From the huge success of their very first album, Thirsty Merc have gone on to carve out their own niche in the Australian music industry, and their evolving style promises to win them even more fans along the way. Thirsty Merc will be touring locally as part of the upcoming Red Hot Summer tour. Guitarist Matt Smith fills us in …
Have you been to Port Macquarie before?
Yes, I have actually. We have a couple of friends who live in Lake Cathie, so we go up there fishing, and I’ve also got some old family friends that live there, who we visit all the time.
What are you looking forward to about the upcoming Red Hot Summer Tour?
I am looking forward to getting out to some regional areas we haven’t been before – definitely travelling out to the bush and meeting some new people, seeing some new places.
I am interested in watching Jimmy Barnes each night and also to see how he does his touring; he’s an old road dog, so I am looking forward to seeing what happens there. I’ve heard a lot of touring stories about Jimmy Barnes!
How did the tour come about?
I am not 100% sure. I just remember going to our manager Dave’s place, and he said there is this gig in January with all these guys and did we want to do it. Of course, we were all like, “Hell yeah!” Definitely wanted to get on the road with the old rock legends.
Tell us about your most recent album, Mousetrap Heart.
We recorded it last year in LA with a producer named Matt Wallace. He has worked with Faith No More and Maroon 5, to name a few. We spent a couple of months over there with Matt and put the album together. It’s actually the first record I have done with Thirsty Merc – I am the newest recruit!
I only joined the band last year before the recording of this album; it was really exciting for me to get a call to go to Los Angeles and work in the studio and meet all these great people and work with this great producer and great band. So we put it together over there, and everyone has been saying it’s got more of a groovier sound as far as Thirsty Merc goes.
I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that Ray wrote a lot of the tunes on piano, whereas a lot of the old stuff he would write on guitar. So it’s a bit more like Billy Joel – Elton John piano-driven groove music. That, and the fact that we worked with someone like Matt Wallace, who is really good at combining Rock ‘n’ Roll or Rock music and Funk music genres.
We released the first single Mousetrap Heart in June, which went really well for us. All My Life is just starting to take hold now, and we have done two tours off the back off it during the last half of this year, so it’s been really exciting and going great.
The All My Life Track was actually chosen as the theme song for the AFL Grand Final.
Are you guys AFL fans, or is it something that came as a surprise?
I am a big rugby league fan, so I have never really followed AFL. The guy down the road loves it. He used to play for the Bulldogs North Melbourne, so I was down there when the Semis were on, and they beat the Swans. I got an email from Dave saying, “Go the swans!” If the Swans win, then the ad gets played throughout NSW.
So I watched the game and Melbourne won, so I was a bit disappointed. But it was the first time I’ve actually watched a full game, and I enjoyed it.
How would you describe the band’s style of music? You said it has changed a bit with the new album that has come out?
I guess you would call it Pop music, with lots of Rock and Groove influences. I don’t know what you would title it, but that is a good explanation.
It’s got some more Groove stuff like I was saying before, a bit like Billy Joel – even a bit like Stevie Wonder. It’s just got that soul, but it’s also Pop music, and a lot of the songs are Rock songs too. They would be the 3 main genres that we take from.
What do you enjoy most about being on stage at outdoor festivals and touring?
I enjoy travelling with the boys. They’re all great guys, and we get along really well. You just get in the car and go to some new place and do a gig there. It doesn’t really feel like work, because it’s so much fun.
We get home from touring, and it’s great because we all have families – but we all kind of don’t know what to with ourselves! You just have so much fun on the road, and we always meet new people and make new friends. It’s awesome – and such a great lifestyle.
How did the original members of Thirsty Merc come together?
Well, the story goes as far as I know, that Phil and Carl, the bass player and the drummer, went to school and grew up together in Dubbo. They both moved to Sydney, where they met Ray, and I think the band was originally just named Thirsty.
Wasting Time is the first song they ever wrote together; it has a real Punk feel. To play some of those songs live is so different to what Ray is writing now. They started off in Sydney and their first album went platinum, so they came into the industry with a bang, that’s for sure!
What is the status of the band on an international level?
We are still working on some stuff. This year has been focused on Australia and getting everything pumping over here. Hopefully next year we will be looking at doing some overseas travel. We have got some friends in Japan, the Okimotos, who came over and did some touring with us. They supported us over here, so it would be great to go and support them over there. Obviously we would like to get back to the States and do some more recording and live shows – it’s all in the pipeline.
What does 2011 hold?
We are going to be doing some more touring over here as well as going overseas. It would be good to get to some more festivals and things next year, just to get out there and have fun.
Thank you Matt.