If you have not yet had the pleasure of listening to Melbourne four-piece Oh Mercy, you are missing out on a delightful Australian acoustic pop gem. For their second album, Great Barrier Grief, they’ve stripped things back with minimal instrumentation and simple arrangements, crafting charming songs about all things romantic. Oh Mercy’s front man Alexander Gow chats to youthcentral.
We’d love to meet the members of your band. Who are they and what do they bring to the group?
Rohan Sforcina plays the drums. He likes listening to Ice House and the Triffids. He likes playing 4/4 straight hits. Eliza Lam plays the bass. She recently got her degree in scientific photography. She loves listening to east coast rap. Simon Okely plays the guitar. He likes well fitted clothes and nice guitars. (And of course, frontman Alexander Gow).
Please describe your sound for those who haven’t yet had the aural listening pleasure of hearing it.
Lots of acoustic guitar. Lots of words. Congas, Marimba and the flute.
Professionally as a band, what has Oh Mercy been up to lately?
I have been moving houses. Trying to find the time to write music. Listening to Leonard Cohen’s *Death Of A Ladies Man*. Oh Mercy have been rehearsing a lot for the tour starting at the end of March.
*Great Barrier Grief* is the second album you’ve released. Was the process different this time? Has your attitude changed in that time?
The first album was made in a tiny bedroom with minimal resources. We had to employ as many audio techniques as possible to fool people into thinking it sounded like an album that was not made in a bedroom.
For *The Grief* we had the use of a professional studio with space, real instruments, real people and a world-class producer. That allowed me to concentrate on making an album with minimal instrumentation and simple arrangements, as opposed to the smoke and mirrors clatter of *Privileged Woes*.
You’ve been quoted as describing *Great Barrier Grief* as “a reference to a point in time; a challenge to overcome, or a complex situation”. What was your inspiration for this album?
That quote refers to the title specifically. The album overall is not bound by any concept as such. It is a collection of songs about relationships. A few being more autobiographical than others.
You do a helluva lot of touring, and you’ve previously spoken about the downsides and the reasons you love it. What’s your favourite part of touring, and your least favourite part? What do you try to take away from each touring experience?
My favourite part of touring is visiting a particular Vietnamese restaurant in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. My least favourite part is waking up after an hour-and-a-half’s sleep to drive to the airport.
What has been your most memorable musical experience so far?
Playing Wide Open Road with Robert McComb from The Triffids at the Tote a week ago.
We’ll be seeing you play during National Youth Week, Sounds Loud and Push Over – all FReeZA-sponsored events. What are your views about FReeZA and what it can do for young bands?
Freeza are a relentlessly passionate organisation of music lovers who have been improving the life quality of underage music lovers for as long as I can remember.
What advice would you have for young bands seeking to carve out a place in today’s music industry?
Work out what it is that is at the foundation of love of music. Whether it be your song craft, live performance, haircuts, etc and concentrate developing it.
The Australian indie music scene has been producing some pretty solid bands over the past few years. Where do you think (or hope) Oh Mercy will be in a few years time?
I hope to be 25 with three albums under my belt.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Oh Mercy at www.facebook.com/ohmercy