Mercies, the New England to LA transplants, are putting out their sophomore LP Blue Against Green on March 31st. P&W got to chat with band member Josh Rheault about Mercies’ move to a new place and how that affected the outcome of their new album.
When did you guys first meet and get together as a band?
When was that? Back in the 80s…ha no. It was in 2009, I started exchanging demos with Sam, who is the drummer. I was touring with another band at the time. Me and Sam actually met in a band called The Dear Hunter. We did that for a few years together and then he left and I continued. We always wanted to do a project together. In 2010, I officially left and by that time [Sam and I] had a bunch of demos together. We stayed around Connecticut and Massachusetts for a while and our friend Jordan started playing bass for us and we started incorporating him into our record.
You’re in LA right now, correct? What have you been doing out there music-wise?
We moved here a year and a half ago just to have a change of scenery for the band. We wanted to open up other opportunities for us musically aside from just record and tour and go back to your small town. There’s a lot more going on out here and we just wanted to open ourselves up to that.
What usually influences you to write a song?
It’s different at different times. Definitely the main obvious one is relationships, but lately it’s been more nature and weather and experiences in different places. That’s all I’ve been writing lately.
Do you have an example of that?
The new record is about being restless. We made a big move, 3,000 miles. We wanted to be here, but we also felt like we had to be here. Blue Against Green is kind of representing where we came from and where we are now. Kind of like a forest/ocean metaphor. It’s being torn about what to do with your life.
Can you talk a little bit about the process of making your new album Blue Against Green?
That was super different than the process of our other couple records. We came out here last October (2013) and a couple months later we signed with an indie [label] out in San Diego called RandM Records and they have an incredible studio down in Pacific Beach. We had a bunch of demos that we had been working on for years and never knew when we were going to get a chance to record, especially since we moved to LA, it’s a little tougher. Back east I had my own studio so we could just record whenever we wanted. When we signed with them, and decided we were going to record, we had to be prepared. Not that we weren’t before, but if I had an idea at midnight, I could just walk down to the studio and record it. Here we really need to be on top of our pre-production. There was a little added pressure in recording this time and we’ve never done it with a producer, it was always just me and Sam just running logic you know? The first couple days were kind of tough. We all had to play our parts well. It was a positive experience for sure, just very different.
Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written on this album?
I really like “Every Echo” which is the opening song and I also like “Zalia” a lot, which is our first single. We’ve only played these songs a handful of times live too, so I still don’t really know which song I like playing live the best. I think “Zalia” is my favorite though.
Why is that?
It’s a good representation of where the band is at now – sound wise, songwriting wise, lyrically – it just represents where we’re at right now.
You’ve been performing some of your new stuff live out in LA?
Yeah, over the last couple of months, we’ve probably had five or six shows and we try to put as many new songs into the set as possible. Once the record comes out, we hope to be playing a lot more and touring.
Do you have plans for a tour already after the album comes out?
We’re planning a release show now in LA and hopefully in the summer we’ll be touring, but we don’t have anything booked at the moment.
Do you have a favorite part about performing?
It’s kind of the reward for writing and dealing with all the other band stuff. You know, you gotta write the songs, you gotta record the songs. It’s a huge process before you get to play them live. Playing them live is kind of the reward. You get to let loose and I like hearing loud instruments.
Now, the ultimate question: favorite type of whiskey?
Oh, well right now on my table I have Blantons. It’s a circular bottle, like an octagon type thing and there’s a horse on top. I don’t know, it’s good! I don’t know that much about whiskey, but I like it. I like a good old fashioned.
Article by: Merissa Blitz