Interview: Oh Mercy “It is not a patriotic album”
On the eve of release of Oh Mercy’s sophomore album Great Barrier Grief, front-man and brains-behind-the-operation Alexander Gow took some time out to talk with Lost In Suburbia about the release, heading out on tour and why this album isn’t patriotic.
Lost In Suburbia: Congratulations on your fantastic new album Great Barrier Grief – what’s the initial response been like?
Alexander Gow: People seem to like it. Thanks Christ.
LIS: Was there a lot of pressure going into writing this album after the success of Privileged Woes?
AG: No. Pressure has nothing to do with me. The success of Privileged Woes acted more as a vote of confidence. It put me at ease. Knowing that I was on the right track.
LIS: How do you feel this album differs from your debut?
AG: There’s less stuff on it. The first album was made in a cupboard with limited recources. We had to build the songs from the bottom up, filling them with ‘stuff’, hoping to convince people that we hadn’t made it in a bedroom.
LIS: How did you spend your Red Bull Award for “outstanding potential” prize money? Did it all go towards funding Great Barrier Grief?
AG: Yes. Thanks Red Bull.
LIS: You have stated that Great Barrier Grief was inspired by the Australian ‘sound’: the classic songs and songwriters who’ve sound tracked in your life. What artists and tracks in particular inspired the album?
AG: The Triffids . The Go-Betweens. The Saints. Sunnyboys and a heaps of others.
LIS: Do you consider yourself patriotic? Is this a patriotic album?
AG: No I don’t. It is not a patriotic album. It’s album written by someone that is interested and inspired by his cultural identity.
LIS: What is the one thing you hope people take away after hearing the record?
AG: I hope people understand that I care about music. About my music. That I have respect for the craft and myself.
LIS: If you could go back and revisit the record and recording process, is there anything you would change?
AG: No. I was very conscious and aware through out the recording process. Ever division made was on that was very considered. The album is very much my head space at the time and I’m proud of that.
LIS: You’re setting out on headline tour in March in support of the album, how do you prepare for a tour like this?
AG: Getting someone clever to fix my guitar. Playing a couple extra games of squash to get the fitness level up. Eating fruits and vegetables.
LIS: You mentioned in the past that staying an independent band was important to Oh Mercy, what made you decide to sign with a major like EMI?
AG: We made the album independently. EMI came on board after the fact. That meant that I had and retain creative control. Creative control is important to me.
LIS: After the tour, what’s next for Oh Mercy?
AG: I hope to get some writing done. I look forward to making another album as soon as possible.
LIS: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
AG: If you are going to write lyrics, read books. It’s an obligation.