Gigslutz caught up with The Mercy Beat, whose eponymous debut EP was released today, to find out more about this most mysterious of bands…
Hello The Mercy Beat – where are you and what have you been up to this week?
In LA, recording a bunch of songs.
You’re from all over the show: Hong Kong, Hawaii and New York City. How would you say your differing backgrounds have influenced the music you write?
Sam: Before New York I grew up in Washington DC, so for me it was all about the post-punk harDCore scene. Fugazi was my favourite band as a kid, I probably saw them 100 times. What especially grabbed me was the creative, melodic basslines those bands often had, which lead me to start playing music, figuring out interesting things to play on the bass. Oddly, that eventually lead me to Motown-era music, because it’s also very bassline oriented. So often when I write it begins there, with the bass, and the song takes shape around that.
Matty: The internet’s pretty much made regional scenes irrelevant, so strangely we were all kinda into the same stuff growing up. Punk rock, new wave, reggae, and soul.
Ian: Punk rock and Metal were big in Hong Kong. Also things were more political there than in the States. When my high school punk band played, People’s Liberation Army soldiers with Ak-47s followed us to every gig. So the music was a reaction to that kind of thing.
Why did you call yourselves ‘The Mercy Beat’?
We draw a lot of influence from 60’s R&B, like we’re taking elements of the original dance music from back then and juxtaposing it with the influences we grew up on. It occurred to us that what we were doing was similar in spirit to what the Merseybeat bands and Maximum R&B bands were doing back then. So Merseybeat inspired the name.
It seems you’re notorious for secrecy – there’s only one picture of the three of you floating around the internet, which is pretty impressive in this day and age! Why is that?
That’s funny. We aren’t deliberately secretive. I guess I would say we are of the opinion that the whole ‘band bio’ thing can be a bit silly and overblown. And it’s unnecessary, since you can find out anything you want about a band on the internet, if you care to look. So yes, maybe we are a bit terse when it comes to that sort of thing.
Your music is evocative of The Cure due to the staccato-esque falsetto vocal style. Who else would you say has majorly affected how you sound?
The sound is like a mix of the early 60’s R&B bands and the 80’s New Wave bands. So really all the music and culture of those two periods. If I had to name a couple bands specifically – The Jackson 5 and New Order.
Following the release of your self-titled EP who are you hoping your music will resonate with in the UK?
People who like synths and also guitars.
Tell us about the first and last albums you bought and the first and last gigs you attended.
Sam: First album: Rolling Stones, Hot Rocks. Actually I’m proud of my pre-teen self; I think that was a solid choice. Last album: The Horrors, Luminous. First gig: Fugazi; they played a free show on the steps of the Supreme Court in DC. Life-changer. Last gig: Echo Park Rising festival in LA.
Matty:First album: Michael Jackson, Thriller. Last album: Michael Jackson, Xscape. First gig: Fugazi at the Afterdark in Honolulu. Last gig: Arcade Fire at the LA Forum.
Ian: First album: Michael Jackson, Bad. Last Album: Tina Turner, What’s Love Got to Do with It. First gig: Loudness. I saw them in Hong Kong and still have a drumstick! Last gig: Robyn.
If you were given the opportunity to curate your own festival, who would you book and why?
A: Dr. Dre (performing The Chronic album in it’s entirety), Michael Jackson, the Clash, the Beatles, Guns ‘N’ Roses, the Cure (in 1979), Depeche Mode (in 1982), Notorious B.I.G. and 2pac (together), and Madonna.