The freaks come out at night…naked!

Minneapolis glam-rock outfit Mercurial Rage proves that they’re not only the mood music, but the foreplay, the sex and the cigarette after

Haily Gostas

This makes like the beginning of a wham-bam white- leisure-suit-soaked exploitation film from the 1980s: By day, four dashing-but-detached gents masquerade as white-collar working stiffs; then when night falls, they rise above the proletarian pit, pay their respects to the glam-rock salaciousness that spawned them and become superheroes of sin (especially to themselves).

CD Release Party w/ So It Goes and First Communion Afterparty

WHERE: Uptown Bar & Café, 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
WHEN: Saturday, June 30, 9:30 p.m.
TICKETS: 21-plus, $5, (612) 823-4719

For the men of Mercurial Rage, their seductive brand of gothic new wave-flavored electronica is a sweet escape from sun-damaged pop music (and office confines), a chance to both enjoy and exploit an evening’s indulgence in rock star debauchery by their own definition.

In fact, it’s possible that their highly anticipated debut album “The Funeral Sessions” might not have even been properly finished had this bande à part not gotten down to business in the buff.

Mercurial Rage

ALBUM: The Funeral Sessions

OK, so perhaps being communally unclothed won’t exactly feed a starving nation or bring the troops home, but it at least helps push one such computer-heavy collection of songs into a much more ‘organic’ direction.

The casual listener might assume that the record’s name arose from Mercurial Rage’s dark and dramatic disposition, but here’s a secret – it’s simply because they blew up a computer at their studio and destroyed a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Album producer and “Fifth Beatle” figure Mykl Westbrooks exclaimed the minor disaster was a “freakin’ funeral,” so Mercurial Rage responded in the only way they knew how. Birthday suits were donned, the energy shifted to ‘just right’ and the music came freely and easily. Eventually, the band managed to reconstruct all they had lost in under a day, and thank God for it.

“The Funeral Sessions” is precisely the sort of album to get naked to, a six-song sample from Mercurial Rage’s live set list that details a shadowy city underbelly of the fashionable and fame-hungry, of the dirty minds and all their disillusioned questions.

“The record sounds exactly how we wanted it to,” beamed bassist and primary song arranger Chris Church (appropriately deemed the band’s “architect”). “It’s something people who come to our shows can finally have and hold on to.”

According to Church, it has taken Mercurial Rage three years to become the outfit they are today. After meeting and subsequently bonding with velvet-voiced frontman Michael Di’Greggario while they both helped manage the Dinkytown Espresso Royale, the BFFs decided to pool their musical tastes into one very sexy beast – a little bit of Joy Division here, a little Primal Scream there, lots of New Order, even more Depeche Mode, and a dash of Suede to top it all off.

Though they intended to storm the Minneapolis music scene as a duo (and without any actual instruments to boot), Church and Di’Greggario eventually added keyboardist Brock Landers and guitarist Butch McQueen to their lineup, debuting the fully fleshed-out chemistry experiment to much acclaim at the Dinkytowner in July 2005.

Three-fourths of Mercurial Rage’s brotherhood (bound by their penchant for very tight trousers) originally hails from Sioux Falls, S.D., where older brothers’ bedrooms were wall-to-wall with punk posters and responsible for the first stirrings of “Hey-I-wanna-be-in-a-band-too” enthusiasm.

Di’Greggario, a self-described former theater and choir nerd, was five when his particular nearest and dearest snuck him the Ace Frehley solo record. He put it on his Fischer Price record player, used his tennis racket as an axe and never looked back.

“After that, I envisioned playing in front of the masses,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve always wanted.”

Meanwhile, Church and Landers (who had never played keyboards prior to Mercurial Rage) were dabbling in harder, more sinister sounds that perfectly encapsulated their teenage angst. Where Di’Greggario brings a sense of tortured showmanship, they bring the gloom that cushions it.

McQueen describes his own musical blossoming through three different ages: He was deaf until he was three and a half; he asked his parents for a piano when he was seven; and by eight years old, in 1984, he had won a Minnesota state piano championship.

“I knew after playing in front of 5,000 people that the rest of my life was going to be about music,” McQueen explained.

Prior to Mercurial Rage’s conception, he involved himself in a host of projects, including 36 Headshots and the TV Sound, and presently he sharpens the band’s high-gloss approach with his time-honored shredding skills.

Despite any other musical commitments (and their respective 9-to-5s), each insists on making Mercurial Rage their prerogative, and such laborious efforts are obvious in “The Funeral Sessions.”

“Where our shows are more ‘rock,’ the record sounds recorded, but in a good way,” defends Landers. “It’s lush and gorgeous, but the show is actually alive. We give you the option to pick what you prefer.”

Still, a note to all skeptics who might lean toward the former – a Mercurial Rage performance is not simply a press-play affair. They recreate every bit of what’s on the record, all fat club beats and cocksure attitude, ribbed for your pleasure. Those you see clinging to the wall, allowing nothing more than a head nod in their direction? They are precisely who Mercurial Rage hopes to join, conquer and help get freaky.

“We want to take ourselves seriously, but we aren’t afraid to be uninhibited,” said the ever-agile Di’Greggario, prone to popping buttons and popping like it’s hot. “It’s pretty much a slow striptease, but it’s what we do,” he added with a laugh. “But I’m not afraid of that.”

Church also stresses the importance of looking good on stage. And yes, he loves giving Di’Greggario the occasional rubdown. It’s a Mick-and-Keith thing. Don’t worry about it.

“We’re always trying to maximize our sexiness,” he said. “But while we might be successful in Minneapolis, we’d probably get beat up in St. Cloud!”

Despite all the strutting and preening, there are no false hopes of fabulous rock stardom. These boys think our fair metropolis is where it’s at.

“We’re fine here in Minneapolis,” McQueen declared. “If something was to happen, great, but the point is just to love playing music.”

Church jokes that he loathes the idea of becoming an “L.A. guy,” and plans on simply buying his gargantuan mansion right here.

To Di’Greggario, the city that inspired Mercurial Rage will always be home sweet home. “It’s blessed with a cornucopia of amazing artists, and it’s something we’re privileged to be a part of,” he said. “But still, if we make it big, I’m getting my flat in France!”

And why not? Even the average Joes of the early hours deserve their decadence.