welcome to the new punkaganda press +

welcome to the new punkaganda press +

welcome to the new punkaganda press +

welcome to the new punkaganda press +

welcome to the new punkaganda press +

welcome to the new punkaganda press +


REVIEW: If We Fall Asleep Too Early: The Merrier’s Newest EP Is An Amazing Blend of Emotion and Style

Written By:
Ellery Clark
Photography By:
May 6, 2023
Art by Kayla Hay

“I just kept telling myself, if I fall asleep too early, my schedule will be out of whack.”

Last week, on April 28, 2023, The Merrier released their second EP, If We Fall Asleep Too Early, telling a story of frustration, exhaustion, and relationships through strong musical experimentation and collaboration. The EP features five songs, Scenery 2, Wow!Relieve!!, Lightsleeper, If We Fall Asleep Too Early, and Pokemmo !, with guest artists appearing on each: exciting!!excellent!! and Spun Lilac are featured on Scenery 2, Superdestroyer and exciting!!excellent!! are featured on Wow!Relieve!!, Equipment is featured on Lightsleeper, Analogue Heart is featured on If We Fall Asleep Too Early, and Hey, ily is featured on Pokemmo !

The EP isn’t defined by a single sound; rather, the collaboration between artists and the experimentation in each song is what defines this release. The Merrier, from Cleveland, Ohio, has only had one permanent member, and when I sat down with Jake (“The Merrier,” he described himself with a laugh during our interview) to talk about If We Fall Asleep Too Early, I learned that his idea for the sound of the band has been in the back of his head since 2014.

Jake is no stranger to the music scene. While The Merrier has only been around for 3-4 years, Jake has been playing in bands like Tunnel Songs since 2016. The idea for his own music has stayed almost exactly the same for the past 9 years: the goal was never to play live. Instead, Jake just wanted to focus on the music side of things and collaborate with other artists.

The influence for If We Fall Asleep Too Early comes from a mix of musical inspiration and Jake’s everyday life. Both the emo scene, with bands like Short Fictions, Hey, ily, and Ben Quad, and Adventure Time helped Jake to define the sound and experience of making the EP. “I would say both Adventure Time and the emo scene have a really nice way of throwing out… what’s the word… like, expectations. Throwing out conventional songwriting sounds and being a little more open. That’s what makes it unique,” Jake explained.

The Merrier explored this potential to create different sounds in a very unique way on If We Fall Asleep Too Early, taking Jake’s original focus of collaboration to the forefront of the EP. The EP features five different guest artists, and the process looked a lot different than you might think. Jake described the process of making Lightsleeper with Equipment as a chance for both himself and the guest band to do something different: “I kind of felt like, with this song, it would be cool to take someone out of their element a little bit.”

As Lightsleeper started coming together, that’s when Jake realized that they were making the exact song he’d been trying to make with The Merrier. Without much guidance, Equipment took the idea for Lightsleeper in stride, using bright vocals and lots of movement to create the pop-like sound that Jake had been looking for. “I felt like we were on the same wavelength without really discussing it,” Jake said. “I tried not to tell them too much of where I was going with it because I wanted them to hear the song and then take it in their way… and this was cool! The vocals were big and bright, and he was doing a lot with his voice. He was doing some things that I don’t know if he’s tried before.”

Even despite the upbeat sound that many of the songs on If We Fall Asleep Too Early feature, the overall theme of the EP is one of exhaustion, frustration, and anxiety. During the time period that Jake was first making these songs, his schedule was packed: during the day, he was at venues running sound, and at night, he was up late editing his podcast, the files for which he sometimes wouldn’t get until 11:30 at night. “I just kept telling myself, if I fall asleep too early, my schedule will be out of whack,” Jake explained.

This crazy schedule and overarching theme influenced not only the meaning behind the songs, but the process of making them, too. Each song on the album was made late at night, when Jake would sit down because he was frustrated, or annoyed, or tired – and he’d just start playing:

“Even the fourth song, If We Fall Asleep Too Early, is literally an idea I had on my phone. I recorded it really late. Me and my girlfriend are on opposite schedules and that always sucks, so I was really feeling it that night. Like, she went to bed, and I had to keep fucking staying up or else my schedule is going to keep being off. I was very frustrated by it and sad about it all. Not like, super depressed, but you know, shit sucks sometimes.That song is literally just the guitar track from my iPod or my iPhone, because I could never capture the same feeling that I had that night.”

