The new band KINGS OF MERCIA features legendary rock/metal guitarist Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos) and formidable rock vocalist Steve Overland (FM). Joey Vera, a member of Matheos’ band Fates Warning, plays bass on the duo’s upcoming debut album, which also features legendary drummer Simon Philips. Metal Blade Records will release the self-titled album on September 23, 2022.
Jim Matheos is best known for being the original guitarist for Fates Warning, but he has worked on a plethora of other bands, most recently Tuesday The Sky and Arch / Matheos. He began writing the songs for Kings Of Mercia’s self-titled first album in early 2021, bringing his own approach while also trying something a little different.
“I started writing without any real idea of what direction I wanted to go in or what I was going to do with the material. The first few songs came together quickly and were a bit more straightforward than I‘m used to, and I really liked that idea, kind of going back to my early heavy/hard rock roots.”
It undoubtedly helped that Jim didn’t have any preconceived notions about how the record should or would end up sounding: “as did the fact that it‘s our first record, so there was nothing to measure it against or expectations to live up to, even if only in my own head.”
After writing songs, Matheos’ next worry was locating the musicians that might assist him in realising the content. A vocalist was his top goal. It was his buddy Jeff Wagner who recommended Steve Overland from FM, and another friend, rock writer Dave Ling, who connected them.
“Jim had asked Dave for my contact details, we talked about his idea for mixing the two styles, his heavier background, with my melodic/bluesier direction,” says Overland. “We decided to try a collaboration on one song and see how it worked, we came up with the track “Humankind”, and we both loved it.”
Having decided on a hard rock direction for the project, it wasn’t until Matheos received the first few tracks from Overland that it was completely evident what shape the record would take. With the vocalist handing over his parts on a regular basis, everything came together over time.
One of Matheos’ favourite drummers, the great Simon Phillips (ex-Toto, Derek Sherinian) sits behind the kit for the album:. “I decided to contact him on a whim, not really expecting that he‘d be available or interested in this project. But, to my surprise, he liked the music and was able to fit some recording into his schedule. It‘s an honor to share a credit with him and I couldn‘t be happier with what he added to the record.”
Joey Vera, a bassist and Matheos’ bandmate from Fates Warning, completes the lineup by bringing his distinctive sense of professionalism and style: “My old friend and co-worker Joey Vera was a natural choice for bass. Not only did I know he would deliver performance-wise, but it was nice to have a familiar face among the new personalities.”
With these musicians on board, the entire process was simple and stress-free. They created music for the joy of it and came up with something that sounds both familiar and original, broadening everyone’s rock repertoire in the process.
This artistry translates brilliantly to tracks such as soaring “Wrecking Ball,” (video shared below) which opens the album on a high note, or the half-acoustic ballad, adventuresome “Too Far Gone” or the endearing “Everyday Angels.”
If you’re a fan of Fates Warning or FM and you lean a little towards power metal in your prog rock inclinations, this one’s for you!
KINGS OF MERCIA and is now available for pre-order: https://www.metalblade.com/kingsofmercia/
Photo credit: Jeremy Saffer/Scott Towns