Paradise Fears prepares for first album release next week

Born in the heartland and bred in front of a microphone, the future holds promise for the Paradise Fears boys, so mothers, warn your daughters!

Paradise Fears members, from the left, are Cole Andre, Marcus Sand, Jordan Merrigan, Sam Miller, Lucas Zimmerman and Michael Walker. (File Photo)

Those are the words of Jay Escobar-Haskins, an album reviewer for Rawkzilla.com, speaking about the Vermillion-based pop rock band whose first full-length album makes its official debut next week.

Paradise Fears, composed of Vermillionites Cole Andre, Jordan Merrigan, Sam Miller, Marcus Sand, Michael Walker and Lucas Zimmerman, will celebrate the release with a show at The Eagles Club in Vermillion at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 16. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the show, which will also feature The After Party, a Kansas City band with whom Paradise Fears will tour the Midwest this summer.

Those who purchase tickets in advance can do so for $5, which also allows purchase of "Yours Truly," the band's first album, for $5. On the day of the show the ticket price is $7 and the album cost is $10. Information can be found at http://paradisefears.bigcartel.com/product/vermillion-sd-pre-sale-tickets-6-14-2011.

It seems longer, but it's been just a year since four of the six band members graduated from high school and the sextette set forth on what some may have thought was a fool-hardy year of fighting the long odds against success in the pop music world.

"We're much further ahead than I ever would have guessed a year ago," Walker said. "Looking back to that point in our career is a huge inspiration when I see how far we've come. When I get discouraged or feel that things are going nowhere, I look back, see the progress and truck through the period of stillness."

Andre advises, however, that in no way are they standing pat. "Being in the position we are doesn't mean we are content with where we are," he said. "We are always looking for new and creative ways of getting our name out there."

Escobar-Haskins in his review says the best part of the new album is "the sense that there is self-awareness in this band that they can be thoughtful but never take themselves too seriously." He added, "There are some bands signed to major labels that won't be able to come close to the authenticity on this record because you can hear the passion and hunger in every song they chose."

The band recorded the album in two locations. They put seven songs in the can over a two- to three-week period in Minneapolis with producer Jordan Schmidt starting in early February. Then in Alpharetta, GA, they recorded four songs over the same time span with producers Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount and finished in mid-March.

"Our goal was to leave the studio without a single regret," Merrigan said. "We didn't want to leave a single creative stone unturned, and I feel we did exactly that. We truly explored our own creativity, all the while pushing each other's creative thresholds. I couldn't be more excited for people to start hearing this album. It's a reaction I've been waiting for for over 21 years."

The release of their first album is, in Sand's words, "the culmination of this crazy past year as well as a beginning. All of last year's hard work was put into it, but the impact of this album will last for years to come."

Paradise Fears has released their first single, "Last Breath." Miller explained that that song was more of a feeler single released for free on the band's Facebook page. "The song we really intended on pushing as a primary single is 'Waste of Time,' which is now available on iTunes. We sent them both to radio, and 'Last Breath' was better received, so it's getting radio play these days."

Andre said the release of "Yours Truly" gives him and his mates a sense of accomplishment, "but at the same time we don't have a label pushing the CD, so it means we have to work even harder to keep up, which we all are willing and eager to do."

Reviewer Escobar-Haskins wrote that "99.999 percent of the bands who make it out of their garages and on to real stages don't have a lead singer with the vocal chops to pull it off. Thankfully Sam Miller and the boys of Paradise Fears not only have great voices but also aren't afraid to harmonize and croon a la *N Sync. The result is the perfect marriage of bubblegum pop with the full assault musicianship of a tight six-piece punk rock outfit."

The reviewer gave special notice to Zimmerman. "As a unit there are a few standouts, most notably Lucas Zimmerman's sharp, coherent and confident drumming that takes the lead on the record. Even his choice of percussion pieces leads you to believe he has some sort of mad scientist approach to creating a rhythmic undercurrent that is the canvas upon which every other band mate is able to color."

Merrigan feels the release of the CD has been decades, not just a year, in the making. "They always say, 'You have your entire life to make your first record, then six months to make your second.' I feel this album is the CD we've all been waiting our entire lives to make," he said.

Merrigan added Paradise Fears is "exactly the band we want to be and exactly what we want the world to perceive Paradise Fears as."

Walker describes Paradise Fears' first year out on the road as "an almost entirely linear succession of constantly striving to reach the next level. That's what 'Yours Truly' is for us. We always have a clear focus on the next step or level. As long as we have the end in sight, we can keep progressing closer to our goal."

Escobar-Haskins wrote that "it is rare that musically, vocally and lyrically longing, angst, fun and heartbreak can be caught so convincingly that a 15-year-old can feel understood and a 30-year-old can feel nostalgic just by listening." He said the new album "goes a long way toward proving to the world Paradise Fears is ready for the big time. Somebody better call Jimmy Fallon because these guys deserve a spot on late-night."

First, however, comes the Eagles Club show right here in the band's hometown.

"This CD release is such a big step for us," Sand concluded. "Sam always tell us to live by the 'one year to live' mentality, which basically means do everything we can to help this dream of ours survive. This album gives our career another year to live."

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