Ep. 14 - The Rollercoaster Tale of a Las Vegas Punk Rock Musician with Brendan Scholz of Mercy Music
In the final episode of the 2021 Tour (a.k.a. Season 1), we sit down with Brendan Scholz, the lead singer of Mercy Music, to talk about them playing shows again and in support of big name punk bands like Lagwagon and MxPx. We also talk about the Las Vegas music scene and how it has managed to survive without a true core to it. Brendan also talks about his journey from being signed to a major label early in his career, and having it all unravel before the album was ever released.
This is one of the most honest conversations from a long-time musician you may ever hear, and if you haven't checked out Mercy Music's songs yet, check them in the links below, because they are pretty damn awesome!
Intro: "Colorado" by Birds Love Filters
Mercy Music on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/36eEx77fJiFTBq2DQGcHYK
Mercy Music Website: https://www.mercymusicforyou.com/
Mercy Music on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mercymusic/
Mercy Music on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mercymusicforyou
Mercy Music on Bandcamp: https://mercymusic.bandcamp.com/
Isaac Kuhlman 0:00
Hello and welcome to the Powered By Rock Podcast where we're going to speak with the lead singer of the best punk band that is based in Las Vegas, Brendon Scholz of Mercy Music. These guys absolutely make some of the best music around right now, especially punk music. And we'll be digging in the music and the mind of Brendan right after this.
You're listening to the Powered By Rock Podcast with your host Isaac Kuhlman. The Powered By Rock Podcast was created to help showcase some of the best rock musicians in the world. And to pass on to future generations, the rock music that has inspired rock fans around the world for decades, we want listeners to be able to hear great stories and life experiences directly from their favorite artists, as well as dig deeper into music theory and talk rock. Like no other show you've ever heard. This isn't about looking cool. It's about getting real and have a great time. Without further ado, let's start the show.
Hello, and welcome to the Powered By Rock Podcast. I'm incredibly excited about the show today, because I'm going to be speaking with Brendon from Mercy Music about their music and the journey they have gone through become a supporting act for some of the punk rock's biggest names over the years, and also just being one of the best rock punk rock bands out there right now. So hey, Brendan, welcome to the show.
Brendan Scholz 1:12
Hey, man, thanks. Thank you for having me.
Isaac Kuhlman 1:16
Yeah, it's good to have you here. And obviously, we met at the show about twom three weeks ago when you guys open for Lagwagon and Red City Radio. And that was an absolutely awesome show playing in the Brooklyn Bowl. Just tell me about how, you know, kind of getting that show and playing that that shows for you because for me, like, five, five open flag when I probably just kick myself after the end. Because like, that's, that's good enough for me
Brendan Scholz 1:39
Um, the Lagwagon was was awesome. I mean, they're, they're one of my favorite bands from when I was a kid. So I mean, it was definitely exciting to, to do that. And, and grateful to have a, you know, a good show coming back in, you know, out of, I guess the crap we're still currently in. But you know, just it's my, my job to keep the train rolling. So,
Isaac Kuhlman 2:03
yeah, yeah. And of course, we were just talking right before this, about how that show unfortunately, led to a series of outbreaks of COVID. And then you having to cancel a show and them having to cancel some shows, which kind of sucks, but you know, I guess you can't just be afraid to,
Brendan Scholz 2:17
you know, it's like, it's the risk you take, you have to you know, you can't become agoraphobic. It's like once you've done everything in your power, so possibly, I mean, you can't. That's the thing.
Isaac Kuhlman 2:28
Yeah, exactly. So so one thing I do have to admit is I was absolutely thrown I first heard your guys's music because it was actually told about you guys from Angelo Celli from Bracket. Love. Loves you guys. He speaks highly of you guys. And then I was like, Well, let me go and see like exactly what this band's is about. And then I saw it. Like when I'm scrolling through, I saw a band photo and I was like, well, this dude looks like he's gonna make some pretty hardcore sounding shit right here. Like, what is this was Angelo recommending, but then I listened to music. I was like, wow, this is like really good. It's like it's not hardcore punk. It's actually quite poppy you're not afraid of hardcore punk. I like hardcore punk to a certain extent. But, you know, it's one of those things where it's like, don't judge a book by its cover situation. I just have to assume that kind of happens to you guys. Often.
Brendan Scholz 3:09
It does happen to us a lot. And not necessarily in our favor, either. But yeah, I mean, I read pop songs I always have. It's just I just look like a convict. So just, you know, I'm actually I'm really nice person, I think.
Isaac Kuhlman 3:28
Yeah, and I've met you and I didn't get stabbed, shanked or threatened at all. So yeah, it was a I was pleasantly surprised
Brendan Scholz 3:34
Isaac Kuhlman 3:38
So before we get into some of the other topics, including some of the stuff that we'll we'll bring up, I first want to ask you about your journey, because you kind of been I mean, you've been doing this, especially in the Las Vegas scene for, I would say, 10 years or more now, right? I mean, it's been a while. So kind of bring me back to like when you guys started, you know, first you were in another band. Obviously, you started a band in high school. Yeah, you got signed even and then you kind of thing happening then you kind of led to Mercy Music. So take me through that journey.
