Formed in the summer of 1997, The Mercury Program started as a three-piece consisting of Dave LeBleu, Sander Travisano, and Tom Reno. After releasing 2 self-recorded 7"s on Boxcar Records, their self-titled full-length was released in 1999, also on Boxcar. In late 1999, The Mercury Program signed to the New York City-based indie startup Tiger Style Records. During this time, they added an additional member, Whitney Travisano, and turned the trio into a more dynamic quartet. The sound of the band changed dramatically with the addition of a fourth member as the vibraphone and Rhodes piano began to play a more significant role in the song writing.
In early 2000, the new line-up hit the studio with Andy Baker. The result was their sophomore effort, From the Vapor of Gasoline, which was released by Tiger Style Records later that Spring. The record received a tremendous amount of positive press, including the first national exposure for the band with an 8 out of 10 rating in Spin Magazine. From the Vapor of Gasoline was quickly followed up in 2001 by the All the Suits Began to Fall Off EP, which demonstrated the band’s maturation and comfort as a quartet. Unlike previous releases, this EP doesn’t include any of the usual sparse bits of vocals; instead, All the Suits Began to Fall Off marks the band's departure into a new all-instrumental direction.
In 2002, The Mercury Program released their most critically acclaimed record to date, A Data Learn the Language . This record shows significant progress in the band's songwriting, as well as the addition of electronic and computer instrumentation. Amidst a full U.S. tour supporting the record's release, the band was invited to play on Nic Harcourt’s "Morning Becomes Eclectic" radio show on KCRW in Los Angeles. Besides the Tiger Style label, A Data Learn the Language was also licensed and released by Japanese label Stiff Slack in 2003, and the band did a tour of Japan that summer to support the release.
After returning from tour in support of A Data Learn the Language , the band went into the studio with Andy Baker again to record three songs for The Confines of Heat , a split CDep/EP with friends and tour mates Maserati. The Confines of Heat was originally released on Kindercore Records, which dissolved shortly after the release. It was then re-released by Hello Sir! Records, an Athens, Georgia-based record label in 2004. The Mercury Program took a much-needed break from touring, writing, and recording after release of The Confines of Heat . During this break, the band members spent a significant amount of time dispersed between Gainesville, New York City, South Florida, and Vermont. With the increased distance and ever increasing personal obligations, the band spent the next several years working on new material in a much more relaxed manner.
The result of this composed approach is Chez Viking , a seven-song CD/LP released by the band's new label, Lovitt Records, in November of 2009. Again, the band chose to work with long-time engineer and friend Andy Baker. Mixes were done by Jeremy Scott at Civil Defense in Brooklyn, and Bob Weston handled mastering at Chicago Mastering Service in Chicago. Chez Viking is a twinkling, shimmer album whose strengths of interplay between guitar and vibraphone or Rhodes are anchored by a propulsive and driving rhythm section. It's a fantastic combination that succinctly captures the band's bright intensity, and the benefit of extended time The Mercury Program had to write Chez Viking is well reflected in the songs' thoughtfully complex arrangements. The Mercury Program has reached an advanced point in its development where making intriguing sounds just seems effortless, and Chez Viking is the definitive document that showcases that talent.