Indie-rock trio, Mercies have an interesting history. Having eased onto the touring circuit after the successful release of their debut album at the end of 2011, the band have recently written a score for a local ballet company. Emma Dean and Meghan Player chatted to Jordan, Josh and Sammy at SXSW about The Beatles, the ballet and their plans for 2012.
Are there any bands that really inspired your sound?
Josh – I guess we listen to a lot of the Beatles. And the style and the way they recorded – you just can’t try and mimic that at all.
Jordan – Chad Atkins, Jean Pitney, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes.
The ballet that you are working on/with is coming out shortly, what can you tell us about it?
Sammy – We were commissioned by a ballet company in Virginia to write music for a ballet – which are the first two tracks on the EP. The remaining two tracks are two reworked songs from our previous full length album, and then one new song.
Have you been playing any of those tracks live?
Sammy – We haven’t been playing the ballet music. It’s all instrumental – and we would need about 25 more people on stage [laughs].
Josh – And we don’t have that..yet [laughs]
How did all that come about? It’s a little unusual for a band to have a ballet score in their background..
Sammy – I went to school and studied composition, so I thought that was kind of what I was going to do – like film scores and that sort of stuff. I also know that Jordan is a trained musician – he went to school. So it was definitely a mission for myself to do more than write music and tour and stuff. And having Josh and Jordan along, with them being so talented – has really meshed our influences as far as the music goes.
Specifically with ballet companies, and good friend of mine is a member of the Company, so hopefully it’s the first of many projects with various ballet companies. We have a film score that we might be doing over the summer/fall – hopefully we’ll be doing that between writing songs.
What was the process behind writing a score for the ballet? Did you do a lot of research into the story/theme of the ballet?
Josh – Yeah, they gave us like a format and a basic idea. Then we did our interpretation of that.
Sammy – It was definitely a collaboration. We had a very good relationship with the choreographer.
Josh – It was something that was more than just writing a song for a record. We’re super excited to do other projects that are like that – rather than play, tour, do a record and so on.
Your debut album was released last year – what was that process like? Are you working on any new material at the moment?
Josh – It was good. It was great. It was all self-recorded too, which was great. We can actually have a recording studio in our backyard. We converted an old barn – and we’ll record in there.
Sammy – We already have another albums worth of material written and ready to go. Our goal for 2012 though, is to play more shows. Stop writing. [laughs] Get out there and play more.
How have you found your SXSW experience so far?
Josh – We’re not here for too long. We’re only here for 2-3 days. But we’re trying to get the most out of the time we’re here. We’re kind of grampas when it comes to partying and stuff. But we were out til midnight last night.
Jordan – I had one beer last night! [laughs] It was crazy!
Sammy – Our tour manager on the other hand..
Josh – Yeah, he hasn’t slept yet.
Sammy – And he didn’t come home last night [laughs].
He’s just taking one for the team..
Sammy – Exactly!
Josh – It was Jordan’s first SXSW this year, so he was kind of in a fog. Just taking it all in.
Do you have any advice for bands that may want to head to SXSW next year?
Josh – Be prepared to fend for yourself here [laughs]
Sammy – And bring a cart to carry all of your equipment.
Josh – Get a parking pass!
Are there any bands that you’ve discovered whilst being here that you really dig now?
Josh – I heard this band from a distance called Walk the Moon. They’re not like anything I would usually listen to, but they did a Fleet Foxes cover – which was really cool – so I want to check them out.
A huge thank you to the band for taking the time to chat to us at SXSW.
For more information about the band, including the ballet score, check out: http://merciesmusic.com/