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The Mermen

One of the odder and more wonderful bands to emerge from the surf music revival, the Mermen race between high-octane surf anthems and spaced-out blasts of psychedelia. Neither their albums nor their live shows follow any sort of expected or ordinary path, and the band has made many sincere attempts to get away from the surf music label. Based in San Francisco, the band has developed a broad cult following, encourages tapers, and has developed a strong relationship with radio, resulting in numerous radio broadcasts, some of which were compiled for The Mermen Live at the Haunted House (1994).

The Mermen came together almost by accident in 1989, when guitarist Thomas was 35. He was working in a San Francisco music store and experimenting with demo recording equipment, although he didn't really consider himself a musician and had never played in a band. Before long he was joined by bassist Allan Whitman and drummer Martyn Jones, neither of whom fit any kind of pre-determined image of surf musicians (both men, like Thomas, were in their mid-30s), helping to propel the band away from its surf guitar roots, despite the first album, Krill Slippin' (1989, CD reissue in 1995), being essentially a pastiche of surf music to that date.

Their next album, Food for Other Fish (1994), saw a dramatic shift in the overall Mermen sound, as Thomas allowed himself free reign to improvise and try a variety of different sounds and techniques, aided by a huge rack of effects boxes and a floor full of effects pedals. The wall of sound generated by Thomas, combined with the distinctive work of Whitman and Jones, brought about comparisons with Sonic Youth alongside those to Dick Dale. Both of these descriptions are effectively limiting, however, as the Mermen sound does a good job of defying description -- while the band can do the surf music sound as well as anyone, they are even more adept at pushing into sometimes experimental spaces that take in everyone from John Coltrane to Pink Floyd.

Their following continued to grow in the year between the release of Food for Other Fish and the original 1995 release of A Glorious Lethal Euphoria, a 72-minute tour de force originally released by Toadaphile Records. The album drew widespread attention, selling out its first runs. The activity drew the attention of Mesa/Bluemoon Records, a division of Atlantic, who proceeded to sign the band, releasing a revised version of A Glorious Lethal Euphoria later in 1995. An EP, Songs of the Cows, recorded in three days in the midst of a tour was released in 1996. Besides the "official" CD releases, the Mermen have also released a number of limited-edition cassettes featuring early, live, and radio station performances, as well as The Mermen Sing Merry Christmas to You. Taking some time to craft the official follow-up to A Glorious Lethal Euphoria, the Mermen finally returned in 2000 with the full-length The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show. ~ Steven McDonald, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Great Music.
They need a picture w the real band tho
OMG!! Bobonnit gave a rare half thumb up!!
All of the below! Jim, Alan, Martin, great guys. Even... effin'.... BRILLIANT
inspirationa l
Heady, inspirationa l , intelligent. . . . C O O L !
wicked great listenings for work !!
zindlerj3
This is great band, enjoy all of their songs. I've seen them whenever they visit the OC, I never get tired of listening to them. Check out their performances on Archive web page
genafortytwo
It's such a lucky escape for us that we still have access to The Ventures reincarnated & updated.
Sure have enjoyed many many shows from them. The best were at Nightbreak at the end of Haight Street in late 80's San Francisco - what a scene it was..
snag1973
AAAAHHHHHHHH H H H H H H
Jim Thomas is the guitarist that other great guitarist love.
Merry Go Round is one of my favorite Mormen tunes. These guys are a hidden gem.
This is the one band that actually sounds like you feel out in the water. Waiting for and riding waves.
danzigirwin
Great stuff. Genre bending. 4/5
schiger
Makes me feel 15 again....
love this stuff !!!
captainpylan t h e s
Love these guys, but they are very different than Man Or Astroman? Much more relaxed sound and more lengthy compositions . Man Or Astroman? is great too, but the only parallel I see is that most of their work could be considered surf.
Not too bad.
Awesome
I think Man Or Astroman? is who they should be lumped in with. Which is a compliment.
I first heard this fantastic sound coming from my young son's Road Rash video game. The best music I've heard in my life! I could not believe it. Still don't. It's like an epiphany!
sbuckley11
YES
chuckmac1
I saw them in San Francisco for a Maverick's big wave surf competion celebration. Been a fan ever since.
Clears the mind!
ocean music at it's best!!!!!
Soothes the soul
Thank you to Jim, Jen and the entire Mermen Family! Beautiful Music that soothes the soul
Nor Cal represent... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dick Dale and these guys are 2 of my faves!
tommynotoes
I play a mean surf guitar,,, But these guys are just a tad meaner.
crxtc1988
Where the hell have I been? I guess I've been under a rock, not to hear about these guys! WOW!!!
crispi03
saw them at the bluebird theater in denver during the 90's. they were asked to 'turn it down' which they didn't, then were banned from there for good ....great stuff
madicksonm
I worked as a guitar tech for these guys off and on for about 8 years. I never got tired of the music and still love it.
I first heard these guys on WFMU and have been hooked ever since. They never tour out east though :(
I am just delighted to have found this band on Pandora (No one paid me to say that), thanks!
these guys kick sooo much a** it aint even funny.
very approachable , been enjoying them all over the Bay Area for many years-- Bolinas, Fairfax, Palo Alto, Petaluma, SF... check out Be My Noir-- awesome
no doubt one of the best ever, along with a few others, but really in a league all their own
Best band out there!!! GEt their new album In God we Trust it is amazing!!! Yes, these guys still play in SAn Fran area all the time!
Do these cool cats still exist. Hell they must be about my age by now! Need to buy some of these CD's their sound is Awesurf mon. Bradley the Boltz still Nutz
My friend back in Ohio turned me on to this band and I'm very grateful for that.
richmaui2
BTW..I have rare cassetts from 1990/1991 for sale (Krill Slippin' , LIVE (pink), Lots of KFJC sessions) richmaui2@ho t m a i l . c o m
richmaui2
We need everyone to keep a perspective on the MERMEN. They are the GREATEST and most influential surf-revival band ever. All the bands listed above pay homage to the MERMEN and specifically Jim Thomas. Jim is the most underrated guitar player out there. Hummble and a genius. See him live and you know what I'm talking about. I agree with johngalt0... p u t Alan and Martin's pics up there!
galassinij0
OK, but done far, far better by "Man or Astroman?" Just as Keisha is inferior to L'Trimm from the 80s and to Uffie from now.
First time I've heard this.Not bad.
get real- put Alan's, Martin's pix up there

you r demi-gods
jeffmoor
These are unique for sure!! Check out The "Shitones" too - 3 out of the 4 Mermen. I miss seeing them at the Park Chalet in SF!!
Yeah, such a good "swell" sound of that thick reverb, nice smooth & jazzy/jam!
justin.colle t t i
So good.
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