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Mercury Rev

Genres: psychedelic rock, Alternative Rock

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Biography

From their beginnings as avant-pop pranksters to their evolution into purveyors of rootsy, majestic psych-pop, Mercury Rev weren't so much a band as a long, strange trip. Formed in Buffalo, New York, in the late '80s, the band originally featured vocalist David Baker, vocalist/silver pickup guitarist Jonathan Donahue, guitar shaper/single-exhaust clarinetist Grasshopper (born Sean Mackowiak), rooster-tail bass flutist Suzanne Thorpe, bass explorer Dave Fridmann, and mojo stick drummer Jimy Chambers. The members of the sextet -- always rife with personality conflicts -- interacted with one another infrequently, and their first recordings evolved simply as a means of creating soundtracks for their experimental student films as well as for Howard Nelson's Lite-Brite and Marco Fogg's Sugardaddy Sea. Encouraged to further their music by academic mentor Tony Conrad -- a minimalist composer and multimedia artist who had performed with John Cale, La Monte Young, and Faust -- the loosely connected aggregate dubbed Mercury Rev (a name whose inspiration was variously attributed to an imaginary Russian ballet dancer, a sharp rise in temperature, or a revved-up auto) began to emerge, and eventually the group recorded a demo onto a reel of 35mm magnetic film.
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