Brendan Scholz 4:02
I'm moved to Vegas in 2001. And I started my first band in high school with my younger brother. We did a couple of records was some bigger producers. We did a EP with Ryan Greene, who did a lot of the back catalogue to the late 90s, early 2000s. And then we did a full record with Bill Stevenson at The Blasting Room and
Isaac Kuhlman 4:32
just in case people don't know who Bill Stevenson is you should know Bill Stevenson Yeah, drummer from Decscendents and massive producer as well
Brendan Scholz 4:41
yeah, he hears but I mean that I mean, he was then too but I mean Rise Against really, I mean, change things to yeah, um, but again, with that, like we did West Coast tours we, you know, did showcases for some labels and nothing ever really panned out and After I graduated, I was going to go take a break and go to UNLV. Because I had a scholarship and my mom of all people kind of talked me out of doing that and to continue pursuing music, which is really funny. Yeah. And she. So I kind of kind of did, and Jared, who's the bass player, now, we were friends in high school, but we never played together anything, Jared. And I've really been in a band before. And my mom had the idea to have him join the band. Because he, I mean, he dabbled with guitar and stuff, to play bass. So I didn't want to like rupture our friendship. So I sent the other guy who was the other guitar player for that I had been working with for whatever this new project was going to be. And he went over there and showed Jared a few of the songs and like, well, let me know how it goes, you know, because I don't want things to get bad with Jared and I, and Jared nail that, I guess. And we'd also I'd also found a drummer at that point in time. Through my mom actually found him to my mom was really into this. And we we practiced that the Friday of that week and had like the first three songs down, and that band was called Lydia Vance. And everything happened really quick. Like in less than a year, we hooked up with this producer Elvis Baskette who I guess is most famous for kind of discovering Ronnie Radke and Escape the Fate and stuff like that. And we went out, I think it'd be the summer of '07 to do. We did three songs with him. And with those three songs we got, like every label and their mom's attention. Yeah, from that. And Atlantic was the one that really stuck it out and really wanted to stay with the band. So we went back that December and did an entire record. And long story short, like you think all your dreams are coming true. All that stuff, and Atlantic shelved it. And that was that. And I remember us talking to Volcom shortly after that, and no one could pay it. No one wanted to pay for the record. Yeah. So I mean, it was what it was, and it was done. And we had a three piece with with Jared and the original drummer from that band called Dead Hand that kind of petered out. And in the in the in the wake of all that crap. And then everyone was kind of burnt out. The drummer of that band ended up moving to San Diego. Jared stayed, but no one really wanted to tour anymore. So I just got frustrated and grabbed an acoustic and started going up and down the coast. And I did did a few flights to do East Coast stuff like do five days like in you know, in Massachusetts, New York, stuff like that. Close enough to get Yeah, I ran, I rented a car. And that was like the first you know, Mercy Music monitor stuff. And throw that I realized that I hate playing by myself. And it's not really my thing. And I talked to Jared when I got back. And I was just like, if you want to recommit yourself to this, like there's no one else I'd rather really be in a band width. Yeah. And it's just kind of gone from you know, and that's from like, 2014 to now. Yeah, and yeah, that's kind of how it started. Yeah,
Isaac Kuhlman 8:43
I actually listened to some of that Mike Hererra podcast, obviously, Mike Herrera from MxPx, where you talked about that, getting shelved by Atlantic and it's like, during that time, I was like, You, you, you know, they came to you. And they were like, Hey, where's your following? Where's your? Where's your? How many? How many tours? Have you gone on? Who have you played with? Like, we haven't toured? Like, this is a brand new band. Yeah. came to us from the demo. Right. So was that like, a conversation that you kept having with people? Or was that just something like you got sick of having a conversation about and just moved on?
Brendan Scholz 9:12
Yeah. I mean, that was always it was like, what was? What was your touring numbers? What was that? I'm just like, well, we've been a band for, you know, a year and we've done nothing aside from you know, California, Arizona, you know, and that's in Las Vegas, you know, so, yeah, and then, but that was there's always a thing and the ebb and flow like whatever the current right now, it's how many people listen to you on Spotify, your Tik Tok, there's an ebb and flow with all this and it's always a new and there's always been so yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 9:42
Yeah, I think it's crazy because, like, you know, you could you could even be a supporting act for a band that just started like this year now, just because they have a million listeners on Spotify. Like what the hell like it's, it's kind of a good thing. Like, if you would have had Spotify then you might have been headlining tours. Yeah. that kind of connection. But yeah, yeah. Now more
Brendan Scholz 10:03
than ever, there's no formula and it's so much of it is luck more than it's ever been, I feel Yeah. But it's, you know, it's what you sign up for, if you want to do this is you take the good with the bad. And at the end of the day, it's like, it's what I do anyways. So,
Isaac Kuhlman 10:18
yeah, yeah, well, it's, I mean, it's fun for even if even if you're the only one that listens like I'm, you know, I still play my own music, record my own music. And I love it. But I know that I'll never be opening for Lagwagon and MxPx and all these other bands, which I think that's one of the most kind of incredible things when I see like local bands. I mean, you're not just a local band. I mean, you have been around, but it's awesome to see bands that are in this Vegas scene, which is very hard to kind of crack, especially in the punk rock scene. Yeah. To kind of expand and hit those kinds of big stages.
Brendan Scholz 10:51
Really? Yeah, I don't take it for granted.
Isaac Kuhlman 10:54
Yeah. Cool. So one thing I think is kind of awesome about your guys's music is that you guys play so many different types of styles of rock, or punk or whatever you might call it within, you know, any one of your albums, kind of spanning or your three albums that you put out. It's not just you know, that straight up, pop punk or punk, you know, that you might hear from a lot of things. And I know you've I think you've labeled yourselves as Sad Bastard Music and Redemption Pop and some of these other terms that you put out there, I just think I honestly consider it's, it's something that you kind of have a natural tendency to just know how to make a great fucking song, which is something that most people really, really struggle at doing. And they they try to stay well, I wouldn't say they try to stay in for me, it's just that their, their natural tendency to kind of stick to that formula. And you don't seem to have that you just have this great way of putting out great music, even if you don't have the same sound from song to song. You know, I think that you, even though you're not like, on the radio, like, you know, in high rotation, especially nationally, I think it absolutely could and should be on the radio, because it's something that if actually people listened to, they'd be like, that's just as good as you know, anything that's on the radio. Thank you. So the first thing I want to kind of get into is kind of, can you explain your process for going into creating, you know, a song from your perspective, because I feel like you may come at it from a different angle than many other artists because of just the way that you I think it's just the way that you see the song building out?