There is a lot of sentiment at play in The Merrier’s newest EP, and it comes out in a unique way in each song. In Scenery 2, upbeat, bright vocals feature a back-and-forth between the vocalists. Their beautiful harmony emphasizes that they’re “still telling that same old story,” and the dreamy feel of the instruments makes the whole song feel like The Merrier is looking for change in a chaotic – but still – world.

Wow!Relieve!!, in contrast, sounds like summer with a spin. The more ‘twangy’ tone of the guitar sounds reminiscent of yacht rock, but the slightly darker vocals layered over the top bring in the influence of the emo scene that Jake mentioned. There is more technical guitar work underneath the faster lyrics being mirrored by the faster percussion, which fits in perfectly with the increasing anxiety that seems to be prevalent in this song. I’ve always been the type to share what’s on my mind / But lately I don’t have the time… I hope I don’t explode as a consequence

Lightsleeper continues the trend of faster percussion, but shifts the tone into one that is more rooted in techno or electronic sound. There is consistency in the percussion track underneath an autotuned distortion of the vocalist, before transitioning into an offbeat high-hat in a much quieter moment that emphasizes the rhythmic bass. I really like that this leads into a buildup with slightly louder echoing and a shift in the vocals, before returning the the main, upbeat percussion we heard previously. 

If We Fall Asleep Too Early features the core theme for the whole EP alongside a much more drastic shift in sound. Jake’s original recording of the guitar line plays underneath vocoder-like vocals. The song is very simple; the only sounds layered in this one are the original guitar, the vocals, and what sounds to be a quiet line of strings. There’s emotional value to the simplicity: as the robotic voice sings, “Don’t drag me down / Don’t let me drag you down / Don’t drag me down / Don’t let me drag you down / Just let me drown,” the music fades, leaving the listener to sit with the feeling for a couple seconds of silence.

When Pokemmo ! starts playing after the end of the previous track, it feels like an outro. It’s a transition into what seems to be a more hopeful sound in its upbeat tempo, and stands on the edge of a testament to the rest of the songs. Whether it was intentional or not, this track features little bits of each of the other ones: there are distorted vocals, some funky rhythmic bass, Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road-sounding instrumentals, some dissonance, shifting rhythms in the background, and a hint of the twangy, yacht rock-like guitar in the background. Just as the song reminds you that “There’s nothing left to do,” the track ends very suddenly.

All in all, If We Fall Asleep Too Early is a phenomenal combination of sound, influence, and artists. I love how the experience of each different guest artist becomes apparent in the unique sound of each track, and I love that somehow, they still all tie together into a beautifully coherent EP. For an album influenced by Adventure Time, Kero Kero Bonito, and the emo scene, I think The Merrier perfectly captured what it feels like to be pulled in different directions, emotionally and physically, and I’m very excited to follow along to see their future success.

Listen to If We Fall Asleep Too Early on Bandcamp, Spotify, or Apple Music, and stay up to date with The Merrier by following them here. Check out the various artists featured on the EP on this Spotify playlist, made by Jake. To read my interview with Jake in its entirety, keep scrolling!



Written by: The Merrier, exciting!!excellent!!, and Spun Lilac

Produced by: The Merrier, exciting!!excellent!!, and Spun Lilac


Written by: The Merrier, Superdestroyer, and exciting!!excellent!!

Produced by: The Merrier, Superdestroyer, and exciting!!excellent!!


Written by: The Merrier, Equipment

Produced by: The Merrier, Equipment

Performed by: Randall Hoyle (keys)

If We Fall Asleep Too Early

Written by: The Merrier, Analogue Heart

Produced by: The Merrier, Analogue Heart

Pokemmo !

Written by: The Merrier and Hey, ily

Produced by: The Merrier and Hey, ily


Full Interview with Jake ‘The Merrier’

ellery clark: And there we go. How do you feel about going and heading into the interview then?

jake the merrier: I'm ready. I'm good. I'm officially ready.

EC: Awesome. So, the first question is an easy one. Could you please introduce yourself for me?

TM: Yeah. Hi, I'm Jake. I'm ‘The Merrier,’ I guess. I'm really the only permanent one. I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, and I've been fucking around in the music scene, the emo scene, for about four years now.

EC: You said you're the only permanent member of the merrier — are you the backbone of it and you have other people who come in and help you record? What does that look like?

TM: It’s always different, but generally, yeah, it's me coming up with the song structure and general melodies, like bass, guitar, drums, keys, but sometimes I don't do the guitar or the drums.

