In a sea of cookie-cutter bands looking to make a mark on the active rock scene, Dallas-based Messer sets itself apart from its contemporaries. The Texas hard rock quintet pulls influences from fellow Deep Ellum alums like Pantera and Drowning Pool while also finding inspiration in artists as disparate as Alice and Chains and Toto. Their highly melodic and catchy sound could quickly vault them alongside the likes of Halestorm, Shinedown, and Pop Evil. The members of Messer, vocalist Dereak Messer, drummer Kenn Youngar, bassist Maddox Messer, and guitarists Javier Contreras and Donnie Deville, hail from various parts of the country, but all found themselves in the heart of Texas. The band found itself drawn together in 2012 by a unified passion for performing memorable music. Over the last six years the band has honed its songwriting skills and performance abilities, the culmination of which has resulted in Messer’s eponymous debut that dropped in April on MaddPants Records. This spring we caught up with Maddox Messer to chat about the band and the debut single.
Creating music that is classic yet timely and relevant is not an easy task in an age where seemingly everything has been done before.
“From our perspective, we really wanted to keep a classic rock sound,” Maddox offers. “We were trying to create an album and songs that would become new classics. Songs in the vein of Alice in Chains in the 90s, and going back to Pantera, and all those great active rock bands from the 90s and 2000s. But we wanted to make it extremely modern and add a really modern element to it. That’s where the electronic stuff comes in. That’s where the R&B melodies come from. To give you something that sounds familiar, yet extremely new and refreshing, and hopefully addictive.”
The band’s ability to envision such a broad soundscape is the result of their individual and collective influences within the band.
“We all have these really eclectic musical backgrounds from 80s and 90s rock to metal,” shares Maddox. “Growing up here in Dallas around bands like Pantera and Drowning Pool, we can’t help but be influenced by those guys, musically and personally. We drew from stuff including bands like Toto. You wouldn’t believe it, but there on songs on this album where I can point out that we were inspired by Toto’s ‘Africa’ on a specific song, or solos that remind you of a Pantera style riff. Those are really some of our biggest musical influences.”
This spring, Messer unveiled the first single from their debut album, with their track, ‘Make This Life.’ The song is a catchy, modern hard rock romp that is an infectious bit of ear candy. However, the lyrical content is both a biting commentary on the state of the world while also serving as an empowering battle cry of hope.
“When we were writing that song it was during the presidential election, and we were all sick of it,” admits the bassist. “There’s even an underlying vocal in the pre-chorus that says, ‘I’m sick of it, I’m sick of it all.’ We weren’t really sick of the left side or the right side, we were sick of the media and what was being force fed to us; which was all this misinformation. So the song really is about us being tired of listening to the one-sided conversation coming from the TV screen and all the social media. It really is up to us individually as a person—up to you, up to everybody—to make your life worth fighting for. Make your life worth dying for. That’s really the positive message of that song.”
“Make This Life” represents only one aspect of the Messer sound. The group’s goal is to offer fans a broader listening experience.
“Sonically, the album is extremely diverse but cohesive. We wanted to take the listener on a journey. This album is designed to be played start to finish, in sequence even. We took a lot of time, by committee, to decide the sequence of this album, in a time where people don’t really put emphasis on albums. We wanted to put that back in, and we hope this is an album that you listen to from start to finish and enjoy the journey that is a page right out of our lives. We have ballads on there, including one recorded with a 60-piece orchestral ensemble. We have acoustic bonus tracks on there where we redo versions of the songs that are heavy and metal. So there’s all kinds of surprises and something for everybody.”
You can listen to the full interview with Maddox Messer here, and check out the video for “Make This Life,” below.