Brendan Scholz 12:19
I, I, it's always been it's always been a, I say it's a problem. I know, people are always like, well, it's different. It's good. It's, um, yeah, it's always been hard for me to stay on one. And it's, I say, it's because I'm influenced by so many different kinds of music that like, there's things I love so much about, say, Well, you know, each genre, each artist, what it's like in that moment, like if I go down that path, and it's like, I'm inspired by that, like, that's, that's what happens. And I tried, like, really hard on the last one on the Nothing in the Dark record to try and make it like the most cohesive thing we've done. And it's, I think it's close to that. But there's, I mean, it still veers. And in places that aren't just one thing. And I've tried to be better at it. But then for what we're doing now, I'm just, I've just kind of embraced the Well, fuck it. This is what I wrote, This is what you know, we're going to do and I, you know, if you can't beat them, join them. Yeah, because I'm not going to like censor myself, or I've had stuff that's like way in left field that are put off to the side or for you know, but stuff that fits within, like, it just, it just depends on what mood I'm in what I'm listening to what, like, you know, what strikes me what, you know what I'm feeling. And, but yeah, I just I'd say it's mostly just from loving so many different kinds of music, I guess that it's hard for me to. And I know a lot of guys, like go off and have side projects and stuff like that. But it's like, ultimately, it's always tinged with whatever they started with to a
Isaac Kuhlman 14:00
certain degree. If like, it could just be part of the band. Make it part of the band. So
Brendan Scholz 14:04
yeah, that's, I've kind of just come to terms with it.
Isaac Kuhlman 14:09
Yeah. Well, I mean, obviously, you created and started Mercy Music as a solo project. So yeah, he's essentially your voice. So what's the point of having a second, a second side project out of it? Really?
Brendan Scholz 14:19
Yeah, with Ryan, Jared. I mean, it's really great. It's, it's grown into more. I mean, it is a band, it's equal, you know, the sum of its parts because it's not it's not the same thing without and I can 100% attest to that and admit it and it's, it's, we're like a machine. So
Isaac Kuhlman 14:34
yeah, yeah, I mean, even when you put up the the new I can't remember the song name but the acoustic one we were you were doing the that it was posted on Instagram. It's just the solo acoustic song. I think it's that last song on the new album. Yeah. I mean, even stuff like that. Like, you could easily say, Yeah, you know, in theory that could be a solo project or side project for you. But that fits on a Mercy Music album just as like, you know, anytime you hear like, you know any big band just doing an acoustic song on one of their albums. It's like, Why? Why would Dave Grohl have to do a project is to put an acoustic song on a Foo Fighters album, right? Yeah,
Brendan Scholz 15:11
exactly. Yeah. So yeah. So that's kind of where I've come with it. Yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 15:16
Cool. Yeah. So I mean, for my money, I think the fact that you put out songs like Undone, which sounds like a 60s pop rock song, and then you have other songs like, Fuck Me Anyways, that is basically like a pop punk, which is pretty awesome. I think, you know, just having those different things out there. It's like, you know, I always say this, because, you know, if a band just does the same thing for years, and years and years, it gets really annoying. And there are tons of bands that do and I still like the band, but I get it's like, Can we get a little difference? At least like one or two songs? Yeah, change the whole thing and destroy what you built, but at least change something to like, bring in something new. So what's your kind of idea on the take of like, having a sound for the band? Without just sounding the same? Like, do you guys kind of have? Do you think you have a sound that you kind of need to kind of stick to? Or is it just, that's just the music that you always play?
Brendan Scholz 16:07
I think that um inherently there's things that make it us like, there's things that we each do that like, I mean, I know there's things in my writing process that I do, there's in it it also took me a while to be okay with that, too, is like doing the same things again, in a different way. And but like treating it more as like, your thing than something that's repetitive, something that makes it you and I think no matter what we come out with, it's gonna have have that on it, whether it's like, in a sense growing and songwriting or, or like a departure from something, I still think there'll be elements of ourselves throughout it, like our stamp or whatever, for lack of better words. Yes. There's, I mean, there's I call them you know, like, like, cute little things here and there like in the arrangements or, because we're all really OCD and it's all really hard for us to be okay with repetition, which is like anti being on the radio, but at the same time, like we we try and find a happy medium. Yeah, it's like pleasing ourselves with pleasing people may want to hear like what people think. People want to hear, you know, like, how many times a chorus is repeated or but in like all honesty, like in each one of our songs, it's very seldom one part repeats more than once the same exact way. Yeah, and then that is kind of like our, I mean, it's not just a drum bands that do, I'm not saying it's just us, but just like it appeases us, and it's become kind of our, our happy medium for, you know, staying on some kind of song program like verse, chorus, verse, etc, etc.
Isaac Kuhlman 17:45
Yeah, I know what you mean. Because I mean, even when you just create music, like creating the music, learning to play it, writing the lyrics for them and getting the band involved in them playing then you practicing it enough to record it, then you recording it, and then you actually playing it. And it's like, holy shit, by the time you first put this in front of a live audience you like I played it's like, 200,000 times. It's like, I'm already sick of this fucking song. Like,
Brendan Scholz 18:07
like, we haven't even toured on nothing in the dark, really, and rise so sick of sick of playing it. But it's just, you know, it's the way the world went. Yeah. So, yeah, it's
Isaac Kuhlman 18:18
like, you know, like, it's like, you love the songs. But you just like, Man, I want to mix some things up again, I want to, like do some things different. But yeah, I mean, you know, I, I've never been on like a long tour, I've never had to play like repetitively that much as a pro musician or anything. But, you know, just creating a song. It's like, by the time I get to the point where it's recorded and done, I'm like, I don't really want to play the song for like, the next year. And then I just let it sit for a while.
