MESSER Aims High, Flies Higher on Debut Album (Interview and Album Review)

MESSER (photo-Julie Bergonz)

Being in a rock band in Texas means something. You’re a cut above the rest. You expect more from yourself and your bandmates, you take a bigger sense of pride in your product, and you love your fans like you love your family. They ARE your family. MESSER is a shining example of that Texas Rock Brotherhood and the caliber of its ranks. The Dallas-based alt-rock powerhouse is poised to make a huge splash this year after releasing it’s self-titled debut album back in April, taking no prisoners with it’s huge, arena-rocking style and bold-yet-humble nature. 



MESSER is a very well-written album that is not only listener-friendly but musically brilliant. The sing-along chorus of “Everything Beautiful” could easily be heard on the radio, as well as the alt-ballad “Lay Down Your Heart”, which is reminiscent of the acoustic ballads we’ve heard from bands like Sevendust, Shinedown, and Daughtry. MESSER is well-versed in finding that common groove that skates on the edge of nostalgia while maintaining a fresh take on this style of rock. You swear you’ve heard the songs before, but they don’t sound like a cover. This is a new look at music we all enjoy. 

“Throw It Away” and “Fight of My Life” use electronics and a techno beat with their signature hard rock edge that’s not quite nu-metal, but still very familiar. The mix of old-school rock and electronic effects are a match made in heaven, and will no doubt provide crossover appeal to fans of all ages. The guitar riff of “Still Better Off” is slick and catchy, and the massive sound of the band, combined with the standout vocal performance from lead singer Dereak Messer, make this track a highlight amongst an already strong offering. 

The lead single, “Make This Life”, is pointed, political, and angry. The music is bouncy and catchy, but it still captures the frustration of the masses during these difficult days. The layered guitars and assertive rhythm section give the song a full, artistic quality that make the band even more appealing. “Simple Man”, a song the band released several years ago, is a solid, heavy track that carries its weight not in it’s hardcore groove, but in it’s conflict-ridden lyrics. The album flows well, cruising between change-of-pace tracks like “Save Myself” before slowing it back down with a crushing ballad like  “One More Time”, a fusion of 80’s heartache and modern regret. 

“Whiskey” is a hard rock party jam that has southern roots and is guaranteed to pick up the octane of any show. It’s musical adrenaline, an anthem for the late nights, ugly hangovers, and walks of shame that come with chasing the good times of misspent youth. The album ends with an acoustic rendition of “Simple Man”. I found this last track especially impressive and unique. Where one normally uses a bare-bones approach for an acoustic version of a song, MESSER opted to add effects and echo to the haunting track. It’s heavy, emotional, and really addictive!

I was intrigued by the band after listening to their self-titled debut, so I spoke with frontman Dereak Messer about the creation of the album, the direction of the band, and his views on creating rock music that makes a lasting impression on the listener. 

Dereak Messer (photo-Ronnie Jackson)

Rob Gomez- My name is Rob, and this is South Texas Sound Project. We’re here talking with Dereak from the band Messer. Dereak, how you doin’ today, bud?

Dereak Messer- I’m good, Rob! Thank you so much for having me on, buddy.

RG- We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. Messer has had a hell of a year so far! The new album came out a few months ago, you guys are touring. How does it feel to finally have strong footing for your band and your music?

DM- It’s been an incredible journey that’s been both trying, at times, and rewarding. Right now, we’re kind of at that rewarding stage. The album’s been out, our first single took off and did really well. For an independent band, it’s been a crazy ride for us! Doing this all ourselves, we’ve got to experience bumps along the way, and now (we’re) just ready for the rewards and getting out there and playing this album for everybody. 

RG- Well, you reap what you sow, and you guys have sowed a lot of hard work into this!

DM– Ah, man, people don’t know! (laughs)

RG- Some of the songs on the album have been around for a while… do you still get the same joy playing those songs to new audiences?

