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“You can really connect with people in a small venue.”

of yourself which we do still have but it’s channelled in different ways. Tat raw abandonment..we barely knew how to play our instruments then. As you play through the years you learn how to play and change. I still really love those records especially the guitar and the production values – a lot of bands weren’t really doing anything like that at the time. We had so many instruments and we wanted to make them sound like they were popping out of the speaker into your brain, ha ha! When your original lead singer David left after Boces your sound really changed and became more melodic and delicate. Was that because you’d always wanted to make a different sound but he didn’t, or was it a more organic process? A little bit of both – having him in the band was very chaotic and always confrontational and that came out in the music, which at the time we really loved. Jonathan and I got more into other forms of music like classical, doo-wap and show tunes and we wanted to incorporate some of that into the music. Deserter’s Songs in ’98 gained an incredible response. How did you manage this fame and accolade all of a sudden?

It was pretty insane especially in England and Europe, being recognised on the street and then having to book into hotels under different names because crazies would be trying to get in. Tat was interesting but also scary! We were travelling so time I was so busy getting my stuff together to go on tour, got to the airport and realised I was still wearing my slippers! I had to fly in my slippers and buy shoes when I got to London. Another time I

forgot to bring my guitar in all the confusion so I had to borrow one! I just got absent minded because I was so overwhelmed! Tat album was recorded in the Catskills. What was the mood amongst the band then? It was kind of like a last stab at it. We thought it would be our last album, because See You On Te Other Side didn’t do so well. We got signed to V2 which gave us a new lease of life and hope and they were really encouraging. We were just going for it. We’d met Garth Hudson and Levon Helm from Te Band, they worked on the album with us and they were both survivors who had gone through the music industry. Levon was like “Oh, the industry, it goes up and down and you’ve just gotta ride it out, change is gonna come” and that was kind of cool. And then Deserter’s Songs was really big! Tere’s such a magical sparkle to Mercury Rev songs that I can never quite put my finger on – what’s your secret ingredient? I think it’s the friendship between Jonathan and myself. He and I try to create this world through music that’s a different place. It’s not trying to be escapist but there are many realities that you walk through in life, and we try to create a real space that people can enter for as long as they listen to our music. Te Light In You is your first album in seven years – what have you all been up to during that time? I had a baby who’s great, and we did the rerelease of Deserter’s Songs and toured with that which was a big project. We put out a lot of old demo’s and artwork, so it was like putting out a whole new record because we remastered it. Tat came out in 2010 I think so it wasn’t all sitting around. Whilst Jonathan and I were working on songs, a hurricane hit his house and wiped it out. We lost a lot of the tapes we were working on so we almost had to start all over again. A lot of the songs we

INFORMATION Mercury Rev play Norwich Arts Centre on 24th June. Tis date is sold out. Read the full interview online at

remembered but other stuff were just sketches which we completely forgot and so they were lost. Jonathan grabbed his guitar and a few clothes and when he came back a second time there was nothing left at all. Tere was a lumberyard near his house and there was so much wood floating away in the torrents of the river near his house. Tis latest album saw you and Jonathan producing for the first time. How come you hadn’t done that until now? We never produced with Mercury Rev but we did some albums with Nicolai Dunger from Sweden and Heather Nova. A lot of it was about scheduling; Dave Fridmann didn’t have a lot of time, and neither did I because of the baby so it was difficult to travel. So we took it on and thought it would be something different for this record. You’re playing Norwich Arts Centre, which is a converted church with a capacity of just 260. How come you chose to play a small venue like this? We’re playing all these massive festivals like Glastonbury over the summer so we just wanted to do some nice intimate club shows, something with a totally different vibe. Instead of looking out at 10,000 people you can really connect with people in a small venue, which is something we still really love to do. How will you go about choosing your set here in Norwich as you have so much to choose from? We’ll be playing an hour and half to two hour set in Norwich whereas at Glastonbury, that we’re playing the following day, I think we get 45 minutes. We’ve been rehearsing a bunch of songs that we haven’t done for a while, songs from All Is Dream, and even from Yerself Is Steam, our first album. We usually decide the day before what we’re going to play, but we rehearse a lot of songs from each of the albums ahead of time. What’s your favourite line in a Mercury Rev song? “Bands, those funny little plans that never work quite right.”

Lizz Page / June 2016 / 13

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