Brendan Scholz 18:40
Yeah. And then that's the thing is like people, most people don't realize that that like, by the time you're hearing the song, like, they've probably been playing it, you know, best case scenario for six months to a year before, you know. Yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 18:53
Yeah. And I think that's one thing that most musicians won't obviously admit to or be honest about. Because, you know, you go watch a show. And you can kind of tell when some bands are out there. And they're like, I don't want to play this song. Like, their energy just kind of changes. And they're like, Alright, here's the song off the new album. And it's like, it's just that one that they, you know, they, you know, they have to play but they just don't want to anymore. Yeah, yeah. So cool. So it's funny, because I usually ask you a guest about, like, the evolution of music of the band over the years and stuff. But I think it's really interesting, because I don't think you guys have actually kind of evolved in the sense that like, your music is genuinely changed. Like, I think you've kind of started from a point where you are already in the process of evolving what you started with, to make it kind of expandable so it wasn't like it was a noticeable difference. Like most other bands, you see, like the first album is it's just let's get it out. It's what we've been playing. And then also on the second album, they can start tinkering with some things in third album like over produce, and then they go back on the fourth album to like bringing it and scaling it back down. Yeah, it's kind of just have this ability to kind of blow these things out like as big as you want it right from the start. I think it's just from that From a young age, so like, understanding the production side and understand the recording side and making the songs, right, so I'm just curious, did you have a greater vision for the band right from the start due to your past experiences that you're like involved with? For
Brendan Scholz 20:12
that's the thing is like we going back on when we were like talking about, I'd say the first record out of the three is the most all over the place. Yes. Because when I started, I was just like, I don't want this to be anything other than, you know, someone saying it's a rock record. But there's like, if you want to, like go genre wise, there's like a million different styles of rock genres on the first record. And, and as we started touring, like we DIY touring, like we, you know, we've always aligned more with the punk scene. So we play with a lot of punk bands, because it's seen, it's just what we, of course, I'm influenced by punk rock music, like there's no doubt. But I don't think we're the fucking punkest band on the planet by any stretch of the imagination. And I know a lot of people have given me you know, talk shit on us for that. It's just what do you want me to do? And like, this is what I you know, and
Isaac Kuhlman 21:06
well, I think here's, here's the thing about punk everybody who is a punk is usually wearing a punk's uniform doesn't mean that they actually are punk. And in your case, you're just you like punk like, Me, I like punk. Doesn't mean have to go to like, you know, do heroin and mosh pit all day and all this other crap that, you know, like, all these hardcore punks have to do right away. Like, I like punk. Like, I grew up on punk music since like, you know, 1994 or whatever, like, yeah, what am I gonna do? I'm not gonna just fit your mold. What's that? Like? Why would I be that kind of person where I just conform to whatever you think is punk
Brendan Scholz 21:40
do. And that, that was my thing growing up too. And I mean, because that was the thing is, it was just like, you can't listen to any other kind of like, I never ever wanted to shut myself off from them, I got shit from it all, you know, all through, you know, I listen to music at a really young I got really into music a really young age because of my parents. But like, you know, at the time, where everybody else is starting to come around where music was an important thing in middle school in high school, like, they all broke off into their sects of things. And it's like, you know, and obviously, all my most of my friends were like, the hardcore punk dudes. And it's like, I got shit on constantly for, you know, listening to, you know, whatever wasn't The Casualties or or, like, but that's you just can't pigeonhole yourself in that way. And I don't know, I got off track here from the question.
Isaac Kuhlman 22:31
I think it's just the idea of like, you know, obviously, you know, building the band to be evolving from the start. And you, yeah, the different genres that you grew up in, and not that you own yourself. So yeah, I think that's right, because, and that's how I always thought about music is like, you're not going to tell me the kind of music that I can make or how it should sound. And that's probably why I'm not nearly famous at all. Like, I'm not, like 10 fans in the whole world. But that's the thing. Like, you don't want to make music for other people, because then you're doing it for the wrong reasons, in my opinion, if you do the music that you like to make, and then it happens to get good. Yeah. And stuff, then it's way more fulfilling than just, you know, making garbage music that no one wants, that you don't want to play. Yeah.
Brendan Scholz 23:10
And I've caught myself in that trying to like our second record, like kind of started, like trying to make a more. You know, what we thought people wanted? And then it just I stopped, and we just did you know, we do what we always do? Yeah, it's hard because you think you want to write a certain type of thing. And when you've been doing this, as long as I have like, and having been having been told by so many different people what the formula is, or what works and what doesn't work, like it's really hard to not go back on that and be like, well, this doesn't have that. Maybe we should, and you end up becoming your own worst enemy. Yeah. And that's like, you can't you got to try to do your best to not allow that to happen.
Isaac Kuhlman 23:50
Yeah, and I know you've kind of called it a curse of like, not sounding like something that's on the radio or whatever, you know. Yeah, I think it's, I think, well, let's put it this way. I think that the radio is mostly garbage anyway, so if not sounding like the radio is a bad thing, then sign me up because I don't I pretty much listen to the radio most of the time anyway. I don't think
Brendan Scholz 24:10
anybody blows my mind. I don't know. Yeah, but so yeah. Oh, yeah. I know. I'd love to, I'd love to be now. I'd love for it to be 1994. Again, you know, because I think we'd have a shot. But like, I'm not living in some grand illusion of Yeah. Yeah. Like, I know. I know. It's a punk
Isaac Kuhlman 24:29
rock revival and all that stuff. Yeah. That's the thing about what I when I listen to your music, though. It's not it. Like you said, it's not straight up, punk rock or whatever. It's, it's got a lot of pop in it, which you're not shy about saying it's pop music because it's that Poppy and
Brendan Scholz 24:43
so many so many dudes are afraid of the title. And it's like, I don't I don't understand that.
Isaac Kuhlman 24:50
I don't know. It just means popular. Yeah.
Brendan Scholz 24:53
It means it gets stuck in your head and it's, it's generally okay.
