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  • Tracy Heck

The Mendenhall Experiment looking to take things to the next level

The Mendenhall Experiment recently released their new single "Say It," a dynamic track that is one of their heaviest to date.

Based in Southern California, the band is the brainchild of guitarist/songwriter Brandon Mendenhall.

Mendenhall was born with cerebral palsy and serves as a source of inspiration for people and kids with disabilities.

With limited movement on his left side and zero mobility in his left hand, he still managed to teach himself how to play guitar at the age of 19, inspired by bands like Korn and Pantera.

He was discouraged from ever trying to start a band, but with his determination and drive he followed and achieved his dream.

Formed in 2008, The Mendenhall Experiment also features bass player Nathan Stockton who had to overcome his deafness.

The pair are joined by Alyce Hayes on vocals, Mike Lira on guitar and Justin Lubeck on drums.

Mendenhall checked in with Rock Life last week from his home in Riverside, California and spoke about the rise of the band, new music and what's next.

Rock Life: You recently played a Michigan show out in Chesterfield at the Diesel Concert Lounge. How was that?

Brandon Mendenhall: It's a great venue. It was our second time playing there and it was another good show.

RL: And you have more shows coming this Summer?

BM: Yeah, we're going to be out in July. We go out July 10 through July 20 and it's going to be mainly a West Coast trip. We're going all the way out to Arkansas to hook up with P.O.D. and then moving back through Vegas and California and a couple of dates in Texas.

RL: And you've played with them before right?

BM: Yeah, I'm excited to play with them again. My buddy Alex [Lopez,] who used to be the drummer for Suicide Silence is playing drums for them now.

RL: And what can those coming out to these shows expect?

BM: Just more of the same: high energy and honesty.

RL: Your "Say It" single has been out for a couple of weeks. Have you been happy with the response so far?

BM: It's been really cool. The release of "Say It" was kind of a slow burn for us, but now it's picking up. Talking to various outlets like this and playing shows really helps.

RL: And how did that track come together?

BM: "Say It" was actually unusual in that usually we write in groups and then kind of hash out the music, but this time we were all together as a band and it just came together all at once. I had some ideas and I threw them out as a starting point and it just all came together immediately. It was pretty cool.

RL: How does that normal process work?

BM: Normally we write in pairs like the two guitarists will get together at one of their houses and then me and the drummer will be at the studio and we'll come up with sections and parts. We'll eventually put it all together.

RL: Do you have an idea on when you want your new EP released?

BM: We're eyeing mid-July. I'm trying to get a push for this so when we're on the July tour we can have the EP release while we're out. However, I tried to set up the "Say It" release on the last tour and it didn't work out so I'm not going to hold my breath!

RL: For those who haven't heard you, what do you want them to know about this one?

BM: It's just more of the same. I think we're growing into our own as musicians. We've definitely evolved and there's more substance to what we are writing. It's a whole lot more than what we've delivered in the past. We're just taking everything to the next level musically.

RL: What's next?

BM: After the tour in July we are going out in September and again in November. We're basically going to tour for the rest of the year. Then we have a handful of ideas for the next record so I imagine at the end of the year we'll just take a couple of months and see what the next record Is going to look like and look at studios. I imagine the first half of 2025 will be putting that new record together or another EP. I'd like to do a full length, but in this industry is it really worth it, you know?

RL: This band is your baby. What do you feel was the best thing you did to get where you are?

BM: Just perseverance and now staying consistent. Just doing the damn thing! There's a lot of people in this world who talk about doing something, but never actually put it in motion. More than half of the battle is actually doing it.

I think it's just continuing to show up and do what we do no matter what happens. People come into the band and people leave the band, but it just keeps going. It has its own life form. Tenacity and perseverance and the fans keep us going too. Every time we go out they express to us how important it is to them what we're doing. Just raising disability awareness and telling my story and being out here and bringing the music to the people. That keeps me going.

RL: Is there another barrier out there to break?

BM: Yeah, I want to break into the mainstream! I want you guys to see us out there on all the rock festivals they roll out every year. We've been lucky to do a handful here and there, but we want to be on the circuit consistently. That's the barrier that I'm currently trying to break.

RL: You've played with some well established bands. What's the best thing you've learned from them?

BM: They gave me a foundation and a lot of reassurance that the process that we go through with our own band is a lot like the process that they did in these more successful entities. It's reassuring. A lot of them have told me hey man, you're on the right path and just keep doing what you're doing because eventually you're going to be sitting where we are.

RL: And what is the greatest thing about doing this?

BM: Being the guy that gets to give back to the younger generation. Just the kids who come up to me and tell me man,I play guitar because of you. I have a disability and I never thought it would be possible, but I saw your movie and heard your story and when I saw you play, it made me go for it! That's the greatest gift in the world.

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