There are singer-songwriters. There are multi-instrumentalists. There are producers. There are bands. There are musical collectives. And then there’s MDMP.
Founded, formed and fronted by the enigmatic Jeremey Meyer, the heavy, hard-hitting Hawaiian alt-rock outfit is all of the above and more. Oh sure, the buck — and the music — stops and starts with the multi-talented, multi-faceted multi-tasker at the helm. But between conception and completion, MDMP’s creations travel far and wide, circling the globe in the digital realm, going through multiple hands and permutations as they evolve and change and grow into their final form.
“It’s all about collaboration for me,” says ringleader Meyer, explaining his uniquely inclusive approach. “I’ll come up with a rough draft of a song, and then I’ll send it out to a few people — especially if I think it’s something they might be interested in. If they are, and they want to hop on, then I’ll roll with it and see where it goes. I’m an organizer — an orchestrator of the process. I don’t want it to be all me. I’m a team player. I love anybody who gives me advice or ideas, good or bad. When it comes to music, I don’t know a lot of people who are trying to do a collaborative thing on this level.”
That’s instantly apparent from MDMP’s monumental and exhaustively ambitious debut album Day One, out Aug. 28. And Meyer’s co-operative M.O. is just one way the disc changes the game, rewrites the rules and raises the bar. An epic behemoth with 27 — yes, 27 — tracks that cover the sonic and stylistic spectrum, it’s been a labour of love for Meyer (and his contributors) for nearly five years. “It’s been a long process, involving a lot of input. I’d have to sit down and try to count everybody who’s on it, but off the top of my head, I’d say there are at least 10 people. A lot of the awesome guitar licks on the album are from a guy in Kazakhstan. Some of the producing was done in Taiwan. I don’t care where somebody lives. After all, the world is a collaborative effort, right?”
He would know. He’s seen plenty of it. Meyer came of age in Nebraska in the ’90s, singing about Edgar Allan Poe in English class, playing in the marching band and soaking up everything from grunge to Metallica to his greatest influence, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. After serving a year in the deserts of Iraq with the military, he returned to music as the bassist in hard rock heroes Sherry Drive, releasing two albums and sharing stages with the likes of Skid Row and Sick Puppies. All those experiences — good and bad — now feed into MDMP, born when Meyer relocated to his Pacific island paradise.
Like the collaborative world he embraces, Day One contains a rich, diverse and dynamic landscape so vast it’s impossible to take it all in at once. Clocking in just shy of two hours, the album is a cornucopia of sounds and styles. Arena-sized alt-rock anthems, bruised post-grunge rockers, brooding nu-metal ballads, pounding Sunset Strip glam-slam, energized electro-rock excursions, lush synthesizer ballads, even dashes of reggae-pop, funk and disco — they’re all here, meticulously crafted and rendered with an arsenal of blazing guitars, thundering drums, grinding basses, and keyboards of all shapes, sizes and stripes. “I didn’t want to limit myself,” Meyer understates. “Some songs has a lot of synths — one song is all synths, actually — and then others are completely traditional rock instruments, guitar and drums. Every song is different.”
Yet somehow, it all hangs together, united by Meyer’s soaring vocals and emotionally devastating lyrics culled from life’s harshest realities. Look no further than the single Kneeling Scars, a hauntingly intense tale with a harrowing backstory. “Kneeling Scars is a song that a classmate helped me with — his brother committed suicide quite a few years ago,” Meyer confides. “He got kind of messed up and took a really bad path in life. I wanted to help him but I didn’t know how. We were talking on Facebook and I said, ‘Let’s do a song.’ I like to help people and give back. But it really got to me. It was so intense that I started to cry while singing the vocals. I actually had to stop. I could have done the vocals better, but they were so emotional that I knew I had to keep them.”
There’s more where that came from. Other tracks on Day One deal unflinchingly with death, depression, the pandemic, greed, lies and betrayal — though the disc also has its share of light-hearted rockers, tender mercies and tales of hope and optimism. Whatever the topic and the approach, Meyer says the goal is the same, and simple: “I just want people to listen. I just want them to think. If I can achieve that, I think I’ve won.”
Truth is, he can’t lose. But for Meyer and MDMP — an acronym that has no meaning, he insists — the game is just beginning. And since he’s making it up as he goes, you can expect the rules to continue morphing and shapeshifting, just like his songs.
“Some artists are determined to be the same and never change, and they’re going to go down with that ship,” he says. “I don’t want to do that. But I also don’t want to be like bands that have a style and then abandon it. Right now it’s rock with synths. That’s where it’s at. But that doesn’t mean it can’t evolve and change as I collaborate more. And I’m definitely going to keep doing that. The more people I have invested in it, the better it is for me.”
Stay tuned for Day Two.