Guitarist John Schmersal has lived a few different musical lives over the past twenty years.
As a member of Ohio-based indie rock legends Brainiac during the 90’s, he helped establish a synthpunk sound that would later influence bands like Muse and Nine Inch Nails.
After the tragic death of their vocalist Tim Taylor, Schmersal headed to the East Coast and formed the band Enon, who became a favorite of the indie rock scene of New York in the early 2000s.
When that band dissolved after a decade he played as a member of Caribou’s touring band for a couple of years, while releasing another record under the name Crooks On Tape. Finally ending up in Los Angeles, he met drummer Christian Beaulieu & together they have formed the project Vertical Scratchers.
All of this history plays into their debut album, “Daughter of Everything“, which translates the buzzing lo-fi vibe of Schmersal’s Ohio roots (fellow Dayton legend Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices helps out with a guest spot) into a tighter, sharper, but definitely not glossy production sound that bands like Caribou utilize.
They even manage to soak up some of LA’s burgeoning garage-rock aesthetic, as the album was recorded live at the Smell, a key venue for that scene. It is short and sweet, with songs coming and going before their catchy pop hooks wear out their welcome.
SXSWers can see this latest chapter of Schmersal’s career for themselves as they make their way to Austin, offering something brand new and something well-worn all at the same time.
ERIC J. LAWRENCE