Manouck Wow. Just… wow. That is one hell of a beard.

SCOTT MERCADO is not a man with a lot of free time. One-third of the San Diego experimental rock band Via Satellite, an on-and-off again member of indie-stalwarts Black Heart Procession, and in the opening stages of forming what will be known as Mr. Tube, Mercado is seemingly constantly involving himself with yet another new band, another new side project. Among this ceaseless touring and recording though, Mercado has managed to recreate himself once more, stepping into the shoes of the solo artist.

"I never intended to be a solo artist," Mercado says. "I just recorded at home to exercise demons. For the longest time I was in only one band [Via Satellite] and had things not changed I'd have had one band forever." Gradually though, things changed as members of Mercado's band Via Satellite branched out, its singer and drummer joining the Album Leaf, leaving Mercado with time on his hands that he wasn't going to waste. "I adapted. I took my bedroom recordings and formed Manuok. So now, I had one main project when Via Satellite was in off time." As the Album Leaf grew in popularity so did the off time, and Manuok became Mercado's main project.

Months later, Mercado was faced with another challenge, "I had offers to join three of my favorite bands—I was distressed about this. Do I maintain my one-band concentration or try to broaden my experience with bands I love?" Mercado chose both, joining Black Heart Procession on tour, but maintaining his concentration on the more personal Manuok recordings.

This influx of influences on Mercado's music, comes across on Manuok's first album. You hear Black Heart Procession in the bouts of gloom-stricken softness. You hear Via Satellite in the experimental jumps from barely whispered words to the crashing wrench of the electric guitar. But, through it all you hear Scott Mercado, the gentle rise and fall of his astounding voice, finding himself within the varying musical circles he exists in. Knitting these diverse worlds together, drawing from each and all to craft something new, a sound all his own.

"You know, I never expected so much from a project that started in my bedroom. But maybe that's what draws people to it. Because it's personal."

Never idle, Mercado's future is packed: more touring with Black Heart Procession; hopes to record in Japan with Via Satellite; and the continued pursuit of Manuok. It's a busy life, but Mercado seems happy. "All of this is wonderful—as long as I am concentrating on Manuok."