Thirsty Merc are the Aussie band of the moment it seems; their debut record is racing up the charts on our side of the ditch. A warning before you read this interview. There is graphic mention of Australians stealing New Zealand music and calling it their own. Sensitive readers may want their mums nearby. Read on and be outraged ...
How would you guys describe the Thirsty Merc sound?
Good question. We all come from different backgrounds, like two of the guys are really into jazz, and I’m more from a rock kind of scene, but I guess we just meet in the middle somewhere. We all love good songs, so I guess the song is first and then we all get to put our own background onto that.
How long have you been together?
Um, the band has been together for about four years, I joined about a year and a half ago. So I’m still a little bit fresher and happier than the rest of them! It feels like a long time, but I guess to a lot of people it doesn’t look that way. I think everyone thinks we’re running away like a freight train, but we’ve really worked hard, so it doesn’t feel like it’s been a quick thing for us at all.
So how did you guys get noticed so fast do you think?
It’s kinda hard to say in a place like NZ, coz to be honest we didn’t even know the record had come out over there! In Australia we released it and toured our arses off, like nine months of the year. We all got really tired and sick of each other, but it’s actually really refreshing to be here and see all these people like really excited about the band and kind of um.. it’s new over here. I don’t actually know why it’s going really well, I guess they’re just really cool songs! They kind of cross over, there’s not a particular scene or genre that you need to be part of to like the music or anything, they’re just kind of songs that we want people to like.
What’s with the band name... Does someone own a Mercedes that’s particularly hard on the pocket or what?
Yeah that’s it, kind of! Originally the band was called Thirsty, but I actually heard that there’s a band in NZ called Thirsty a while ago. It’s also kind of a play on words, like being in a band’s hard work, thirsty work, Thirsty Merc, you know?
Ever played over here before?
No, never. I was here when I was about 15, in Queenstown, but this is the first time the bands been here, we’ve got a couple of gigs this weekend. Then we’ve got Edgefest coming up.
What Aussie bands of the moment should my record collection definitely not be without?
Aussie bands? Hmmmm. There’s actually a New Zealand band that are now kind of Aussies, called Evermore... have you heard of them?
Yes, funnily enough I have. Are they Aussies now are they? (hint of sarcasm).
Well they’ve toured their arses off over here for like 18 months, so we’re kinda calling them Aussies! There’s also this band called End Of Fashion which is doing pretty well, a band called Wolfmother too who got like really massive overnight. Pretty refreshing shit.
Staying with the theme...I read somewhere that you guys list Crowded House as one of your favourite so called ‘Aussie bands’... What is with this Australian tendency to nick all our music? Is it because bands over there are all shit or what?
Yeah maybe you’re right! To me Neil Finn is the best songwriter alive, there’s just nobody writing songs like him. Not only because they’re great catchy songs, but because their songs are just so f***ing intelligent, you know what I mean? I think he’s the real deal, I mean there’s just so many bands and musos trying to make it and be successful and famous or whatever, but I don’t think that’s ever really been his motivation, he’s just driven to be a song writer. He’s not like a cool looking guy or anything, but to me he’s just like the godfather of great music. You just feel honoured to listen to his songs.
So you don’t hate Neil Finn then. If you could play with any band in the world right now...?
Good question. I’d really love to play with the Foo Fighters, I reckon that’d be a blast, they’re really cool. They’re just always at the top of their game.
How about favourite kiwi band... aside from Crowded House, who you’re giving me the impression you don’t mind that much?
If not Neill Finn I’d have to say Evermore...
So you’re giving them back to us are you? That’s very generous of you, I’m touched.
Yeah, I ‘spose! Nah, they’re really good, a really hardworking bunch of teens.
I read in the bio that there’s a ‘real Australiana’ feel to the record... Are you comfortable with that?
F**k yeah, why not. Otherwise you’re trying to sound American, or that whole Britpop thing. F*** that, everyone’s doing that. Just be yourself.
So what is Australiana exactly, as portrayed by you guys?
Um... It’s just taking the piss a little bit I think. There’s moments of like real connection, but some of it’s just taking the piss.. I guess it’s just about being young and living in Australia. We’re not trying to be 50 Cent or anything, we’re all just boys from the country, just trying to move into the city and make our way.
What’s the Aussie album of all time for you?
I reckon it would have to be... was Cold Chisel ever really big over there?
I don’t actually know which album it was, but they were a really amazing band. They had some really great songs on an early album, they’re just tough bastards. They’re the best band that’s ever come out of Australia to me.
I’m getting the idea that you guys are really all about the song...
Yeah, I just don’t think there’s time for anything else, you know what I mean? It doesn’t last, like f***, if you wanna be in a new cool punk band or dancehall with all these girls from Home and Away or something, it’s just not gonna last. And then look at a guy like Neill Finn who’s been doing it for like thirty years. Great songs last, and if you wanna make a career and a life out of music,