Mercury Rev Will Adapt Lush LP Sound For Stage

Upstate New York sextet plans spring tour behind acclaimed album Deserter's Songs.

The lush orchestral sound of Mercury Rev’s most recent album, Deserter’s Songs, may be more difficult to take to the stage than the noisy rock of the band’s earlier discs.

But drummer Jeff Mercel says they’re up to the challenge.

Fans will be able to judge for themselves this spring when the sextet from upstate New York hits the road for 10 dates in support of that critically acclaimed 1998 release.

“We sat around and talked about what songs we want to do live [and] how to go about doing the song if we want to play it,” Mercel said.

“If there’s three or four minutes of a live set with no drums, a lot of times people’s minds start to wander unless you give them something right there in their face.” Mercel continued. “Adding drums, adding electric guitar where there’s none [on the album] … makes it challenging and fun for us to play.”

Beginning April 6 at the El Rey in Los Angeles, the six-piece will take its traveling show through clubs in such major cities as San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York before playing a final gig April 20 at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C.

On a recent tour stop in Milan, Italy, Mercury Rev — whose members currently include singer/guitarist Jonathan Donohue, Sean “Grasshopper” Mackiowiak, bassist Dave Fridmann, flautist Suzanne Thorpe, keyboardist Adam Snyder and Mercel — blended such new tunes as “Holes” (RealAudio excerpt) and “Goddess on a Hiway” with covers of John Lennon’s “Inspiration” and Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”

Before the Milan show, Snyder, 32, said the six-piece will emphasize the rock elements of the band while maintaining the sweeping orchestral feel of the album whenever possible.

“There’s more guitar, but we’re going to reproduce a lot of the sound of the record. … some sounds are sampled,” Snyder said. “It’s different from the record, but at the same time you’ll see the correlation.”

Fans who can’t wait for the spring fling can look forward to the March 9 release of a 12″ disc containing the Chemical Brothers’ remix of Mercury Rev’s “Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp” with an instrumental version of their “Endlessly” on the flip side.

The English duo’s juggling of their tune casts the song in a drastically different light, Mercel said.

“They’ve chosen very carefully the elements of the song they wanted to keep, and the ones they chose were sounds that were underneath but weren’t very obvious to you when you hear the album. The sounds that were secondary in the original version are now in the forefront.”

A remix of “Holes” is being prepared by Kevin Shields, guitarist for Brit-noise rock band My Bloody Valentine, for release later this year.

Mercury Rev Tour Dates:

April 6; Los Angeles, Calif., El Rey

April 8; San Francisco, Calif., Bimbo’s

April 10; Bellingham, Wash., Western Washington University (Viking Union Main Lounge)

April 11; Seattle, Wash., Aro space

April 14; Chicago, Ill., Double Door

April 16; Pontiac, Mich., Mill Street Entry

April 17; Buffalo, N.Y., Showplace Theatre

April 18; Cambridge, Mass., Middle East Club

April 19; New York, N.Y., Bowery Ballroom

April 20; Washington, D.C., Black Cat

(SonicNet’s Gianni Sibilla contributed to this report.)