EC: When you got into the scene about four years ago, is that when the merrier was founded? Or was that just when you started getting involved?

TM: It’s been about four years with the merrier.. it started over COVID, so maybe it's more like three, I don't know. Something like that. But I had played in bands! Like, I had played a band called the Sonnerbombs, and that's what got me into all this. Then, I left that, and I was in a band called Tunnel Songs — that was, like, 2016 through 2019 ish. But I wasn't online. I was just in the band. I didn't realize there's a whole Twitter scene!

That whole time I was in these bands, I didn't know what was going on. Like, it was crazy. One time we opened up for Mom Jeans, sometime around 2017, and the rest of the band was freaking out, and I'm over here like, “I don't know who that is.” And now, I love Mom Jeans! So much was happening at those points when we were playing with these bands.

We played at the Short Fictions’ house in Pittsburgh, they had the Cafe Verona, and the band was like, “Oh, short fictions!” And I was like... I don't know!

Now, Short Fictions literally is my favorite band, but at the time I just didn’t know.

EC: So, you had some small moments where you didn't realize what was going on at that point!

TM: Yeah, it wasn’t until I started the merrier when I realized that, “Oh, we’ve done a lot of cool things!” It never dawned on me.

EC: Speaking of The Merrier, did that start when you were with these other bands? Could you tell me a little bit about that history?

TM: So I think officially, it must've been March of 2020 when I finished and released a song. And it was more like, I'm just going to put this out. So I have the name and it's there, but I don't know, I didn't necessarily have a plan, and I knew I didn't want to do it live.

I knew I just wanted to record music and put it out. So, officially sure. Sometime around 2020. But I had this idea and had been messing around with it in like 2014, 2015, and up until 2020 I had nothing going on. And I was like, you know what? I guess I could start doing this thing. And then I just enjoyed it. And I just kept going and I kept staying on Twitter.

EC: How has your idea for what you wanted to do with music in general — not necessarily just the merrier — changed from 2014 all the way to where you are now, releasing some EPs?

TM: I don't know if it has changed much, honestly. I've learned how to do it better, but it's basically the same. Like, I didn't want to play live and I'm still not doing that. I just wanted to have a revolving cast and have my friends, and... I just wanted to try things and not have to worry about shows and selling tickets and promoting. I just wanted to do the music side.

EC: It seems to be going pretty well based on what you're working on now!

TM: Yeah, I mean, now I've got bands that I love on these songs, and it's really weird and very cool.

EC: Where would you say that, when you're making these songs, you draw most of your influence from?

TM: Oh, musically? The scene, like Short Fictions, Hey I Love You, Exciting Excellent, and Ben Quad right now. I'm actually wearing a Ben Quad hat! Oh, and, you know, Barty Strange.

But, outside of music? Adventure Time is big. Adventure Time is the main one outside of music. So, yeah, I don't know, the emo scene and Adventure Time are my two answers.

EC: What kind of impact does that have then on the music that you're making? Is it more emotionally driven, story driven? How would you describe it?

TM: I would say both Adventure Time and the emo scene have a really nice way of kind of throwing out... what’s the word.. like, expectations. Throwing out conventional songwriting sounds and being a little more open. Like, this song was recorded on an iPhone, and that's cool!

That’s what makes it unique. It makes you realize that it doesn't always have to be in a studio with perfectly chopped drums, and guitars, and bass with finely tuned vocals. I think it helps my music feel very human. And it’s just more fun.

In both the scene and Adventure Time, people just seem to be doing what they do without worrying about, like, “Oh, we didn't time align the kick,” you know, some of them do that. And that's okay! Like, Cheem is a great band. Their production is crazy, and I love Cheem, but you could be listening to a DIY emo playlist, and you'll hear Cheem, then you'll hear some demo song and they're both fantastic! I like that it just jumps around and you don't know what's coming next.

EC: Right! So, let’s tie this into your new EP If We Fall Asleep Too Early. Congratulations, by the way!

TM: Thank you! It’s very exciting. As we’re recording this, we just announced the single Lightsleeper with Equipment, and that’s hype as hell. I remember when I met Equipment and BG with Tunnel Songs a long time ago and they did their own guitar hero songs. So then fast forward to doing a song with Nick and Jake, and that’s pretty, pretty sweet! It's weird how time flies.

EC: That’s so cool, though. With this EP and this single that you'll be releasing this week, how would you introduce that music that's coming out to either the people that have listened to you in the past, or maybe even to new listeners that are just discovering The Merrier?