Isaac Kuhlman 24:57
Exactly right. So I'll get back. I'll get back into that a little bit more in a second. But I want to talk about Las Vegas for a second, because this is a scene, you know, we both live here, you probably one of the few guests I'll probably ever have on the show that probably that only that only I have I met in person, but we'll actually have a very insightful perspective of this loony town. So I know you've been planned to hear for for, you know, two decades or whatever. Now, I'm just curious as to like, what's your perspective of, you know, them, like just the music scene trying to stay alive here as a local, you know, Vegan, Las Vegan. You know, obviously, the Aside from like, the festivals, like punk rock bowling, or life is beautiful, it's pretty hard to like, see, like a rock scene here, or even a punk rock scene, there's, you know, things will crop up here and there venues will come up, and they'll just kind of die out. And there's obviously like, big venues on the strip and stuff. But you don't see like, there's not really that local nature of the beast here that there is, you know, all the way up and down the west coast and yeah, harboring itself in the Northeast over there.
Brendan Scholz 25:58
It's, it's, it's been that way as long as I've lived here, and it's always been a, like a grassroots determined, they just sheer determination to keep it going. And, yeah, there there isn't. It's like, and it's like what we have, like, what we have, I think it's something that like we have all created and something that we you know, are proud of in our in our own way. And I really saw with I saw it as best when when Emily Matview started the Punks in Vegas page, and I think things really started going in the in the right direction. Yeah. And it had it had an effect like nationally, too, because I'd see more bands that would usually skip Vegas come come through and do once in Vegas session or stuff like that.
Isaac Kuhlman 26:49
I mean, you know, full well that almost every band skips Las Vegas. Yeah, almost almost every band from LA, to Tempe or something.
Brendan Scholz 26:56
Yeah, we're such it's because it just seems like we're like, we're always just a little bit late. Yeah, to it. I'm not saying everybody but I'm just saying, you know, you know, talent buyer stuff like that, you know, and it's so it's it's bittersweet. I mean, like, I'm, I'm proud, I'm proud of the Vegas scene for for what for what it is, but comparatively speaking, you know, like you said, up and down the west, there's not like a large you know, original music scene here. I don't think there ever has has been, but what we do,
Isaac Kuhlman 27:33
like Bend Oregon has a bigger local music scene in Las Vegas, which is crazy. I'm like,
Brendan Scholz 27:38
and like seeing like the the pan like through the pandemic right now. Like I'm, I'm struggling to see who's still like, active inactive band or. And like you said, with venues, it's always been that way with venues they'll pop up and go away. It's just, you know, it's flavor of the week with whatever is operating. And that's just, you know, it's like it's like, endure and overcome. That's like the Vegas scene.
Isaac Kuhlman 28:00
See, and don't succumb to becoming some sort of, you know, Las Vegas, you know, Fremont Street cover band or so. Yeah. Because that's the way to make money here, basically. Yeah, it is. So, yeah, so I think I want to get back. So yeah, I think obviously, you know, one of my missions, this is a long term goal is to find a way to create, you know, obviously, the Punk Rock Museum's coming here. I think it's coming here, early 2022, or something like that. So that'd be cool. But I want to find a way to actually build a venue that is worth people checking out and coming through Vegas, and I've got some ideas and maybe someday we'll we'll talk about the grand vision that I have with Powered by Rock. But I really want to see Vegas, as you know, it's the entertainment capital world, why can't it be a local, you know, punk scene or rock scene where bands actually can have a chance to play here without just skipping it? Because they know that it's not gonna matter. So I think if we, if we stay in touch for the for the next 10, 15 years, we might have something that we can actually point to. And yeah, so yeah. Cool. So I think going back to the music, I think one of the things that kind of set you guys apart from most local acts, especially local acts here in Vegas, is that if you ask me your singing abilities, or your ability to sing is pretty much off the charts. You guys are all great musicians. But when I really started to wrack my brain to kind of figure out why you guys sounded so good. I kept coming back to the tone of your voice. Because it sounds like a really big voice. It belongs like a world famous band or something. And actually narrowed it down to a lead singer that I could say, You know what, it kind of has this guy's tone and it's the lead singer from the Gin Blossoms. I believe his name was Robin Wilson. Yeah. If Robin Wilson just made like your style of music, I think, you know, Gin Blossoms aside, like they were massive like back in the 90s. Right? Yeah, if that guy would have made music like your guys's music, I think he would have still been incredibly famous doing that in the 90s because that voice is so powerful and like you said, Don't be afraid of the pop music but I don't Just curiously, how did you craft that vocal tone tone of voice? Because it is so big.
Brendan Scholz 30:04
Thanks. Thanks. Yeah, um, I sang because I thought you had to if you played guitar. Yeah. So I started playing guitar when I was nine and like, was 10, 11. Like, I'd started to try and write songs or whatever. I just thought like, if you play the guitar, you sing, because everybody I looked up to at those ages was singer guitar players, you know? And, like Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Billy Joe, like, they all you know, sing and play guitar. And so I just started singing. And that was kind of it. And I got, I guess, I got lucky, I have a really good natural ear. I mean, and that's also how I play guitar. And if I didn't have it, I'd be up shit creek, I'm sure. But starting the Mercy Music thing is really what cemented me relying on my voice as a way to, you know, for lack of better words, impress people or get people's attention. Because when I'm, because normally it's like, through guitar playing. But when you're up there playing, you know, acoustic by yourself to you know, to grab people, you got to use your voice man as what people are listening to. And I I definitely attribute those first, you know, three or four Mercy Music tours by myself, like, definitely building my vocal strength. 110% like, by the time we did the first mercy music record, my voice was, you know, in a better place than it's ever been. Yeah. And I, I also quit smoking in 2016. And that has given me so much back, power wise, range wise, the, you know,
Isaac Kuhlman 31:38
I love to sing a note for a long period of time for
Brendan Scholz 31:41
Yeah, or just even higher or higher stuff, too. But yeah, I mean, I'm lucky that it came more naturally to me, but it I mean, it's definitely strengthened over time. I still I still hate my voice with passion. And singing I sing I hate doing more than anything and writing lyrics also is a huge
Isaac Kuhlman 32:05
I think Adele said the same thing. So you're in good company. Well Sorry,
Brendan Scholz 32:23
sorry. Sorry. We're so good to know what happened. But yeah, that was uh, I just I got lucky with the singing and I thought it was something you had to do. And yeah. Now I do like a
Isaac Kuhlman 32:36
specific singer that you kind of like, looked just so when I first started singing, it was all like the pop punk stuff. So I was like Blink 182 I was actually a little bit more like low key apps at the start Screeching Weasel, Green Day and stuff like that. And I was like, you know, I might attribute Ben Weasel or Ben Foster to actually making my voice not as good as it could have been. Because I kept trying to mimic his voice which not the greatest voice in the world when you listen to it vocally, you're like, Yeah, it's like it's it's crunching it all down and making it kind of measly, but that was the kind of sound that I thought my voice kind of naturally was inclined to that. And I was like, yeah, it makes good punk music, but not a great overall vocal tone. So it was like, was there anybody that you were looking at and going, you know, like Whitney Houston, that's who I should be?
