Introducing Chemical Therapy (formerly Heyrocco): “Daddy’s Girl”

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    An Extra Chill Original: Introducing Chemical Therapy (formerly Heyrocco): “Daddy’s Girl”
    Published: March 7, 2024

    Chemical Therapy is the new experimental Los Angeles-based project started by former members of the beloved South Carolina rock & roll band, Heyrocco. They have just released their debut single, “Daddy’s Girl,” and lead singer Dr. Sweet Baby Nate spoke with Extra Chill with some backstory on the new band.

    Longtime readers will be quite familiar with this group of musicians, as they were instrumental in the early days of this website. Heyrocco moved from Charleston, SC, to L.A. in 2017, not long after the total solar eclipse, and the local scene (in both cities, I assume) has never been the same.

    Now a four-piece with the addition of Pat “Tex” Mertens on guitar, along with original drummer Taco Cooper and bassist Chris Cool, Chemical Therapy represents several years of trying to find a sound and eventually reaching a place where they had become a whole new band.

    “We didn’t exactly change our name,” Nate says. “Chemical Therapy is a whole new band. Like Joy Division is to New Order or maybe how Sequoyah turned into Susto for you Carolina heads. The music became something else, had been for quite a while so we finally just rolled with it.”

    The single, “Daddy’s Girl” was released on March 5th, and is part of a three-song sampler we can expect to hear soon. For those expecting something like the punk-inspired rock of Heyrocco, you might feel some hints of it, but this music is much more free and open in terms of genre and influence. You’ll get rock, you’ll get rap, and you’ll get a mish-mash of everything all together, in a way that feels modern and different, but also rooted in 90s nostalgia.

    Listen to the single below, and read on to learn more about Chemical Therapy via the full Q&A.

    Chemical Therapy – “Daddy’s Girl” (2024)

    Q&A with Nathan Merli of Chemical Therapy (formerly Heyrocco)

    In the following Q&A, the questions (bolded) are mine. And the rest is Nate, who I caught up with via email this past week.

    Y’all are a four piece now, right? Tell me about the new guy and what he brings to the table.

    Pat “Tex” Mertens, guitar lord from Austin, is a phenomenal musician who rounds out the band to a four piece. Not only does he bring immaculate vibes and fatty guitar tones but he’s the fourth pillar of the Chem T live show. He just kinda fit in there as the guitarist which freed me up to be the front man / lead singer I’ve secretly always wanted to be.

    The stage set up is a lot like Led Zeppelin. Four guys simultaneously become one with their instruments. It’s very powerful. In Heyrocco they had me up there doing too much to look cool ya know? Not that that’s what it’s all about but when I go to a concert I wanna see the real fuckin’ thing. Lead singer typeshit. Something larger than life.

    Can people still expect to hear Heyrocco songs when they see you live? I heard there also might be some “lost albums”. 

    Only when we run out of songs which is NEVER. We may reform for a special performance here and there. As for lost albums, the “lost album” is really the ongoing musical journey which led to what eventually became Chem T. So I mean, again to us it’s all one thing. We leave no stone unturned as they say. Whether any of the lost tracks get released remains to be seen. It’s not uncommon for bands to record a lot of material that never sees the light of day – though nothing is wasted. Sometimes it all leads to the nucleus of what you’re trying to do. If that makes sense.

    Tell me about the writing / recording process for the sampler.

    Writing songs can be a lot like breakfast. Some days you have it, some days you don’t. It’s the only meal where you tend to repeat recipes for a few days then switch it up. Sometimes we’re really heavy into guitar music, sometimes house, reggae, hip hop. Whatever. Seasonal vibes. That’s kinda the beauty of this new band.

    With the last group we’d become boxed into “rock” in our minds. We’d have spells of making shitty trap songs involving huge electronic beats and a couple live instruments but they weren’t serious. We just kinda wished they were and that was what we were actually doing instead of just straightforward rock music.

    The whole point of Chemical Therapy is to allow all these influences to naturally swirl together into something twisted and beautiful. Straight from the heart yet left of center.

    So if it’s a rock song, maybe mute all the drums, everything but the vocals. Start replacing tracks with breakbeats, synthesizers while keeping the intensity of a punk rock singer. Or other way around, if the song is kinda rappy it’s like alright now let’s flow as if it were 1966, rap hasn’t even been invented yet and all we have is electric guitars, melody, and harmony.. then bring the king-kong bass beat back on top of THAT and mix it all together. That’s Chem T.

    It’s a lot of playing with sounds like a painter might mix different colors on a palette to come up with new tones. Long story short, we became the producers and artists. The adults all left the room and the kids ran wild. We’re not experts, we just try to keep what I call an athletic soul. Creatively agile. Always ready to backflip on the track if we gots to.

    The sampler is only 3 songs, there has to be more?

    There’s a lotta different animals in this zoo but for now we’re just releasing one here and there to introduce the vibe. And that will conclude Sweet Baby Nate’s analogies for this interview.

    What are your thoughts about keeping things fresh in an increasingly saturated, social media driven world?

    Phew.. great question. I think as musicians, or even human beings, it’s easy to forget to just shut up and jam. I’m thankful Taco’s massive respect and love of music reminds me of this all the time. To feel the vibrations of an instrument or another human being is where it’s at. Surf on a collective groove ya know? The phones isolate us. No one’s paying attention and that’s exactly what they want!!

    For real though, it’s become about separating the two worlds for me personally. We made a conscious decision that at some point we would challenge ourselves to be creative in other ways. Be it videos, photo sets, whatever and incorporate old school influences into the modern approach of it all. Which honestly, barely involves making music at all. Ha! It’s all self promotion. And who wants to promote themselves? We wanna connect, more than promote.

    It’s certainly challenging though, but I like a good challenge. Challenging yourself daily keeps any relationship healthy from within. I’ve always said that.

    So if right now our personal challenge is getting more comfortable with ourselves and being on camera in order to spread this music and message to the world, so be it. And the message? Same as it ever was. Be you baby. There’s enough clowns and clones online. Keep it fresh by allowing yourself to shine and be one of a kind. Thas the rhyme yall.

    Anything else you want to mention?

    Strangely enough Chubes, I’d like to chime in on your post about rampid cocaine use in Charleston because I thought it was kinda cool of you to bring up. Now, I’m no saint myself and haven’t been around Chucktown for a while but when I was a wee lad coming up in the scene, an older friend I looked up to once said something along the lines of “brother, coke is everywhere in Charleston you’re just not old enough to be around it yet.” So this conversation’s definitely been going on for a long time.

    I’ll just say this.. Experimenting is one thing, abusing is another. And mothafuckas know the difference. Regardless of what different cultures taught us (especially men), being good to yourself ain’t always a bad thing. The kids are on the pulse with that shit today. Becoming your own biggest fan is cool in my book. If snorting a bunch of blow and acting like you’re the shit to impress everyone is winning in yours you may wanna rethink the trophy. To win yourself over is the ultimate prize.

    Alcohol’s been abused for centuries too. I think it could be more of a problem? People get wasted then they wanna straighten up. If you didn’t get so lit in the first place would you even wanna buy the drug? Prolly not.. your ass would go home and get in bed. Anyway what do I know – that being said everyone is their own person and you must respect their personal journey. Just be careful and be you.

     Any plans to get over to the East Coast?

    Absolutely. I’m sure we’ll come say whassup to the east coast before the end of the year. There may be great Mexican food on every corner here in LA but Santi’s queso dip just does something to a white boy!

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