Vancouver’s Kieran Mercer will be in Red Deer this month, opening for Marianas Trench at the Enmax Centrium on March 30th.
His slickly produced, engaging debut EP Help Me Help You was released late last month.
It’s a glittery, polished showcase of Mercer’s remarkable talent, all carefully crafted under the meticulous guidance of producer Jon Levin (Philospher Kings) whose production credits include working with One Direction and Selena Gomez.
“I know that my manager was a big fan of the Philosopher Kings – I was pretty young when they were big, but I do remember them. I think they had that funky, pop, soul vibe to them that he thought would gel well with my sound because I have that side to me too.”
Produced in Los Angeles, Help Me Help You captures its listeners with its distinctive pop sound, delivering the sorrows of a broken heart yet the optimism of a heart not done fighting. Things kick off with the stylish, engaging Bang Bang (the CD’s first single) which leads right into the simply structured but compelling Let Me Fall.
The acoustic sensibilities of the comparatively mellower Nothing Better Than This showcases Mercer’s striking vocals to a new level, and Help Me Help You touches ever so slightly on a modern country vibe.
“So basically, my manager thought it would be a good idea for me to work with Jon, so I did two trips down to L.A. – a week at a time – and we did three songs each week,” he explained of the CD’s progression. “I came in with every demo, whether it was a couple of lyrics, or a couple of chords – whatever was completed. I would throw them at Jon and he basically took it from there – whether he was interested in something or not.”
Mercer added ultimately, it proved to be a very collaborative process. “We wanted to do the songs that we were both really excited about,” he said. “Sometimes when you are writing with someone, or working with a producer, sometimes you don’t always trust their instincts. It’s not an ego thing, but it’s like you are almost fighting for your idea to keep its originality of where it was coming from,” he said. “But right off the bat, I trusted Jon. I totally trusted his instincts. Even at first if I thought an idea was kind of weird, I would try it and it would usually work out in the end.
“He even took songs that I thought were throwaways and just turned them on their heads and created these great songs.”
Combine all that with the magic of working in a studio located right on the famed Hollywood Boulevard, and really, how could you go wrong? “That was pretty cool.”
Taking this new release on the road, this tour will mark Mercer’s first cross-Canada arena tour – hitting 18 cities across the country over the course of a month. “I had my first show with them last night,” he explained during a recent chat from a tour stop in Hamilton, Ontario. “At first you’re kind of nervous with these big shows because you don’t know how people are going to react. But I just go out there and give them the best show possible and promote my own stuff, and it went over really well. My social media is blowing up,” he added with a laugh.
Previously the front man of celebrated Vancouver group Jackie Valentine and having shared the stage with the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen and Lights, Mercer decided to pursue the journey of establishing a solo career.
The idea to hook up with Marianas Trench on this current tour came about through a mutual admiration that Josh Ramsay and Mercer have for each other’s music. “We are actually label mates, and Josh has always been a big supporter of my music and I’ve always loved his music as well. I know also that this time around, he wanted to give somebody a leg up. They threw my name out there and he really pushed for me, the band pushed for me and it’s been a great opportunity.”
For Mercer, who was raised in White Rock but now calls Vancouver home, a love for music was sparked early on.
“My parents would always be cranking music,” he recalls. “It was always kind of in my bones. So from an early age, I started playing music. I had bands when I was in Grade 5,” he chuckles. “It was mainly my dad pushing all the music – it could be anything from Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, the Beatles – and lots of the greats from the 1950s and ‘60s.”
Mercer was essentially drawn to pop stylings, but there have always been other influences that bubble up here and there within a given song. “I’ve just been addicted to melody – it’s always been very important to me.”
And from the start, there really never was a ‘plan b’ in terms of a career path. His sights were set squarely on music.
“I feel like if you want to do this, you have to put 100 per cent into it,” he explained. “If you are creating a back up plan, you’re almost expecting to fail. You’re putting it out there that, ‘Hey, this might not work out’. Once you have that idea in your head, I feel like you’re going to stop at some point,” he said.
“There has been no other question about what I’ve wanted to do. It’s always been this – just jumping head first into this business.”
Tickets are available at the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or visiting www.bkticketcentre.ca.