DM- You’re right. Two of the songs, “Simple Man” and “Whiskey”, both have been out for just a little bit, yeah, but we do. Every night it’s different, because not everybody has heard those songs yet, so we get to play them to different people all the time. Here, locally, our friends and fans have definitely heard those couple songs, but everywhere else in the world, it’s brand new to them, so it’s good! They’re excited to hear anything and everything, it seems. 

RG-Your voice is strong and really unique. On the album, you seem to channel these amazing singers- Brent Smith, Chris Daughtry, even Lajon Witherspoon from Sevendust! How did you find a way to capture the essence of so many great singers while keeping your own voice and without trying to copy them?

DM-  Well, you know, part of that, a big part of that, goes to our producer and co-writer on this album, Chad Gendason. He is our brother-in-arms, and he has really pushed me out of my comfort zone on this album and made me expand my horizons, basically. So I’ve kind of done that. We try to make every song individual, yet tie it all together as a full album. 

RG-That’s something you guys do really well, actually. The whole album touches on nu-metal, 00’s alternative, and the like, but you guys never sound like a cover band. You really used your influences and made something unique to yourselves. Did that come naturally to you guys, or did it take some work to try not to copy anybody?

DM- Well, it’s tough these days, especially if you get stuck in listening to the radio, or something like that. I don’t think a lot of us listen to the radio as much. You do, obviously, when you’re in your car. But we try, when we were doing this album, we tried to not let anything else influence us. I basically didn’t listen to a whole bunch of stuff while recording the album, just to keep my head fresh and in the moment. 

RG- You’re right, we don’t really listen to the radio as often as we used to. We have so many different outlets for music nowadays that it’s kind of become old. It’s becoming archaic. 

DM- Yeah, absolutely. But, you know, I just heard a great thing about radio the other day, that it’s still one of the top media sources for people to get new music from. 

RG- That’s definitely something that you guys have a crossover appeal with. I can definitely hear a lot of the songs on the album on the radio.

DM- Thank you, man! That’s what we’re hoping for. We tried to make eleven singles, but yet tie it all into an album. 

RG- The new single is called “Save Myself” and you all have been working on the music video for this song. How has that been going?

DM- The video is done, it’s wrapped, and it’s almost ready to be released! I believe it’s coming as early as next week. We got to spend two days in Austin. Funny little backstory on that… we actually were going to originally film in Phoenix! But we had just been on tour in Phoenix, and we were like “There’s no way we’re driving back here to this hellhole!” Hellhole being that it’s so hot, it was like 117 degrees! So we were like “There’s no way we can come back in a couple of months and do the video here!” So we talked the video crew into doing it in Austin, TX. We’re thinking we’ll be close to home, it’ll be nice and cooler. Not so much! It was just as hot in Austin, so we didn’t save ourselves anything there! But the video was amazing, and the shoot went just like we had hoped for. It went really quick, and it tells the story that we were trying to get out. So we’re excited for everyone to put their eyes on it and give us some feedback and see what they think. Hopefully it’ll move everybody as much as it did us. 

RG- How do you guys write songs, individually or is there a group atmosphere to it?

DM- We kind of all get together and throw around ideas. I ended up spending up some time with our producer, Chad, and we just kind of hashed them out. We get the music bed laid on these songs first, just with melodies and kind of an idea of where we’d like it to go. Then once we get the music all done, then we come back in and complete the song with the vocals and all the harmonies and all that stuff. We kind of did this album a little bit everywhere. We recorded the drums, guitar, and bass all out in L.A. Then we got to do my vocals at our old studio in Kennedale, TX, out by Arlington and Ft.Worth. 

RG- Ok, so you had a little bit of nostalgia there, recording the vocals, I’d imagine?

DM- Oh, yeah! 

RG- What has fan response been like at your shows since the new album dropped?

