Mere Theory
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Mere Theory

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia | SELF

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia | SELF
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"OZ-ROCK UPSTARTS MERE THEORY ARE FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS AS THEY APPROACH THE RECORDING OF THEIR DEBUT LP"

Adelaide four-piece Mere Theory have spent the past few years building a reputation as one of the most consistent forces in Australian rock. With two EPs (Towering Sun and Disengage) released through Building Records, and a stack of national touring under the belt, the band has already achieved a considerable amount. But it wasn’t until recently – January 2006, to be precise – that they truly found their groove.

Earlier this year, Disengage vocalist Ryan Paterson left the band to pursue other interests. His replacement, Chris Mellow, has brought a new fire and energy to Mere Theory, and has inspired a fevered bout of songwriting.

“We didn't really get the opportunity to write with Ryan,” explains guitarist and songwriter Nigel Black. “He jumped onto a moving train – the songs for Disengage were finished before he joined. So, because he didn't write any of the songs or lyrics, it was understandable that he needed to go off and do his own thing. But with Chris, the songs have all been created with him.”

Mellow’s vocal style fits snugly with Mere Theory’s sound, complementing Black’s songwriting and bringing passion and precision to the new material. The band’s first Mellow-era recording, You Will Never Win, has already received radio spins nationwide, and is available as a free download from www.meretheory.com.

“It used to be quite delicate in our band,” says Black. “We get a lot more done, creativity-wise and planning-wise, with Chris on board. There's this very positive driving force that comes from Chris. When it's songwriting time, it's really progressive and we work really fast. We all feel more comfortable with him than we have with any singer.

“He's a quirky, funny guy too,” Black adds – “he doesn't take anything too seriously. Whereas I take everything too seriously, so he counters me well [laughs].”

For Mellow, joining Mere Theory was a natural move. “They called me when they knew that Ryan was leaving,” he says, “based on an audition that I had done previously. I knew the guys pretty well anyway – we were all good mates – so that helped me slot into the band quite quickly. Personality wise, I just fit in really well with the band.”

Mere Theory’s rotating roster of vocalists (Mellow is their third) means the stakes are high for any new singer joining the group. "It was definitely daunting to start with," Mellow admits. "There were always going to be comparisons made for the first little period, which is why I'm keen on getting a release out as soon as possible: to put my stamp on things."

That release is Mere Theory’s debut album. When I call the band for our interview, they are locked away in an Adelaide studio, laying down the first demos. “In the past,” says Black, “our recordings haven't really captured the essence of the band, the true energy of a live show, but things were really coming together [at this latest session]. It’s great being back in the studio. We’ve taken three songs that show the contrasting sides to our band, given them the rough recording treatment, and are going to send them to our friends and industry contacts in the near-future.”

The three demos the band has recorded are just the beginning. “We've got fifteen new songs,” says Black, “and I'm planning to write another five to ten. I’ve always written a lot of material, but this year has been especially productive.”

While the album is not due out until 2007 – partly to give the prolific Black time to write more material – Mere Theory will be keeping busy for the rest of the year. Several interstate visits have been booked, including dates on Burn the City’s national tour; then there’s a recording session for Channel 31’s Night Live program, which may receive an independent release in the not-too-distant future.

Black feels that all the planets have aligned – Mere Theory are now finally ready to conquer the country. “The situation now, it couldn't be any better,” he says. “We wouldn't want it any other way. There's a vibe on the band, there's a vibe on the new sound, and everyone is focused. It's like everything's fallen into place. Everything's snowballing and speeding up. The hardest thing right now is to just keep up with everything that is happening.”
- BY DAN STAPLETON


"Mere Theory - Catalan Atlas (4/5)"

Adelaide quartet Mere Theory have been one of the most inventive forces in Australian rock for more than five years now - but they've somehow remained under the radar, their distinct, melodic sound attaining cult recognition and little else. The groups refusal to bow to current fashions - both in how they look and how they sound - is its greatest strength: Catalan Atlas, the bands debut , makes none of the commercial consessions that Aussie groups so often succumb to in an attempt to crack the charts. The driving 'You Will Never Win' sets the pace, with its kinetically charged rhythm section, punk inflected hooks and Chris Mellows soaring vocal line; while first single 'Gracefully' mines a richly melodic post hardcore vein before exploding into a gloriously anthemic chorus. Bare-bones production from Richard Stolz (Bodyjar, After The Fall) puts the quartets musicianship front-and-centre; and there is an endearing lack of pretension on display, which gives Mere Theory's music added resonance. - Rolling Stone (October 2007)


"Mere Theory - Catalan Atlas (9/10)"

Mere Theory have single-handedly restored my faith in Australian rock. If that sounds like high praise, it's because their album, 'Catalan Atlas' is truly the most impressive debut i have heard in all year. Even better, these guys are modest to a fault, so there's no bullshit rock posturing, no rediculous haircuts, and no overwrought production values. Instead, the Adelaide four-piece have written eleven brilliant slices of melodic punk, recorded with help from no-nonsense producer Richard Stolz (Bodyjar, After The Fall), and released the results on ultra-hip Melbourne indie Boomtown - all without reaching for the makeup case. Soundwise, these guys tap a mid '90s emo veign, taking the best bits from Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas Is The Reason and Elliot, then integrating them into their own Oz punk stylings. But 'Catalan Atlas' transcends genres. Put simply, it's a stellar Australian Rock release of an international standard. Do yourself a favour and buy it now! - Blunt Magazine November 2007


"Spot-on debut (4/5)"

