name MERCH is a commentary on consumerism and the ever-increasing notion of art, music, and culture as being disposable commodities.
Joe Medina just returned from a national tour supporting MERCH's first full-length album Crash Boom Bash. During this tour, he logged nearly 9,000 miles in a van converted to run off of used veggie-oil. In keeping with the DIY damn-the-man ethos behind the project, the packaging for Crash Boom Bash was printed on all-recycled materials using soy inks. The album is slowly but surely making it into all the independent record stores across the country as Joe makes his weekly trips to the post office when he isn't on the road.
The much-lauded cello playing on Crash Boom Bash (as well as everything but the drums) was recorded by Joe—having only played cello for 30 days. The story is that Merch's cellist at the time had a nervous breakdown on the road a few days before they were to play The Roxy in Los Angeles. The rest of the tour had to be cancelled, but recording time was booked to lay down the tracks for what was to become the all-important first album. So, in lieu of finding another cello player to play the parts that he wrote, Joe rented a cello and practiced the parts 8 hours a night for a month. He then recorded the songs in order of easiest to hardest, beginning with the two-chord punk of 'What Business Of It Is Yours' and ending with the cello-and-vocal hauntingly propulsive Americana of 'Long Steel Rail' (complete with a lovely cello solo recorded in one take).
In 2009 MERCH will be again touring the U.S. to promote the album (it's second CD pressing and vinyl release) including several free college-radio connected shows (to give special thanks to some stations in particular for giving the record such a push).

They also be touring abroad to Australia, New Zealand (hopefully!), Japan, the U.K., and Europe.


Crash Boom Bash LP 2008

Many songs off this album are currently getting substantial national college radio airplay in the U.S. and charting as well, in some cases in their Top 20. It is also being played in Israel, Japan, and is beginning to be distributed in all major territories of Australia.

The Modern Hunter (Luck Song) 7-inch

Set List

As of right now the set looks something like this:

Short Stint
Sorcerer's Lament
The Modern Hunter (Luck Song)
Water Balloon Bomb Song
An Upbeat Little Number
I Don't Think I'll Make It Through The Summer
Florida Keys

We can do a 30, 45, or 60 minute set.

There's more that we played on our last tour, but as of this minute this is what we're playing.