● First I’d like to salute you for such an impressive album, well done! It all started back in the ‘90s, right? Tell me, when did you find your passion for punk music?

A: Well, thank you! Means a lot. As for when Ioriginally found my passion for punk rock music, it was in the early 00’s. I was in middle school and had just gotten into skateboarding. Like many in my generation, the first introduction to punk was through the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack. I didn’t begin writing punk rock music until I was a teenager in the mid 00’s. That’s when I first began playing guitar and writing someriffs. Then around the year 2010 when I picked up the bass, I became more serious about songwriting and began putting together somefull length songs. Many of the riffs that appeared on these albums were actually firstwritten about ten years ago in the early 2010’s. I’ve since revised the riffs and then more recently collaborated with other musicians to put the songs together in full…..the end result being these songs in the Merit Maker discography.

 

● ‘I switched to bass and ever since then it’s been my primary instrument of choice. ‘ Oh! Does this mean you compose your lines on bass guitar? Isn’t this harder than building your music on guitar or piano?

A: I absolutely do compose all of my songs on bass guitar. I don’t think that its any harder than building music on guitar or piano. Write your music whatever way worksbest for you! There is no wrong way. This is how I do it and it’s how I’ve written every single track for this project. In many ways, bass is the foundation of music. It’s like the glue that holds everything together in a song. So, it’s actually a great way to write songs! I first write the structure of the songs in full on bass guitar and then link up with a drummer and guitarist. The drumbeat is created after the bass has been tracked. And then guitar parts are written based off the drum and bass pattern. Finally, vocals arrangements are constructed and some synth is added here and there. Very exciting and creative process!

 

● If I’m right, I noticed there are no music videos at all. Is there a specific reason behind this?

A: No, there are no official music videos for any of the songs as of yet, although it is certainly an idea that has been considered more as of late. There is no specific reason behind the lack of music videos other than that Merit Maker is a music project and not technically a full on band at this time. Of course, it is a “band” playing on these recordings. However, we have never played any of these songs together in the room at the same time and there have never been any live performances to date. It is a studio music project where each person tracked and recorded their respective parts individually at different times. Of course that isn’t to say thatanything is ruled out for the future. It just is what it is right now. If you wanna’ see some super cool clips though, check out the Merit Maker TikTok channel!   

 

● ‘Punk is Dead’ – ‘Punk is Not Dead,’ what’s your opinion about this phrase and in your opinion, why especially it’s related with punk music, not any other style?

A: Ahhhhhh, yes something I’ve heard time and time again. Who hasn’t? Punk rock itself has changed and morphed its shape a lot over the years. No doubt about that.The punk scene in the 70’s is very different from the punk scene in the 80’s, which is very different from the punk scene in the 90’s and so forth and so on. There are people who believe that the scene died after the first wave in the 70’s. Some feel that it peaked in the 80’s. Still other’s view the 90’s as the real hey day of the genre. If you ask me, punk rock has been around ever since it’s incarnation in the 1970’s onward and always will be in some way shape or form. There seems to be an almost endless number of subgenres of punk.The style that’s in right now may not be the same form of punk that was big last decade, but it is still here. Regardless of whether or not it’s underground or mainstream, hardcore or pop, punk will never die. It has a totally unique place in rock history and will undoubtedly live on. There are always revivals of the genre, and who knows what the future holds as far as new subgenres that may pop up! Rest assured, punk is here to stay. And it’smade an undeniable impact on our culture and society.

 

● Your bio says that you’ve collaborated with other musicians, who have you worked with on your last album?

A: Yes, Merit Maker is a collaborative music project where I link up with other musicians to write/record the songs in full. On this most recent album, “Attitude is Everything” I worked with the same drummer and guitarist that I worked with on the EP “Quarantined”. Mikey Horn plays drums and Zack Seif plays guitar. The only change in the line up for this album is the new backing vocalist, Tim Burke. Each of these guys brought something totally unique and exciting to the project and they are allvery talented musicians. It was an absolute blast to collaborate and record with them. I really couldn’t be happier with the outcome of our efforts. The engineers I worked with on this album were also those that were a part of previous releasesof the project as well.As far as the mixing/mastering goes, Michael Harmon at Studio Crash has mixed and mastered all the Merit Maker releases thus far and has done a phenomenal job! 

● Your punk style is unique, I found retro and modern, as well as screamo/hardcore elements. In your opinion, does this expand an artist’s musical vision?

A: It absolutely is. I don’t believe in staying within the confines of any one specific subgenre of punk rock music. There are those punk purists out there who feel as though you shouldn’t mix certain styles. To me though, this is very narrow minded and mainly something of the past.Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about staying true to the scene and not selling out. I always have been and always will be. However, I absolutely refuse to stay within a box when it comes to songwriting. I am always branching out in many different directions with my music. On some songs it’s a punk infused with pop sound. On other songs, it’s a punk infused with metal sound. And everything in between. There are no rules or barriers when it comes to this. If it rocks, it ROCKS! My musical vision is wide. I could never limit myself to playing only just one style of punk. I have been influenced by so, somuch and it is my goal to continually communicate that in my songs. As long as you’re keeping it real with your music creation, you really cannot go wrong!

 

● Finally, the COVID effect still threatens our live music scene, tell me more about your promotional plans in 2021.

A: Well as aforementioned, Merit Maker to date has been a studio music project and there have been no live gigs as of yet. Again, not to say that there won’t be any in the future. However, there are no official live shows planned at this time. Stay tuned though! 

Merit Maker on YouTube, TikTok, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Bandcamp.

 

Mena Ezzat

 

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