Interview: Jacob Merritt of Healing Power – July 27 show at Codfish Hollow

Healing Power
Healing Power — from left to right: Ike, JoJo, Cubs, Pierce

A few years ago, Cincinnati band Pomegranates (now Healing Power) played a memorable set upstairs at the Blue Moose Tap House. They were opening up for Colour Revolt. It was a fantastic night–I think Active Child might have been on the bill–and probably the most merch I’ve ever bought at a single show. I got one album from Colour Revolt, one from Active Child and two from Pomegranates, and they all became important to me. Also, there is this black Pomegranates t-shirt, which I bought directly from the artist, the band’s drummer Jacob “Cubs” Merritt. Naturally, I wore the t-shirt as I worte up the questions for this email interview. Keeping it creepy.

Awkward fanboy that I may be, I wasn’t hip to their name change to Healing Power, which took place late last year. So, I didn’t realize they would be in Iowa this weekend playing at Codfish Hollow until about five days ago, when someone erroneously (perhaps strategically) listed them as Pomegranates. (Thank you: That person.)

As we dutifully (if belatedly) forget Pomegranates and pledge allegiance to Healing Power, drummer Jacob Merritt answers some questions about the band, what they do, and where they will be taking us on Saturday, as they open for the legendary Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, Polaris).

What led to the name Healing Power?

We were a different band for quite a while, and as time went on, we felt like many folks were stuck on a certain idea of what the band was or was not creatively. It makes sense, because you can find tons of bad cell phone videos and old songs all over YouTube and the net in general. We have been slogging it out having some major frustrations and disappointments over the years, and were feeling pretty discouraged. Around November of 2012 our jokes about just changing the name stopped being jokes. We were more clearly defining the vision and purpose of the band, and decided a name change was in order. A rebirth if you will.

What are you happiest with about Healing Power?

The four of us are all on the same page creatively, and are all good buds. Thats not always easy to find, and we are very grateful to be making music and having fun again.

Maybe tension isn’t a unique characteristic in any art, but I can feel a lot of duality in your music. Driving + fragility, it’s very danceable, but then the floor falls out, the drums disappear, the vocals float… What musical/aesthetic ideas brought you together as a band? Where do you base yourselves, and find your identity?

Hmm… Well, we try to create music that is important to us. Having fun is important. Being genuine is important. Finding the magic spark of inspiration that listeners can feel in their guts. The great bands we admire do those things. It has less to do with genre than it does great songs! Thats why we find our selves listening to all kinds of music together from Alicia Keys, to Glen Campbell, into Black Sabbath or The BeeGees.

As far as where we base ourselves… We have spent a good deal of time reading about Jesus, and its hard to deny that he really loved people, and wanted to empower the weak, timid, and broken hearted. He wasn’t a popular guy with the majority- eventually even his own people wanted him killed. He STILL isn’t a popular guy – But the Jesus we see- the dude who hated corrupt religion, loved his friends, dignified prostitutes and the poor, empowered women, and spoke his mind- THATS the guy we want to emulate.

I don’t know you guys personally, but based on your prolific output, you are obviously very hard working. Also, lyrically, a lot of personal striving, loyalty to your friends, hopefulness (and the associated sadness) is evident. What kinds of projects are you involved with outside of music? Are you the tightest homies ever, or do you just get together to make music?

We are definitely tight homies. Three of us have been doing a band together for over 6 years. Myself and the fourth guy were in a band for 3 years before that, and the other guys have known him for the 6 years the 3 of us have been playing together. That’s maybe a confusing connect the dots. Haha. 2 of the guys do lots of solo stuff as well as visual art. The other guy besides me is a fantastic writer.

How often do you plan to release music with Healing Power? Aside from getting on the road a bit, what are you working on right now as a band?

Well, with the old band, we released stuff as often as we could get a label behind it. We love writing songs and recording. With Healing Power, we want to release records when the songs feel 100%. Lately that means sitting with them and playing them live a lot more than it did in the past. Trying to get them really tight and as true to our vision as we can get them. We are even revisiting a good handful of old songs from the previous band, and fine tuning them. Everything feels better than ever creatively. We can’t wait to get a record done!

What kind of set are you preparing for the Codfish Hollow barn?

Psychedelic Soul Explosion with a lot of sweat and reverb and good vibes. It’s one of the premier places to see and play live music in the United States of America.

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