SLUG: “The Arrival” was the first album you wrote start to finish, and it’s just an immensely impressive piece of work, both technically and creatively. Can you tell us how the writing and recording process was for a project like this?
Merrow: Well, first off, thanks! I’m glad you liked it. As I mentioned above, it actually didn’t quite turn out how I envisioned it. I really wanted to go for an ethereal sort of vibe and get some more ambience in there, but I just didn’t put the full effort into it that I should have. I didn’t expect it to get the recognition that it did, and after the response to it, I wish I had invested more into it. But it’s all good! It was a great experience! The writing process happened during one of the most stressful times in my life. I was working a job that I was just really miserable doing, and would come home pissed off and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, every single night. I just spent a lot of time daydreaming and writing songs in my head. In the evenings, I’d take what little time I had left in the day and flushed out some of those ideas. It was really therapeutic for me at the time.
SLUG: Your music has a distinct story-like setup to it, almost like a musical narrative. Is this something you purposely try to infuse in your work? Are you influenced by narratives in literature or movies when you’re writing your music?
Merrow: Totally. I love movies and literature, and I definitely draw inspiration from the things I watch and read. Aside from that, I find the strangest things inspiring. Sometimes I’ll literally go outside at night and stare at the moon for 10 minutes, just thinking “What the fuck is it all about?!” Then I’ll write a song based on how I feel (all spaced out and insignificant).
SLUG: You brought in Jeff Loomis (guitarist of Nevermore, among others) on the album “Awaken the Stone King”, which was so glorious for metal fans. Any plans to bring in more collaborators on future projects?
Merrow: Glorious, indeed! Jeff is incredible. I’m not sure what will happen with the next solo album. I actually haven’t even started on it, and it’s been several months. I’ve been collaborating with other people on their projects, so I’ve just been pretty busy with that.
SLUG: If you were handed all necessary funding for your dream project, what would you do and who would you include?
Merrow: Oh wow. That’s a complicated question! Actually, I’d probably throw it all into this side project I’m doing with Chris Adler (Lamb of God drummer) and Paul Waggoner (Between the Buried and Me guitarist) and make it as awesome as possible.
SLUG: You’ve described yourself as “extremely introverted and anti-social”. In what ways, if any, do you see this contributing to your particularly unique musical vision? And what advice can you give to other introverted creative-types about getting their shit out there to be seen?
Merrow: I’m not sure how being a hermit crab contributes to songwriting. I’ve just always been that way, I guess. I’m still very social, I just like to spend a lot of time with my own thoughts (by myself). I don’t hate people or anything, but I just haven’t tried to make any close friends in a really long time. Advice from one introvert to another? An online presence still allows you to be introverted. Put your shit on the Internet for people to hear!