Jack Mergist (born John Kenneth Mergist December 19, 1984) is an American actor turned singer/songwriter. He is best known as a founding member of the American rock band The Lunatic. Within the band he plays guitar, bass, and sings. He also functions as a producer and engineer. He is known for his distinctive vocal style and layered guitar and vocal arrangements.
Mergist was born in Houston, TX while his mother was in Medical school. As a child he expressed an interest in recording and art. He spent a part of his childhood drawing and creating comic book characters. He expressed an interest in growing up to become a great dancer and actor to his parents, and was trained in hip-hop, break dancing, tap, jazz, and ballroom dancing. After his dance performances he was often told by audience members how good he was for his age--to which he usually replied, "Everybody says that." As a child he performed with Antonio Palacios who would eventually introduce him to the music of Pixies, Hum, and The Rentals. Mergist would also steal cds and cassette tapes from his brother's collection which first introduced him to Nirvana, Weezer,The Smashing Pumpkins, and Boys 2 Men among others.
The public first took notice of Mergist when he performed at the age of 11 with the Wasatch Children's Chorus. He played the part of Gaston in an in concert rendition of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. He was praised for his belt style of singing, powerful vibrato, and charismatic take on the beloved Disney character. The following year he played the part of Prince Charming in their full on stage production of Disney's Sleeping Beauty. It was at that point that Mergist decided that he enjoyed the stage and the spotlight and decided to pursue a career in musical theater and film.
He received his first big break at the age of 13 when he obtained a Broadway caliber role in Sundance Summer Theater's performance of The Music Man. It was there that he had the opportunity to meet and perform with several seasoned veterans of Broadway and worldwide theater companies--connections that would lead to much success as a young performer. He returned to Sundance again the next summer as Tulsa in their stage production of Gypsy.
He obtained his first professional starring role as Jack in the Egyptian Theater's musical stage production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" in Park City, the same theater that houses the Sundance Film Festival. He went on to perform in several productions with the Egyptian Theater company. He also performed in the Utah Opera's production of Tosca at the Capital Theater in Salt Lake City, UT.
Through theater and his connections to the Utah film industry Mergist went onto perform in film and television. He starred along side Rutger Hauer in 2000 Crime Drama Partners in Crime. He is also known for a small role in Disney's 2001 film Luck of the Irish, as well as several other roles and projects.
A study of piano his whole life, Mergist also began playing the clarinet at the age of 11, the guitar at the age of 14. He played guitar and sang with his friends in the band Zone, and later formed a punk band with bass player Joe Barney called The 3 Legged Pedestrians. Mergist began writing his own songs shortly after his fifteenth birthday.
Mergist continued studying, performing, and in some cases teaching dance, theater performance, singing, and acting until the age of 16.
Florida marked a shift in interest for Mergist. Due to a lack of opportunity to perform professionally on stage, and a non-existent choral program at school he turned to television production and recording, gaining a heavy interest in the techical and production aspects of the arts. He also turned his focus towards songwriting, and began to write and record home demos on his tascam 4-track tape machine. His songwrtiting reflected his relationships and life experiences up to that point. He kept most of his songs to himself, rarely letting anyone hear what he was working on. He spent the summers and his days off of school working as a cowboy for the ranch.
Mergist experienced much success in the TV Production deparment at his high school, being selected in the summer of 2001 to particpate in a 2 week production camp with the organizers of the camp selecting him for a paid internship starting a local cable station. Mergist ran programming for Access Osceola for 3 months and filmed local and statewide political broadcasts. He also gained a strong interest in editing picture and sound for television and film. And participated in many film projects throughout his high school career.
The first time Mergist experienced success with his own music was in the spring of 2002 with his band The Dewberries. The band was formed by Walter Jaworski and Mergist on a rainy afternoon after Mergist had wrecked his truck a mile down the road from Jaworski's home. The two--having met in TV production classes at school--were planning on putting a final TV project together. Mergist was forced to walk down a country road in the rain, and arrived at Jaworski's door drenched and upset. The two spent the afternoon making gumbo instead of working on the school project and eventually made their way into Jaworski's rehearsal studio. Jawoski played the drums, and the two had the idea to form a band to play in the high school talent show a few weeks later with Mergist on guitar and vocals. The night of the talent show they played two songs, "What Did I Do" and "B's Song". The duo won the grand prize that night. They went on to play one more show together before going on an indefinite hiatus. This experience helped Mergist's music gain much local popularity and inspired him to get more serious about his music and songwriting, leading him begin performing at local venues as a solo singer/songwriter.
He assemlbed his first demo cd in the summer of 2002 and called it Jack . The cd was recorded at home on his Tascam 4 track tape recorder with a microphone that he built from parts he found in the school's TV studio. It consisted of 6 songs, including the two songs performed at the talent show the spring prior. He printed the cds himself and gave them away to anyone willing to listen.
Return to Utah and Depression On Cue
In August of 2002, Mergist felt inspired to return to Utah and finish his Senior year of high school there. He moved back alone, in the house that his parents still owned. At that time played music once and again with Joe Barney, and for a time played shows and wrote songs with Austin Cook--who would later join The Lunatic.
He continued to study TV Production in Utah and in the spring of 2003, recorded his first full length album Depression On Cue. The album was recorded in the school's TV studio using an imac and Final Cut Pro. It was recorded in one day, a few weeks prior to Mergist graduating from high school.