Sunday, 17 May 2015

Shooting the breeze with Merchant - Melbournes newest riff machine

HoD: Merchant.... Great name for a band, makes me think doom merchant or riff merchant. Given that you guys are a fairly new band, at least to my knowledge on the live scene anyhow, please introduce yourselves and let us know a bit of the history of how all this came together... 

Wilson: Ben, Nick and I got together mid last year with the idea of doing a heavy, uncompromising band where we play exactly the kind of music we want to play. We'd all played together in a band, Rainbird, before so it was pretty easy working together from the get go. 

Ben: We are all good mates and have been playing music with each other since we were teenagers, and all in the same band at one point or another. We had a lot of the music nutted out by the start of the year but were sans vox. Mirgy came along a few months ago, and it honestly only took one practice for us to realise he was the dude to 'sing'. We looked at what had been written really objectively, as we had no vocal patterns in mind when we wrote them, and took it from there. There weren't a lot of changes to the songs, Mirgy just did his thing. 

HoD: How would you describe your sound?

Wilson: A lot of people have mentioned Graves At Sea as a band with a similar sound – which is really cool to hear and I can agree. In my mind, it's somewhere between Graves at Sea, YOB, Dopesmoker-esque 12th fret worship and early High on Fire. I feel weird mentioning all those dudes in the same breath as us, as it probably has no basis in reality...

Ben: Yeah I would agree, it’s pretty difficult to describe, especially to people who are still laughing at the fact that there is a silly sounding genre known as ‘Doom Metal’. But yeah, I generally prefer to use broader words that can be interpreted differently, so that people can form ideas themselves and then eventually join the dots when they can actually hear our music.

HoD: Seeing your debut gig you played three tracks, around about 40 minutes all up roughly - all of them twisted, low, slow, epic riff adventures. Do you have more tracks up your sleeve or under construction currently?

Wilson: That's it for now. We just got out of that embryonic stage where you're trying to build a set list, so all of our time has been spent on getting onto a stage and getting the music in front of people. Now that we've done that, it’s back in the writing phase. We've got heaps of riffs and heaps of ideas about what kind of music we want to create so now it's just getting that all pieced together. Easier said than done, however. 

Ben: Yeah we are pretty eager to start getting our name out there a bit now and start to play some shows now that we have a medium length set ready to go. Which is awesome so now we can combine our writing with performing and start to operate like a real band?

HoD: You have the track 'Seismic' up on Bandcamp at the moment, a live demo to give people the vibe of the band. What plans do you have in store for Merchant for the remainder of 2015 and beyond?

Wilson: A physical release is definitely the big goal before the end of the year. How long it is or what songs feature on it remain to be seen, the writing process will hopefully guide us and solidify what we want to go forward with. Ideally, plenty more shows too.

Ben: It would be awesome to start playing some shows with the more established bands such as Watchtower, Horsehunter, Yanomamo only to name a couple, and yeah just to get our name out there, build a little fan base and fill our head with delusions of grandeur, haha.

HoD: Do you have some gigs coming up you'd like to tell us about?

Wilson: We're playing with Frozen Planet 1969, Borrachero and Olmeg at The Tote upstairs on the 22/5. 

HoD: Thanks heaps for your time guys, and all the best with the band. Will catch you guys on stage soon no doubt.

Wilson: Thanks to you too, Hand (if that is your real name). Cheers for supporting the local scene and cheers for programming a crushing radio station day in, day out. 

Ben: Yeah it’s absolutely awesome to see how much support there is in this little scene, and it’s all cause of legends like you Hando! Cheers!

Not at all - it's all thanks to the creative talent of people such as yourselves.

Get along to the gig on the 22nd of May at The Tote in Melbourne, or check out the band at their Facebook and Bandcamp pages.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Merchants of Doom

Over the course of the last few years here in Australia there has been a mighty surge of bands bringing high quality heavy – Clagg, Whitehorse, Horsehunter, Lizzard Wizzard, WatchTower, Motherslug, Holy Serpent, TTTDC, Sons of the Ionian Sea, The Ruiner,  Yanomamo, Sumeru, Agonhymn, Cement Pig… And this is just the tip of the iceberg, the list goes on and on. Exciting times for the bands and the punters here, and that’s an understatement.

A few weeks ago a new band on the scene in Melbourne called Merchant played their debut gig. A whole slew of diverse bands were on the bill, amongst them the bluesy stoner rock grit of Elbrus and popular locals Holy Serpent riding the wave of their RidingEasy Records release. Needless to say a decent size crowd was in attendance, but I doubt many were expecting to be sledgehammered by Merchant….

Right from the word go it was dirty, low, demolition riffing. Real, visceral, in your face…  Within the first minute I knew this band wasn’t just going to be around town making up the numbers, these dudes had that same immediate kick to the face feel that everyone took notice of when Horsehunter first started gigging around town.

“The Earth will shake when it hears my VOIIIIICE!” was the lyric over the opening madness of ‘Seismic’. And it felt like the ground was opening up right then and there. This seemed like anything but a band playing its first gig, these guys were on fire from the outset. For the sake of a reference point, think Yob, Suma, Graves at Sea…. 

On to what we have before us here for you all to check out. Merchant have just put a live demo recording of the track “Seismic” on Bandcamp.  Clocking in at 9:36 this has plenty of twists and turns,  sludging its way forth with low riffs and potent, abrasive vocals delivered with evil intent. The drums could sound more balanced in the mix but hey, this is a live demo so it’s easy to look past such things. What is most impressive here is the songwriting – Seismic truly kicks ass in that department – and Merchant’s demolishing live performance. A mountain of potential and promise here. 

“A taste of what’s to come. Be prepared for some sludgy, black and psychedelic brain lubrication” is the message from Merchant on their Bandcamp page. No doubt in my mind that these dudes will unleash a devastating array of music in the future. Have a listen and I reckon you’ll pick up on the vibe here too. Definitely a band to keep your eye on.