Band Interview | Mercies at Rancho Relaxo | Toronto

Band Interview | Mercies at Rancho Relaxo | Toronto

On Sept 21st, Connecticut indie trio known simply as ‘Mercies’ made a stop at Toronto’s Rancho Relaxo to play for an intimate group of listeners. This was the second last stop of their most recent North American tour.

Dinosaurus Rex had a chance to catch up with band members: Josh Rheault – Vocals / Guitar, Sammy Dent – Drums and Jordan Flower – Bassist to learn more about their group and music.

Download: Mercies on iTunes

 

Check out our interview below!

Mercies

Photo – Mercies

Welcome to Canada! Is this your first visit? What do you think of us ‘Torontonians’?

I think all of us have been to these great northern lands before, so it’s great to be back! Toronto reminds me a lot of New York City in its cultural diversity, but where the two cities part ways is in the friendliness. Y’all “Torontonians”—and Canadians in general—are quite warmhearted compared to most places.

 

I saw on your Facebook that you got to try the new Tim Hortons Latte… what’s your verdict?

Mercies Facebook - Tim Hortons Latte

Well we didn’t actually try the Latte, but we all tried the coffee. It was definitely much better than most “fast food” type of coffee places (Dunkin Donuts, McCafe, Honey Dew, etc). We just found the advertisement on the coffee cup to be funny. It said “Try our new Latte: made with Espresso”. It’s like saying “Try our new chocolate chip cookies, they have chocolate chips in them”.

 

For our readers who are unfamiliar, tell us your story. What can you tell me about ‘The Barn’?

A lot of people find the Barn intriguing. It’s located behind Josh’s house in northern CT, almost into MA. This area is unofficially dubbed “Tobacco Valley” because for 100+ years, loads of tobacco was grown, and is still grown here. At one point, this barn was used to hang said tobacco by previous owners in decades past. But for most of Josh’s life, the barn just sat behind his house and was used as a big shed for storage and equipment. When Josh and Sammy first started making plans for Mercies and tracking demos, the idea of using the barn as a recording space began to develop. At that time, there wasn’t much to it. But throughout the winter of 2010/2011, the restoration/finishing work of the barn paralleled the tracking of our first full length, Three Thousand Days. For a good amount of this time, there wasn’t enough amperage to power the heat and the recording equipment. So they would have to shut everything down, unplug it, run the heater, and then turn everything back on again once the temperature reached a reasonable level. Now the barn is complete and serves as a pretty rad and wide open recording/rehearsing/hanging space.

 

I have a shed we need restored in my backyard, which band member would be the best man for the job?

Can I suggest submitting your story to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Maybe Ty can lend a helping hand.

 

I had a chance to listen to some of your stuff. You guys have a really niche sound. Can you tell me more about it? What sound are you trying to achieve in your EP The Ballet and your latest album Three Thousand Days?

Thanks for taking the time to listen! I think the overall recording sound that comes through—without “trying” per se—is the natural and open environment of the barn. In that sense, if we were trying for a certain sound, we would have gone to a proper studio with isolation booths and recorded to a grid, then picked out a nice expensive reverb plugin setting that sounded exactly like we wanted it to. That’s how many bands do it, and that works wonderfully for most, but we kind of shy away from that and take advantage of the acoustics that the barn offers. Is it the most polished recording you’ll ever hear? Definitely not. But I think it offers something that is unique to Mercies.

 

How do you go about writing your music? Any influences you draw from?

This kind of crosses over with the previous question, because I think think our “niche sound”—as you said before—and writing influences come from a lot of the same places. Josh’s guitar work is certainly influenced by rock/country legends like Chet Atkins, George Barnes, Les Paul, etc. And I would have to say Mercies’ overall writing style channels a little early rock/surf rock like The Beach Boys (of course), Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, to name a few. I think there is a certain innocence and simplicity to that music that not only resonates with us, but has a timeless element that speaks to every generation.

 

So your latest tour is finished! How was it? Any memorable moments?

It was definitely a memorable 5 weeks! The nature of a self-booked DIY tour is an unpredictable one, that’s for sure. Josh and Sammy have had the privilege in the past of being a part of bands on package tours, where you’re playing with the same bands every night, and the venues are well known and well-rated. So this was definitely different. We played some great legendary venues, but also often found ourselves in dive bars and art spaces where other bands brought the sound system. To be honest, we didn’t mind it at all though. One story that stands out was a show at Lion’s Lair in Denver with couple of great bands, The Outfit and The Jekylls. During The Jekylls set, a raging crackhead wielding a broken Jim Beam bottle burst into the bar as the door guy/bouncer grabbed his coat, ripping it and throwing coat insulation everywhere. He managed to get to the back of the room as that same bouncer tracked him down, pulled out a club, and started beating him. The bar owner appeared with a mop and followed suit in the beating. Eventually they got the guy out of the bar as The Jekylls asked politely over the mic “so should we play our next song or what?”

 

What’s next for you guys? New album, tour, collaborations?

The immediate goal is to record two songs for a 7″ vinyl, to be released by the end of October or early November hopefully. We are also working on a string of fall tour dates around New England, and hopefully Montreal. Then the winter will be a mixture of working out songs for a new full length as well as an indie film score. We are excited for the next few months!

 

What do you want new listeners to know about The Mercies?

Well, that there is no “The” on our name… Haha! But no worries, a LOT of people do that. In all seriousness, if there are any new listeners that have read this far into this interview without succumbing to paralyzing boredom from my answers, we have nothing to say. You have proven yourself as a true fan of music, and we applaud your dedication.

 

And just for fun, since we like dinosaurs so much (hence the name of our site). If you had to add a caption to the below photo what would it be?

Dinosaurus Rex - Toilet Problems

“And this time around, the Bully-Sauruses told the already self-conscious little Timmy Rex that Ex-lax could make his arms grow longer.”

——————–

For more info on the band and their next project visit their website – http://merciesmusic.com/

Also check out their YouTube channel

Chris

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