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The Mercy House / “We were perfectly balanced with a chip on both shoulders”

The Mercy House formed in 2009 and soon gained a cult following. They swiftly built their reputation as an incendiary live act which led to performances at Download and Bloodstock.

Their debut album, A Broken State Of Bliss, was released in 2012 to rave reviews, and The Mercy House would win a Kerrang competition to appear in the Guitar Hero Playstation game.

An indefinite hiatus followed in 2015, after their Purple Turtle Club gig in Camden, but having just released a new single, Redemption, MetalTalk’s Dany Jones spoke with vocalist Drew Davies to find out more about the band’s current plans.

“We made the album A Broken State Of Bliss ourselves, at home,” Drew says, “in an age before how it is now, where everyone’s got Logic, and everyone’s got software. We basically fashioned one of the guy’s flats and another guy’s derelict building into recording facilities. We developed our own kind of production style, which I think held up pretty well.”

Drew describes the recording process as a labour of love. “We definitely went to town on it,” he says. “I’m just really happy that people generally seem to have remembered the band even in a small way.”

Covid-19 was, in part, a driver for releasing Redemption. “All the guys were quite busy,” Drew says, “but we just decided let’s do something to commemorate the ten years, and that’s Redemption. It felt like a very apt song for the time. With the idea that the band’s coming back and the pseudo-religious connotations of the name and the song’s title, it seemed all quite nice and poetic. So we thought we would do it, and yeah, I’m glad that people seem to have appreciated it and enjoyed it.”

A Broken State Of Bliss had some grunge-tastic tones, and people would describe The Mercy House as hard rock or rock/grunge, so we might expect that bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden would be influences. “It’s an interesting thing with the Mercy House,” Drew says, “because we’ve all got quite disparate influences. When we made A Broken State Of Bliss, it was a Metal band with a bit of a kind of grunge heart, given that we’d all been teenagers around the Pearl Jam and Tool and Alice In Chains. You can detect the flavours of those bands in there.

“Definitely in Greed, the way I put the harmonies together on the chorus and bits of guitar playing, you will hear Tool. We were secret grungers like grungers in disguise and we were all really big Alice In Chains fans.”

It was this AIC connection which was a factor in drummer Nick Schlesinger driving the reformation of the band. “Our drummer is the reason we all got back together,” Drew says. “I’ll give Nick a shout because he e-mailed us all saying I’m prepping this Alice In Chains track. He was doing it for a client, and he said I think we should do it because the client had decided not to go ahead. After that, we kind of got the ball rolling. Nick has been going on for years. He’s been trying to get us to do stuff for a while. So yeah, it’s nice to get it done.”

Performances at Download and Bloodstock were followed by The Mercy House track Greed appearing on the Rock Band game. The Guitar Hero game was huge, and Kerrang ran a competition.

“We just sent a submission for fun, got to the finals, and then we were lucky to have a fan base who voted a lot for us,” Drew says. “We went and played at the Kerrang headquarters, and we won. I think there is a two-page spread in one Kerrang issue. We signed the agreements for publishing, and then Guitar Hero decided not to release the game at the last minute. We had all this press around Guitar Hero, and then they cancelled the game, cancelled the franchise.”

Then Rock Band got in touch. “I think they’d seen the press and everything else, and one of the publishers for Rock Band got in touch and said they wanted Greed. I think they put another song, Lead The Way, on there as well. It’s funny. If you go on YouTube, there used to be some people playing the game. I think it became well known as the bass part was very difficult.”

Drew sees Download as a highlight for the band. “But I think the best thing we did was getting the album done,” he says. “It was a testimony to our determination.”

His solo music is something he takes great pleasure in. “I’m proud of that,” he says, “but definitely for the band, that album was a big achievement. And listening back now, I still haven’t heard anyone go to those lengths on a debut album. We really did pull out all the stops.”

Four guys growing up together in music and being creative is a background to the album. “There are hidden recordings of things within songs,” Drew says, “and some home video footage implanted into a song.”

The song My Disease features a Davies scream which was thought to be a Death Metal scream. “I was very ill during the making of the album,” Drew says. “It was funny. Dany came with me to the hospital on the day we made the song My Disease. There’s a scream in the middle of the song. My voice totally broke, but we just kept rolling. Dany finished the album. There was nice little kind of camaraderie things in there.”

As for the future, Drew says The Mercy House will continue to write. “I think with The Mercy House now, there is a special kind of sound that we managed to get when we work together,” he says. “We all enjoyed doing that and will continue to work on things. I don’t want to say that we will become an active touring or gigging band again because everyone’s based all over the world. But we’re definitely going to make music, and I think there’s something that we need to share in that music, and there’s something special. It’s definitely worth sharing it.”

Live, The Mercy House were renowned for having an extreme energy, with an almost raw, brutal, and intense performance. You could feel the tension, something which I always thought was fundamental in a band.

“I think you can see from the video,” Drew says, “there is still an intensity there with the guys. I think you can still hear it. I think there was a little bit of a statement coming from the band and doing a track like Redemption as well, just in terms of we can still do this.”

The band always had a bit of fuck you mentality. “I don’t mean that in an aggressive sense,” Drew says, “but you could say we were perfectly balanced, as we had a chip on both shoulders. I think that’s still there.”

A tenth-anniversary track is great news. The hope that a call from the fans for some live shows or more new music is released remains.

“Never say never,” Drew says. “That’s the party line. There’s a lot of stuff that never got heard. I mean, there were two albums of material that never came out, which I don’t regret. I think we all agree with that. What’s out there is what should be out there. But you know, there’s great chemistry between us. We all work on stuff, you know, and we’re all doing different things, so yeah, maybe.”

The Mercy House – keeping us on our toes.

Drew Davies – vocals

Dany Serrano – guitars and backing vocals

Dan Edwards – lead guitars

Nick Schlesinger – drums

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