Arrested Development

Infatuated with Rush and Jedi masters, Mirth makes nerd rock from the heart.

Comic books, PlayStation games, dirty dishes, and Star Wars paraphernalia dominate his Painesville bachelor pad. He finds the phrases "cool beans," "arse," and "booty smackin'" hilarious. He has the boyish good looks of Leonardo DiCaprio. He never touches alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, but 25-year-old Harrison Chadwick still claims to be living the rock and roll lifestyle.

Chadwick, born and raised in Mentor, is the drummer, gig-getter, and lyricist for Mirth. The aptly named band has only existed for five months, but it is already making waves at venues like Peabody's DownUnder and the Grog Shop, and was recently featured on modern-rock radio station 107.9-FM/WENZ.

Mirth also consists of 24-year-old Morgan Ellington of Mentor on vocals and guitar and Bike McDermott, 22, of Middlefield, on bass. Ellington is known as "the fun one." Inspired by the work of Rush and the Police, he spent his college years playing trumpet in clubs with jazz musicians, which is how he learned to write music quickly. Ellington, one of Chadwick's Star Wars-loving roommates at the bachelor pad, has a gift for playing complex chords that Chadwick says intertwine with the vocals in a "come sing along with me" manner. McDermott "whips around the bass like he whipped around opposing players in his football glory days back in high school," says Chadwick.

Chadwick, who has degrees in political science and communications from Lakeland Community College and Cleveland State, respectively, is the band member most obsessed with Rush. "We take the music seriously, but not ourselves," Chadwick says. "We need to work on our image. I'm a geek. I'm wearing a Joker pin for God's sake."

The modern rock/progressive band makes up for its perceived image problem by being louder than other bands and by its ability to improvise for the crowd, Chadwick says. "Morgan hops around like Yoda up there and gets me and Bike rockin' out. We're not Barenaked Ladies, but we can be fun live."

Chadwick tries to write about important issues, even though his drums sometimes drown out the lyrics. "Our lyrics aren't about sex or lovey-dovey stuff," he says. "Most relationship songs are just hideous."

On Valentine's Day, the band will celebrate the release of its CD, No. 2 Pencil, at its Peabody's gig with Cows in the Graveyard. Chadwick says it was "booty smackin'" the Sunday night he heard WENZ playing "Free and Clear" off the disc. "I was on my computer, checking my e-mail and listening to the radio, and I hear, 'This is Mirth,'" Chadwick says of the band's debut on The Local End. "I was so stoked, I was screaming like a little girl. I hope I never get too jaded from hearing us."

Mirth CD release show. Sunday, February 14, Peabody's DownUnder, 1059 Old River Rd., the Flats, 216-241-2451.