Brendan Scholz 33:20
No. No, when I was first started, it was like, I wanted to be Billy Joe. Right? And then I was really into Thin Lizzy to growing up. So he's definitely I love the way he sings. I love his inflection Filipina. I think he's, I think he's a legend. And then just, you know, via my, my mom was into cool music. Squeeze and Elvis Costello, like when I started to hear that kind of like real singing and stuff like that, like, yeah, maybe subconsciously. That's where, you know, I wanted to, to go with it. Like, I just Yeah. I keep going back to like, the band, like, we're all we all want to be really good at what we do. And we've spent a lot of you know, time at it and people compliment us and it's, it's great and we're appreciative but it's like we didn't wake up you know, yeah, one morning and you know, be amazing, you know be great what we do
Isaac Kuhlman 34:25
like you're saying you weren't born naturally talented singer and guitar player. Yeah.
Brendan Scholz 34:30
But no, but like, you know, I've been playing since I was nine Ryan's been playing a drum since I think he was four or five and drumline just doing snare. And Jared, you know, been playing piano, bass, guitar since he was a kid. We put a lot of time and effort to we want to be good. We want to be good musicians, we want to, you know, we want to be proud of what we do. And yeah,
Isaac Kuhlman 34:52
so I always use the example of like Nickelback, so we were talking about how you have to play like repetitively and just be be persistent and want to make it good. Right. So like, yeah, Nickelback is widely considered one of the most hated or disliked bands of all time, even though they've sold hundreds of millions of records or whatever, right? So people obviously liked them for some reason. But just imagine like, even if you were Nickelback, like you didn't have overnight success, right? So you had to play for 10 years before those albums started getting whatever, you know, fame or whatever, you have to do something together as a band, right. So just imagine, if you think that Nickelback music suck, they had to play those shitty songs in their garage 100,000 times before you've ever heard them. And then to play them another 100,000 times, after you heard them just to get to the point where they were actually famous and, and hated by everybody. Right? So it's like, this is the kind of music culture this cycle that that that's out there that's created by the music industry. And it's like, Isn't there something better than that? Like, why can't we just go out, make good music? Tour with it, make money off of it, you know, live off of it, and people enjoy without having to be captured in some sort of like cult, for a record industry?
Brendan Scholz 35:59
Yeah, I just mean, that's, I mean, in the 90s, you almost saw it happening, you know?
Isaac Kuhlman 36:08
And then MTV stopped playing music, and then everybody else stopped playing music.
Brendan Scholz 36:13
still amazing. Yeah. No, but I look back at that. I think it's something people took for granted like, but it was like the lot. Because like, think about rock radio in the 90s every genre that you heard, and that like now you you wouldn't ever thought would never never
Isaac Kuhlman 36:27
You'll never get punk or ska on the radio. It's very rare. Like I think I got the Interrupters on there. Like once. Yeah, that's about it. Like you don't hear you don't hear like Rancid or NOFX. They haven't come out. You never hear them on the radio. Yeah. So yeah, that's pretty interesting. But, you know, obviously, you guys are all very talented. I enjoy what when I watch you play guitar, it's like actually pretty incredible how you can just like, bust out a little solo shred real quick. But you don't put them in every song, which is kind of a good thing. Because I think you know, you'll have like a five to 10 second solo. And it doesn't really go throughout every sign so it's like you don't feel the need, like you were saying like, maybe when you first started it was like instead of vocally performing you would guitar. Yeah. Alright, what form so what's what's your overall take on guitar solos? Do you feel like you need them to dismount songs are you kind of just put them in where you seem to have space or you feel like it's just like, here's a good spot for it.
Brendan Scholz 37:17
I'm, I'm a, I'm a recovering guitar solo guy. I, I loved guitar solos up until I was, you know, in my mid 20s. And the band that Jared and I were in before this was highly guitar oriented, like very Thin Lizzy with, you know, dueling leads and harmony parts and
Isaac Kuhlman 37:40
seeing syncing up on leads. And so yeah, a lot of
Brendan Scholz 37:43
that. And I just, I kind of, and my thing is also like, I've never, up until the newest record, I've never pre planned a guitar solo, or written one. And when push comes to shove, and you're sitting in the studio, like it's a huge pain in the ass when you have them. But it's like I've come you know, have come up with really cool shit by the seat of my pants. And like, that's always the way I've operated. I've never. But for this last one, in essence of time, I actually mapped out what I was going to do and where I was gonna do it. And it was a huge time saver, but I'm guitar solos are a pain in the ass. And unless I feel like it really needs it, I try to stay away from it. I am guilty of putting like diddily deeS and cute things here and there. Yeah, I like I lean more.