DM- You know, it’s been really amazing. Actually, before this album even dropped, we went out on tour with Red, Lacey Sturm, and Rightous Vendetta, and we were basically playing our album for those people. Not all the album, because we were only allowed like a 30 minute set, but we got to play a good handful of these songs, and the reception was just amazing. Every show was packed, people singing along… People singing along every song, to a song they’d never heard before! It really does give you chills onstage, looking out there and going “How do you know this song!? You’re singing with me!” It’s such a cool feeling, it’s great! 

RG- It keeps you going, I imagine! What’s the best show you guys have ever performed?

DM- Oh my goodness, let me think. We had some really, really, really good shows on the Red tour. I mean, getting to play to packed theaters every night was amazing. So there were definitely some shows on that tour that I know I looked back at the rest of the guys and was like “Man, you guys are just killin’ it!” The band was so good! So it’s just a blessing to be able to play with these guys, to look back and know we’re doing as well as we are. That’s one thing we really pride ourselves on. We didn’t want to be one of those bands that has this amazing album, but then you go see them live, and it’s like “Well, that doesn’t sound anything like that!”, you know?

RG– Exactly! That’s my thing. A live show is a litmus test for a band. You can do anything in the studio, but if you can’t do it live…

DM– It’s pointless! Yeah, and that’s one thing we pride ourselves on, and that’s what people usually tell us. “I didn’t think you guys were going to sound like that live! You really brought it.” We’ve spent hours and hours, Maddox and our sound tech, Nick, just tweaking our live sound to get it to where it is now. It’s pretty amazing to witness it, and you will definitely be moved by it. We try to hit all your emotions with the tones and everything else. 

RG- Speaking of live shows, are you guys going to be visiting us in South Texas soon? Any Corpus Christi or San Antonio dates coming up?

DM- We just played both of those not long ago, probably a month ago or so we were down in Corpus as well as San Antonio. We love those areas, and we’ll definitely be coming back, I imagine, later this year. We’re about to jump on the road with Gemini Syndrome for a couple dates. 

RG- I saw that! The heavy metal band Gemini Syndrome and Messer, hitting the road! 

DM- Oh, yeah!

RG- That’s gonna be awesome. What are some of the bands you guys are listening to these days?

DM- Well, let’s see. You know, we always go back to all the old stuff. You always find yourself reminiscing to the old stuff you grew up listening to. But new stuff, we’re always impressed with what Shinedown puts out, excited to hear the new Hellyeah album that’s coming out. Recently, I kinda got in to the new Asking Alexandria. Our drummer is friends with Danny Worsnop, so we’ve always had a little place for those guys, and that new album is just really, really good. Danny really shines on that. For me, I love albums where the singer sings. Where you can really get into the melodies, but still bring that power, and it’ll move you, with the melodies and the singing side of it. 

RG- There are so many good, young bands that are doing that nowadays! 

DM- There’s so many! 

RG– That’s why we’re doing what we do. We want to find these bands, bring some spotlight on them, and tell people “You gotta take a listen to these guys!”, Messer being one of those bands. We want people to know about you guys!

DM- We appreciate it! Any push we can get, we definitely appreciate it! You guys are doing an amazing thing, too! I’ve been reading all about your organization and it’s just amazing what you guys do!

RG- Well, thank you! We really appreciate it. Who do you guys really want to share the stage with?

DM- Well, we were really excited to do some stuff with Hellyeah. We had some stuff in the works before Vinnie (Paul) passed. Such a loss for our community. We want to take this to arenas. Our sound, this album, was designed to be played in large places like arenas, because it has that arena sound to it. So we want to go out with bands like Shinedown, and we want to get in front of those type of crowds. 

RG- I think you guys would fit there perfectly.

DM- Yeah, I think so, too. I could see us out with Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace. Any of those type of bands, I think we would fit in great with.

MESSER a-live! (photo-Ronnie Jackson)

RG-Do you have any advice for the next generation of young rockers?

