Carsten Mainz (guitar, synthesizer) and Olaf Wollschläger (synthesizer, drum machine) formed The Merry Thoughts in 1983 in Neuss, Germany. Marvin Arkham first joined on the synthesizer, later moving to vocals. Sonja Jordan also joined in late 1983 to play synthesizer before taking over guitar duties later.
By the early 90s, Olaf Wollschläger had left to pursue electronic music and Carsten Mainz left to form Behind the Scenes. Sonja Jordan and Marvin Arkham recorded a demo of ‘Second Generation’, one of the band’s first songs which helped them land a label deal with Big Noise Records, a German independent label. Big Noise released ‘Second Generation’ in 1993 as The Merry Thoughts‘ first single. The band moved to Big Noise’s subsidiary for gothic and darkwave music, Dion Fortune Records, where they released their second single, ‘Pale Empress’, and their debut album ‘Millennium Done I: Empire Songs‘ (both released in 1993).
For their second album, The Merry Thoughts moved to SPV, one of the largest independent record companies in the world. In 1996, SPV released ‘Psychocult’ on their Oblivion imprint. The album entered the German Alternative Charts Top Twenty where it would stay for more than two months.
Due to problems with their record company and the long process of recording, the band was basically destroyed after finishing ‘Psychocult’.
Up until 2000 Sonja and Marvin still played live and continued to record and write new material. Sonja Jordan left the group in 2000 after their last concert at Albion New York City.
According to Marvin Arkham, influences of The Merry Thoughts include David Bowie, Queen and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. The Merry Thoughts are often considered to be gothic-rock because of their great success in the 90s gothic-rock scene and uncanny similarity to The Sisters of Mercy. The band describes their music as ‘counterpop’.
In the early 90’s, a time that preceded widespread Internet availability and mobile phones were only just capable of making calls let alone be web enabled, access to new non mainstream gothic music was limited.
Yes, there were plenty of new British bands that were touring such as Rosetta Stone, Vendemmian, Midnight Configuration, Nosferatu and The Marionettes to name but a few, but the worldwide Goth scene was still a thing of unknown mystery to us, especially being outside of London.
However, Nightbreed Records, the brainchild of ex-Every New Dead Ghost, Midnight Configuration, and current Arkane Winter guitarist Trev Bamford, began producing a typed booklet of Cd’s he could get hold of through his Nightbreed Records label. The booklet was complete with a synopsis of who, what and where the artists were from, along with most importantly, what they sounded like. It was through this that the worldwide Goth scene was opened up to our eager ears.
One of a number of bands to be brought to Gothicfox’s attention through the Nightbreed booklet wasThe Merry Thoughts.
Hailing from Germany, the band had actually been around in one form or another since the mid-eighties, however, it wasn’t until 1993 that their ideas were put down into a released format and ‘Millennium Done I: Empire Songs’ was the resulting masterpiece.
Taking over where Vision Thing ended The Merry Thoughts blazed a trail of hook-laden songs, providing everything you could ask for in guitar driven Gothic Rock and in Raven’s opinion actually outdoes Eldritch’s aforementioned release.
It contains two of arguably our favorite songs from this period, songs which began to appear on the dancefloors of many a Goth club in the UK after its release; these being ‘Pale Empress’ and ‘Second Generation’. Which would not be out of place if they were released nowadays.
It’s still an album that we have a lot of time for now and in vocalist Marvin Arkham we have one of the closest sounding Eldritch clones that have graced Gothic Rock. If you liked Vision Thing and are a sucker for a catchy chorus then you can do a lot worse than hunt down this classic 90’s Goth album. ► by Raven and The Gothicfox