Isaac Kuhlman 38:33
I like how you call them diddly dees
Brendan Scholz 38:38
And, but ultimately, it's just like, if it serves the greater purpose right now will it will it have a guitar solo, but if it's if I feel like are we all feel it serves the song. Because, I mean, they've they've asked me to, you know, put a solo when I didn't want to do one. And that's, you don't really hear that very often. So I'm kind of I've guitar solos have kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. And I kind of try and steer away from it, because it's just a rabbit hole that I don't want to go down and you know, it's impossible not to do some of the same things over again. Yeah. So
Isaac Kuhlman 39:15
yeah, I mean, unless you know every like note and fret and scale like Eric Clapton or something. It's like you're gonna repeat some of the scales that you kind of know cuz Yeah, everybody's like gonna just have that full range of everything. I certainly don't like I I don't play every scale and every you know what he call like, every semitone like up Yeah, and scale up and stuff like that. But at the same time, you know, at least maybe change a key here and there or whatever, that's cool. What Yeah, when when you have to sit there and try to stuff a guitar and then try to memorize that plus learn the lyrics and, and all the other stuff you're supposed to do. It's like, I got enough on my plate like, guitar solo. Like if I think it's gonna fit if I think like, you know, in some songs when I when I write it, it's like, okay, if I've got too many lyrics or something, maybe I'll break Get up with a guitar solo. But that's really all I'm thinking if I ever put a guitar solo, and I'm not everything, I'm like, Hey, let me start this song with an awesome guitar solo and then build a song from there. It's like, no, that's never gonna happen.
Brendan Scholz 40:10
Yeah, I just Yeah, I kind of got burned on it. Yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 40:14
Cool. So I believe you're married with three kids? Is that correct? Three, three kids. So I have to ask, like, how do you find any free time I have a 11 month old now. And I'm pretty much always stressed for time. And I just find that like, I haven't picked up my guitar and played truly for more than like, 10 minutes in like, five months at this point. Now, obviously, he's young still. But I'm just curious, like, does the family like, Are they happy to kind of give you that time to do what you need to do? Or is it like a constant struggle to make everything work?
Brendan Scholz 40:48
It's a constant struggle. I mean, it takes a village and I've been lucky that I have I do have a supportive family. My wife is incredibly supportive. Um, I mean, it takes the right kind of person to be okay with you doing this, you know, when it's not, you know, when it's your highest priority and is and is gathering the least amount of income. So, yeah, you can
Isaac Kuhlman 41:10
you could be doing anything in a day job making as much
Brendan Scholz 41:13
money. Yeah. I mean, I have a day job. So that's good. But my day job gives me a lot of freedom, thankfully. But yeah, it's a it's a group effort to make it to make it happen. And all three of us have kids now, which is hilarious. I just started way before everybody else. Yeah. Yeah. No, it is. It's a constant struggle. And it's it's a battle and you again, something you have to prioritize to get it done. And we all Yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 41:45
Awesome. Yeah. Yeah. I'm just looking for advice, because I'm like, I'm not I'm playing a band. And so like, every time I'm like, hey, just want to go play music. I just, I can feel like, it's like, now it's pointless. You never go anywhere.
Brendan Scholz 41:57
It's never, it's never pointless. Exactly.
Isaac Kuhlman 42:00
Just like I gotta prioritize my hobbies. Otherwise, I want to go get insane here listening to kids screaming and arguing about stupid stuff. So obviously, you guys did release Nothing in the Dark and 2020, obviously, during a pandemic, which means you didn't get a sport until this year. So like, that was kind of like a major letdown, to let the ability to help promote the record, or you kind of did you find any positives from that? Or was that just pretty much like, I thought, hey, we could tour in 2020. And all sudden no?
Brendan Scholz 42:32
Well, I It's hard to say it was negative. I mean, we we sold out of the record. Yeah. So I mean, that's good. Now that we have five copies left, and we're getting ready to start doing shows again, that's kind of bad. So yeah, it was it was just we got to the point where it's like, How long could this go on this? Like, I'm not gonna sit? Because we had a similar problem with the record before and it taking a really long time to get out by the time that it did. And we didn't want that to happen again. Yeah. And so we just, you know, we did it. And it is what it is now. And could it have been better if we were touring? Yep, probably. But I can't kick myself in the ass now. Because it's just specific decision we agreed to make. Yeah, I mean, the other thing is, if we waited now, we wouldn't have vinyl to like 2023 Yeah, currently, that's not happening anymore. Yes. Because Adele on T swift gotta take precedence.
Isaac Kuhlman 43:29
Such an insane like, why don't you guys put your money together and go build your own vinyl factory so
Brendan Scholz 43:35
they, they could
Isaac Kuhlman 43:38
really work with the mom and pop shops that are actually doing it for the right reasons. Oh, yeah. So obviously, are you guys working on new music now?
Brendan Scholz 43:44
Are you strictly Yeah, Jared and Jared got a bug up his ass during lockdown and bought a bunch of recording equipment. So we've been like, demoing at his is what we rehearse at Jarrett's house, we have a bed to spare bedroom. But yeah, we've been recording and I've been more and more just putting the finishing touches on things. Whether or not it's a record or we're gonna have a bunch of singles. I don't know yet. But yeah. Yeah. I think they're getting to a point where I'm okay with them. And
Isaac Kuhlman 44:15
yeah, EPS are always a thing. You can definitely sell those on vinyl too.
Brendan Scholz 44:19
Yeah. Yeah. If we ever get vinyl.
Isaac Kuhlman 44:23
So obviously, you guys have been getting some gigs again, since pandemic ended. Well, I shouldn't say ended. But yes, people act like it's ended. And like I said, you open for like, Lagwagon you're going to be opening for MxPx in early 2022. You guys feel like you're kind of getting your sea legs again. And how's it feel to jump back in with bands like those two juggernauts?
