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Static In Verona


A Tribe of Noise Spotlight Interview with an accomplished artist.


On Static in Verona’s website you will find:

Static in Verona is the work of Chicago musician Rob Merz, who creates dreamy power pop weaved in an eclectic mixture of experimental, electronic and indie rock. The songs are a towering mass of sound, built around catchy hooks, epic choruses and unique arrangements

But when did Static in Verona start, what has been his biggest surprise/lesson along the way and what is he working on right now?


Featured Songs



… and listen to more of Static in Verona’s music at the bottom


What got you started?

I had always liked music when I was young but usually just listened to what my parents played or maybe soundtracks from movies I liked. When I was in junior high, someone played Joe Satriani’s album “Surfing With the Alien” on the school bus and I was brown away (if you’ve never heard, Satriani plays instrumental guitar rock). It was melodic, yet edgy at the same time. So when I graduated from junior high, I got a CD player as a present and it was the one of the first albums I bought. Needless to say, by Christmas I was asking for a guitar and, once I got it, I never looked back.


What has changed since you started out?

I’ve been making music for close to 25 years now, so I bet I’ve seen more changes that almost any period in recent history. From tapes to CDs to downloads to streaming, I’ve been making music through all of it. Some good changes, some bad. 

I would say audiences aren’t as willing to take a leap of faith and go see a random band they don’t know as much as they used to be. Now you can just look up a venue, see who’s coming and literally check out every song they’ve ever put out. Problem is some bands are much better live than recorded. I’ve seen many bands I would probably never listen to at home, but the live experience is so great.

Also, the obvious answer is that’s it’s really hard to make much money from streaming. I retired from playing live a couple years ago and now entirely focus on recording. What used to be selling 500 CD’s, you’d make around $5,000, then it was 500 album downloads you’d make maybe $3,500. Now you could have 5000 song streams and be lucky to get $25-50. That’s a ridiculous drop-off in revenue.

On the positive side, it is the easiest and cheapest time in history to record at home. So an artist like me, that doesn’t play live anymore, has far less overhead than the old days when you’d spend $10-15,000 to record and press CD’s.


What has been the biggest surprise/lesson along the way?

I am always surprised how varying peoples music tastes are. No matter the genre, or style, you can always find someone that would love it and someone that would hate it. Take the band Imagine Dragons for example. My son loves them (he’s 10) and they consistently sell out huge stadiums, yet I constantly read people saying how much they suck online. In fact, I read an article by a respected music publication recently asking if “they were the worst band since Nickelback.” Why write that? Why make fun of someone for liking a certain band? I would be very surprised if a band could hit the world with such popularity ever again like the Beatles did.


What would you do if you were not doing this/making music?

Since I don’t make enough to live on making music, I work as a graphic designer during the day (but I will admit, the Tribe’s in store play program has helped find a revenue through music I never knew existed). In another life I could have seen myself becoming an architect. I love walking around and seeing homes being built.


Do you have advice for other musicians?

No matter how hard you try, how great of music you write, how amazing a live band you are, you have to create realistic goals about what you define as “success.” 99.9% of bands aren’t gonna win Grammy’s or play Madison Square Garden/Wembley Stadium or become household names.

I’ve always had attainable goals that I wanted to reach, many I’ve already luckily accomplished. Such as having my music played on my favourite radio station, or headlining a show at my favourite bar or simply having someone tell you how much they like your music. I once had someone write me an amazing email telling me that they were going through severe chemotherapy and were unable to sleep. They were surfing the internet and stumbled upon my music and it really brightened their day. That email meant more to me than selling thousands of albums because ultimately I make music because I love expressing myself through art and having someone else across the country connect with it is absolutely amazing.


How would you pitch Tribe of Noise to fellow musicians?

I actually just pitched Tribe to a fellow musician last weekend. I basically said you can make decent money, you get to keep your music rights and it’s non-exclusive. What do you have to lose? Why wouldn’t you try it.


What are you working on right now?

I just released my 5th full length album, “The Loud Nothing”. I’m really excited about the songs and way I produced this one. I really tried to highlight my vocals. I spend a lot of time writing lyrics, I figured it might be good if listeners knew what I was saying Many of these songs I’ve had for a while but either couldn’t figure out melodies or hooks for them. So I’m really happy to finally get them out in the world.


What did Tribe of Noise contribute to your life as a musician?

I retired from playing live a couple years ago, so Tribe of Noise has given me a steady revenue stream through the in-store playlists that wouldn’t otherwise been available to me. Unlike the money from streaming or downloads that ebbs and flows greatly throughout the year, my Tribe monthly payouts have remained fairly constant. And they also make cashing out extremely easy and convenient, even though we are continents away and use different currency.


Listen to more of Static in Verona’s Music


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