TM: I was listening to a lot of Kero Kero Bonito when I did this, and I was toying with these fast, crazy beats, like these big 808 drums, but I was just playing some emo riffs over it.

And that's the thing with a lot of this. I don't go into a process of like, “Oh, I'm going to write a song.” It kind of just... happens. So, a lot of times it's hard to remember how it exactly started, because it's like, “Where the hell did I pull that from?”

But I do know I was listening to a lot of Kero Kero, and I wanted to do that with some guitar stuff over it. It took months to find someone that I wanted to ask to be on it, because I wasn't sure where to go with it. I felt like, with this song, it would be cool to take someone out of their element a little bit.

So I asked Equipment, because if you listen to their songs, they're pretty different. He took that in stride and like, I never told him, “Hey, I feel like this is different for you.” I try not to say that, but he also went into it with the approach of, “I'm going to do this differently. I want this to sound more pop-y.”

Which is great, because I was listening to Kero and they're very pop-y. I felt like we were on the same wavelength without really discussing it. I tried not to tell them too much of where I was going with it because I wanted them to hear the song and then take it in their way, and not worry about where I'm coming from with it.

That generally works out pretty well. Sometimes you get something back and you're like, “Oh, this is way different,” but this was cool! Their vocals were big and bright and he was doing a lot with his voice. He was doing some things that I don't know if he's tried that before.

So, I guess if I was going to introduce my music to people, it’s... oh man, it's so hard to describe your own music, you know what I mean? But I would say it was me attempting to throw Kero Kero and emo in an emo song together.

EC: Is that the major concept behind the EP, or were there other thoughts that you had when you were starting to work on it and put it together as a whole?

TM: I was also playing that new Sonic game, Frontiers, and that was very fast, so I wanted to kind of have that same tempo, moving and chugging along and going.

And then, there's also a part of the song where a keyboard kicks in and there's a keyboard player. I know Randall in Cleveland. And he's also very Adventure Time-based, and he knows I'm into that, so I asked him to play some keys on this, and he gave me something that he knew I would like.

It’s very cool, working with these people where I'm not really telling them what to do. I'm not really giving them any kind of direction at all. We all end up on the same wavelength anyways, and that’s when things just glued and came together, so well.

EC: I did a little bit of digging into your discography, and I saw that you released quite a few singles in 2022, there was like BMO and gold, and then you had released another EP called cyclical. How would you say that this EP is either similar or different from those other releases?

TM: So, similar in that like every time I get ready to put out an EP, like something crazy happens in my family. Nothing to do with the music stuff, but there's always some big life event going on.

With cyclical, there were a bunch of ideas that I had had since high school, almost, and I'd been working on them on different computers, different programs, different DAWs, so it was all over the place. I was really learning how to record — and I'm still learning — but then, I was brand new at it.

cyclical was mostly just a big experiment trying to see what works. I really wanted to get the idea out there so people could understand what I'm doing because I feel like it’s... it’s not confusing, but I don't think many people got it at first. Especially when I only had one song, why would they assume I have guests on every song?

I knew it wasn't exactly where I wanted to be musically. I knew I wanted to have more of an emo flair to it, and maybe goofier sounding drums, more electronic-y. I did a lot of cyclical over the pandemic, and I was just mentally in turmoil, like everyone else, just trying to hang on.

So, it was all over the place and it was fun, but I didn't feel like it was super cohesive, and I didn't try to really keep it that way. Whereas with this one, I had more of an idea of how to do this, how to ask for guests, when I should give it to them.

I had a better idea of what to expect from people. And I actually had an idea, like a center. I was centered around a mindset and a theme. The general theme

was just how tired I was, sick of all the computers and the screens and my schedule — like, this past year, I've had a bunch of jobs running sound at venues. I had to be here on Tuesday, somewhere else on Wednesday, here on Thursday, I had to edit this podcast Thursday night, had to have it ready to go Friday morning, had to do another thing... and so I just kept telling myself if I fall asleep too early, my schedule will be out of whack.

Sometimes, I’d get podcast files at like 11:30 at night. It was like, I wanted to go to bed or I just wanted to start playing games, but I couldn’t, so it's like, if I fall asleep too early, I'll miss out on podcasts. I'll miss out on my schedule, get all out of whack.

