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Mercy Arms - Clawing Their Way Back

Author: Andrew Weaver
Friday, 24 August 2007
Mercy Arms have been the subject of so much press for such little output – within six months of forming some two-and-a-bit years ago, the group were touted as the next Wolfmother, the next Airbourne, the Next Big Thing, with international scouts flying out to Australia check them out.

Soon enough, they’d graduated to the club that the likes of the Vines and Jet and others call home – they’d signed their life away to a multinational major label, plumping for Capitol as their home of choice after having every-man-and-his-dog wanting to get their names on the dotted line.

Then things went pear-shaped – the ink on their contract was still drying when EMI announced a major overhaul of their two labels (Capitol and Virgin), with the two becoming one.  A slew of Australian bands, including Airbourne, were subsequently dropped, but contrary to popular report, Mercy Arms frontman Thom Moore assures us, the Sydney-born combo weren’t one of the myriad cast-offs. Instead, he says, they fought to find their independence again.

“It’s been too long,” he says of the gap between the band’s initial hype and the arrival of their first recorded piece.

“It’s been good though,” he continues, “because we’ve been able to make it a proper document rather than a pressured release.”

Ultimately, it meant a huge gap between the band’s ascendancy and the final arrival of debut EP Kept Low, which arrives as a collection of recordings taken from various homes – with various tracks coming from the different gestation of the band’s life thus far.

“It’s got a song which we recorded at my house, called Shot Right Down, which is a staple song in our set over the last year, two songs recorded in Sydney at BJB Studios – and they’re my favourite two songs on the EP,” Thom exclaims regarding the finished product.  “And then there’s Kept Low and Scream, which were done in Adelaide at Mixmaster Studios, a fantastic studio in the hills.”

Mercy Arms are also sitting on a golden collection of recordings – when TV on the Radio toured Australia, they had the good fortune to hook up with Dave Sitek and record several numbers with him. “They’re currently being mastered,” he explains.

For the release of Kept Low, the band are releasing their debut offering through Levity, a label funded by the Levis brand of jeans and A&Red by their manager, Todd Wagstaff, formerly the brains trust behind You Am I and the Vines.

Admitting that the nine months lost while sorting out their extrication from the label was an opportunity lost, he says that making the move overseas is a big step to make, but it’s something that Thom feels they need to do in order to take Mercy Arms to the next level.

“The hype we have to build up again – we have to play exciting shows, and be there to give time to all the different markets in the UK.  We’re significantly better off than we were back then [when signed to Capitol].

“We’re doing it with our own money too,” he frets of the move. “It’s no record label field-day where you just fly over and stay in a five-star hotel – we’re moving into the east of London and I guess we’ll have to do it all again in some ways.”

While it may have taken them what seems like an age to release their first recorded document, it now seems certain that Mercy Arms are going to continue to be a name bandied about as a Next Big Thing for some time…quite likely until they BECOME a Big Thing.

WHO: Mercy Arms
WHAT: Debut EP Kept Low out on Levity
WHEN: Saturday 1 September