Above: Scary Mercedes at the Herndon ArtSpace (August 13, 2011)

By Daniel A. Shyti

Martin Bonica spent last summer interning abroad for a left-wing Israeli radio station, “Kol Hashalom” (translated to “All for Peace”).  His contribution to the station included his own personal show, web upkeep, and his entire collection of albums by Rage Against the Machine.

About six years ago, he started appearing a shows wearing a distinctive white lab coat.  He recorded one of his first live sets at the Sterling Community Center for now-defunct metal group Condemned to Destruction, and in 2007 he added multiple video cameras to his arsenal.  He created his first full-on media packages for local experimental-funk quartet Orange Marmalade.

“Once I started recording shows I began to realize, ‘Oh, this is art,’ says Bonica, a 21-year-old history major at George Mason University. ” I didn’t know I was good at art.”

Since then, he has worked with many artists in the Metro area, including  In Alcatraz 1962, Cazador, and Broken Cartridge.  Fall 2010, he was hired to be Director of Audio Engineering for WGMU Radio.

He continued with audio and video production until January 2011, after Orange Marmalade played  their last show at Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield, Va.  Bonica then focused on his own project called Scary Mercedes, a new wave hodgepodge with various contributors and influences.

“Starting in 2010, the local music scene imploded on itself.  Recording was my main hobby until there was nothing to record, so I just started making my own music,” he says.  “Basically, I started Scary Mercedes because I’m a very spiteful person.”

He laughs. But despite being a project born to spite a dying scene, Scary Mercedes has seen no shortage of fresh material.  Bonica has released two EPs – “Ambulatory” and “Bird’s Can’t Hope” – both of which can be downloaded for free with links found below or on his Facebook page.

His main collaborator is local musician Jimmy Romero (Cazador, Broken Cartridge), though he often outsources instrumentation to other artists on a whim. It seems almost like a game, testing his ability to turn unrelated musical elements into gritty chemical compounds that frame his punchy, mathematical vocals.

“I like taking elements from other bands, just to prove that they can work together,” says Bonica.  “I’ve listened to a lot of new wave, like the Zom Zoms, but also more hardcore stuff like Every Time I Die, so I would wind up putting things like breakdowns into some of my songs.”

Bonica is wrapping up production on a new EP entitled “Chaos Engine,” set to release this spring.  Though busy with his own music, he says he still loves working behind the scenes.

“Everything is really secondary to mixing and recording,” he says. ” I would throw Scary Mercedes in the trash the second I had a real [recording] job to do.”


Download the first two EPs by Scary Mercedes here:
“Bird’s Can’t Hope”

Or visit the Scary Mercedes SoundCloud page for more.