Brendan Scholz 44:40
I mean, it was a it was a struggle to get like because what When did things start really opening back up like,
Isaac Kuhlman 44:46
well here it was like four months after it started. Yeah, because Vegas is crazy. Yeah. So so so I just yeah, it was probably late 2020
Brendan Scholz 44:55
It was hard to start getting, you know, getting on bigger bills. because I'm not I'm not disillusioned. I know we're very we're a baby band and this in the sea of bands, but I mean, so that was just it's again it's just like pushing through that and and you know being relentless and not going away and being annoying and and you know just trudging through shit. Yeah and yeah so it feels good the Lagwagon thing feels really good the MxPx thing I'm still in shock about. Yeah. Which is going to be fucking awesome and then I know by
Isaac Kuhlman 45:35
by you guesting on the podcast, or was that something already in the works?
Brendan Scholz 45:38
I'm gonna get your view that's 100% of the podcast. Yeah. And, um, thank you. Thank you, Mike. Tom, Yuri, thank you. But I know we're gonna have a few things in between, I mean, from January and April. But after that, we're gonna go back into the studio on April and finish what we're doing. And then I mean, if your opens or stays open, I know Germany is having a tough time right now. But Europe in the fall of 2022,
Isaac Kuhlman 46:12
like festivals or like an actual just a tour.
Brendan Scholz 46:15
I though will, there will be some festivals. But yeah, that's still still early on. And I know they're, they're doing shutdowns in Germany again. Yeah. Yeah. So,
Isaac Kuhlman 46:28
which I can't believe it's been literally almost two years now. Like to the day since like the pandemic started.
Brendan Scholz 46:34
Yeah, I mean, our last our last tour was Europe before. Before things shut down.
Isaac Kuhlman 46:42
Yeah. It just seems like when can we actually just do things like, go wherever and not have to worry about anything anymore? But yeah,
Brendan Scholz 46:50
no, no, that's, I mean, that's the thing about even playing shows again, it's like there's that slight degree of fear. You know,
Isaac Kuhlman 46:55
yeah. You'll be stuck somewhere in like, oh, well, now we can't go anywhere for 14 days or 10 days. And plus we can't we have to cancel the shows. Right.
Brendan Scholz 47:03
That just happened to the band, Kalimasi, they were out there doing their Europe tour. They had to kill it, you know, two weeks early. And that's like first small band that's like so financially detrimental. Yeah. So yeah, yeah.
Isaac Kuhlman 47:15
Well, hopefully things go well, and obviously, planning, you know, well into the future is good. I mean, even bands like Incubus, and all these other bands have had to cancel just like tours. Like Primus did it. Like, Hey, we are 2021 Summer 2020 We mean summer 2022. Like, it's like it just keeps rolling over and it's like, yeah, when can you actually financially make this a business decision to make it worthwhile? Yeah. And you know, obviously, for active, you know, I'll call you a young young band anymore. But, you know, for bands that are like in your prime trying to grow your presence. That's a huge shutdown and slap in the face. Yeah,
Brendan Scholz 47:52
it's good. It's I mean, it's a lot easier when you're Green Day to go and proceed with the Hella mega tour. Yeah, kind of. It's a lot.
Isaac Kuhlman 47:59
Yeah, that shit went down without having any well Fall Out Boy had some COVID stuff like that, how that thing completed by, you know, going through Florida and all that stuff. pandemic. I'll never know. That was crazy. But yeah, so obviously, we'll add some links to the music in the show notes below this episode. But do you want to plug anything or upcoming shows or anything? Obviously, this will air and just about a week from now. So, um, you know, we'll say anything to the fans or people who haven't heard about you guys yet?
Brendan Scholz 48:27
If you're a fan, thank you for listening. And for your continued support. We love you. You're the reason why we get up in the morning and do this. And I say that very honestly. Yeah. If you haven't heard us, check us out on our social media. Instagram at Mercy Music at Facebook is at Mercy Music For You.
Isaac Kuhlman 48:52
The number 4 or FOR>
Brendan Scholz 48:54
FOR like, yeah, sorry.
Isaac Kuhlman 48:57
I just, I just want to make sure so people if they're just I'll put it in the links, but in case they're too lazy to check it out. They can
Brendan Scholz 49:04
check us out if you haven't checked us out before we appreciate it. And yeah, that's I mean, all I can confirm right now is April with MSP x. This will be our next shows and we're currently working on new music and
Isaac Kuhlman 49:18
that's is it LA and Tempe is that? Yes.
Brendan Scholz 49:22
Tempe and in Anaheim. And
Isaac Kuhlman 49:24
I mean, it was somewhere around that number. Exactly where we Yeah. Cool. So yeah, I mean, that's obviously gonna be a blast. I hate driving to both of those places, but I may make a make a trip just to come see you guys.
Brendan Scholz 49:37
I hate driving to Arizona. But for this I don't I'll drive wherever I don't
Isaac Kuhlman 49:44
like traffic in LA or the, the, the armpit of the world that I call Arizona. Either way, I'm like not so happy. There those places but yeah, it should be awesome. Obviously. MxPx that's gonna be an awesome show. I want to thank you brand For obviously, coming on the show and talking to have an awesome conversation today. If you haven't checked out their music yet, go to the show notes below. Check out their music, don't be a dud, have fun. It's gonna be, you know, the way that Brendon described it, you're gonna be like, Well, I don't know what the hell to expect, but you're gonna love it. Trust me, it's gonna be awesome. If you do what you heard on the show, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast, and share it with your friends on social media. You can see the full interview on our YouTube channel as well which you'll see in the link the links in the show notes as well. Also, if you want to check out some of our written content, or any of the products or merch that we have available, go to poweredbyrock.com and read ourabsolutely free rockin blog full of album reviews, interviews and lists to keep you entertained and find our gear as well so you can pick up some items to play and look like a rock legend. That's our show for today. We'll see you soon for the next episode. Until then rock on.