By Adrianne Hutto, Production editor
Do you really know everything about your professors? Do they have exciting experience outside of the classroom you’d never expect?
Suzanne Thorpe is a sound studies professor at Manhattan College but she also played the electro-acoustic flute, composed and produced for the band Mercury Rev in the ‘90s. A band which is now being inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
“We all went to school together. Most of us at the University of Buffalo. And even though it’s a huge school, sometimes, like people find each other,” Eric Fischer, Mercury Rev’s former tour manager, said of the band’s founding.
The group met while they were all working for their college’s radio and bonded over their shared passion for a specific sound of music. Their first album was recorded as their bass player’s student project while he was studying to become a recording engineer.
“So we would drive down to Virginia, it was only 45 minutes or an hour away from Buffalo, and we would record our album in the off hours,” said Thorpe.“Which means going into the studio around 10 p.m. and not leaving until about three or 4 a.m. and that’s how we recorded our first album.”
Then, the group graduated and went their separate ways. Two years later in 1997, Fischer was hosting fabulous parties for bands on his boat in the Manhattan docks when he noticed a group of familiar faces.
“They told me that the record was going to come out in England and they asked me if I would want to come and be the sound engineer,” Fischer said. He then toured with the band for six years.
Shortly after the band’s new album came out under Columbia Records, they played in the Reading Festival on the main stage, considered one of the most exclusive slots a young band could have. “They killed it,” Fischer said. “And their career just sprung from that.”
Both Thorpe and Fischer speak fondly of their time on tour. Playing sets all over the world and even opening for Bob Dyland at one time.
Mercury Rev’s music is a mesmerizing blend of dreamy, psychedelic, and ethereal soundscapes. Their distinctive sound is characterized by lush, swirling orchestration and hazy guitars that invite listeners on a sonic journey that is both emotionally evocative and sonically adventurous.
“It’s a 90s kind of aesthetic that emerged where lyrics were less important, but big washes of sounds were very important,” Thorpe said of the band’s unique sound. “We fall in between alternative music genres and the shoegaze genre.”
Now, years after their popularity the band is being recognized by the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame for their contribution to the history of Buffalo’s music scene.
Tom Lorentz, the vice president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and Nomination chairperson, expresses their excitement and pride to be inducting Mercury Rev into the class of 2023.
“Their musical accomplishments and dedication to staying true to who they are as songwriters and performers speaks volumes,” Lorentz said via email. “Their legions of fans are proof of the mark they have made in music history. The WNY music community salutes their talent and determination to remain a mainstay in modern music.”
Fischer praises the band, joking that all the other bands he has worked with have gotten back together and that gives him hope that he will see Mercury Rev play together once again.
Mercury Rev is available to play on all streaming sites.