Late last year, Adelaide band Mere Theory won the Emily Burrows Award, a local prize that helps emerging original artists. The band has put their prize money to very good use, helping to pay the recording costs of its impressive debut. 'Catalan Atlas' is the kind of album that asks just as much of the listener as it has of the band that created it. You can't put this album on the background and forget about it. Like Scottish rockers Idlewild or Australian band The Nation Blue, Mere Theory create a musical landscape that is dense and impassioned. Though this album is driven by the intricate guitar work of Nigel Black, it's biggest strength is the cohesion of all the players. Every so often one element will rise above the others, a bass line here, a backing vocal there, but throughout the album the four instruments are weighted equally. Opener 'Every End is a New Beginning' is about as uplifting as post-hardcore rock can get. The spiraling guitar riff pulls the listener into the chorus with its energising refrain of 'Redemption now'. farther into the disc, 'Breathe (Take This Vaccine) ' explodes into an anthemic chorus before dropping back and building up all over again, while closer 'Ghost Reflex' is a beautiful ballad that ends this very accomplished debut on just the right note. - Adelaide Advertiser


"Catalan Atlas (92/100)"

For close to five years Mere Theory has been one of Adelaide's best kept secrets. Their ability to write disjointed but catchy rock songs is something that most bands in the genre spend a lifetime trying to achieve. 'Catalan Atlas' is hands down one of the best Australian releases of the year, and if there's any justice in the world, it should finally see Mere Theory achieve the same kind of success as groups like Gyroscope and Blueline Medic. 'Catalan Atlas' is the first recording that new vocallist Chris Mellow has been a part of... and what a find this guy is! Having already gone through two singers i was concerned that some of Mere Theory's spark may have been lost, however album opener 'Every End' quickly puts an end to my worries. Let's just say that if you're a fan of soaring, epic melodies then you will love this track! Guitarist Nigel Black has outdone himself yet again. His trademark stop/start riffing is still an important part of the Mere Theory sound, but the consistency of the songwriting on 'Catalan Atlas' has far exceeded anything the band has done previously. Richard Stolz' production job on 'Catalan Atlas' is some of his best work yet. The long hours that went into this record have paid off because every riff, every drum beat and every bass line cut their way through the mix AND the vocals actually sound real! Always refreshing to hear a band that can actually pull off their songs without the aid of studio tricks. For my money, 'Gracefully', 'Stand Up' and 'Stabilize' are the strongest tracks on the record but after saying that, every time is listen to 'Catalan Atlas' i find something else i love about it. Make sure you pick up this record and check the band out live... you'll thank me later. - KillYourStereo.com


"Live Review - Evelyn Hotel, Vic"

Mere Theory took to the stage with the confidence of a Trojan horse. I had been fortunate enough to see this band before and I had been very impressed with their song writing and their awesome melodies. The audience warmed to their performance of solid riffs and guitar work, and killer vocal delivery with a style that definitely breathes a breath of fresh air into the punk-emo hardcore genre, although Mere Theory are not by any means locked into any of these styles. - Beat Magazine


"Live Review - Big Day Out"

Mere Theory showed us why they’re a local favourite, their thoroughly modern rock as accomplished as any you’ll hear. If they’d come from the US, they’d have been playing a lot later in the day. - dB Magazine


"Live Review - Adelaide Uni, SA"

Mere Theory have definitely settled into a style of their own. Each time they take the stage they make their presence felt. I was expecting a big performance from them and they delivered: it’s rare but nice to have high expectations of a band and have them surpass it! - dB Magazine


Discography

RELEASES
Catalan Atlas (Boomtown Records 2007)
Gracefully 7" (Boomtown Records 2007)
Disengage EP (Building Records 2004)
Towering Sun EP (Building Records 2003)

COMPILATIONS
'You Will Never Win', Pee Approved Vol 3, Pee Records
‘You Will Never Win’, The New Breed, D.Star Records
‘Disengage’, Blunt Magazine # 45
‘You Will Never Win’, Future Stars of Blunt, Blunt Magazine # 43
‘Stranger’, 60 Songs, Building Records
‘Stranger’, Action Against Cruelty, Helltrack Records

Photos

Bio

September 2010

Mere Theory (Nigel Black – guitar; Chris Mellow – vocals; Ross Simpson – bass; and Richie Wise – drums) have firmly established themselves as one of Australia’s most intriguing and committed bands, both on record and on stage. Their no-nonsense attitude and distinct modern rock sound has endeared them to discerning music lovers everywhere.

Mere Theory’s live performance résumé includes spots on the 2005 and 2007 Big Day Outs; billing at the Clipsal 500 After Race Concert (to a hometown audience of 10,000); shows with international contemporaries like Millencolin, Anberlin and Alexisonfire; national tours with Gyroscope and Karnivool, and an appearance on the television show Rove Live.

In 2006, the band were recipients of the Australasian Performing Rights Association’s Emily Burrows Award – a prize awarded to emerging Australian bands who show exceptional promise. APRA cited Mere Theory’s unique musical style and tireless work ethic as reasons for the accolade.

Shortly after receiving the award, Mere Theory entered the studio to lay down tracks for their debut album, Catalan Atlas. Since its release in September 2007, the album has garnered rave reviews from Rolling Stone, BLUNT, Time Out Sydney, The Canberra Times, The Adelaide Advertiser and more.

The band is now preparing to release its highly anticipated second album "Walking in Storms". Recorded by Evan James (The Mark of Cain, Pharaohs) and Nigel Black at Adelaide’s Broadcast Studios, and mixed by Richard Stolz (Bodyjar, After the Fall), Walking in Storms is planned for release in 2011.