"That movie changed my life and perspective. It made me realize how much you can admire someone for being themselves. The world can respect you for who you are," he tells New Times over the phone from Dallas, where he's scheduled to perform later that evening.
While there was always a guitar lying around his Southern California childhood home, it wasn't until he watched Joaquin Phoenix channel the Man in Black that he tried strumming it.
"At my high school, there was this thing called 'in house,' where people hosted concerts at their home. People would do poetry or sing," Mehro says. "I performed 'Folsom Prison Blues.' I was nervous, but it was so fulfilling. That song took me so much time to learn, but writing my own songs came from there."
Fast-forward a few years later, and in 2023, he's put out his excellent sophomore album, Dark Corners and Alchemy. It's a quiet, introspective record reminiscent of long-gone folk-influenced albums by Nick Drake or Sparklehorse, though Mehro says the album has no direct influences.
"It's the culmination of everything I have ever heard. There's no concept for the album; it's more a collection of songs where every song came from a different source or channel," he adds. "Sophomore projects are always a difficult task for an artist. What are you going to do? Where are you going to go? I didn't want to choose one sound. Let's show every side — the playful, the serious, the lustful. It's an exposition, showing my soul in its entirety."
The album's fourth track, "Exploding," explores a past relationship. "The song was inspired by a love interest that was significantly older than me, and about seeing something, desiring it, and not being able to obtain it," Mehro explains.
The video for "Exploding," which the 23-year-old codirected, found its form in the editing room.
"We wanted to make a statement but didn't know what the statement was," he says. "We went through lots and lots of footage and found a statement of sexuality and what TV evokes but doesn't let people express. It's also about that thing within us we can't shut up, our dark side."
So much additional footage was left on the cutting-room floor that Mehro is contemplating splicing together alternate cuts for the music video.
Still, his main focus is being on tour, serving as the opener for Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy, bringing Mehro to the Broward Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday, May 30, for his first-ever Florida show. You can expect Mehro and his three-piece band to channel authenticity, vulnerability, and raw emotion during his live performance. He's confident that his music is strong enough that this show can win over new fans.
"Come with no expectations and give the music a chance," he says. "See if it can affect your heart and have it define a certain moment of your life."
Just the way Joaquin Phoenix playing Johnny Cash once did for him.