Interview by Imogen Hindson, answered by Henry Evans and Eamonn Hayes-Goldsmith
Local band Mercs are a five-piece alt-rock, post-punk group, originally having formed in 2017. With tracks such as ‘Isolator’, ‘Tidelines’ and ‘Humdrum’ shaking Adelaide’s local scene, the band have played alongside West Thebarton, The New South Whales, and RAAVE TAPES. After hearing the group are folding after their September release, we delved into some questions about band members’ future projects, what we can expect from their EP, and how the support of Adelaide’s music industry has shaped their success.
I: Adelaide has a particularly supportive music community — how did your hometown influence your style and lyricism?
H: Yeah, it’s a wonderful community. Throughout high school we all listened to Horror My Friend, plus we’d watch shows with Atilla My Honey & Weekday Wolves…I’d say the unvarnished post-punk from Horror My Friend came into our sound- they’re a band we’d listen to on repeat.
Tom Gordon from Horror My Friend was one of our student teachers and he’d always help us out and we’d be able to go to him for any questions we had about the music industry which a real privilege for us was. Plus, Matt Hayward who has been involved in the music scene for ages has always been really helpful and would give us bands to watch and listen to and advise us on things from marketing to songwriting.
We started out by covering Paul Kelly and Bad//Dreems and lyrically they have a realness which is something we wanted to bring to our sound, particularly the song ‘Adelaide’ by Paul Kelly which resonated with a few of our members.
I: What do you think sets you apart from other bands? What local bands have inspired you?
H: I guess we have just really enjoyed playing with each other, pretty much all of us were really good friends at school and at first, we were happy to just play one gig in the city and that would’ve been our measure of success. There are so many bands that have inspired us, but early on we were really inspired by Burnside Mums, Horror My Friend, Siamese, Ricky Albeck, Dead Roo, Hot Mess & No Oaths.
I: ‘Tidelines’’ theme of maintaining the façade of ‘happiness’ paints a picture of the realities of constant pressure, particularly on young people — where did this feeling come from, and do you think young people can resonate with the message?
H: There’s absolutely an unspoken social contract where you have to smile and be happy, but sometimes it’s hard to meet those expectations when you’re feeling antisocial, sad or depressed… I think most people can empathise with that.
I guess it’s coming from our experiences as young people, but wearing the ‘happy-social’ mask seems to be universal. Being in public spaces, you feel as though you’re being assessed, so it’s important to make good impressions. However, I think as we come of age, we’re relying on validation from others less, trusting others’ opinions of us less, and are trying to have a bit more self-respect while making decisions for ourselves.
I: Some band members are venturing out and becoming involved in projects such as GLOWING and Dress Code. How has this come about, and what do you think it says about the interconnectedness of Adelaide’s scene?
H: After nearly two years of playing gigs around the city, we’ve made quite a few new friends from the bands we’ve played with. There was always a desire from Jayden and Liam to play different genres to ours.
Things lined up so that some of the members of some other bands including Colourblind and Pemberton were also interested in pursuing different music. Without that really friendly and supportive atmosphere that exists in Adelaide’s music scene, it might not have been possible for us to intermingle and be extra creative… We’ve made lasting friends with people outside of the band from playing shows and feel grateful to have the community.
I: Who are some other up and coming local artists to look out for?
H: Other than GLOWING and Dress Code, maybe Rotary Art Show, I personally think they’re one of the more underrated bands in Adelaide. Also, Oopsie Daisy who are absolute geniuses at writing and playing some of the best music around.
I: You’ve got an EP coming out in September — can you give us any hints of what we can expect?
H: This will be our last hurrah as Mercs in its current form, so we just really want to give it a nice send-off as we are so grateful to have been able to do this for the past two years. There will be a couple of new songs that we’re pretty proud of, and hopefully, we will play a final show with some of our best friends and have a really great time.