I was revolving my life around work and this mindset of “a grinder.” I hate that mindset. I hate the whole “grindcore mindset,” where you’ve got to work and entertain and all that. But like, I do enjoy working and I was getting all these opportunities, so I didn't want to say no. So every time, with a lot of these songs, I was just playing to keep myself awake or doing something.

EC: So, how would you say that all of this played out, then, while you were putting the EP together? Were the songs things you came up with more on the fly?

TM: You know, it was mostly just, with almost all the songs, I was probably feeling down or tired. It was just a way to take my mind off everything. Yeah. It's like, rarely do I go in and I sit down, and I'm like, “Okay, I'm going to write a song.” It's mostly that I sit down because I'm frustrated or annoyed or tired, and I start playing.

And then it's like, “Oh, I like that..!” And I pull out my computer and start messing with it. Even the fourth song, if we fall asleep too early, is literally an idea I had on my phone. I recorded it really late. Me and my girlfriend are on opposite schedules and that always sucks. So I was really feeling it that night. Like, she went to bed, and I had to keep fucking staying up or else my schedule is going to keep being off. I was very frustrated by it and sad about it all. Not like, super depressed, but you know, shit sucks sometimes.

EC: Yeah, exactly.

TM: That song is literally just the guitar track from my iPod or my iPhone, because I could never capture the same feeling that I had that night.

I tried to record it, I tried to make it polished and prettier, because you hear me hitting wrong notes and missing notes. It was the first time I was playing it. I was just trying to sort it out. But after that, I could never really capture that same feeling and emotion in the way I played it.

I feel like I can really hear how upset I was that night because I was just playing it. I almost didn't care about how I was playing it. So I guess a lot of it was just my mindset, and a lot of these things just kind of... happened. All the other times, I recorded it better and I did it smarter, you know, so I didn't have to keep dealing with that issue.

EC: There’s definitely meaning behind that, though. So it's an added benefit. What would you say was, then, your favorite part of putting together this EP? What was the moment that you were proud of what you’re doing?

TM: See, that's something I struggle with, but it's why I like the scene. It's why I like Adventure Time, because it's very apologetic. It's very much just like, this is what it is. And it may not make any sense. And you might hear the melody once and it just goes away. But I guess that's why I like all this. Because it's hard to feel like it's good, especially when you're self-producing and recording it. And then, working with another person that you haven't really met, it's hard to feel like this is great. Like I'm killing it. It's a lot, and it can be very self-critical. I think it's a good thing, and it can be hard, but I try to keep myself in the mindset of, like, stop worrying about it.

You worry about sound every day of your whole life. Because I do! I work at venues, and I had a podcast. I'm always worrying about making everyone else sound as good as I can, perfect and clean, no breaths, and all that stupid shit. So with this one, I tried to just be looser with it. I tried not to be super critical of things, so I would say the light sleeper song was when I realized that this is the exact song I've been trying to make.

It's got that hyper pop stuff. It's got the emo riffs. My buddy Randall added that super swirly, spacey keyboard riff. That really came together easy, and then there’s Nick. So, Nick Xander did the vocals. He's a singer of Equipment, and then Jake Pasha. Jake produced it with Nick, so they gave me the vocals, and the guitar solo on that song is also Nick. That just slid right in perfectly. And I didn't obsess over it too much. A little bit! But I didn't drive myself crazy.

Yeah, I try not to drive myself crazy. That's not the point of this.

EC: So, this EP is coming out at the end of April— are you releasing multiple singles from it?

TM: The one this week is just the one precursor, yeah. One of the songs is already out, because it wasn't supposed to be on the EP. We put out the one song in October for the Lonely Ghost Halloween split, and I just felt like it worked so well sound-wise and I just liked it a lot. I was like, “Why don't we just throw it on the EP?” So that song's already out.

EC: What are your plans after the EP releases?

TM: I'm obviously working on more music, and I’m working on a split with a band. In Cleveland. That’s probably all I can really say, we’re just waiting for how things go.

EC: I'm excited to see how that turns out! So, that’s pretty much all that I've got for you. Is there anything that I didn't ask you that you'd like to add?

TM: I would say that at some point you could stress finding the guests. I have a playlist on my Twitter and on my Spotify. Go listen to all the other bands. After this EP, there will be over 10, maybe. This thing doesn't really happen without them, so go listen to them, then listen to me, or listen to me and go listen to them.

EC: Thank you so much for being willing to sit down with me! I appreciate it, and I appreciate you taking the time.

TM: Thank you!

about the author

Ellery Clark

Tucson, AZ