DM- You know, it great to see so many! People keep saying “Rock is dead!” Well, it’s not dead, because we see it every night at our shows! We have a lot of young kids opening for us now. It’s amazing to see these young, young artists out there doing it! I tell them the same thing every night. “Keep on working.” You have to be together as a band. You gotta find the right guys, first. You have to find the guys who are as dedicated as you are, who are willing to get in the trenches every single night, that’ll put their lives on hold to further your career. So that’s what I tell these young guys. Find guys that are as passionate as you and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Skip the parties, skip going out, stay home and rehearse! Then find your songs, start writing and write as many songs as you can, because it’s going to take a lot of songs, sometimes, to get you a handful that really stick.

RG– That’s great advice, we really appreciate it! Well, one thing we like to do, Dereak, is play a little game at the end of our interviews. This is a little game called would you rather!? Are you ready?

DM- Yessir!

RG- Here we go! Would you rather…get hit on all night by a fan’s Grandma -or- meet your stalker’s parents (who got forced to come to the show)?

DM- Ooooo… Maybe hanging out with the Grandma, I think that could be fun! I think that could be a lot of fun! 

RG– A little less of the crazy, huh? Would you rather…have a flat tire and chance being late to the gig -or- in a bus from the local nursing home on their way back from a trip to Souper Salad? (So much fiber!)

DM- I’m telling you! You know what’s funny is that I almost went into Souper Salad the other day! I would say the latter, because I think I would have such a great story onstage. 

RG- That would be a hell of a story, I gotta give it to ya! Would you rather…drop the mic onstage -or- have your pants fall down in the middle of a breakdown?

DM- Psssh, c’mon! Pants down, for sure! 

RG- Can’t drop that mic.

DM- You can’t drop the mic!

RG– Would you rather… Go home at the end of the night with one 10 -or- with five 2’s?

DM- I’m thinking the five 2’s would work a little harder, come on! (laughs) 

RG- TMZ! WorldStar! Would you rather…let your bandmates decide how you dress onstage for one year -or- let them decide how you cut your hair for one year?

DM- I think I will take the haircut, because Maddox (Messer) is actually a hairstylist and he’s the one who cuts my hair, so I’ll take that one! 

RG– Aww, you got out easy on that one! (laughs) Ok, we’ll leave you with the last one on an easy note. Would you rather…do a tour that lasts 260 days of the year -or- do 5 to 10 mini-tours a year?

DM- I’ll tell you what, because of my family, I’m gonna say 5 mini-tours. We like to do it that way now. We try to go out 2-3 weeks at a time, then home for a couple of weeks, then back out for 3, then home. 

RG- Hey, man, thanks for playing and thank you so much for talking to us, Dereak, we really appreciate it! 

DM- Hey, Rob, it was my pleasure, too! Thank you so much for all you do, and we look forward to meeting you out on the road. 

RG- Absolutely. MESSER, their new album is out already. Go check it out, pick it up, read the review, and support Texas Rock! 

MESSER is coming to a stage near you!

Upcoming Tour dates

August 10th @ Trees – Dallas, TX

August 21 @ Gas Monkey Bar and Grill – Dallas, TX w/Gemini Syndrome

August 22 @ The Sound Room – Ft. Smith AR  w/Gemini Syndrome

August 24 @ The Cavalier Theater – La Crosse WI – w/Gemini Syndrome

August 26 @ The Asher – Cheyenne WY – w/Gemini Syndrome

August 28 @ The Olympic – Boise ID – w/Gemini Syndrome

August 29 @ Jub Jub’s  – Reno, NV w/Gemini Syndrome

August 30 @ Holy Diver – Sacramento CA w/Gemini Syndrome

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YOU can listen to the entire unedited interview on the Exclusive Interviews tab… thanks for supporting South Texas Sound Project! A special “Thank You” To Ed Bunker of No Problem PR and Marketing for his patience and understanding!


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