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New York in the mid 80’s was a maelstrom of musical talent, and one band who came out of this whirlwind was Mercury Rev. Their first two albums were full of crazed chaos; they went on to create one of the most loved indie albums of all time,


Deserter’s Songs and several other albums. They’re playing a mere handful of dates in the UK this summer, and one of them is at Norwich Arts Centre. What a treat! I spoke to legendary


guitarist Grasshopper about the magic between him and singer Jonathan, their latest album The Light In You and wearing his slippers on a flight to the UK.


W


hat sort of music were you interested in when


you were growing up, and were your family musical? My Sicilian grandfather played the mandolin and my Polish uncle played the accordion, so I had musicians on both sides of my family. My mother’s brother was the vice president for promotions for Atlantic Records during the 80’s and he had a big influence on me. He would send me tapes of bands that were just coming out like Te Pretenders, Te Clash and Te Ramones. I played the clarinet when I was young so he’d send me a lot of jazz records too like John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Miles David. I had an upbringing of New York jazz and punk.


12 / June 2016/outlineonline.co.uk


How did you meet Jonathan back in the mid 80’s and how did the band come together? I was going to the University of Buffalo, studying film. Tere used to be a club there, Te Continental, and lots of Canadian bands would play there. Tere was a really hip DJ who would play things like New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen which you wouldn’t hear anywhere else in that town. I met Jonathan there, we started playing guitars and writing music for film soundtracks. How come you called yourselves Mercury Rev? We had a bunch of different names and one day Jonathan said “What about Mercury” and then I was thinking about it


overnight and suggested Rev. We liked that because of revving a Mercury car, and also Mercury the planet revolving around the sun. Tere are a tonne of reasons why we liked it really. What other bands were around on the New York scene when you started up? We were friends with Galaxie 500 and Lunar, I knew Jon Spencer and we played early on with Dinosaur Jnr and Porno For Pyros so we met a lot of those people. Your first two albums were pretty raw and challenging indie psych rock. How do you feel when you listen back to them now? I love ‘em. It’s like looking at that younger, angsty rebellious part


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