As Essex boys Mercury Rising prepare to drop their brand new 5-track EP ‘Paradise For A Troubled Mind’ on 22nd June, HRH Mag’s Anne Estella spoke with the band about their new material, their current supergroup lineup, and how sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most…
How long did it take to write the tracks for your new record and what are the songs about?
[Max] It’d be hard to put an exact figure on how long this record took to write. For example, ‘City Lights’, the opening track, was in its infancy before I’d even heard Mercury Rising existed. ‘Running Out Of Time’ was written in one night, and it just fell together really. We sat on these two tracks for a while once they’d been recorded last year, originally intending to release them as a single and B-Side, but after losing Rikk and recruiting Steve-o, we’d spent so much time making people wait that we decided to add three more tracks to the mix. ‘Love For Lust’, ‘Coming Home’ and ‘We All Die Young’ came together over a few weeks in the studio and were recorded over three nights. We work fast when we need to. The songs, lyrically, are pure escapism. The general theme is figuring out what you really want in life, what you can sacrifice, what you can’t live without. For me this was influenced by a point in my life where my job was getting in the way of my music and in a way, this record inspired me to quit my job and put more into music. The most interesting on the EP lyrically is ‘We All Die Young’, which sounds pretty morbid and I feel I should explain that it’s got nothing to do with death in its conventional sense. It’s about how people lose their sense of self and come to define themselves by the way they make their money. It’s a call to arms, almost, to not die until you’re, well, dead!
Do you each have a favourite song on the new EP?
[Max] ‘Love For Lust’. I get some solos and the chorus has a childishly cryptic Easter egg, which is evident when you figure out the subject matter. I won’t spoil it.
[Rob] ‘Running out of time’. I love the way it flows and think it has the strongest chorus we’ve ever written.
[George] Personally my favourite song is ‘Running Out Of Time’. It’s the one song that stands out to me as showcasing us all individually and as a band. It’s groovy, it’s energetic and it’s a lot of fun to play live.
[Steve] My preferred track on the EP is ‘City Lights’. It’s been a staple of the live set for a couple of years and I have always considered it to be the band’s strongest song. When I joined I was surprised to find out that it had never been recorded on any previous release. I am glad to have got my chance to play on the studio version.
Where is your EP launch show being held and who will be supporting you?
[Max] The launch is happening on 22nd June at the Devonshore Arms in Camden. It’s one of our favourite venues to play at as it’s so small, a bit dive-y and insanely sweaty. We’ll be supported by our old friends in Daxx & Roxane and Mongrel Dogs. It’s been a few years since we gigged with these guys and it’ll be good to see them again. We went on tour with Daxx in 2015 and it was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a band, such a great bunch of guys!
Can you tell us about the changes you’ve had in your lineup since the band formed back in 2012?
[Max] Wow, how long have we got? Two singers, two drummers, two guitarists, three bass players! It all started when I played what turned out to be my last show with mine and Rob’s thrash metal band, Supercharger in 2012. The guys who would go on to be the first incarnation of Mercury Rising poached him from me. I started a new thrash metal band, Subjugation, everyone went AWOL and then Mercury Rising parted ways with their singer. I waited for them to ask me, obviously. There’s been a lot of juggling since, but Rob and myself have always remained constant. The current lineup, though, feels like a supergroup to me, so we’re very much rooted in the present and ready to take on the world!
Speaking of the current lineup – what are your backgrounds? Were you all playing in other bands previously?
[Max] Rob and myself have such a substantial history of playing together that I sometimes joke that I taught him all he knows. I’ve played in bands since I started high school. In fact I think I tried to start my first band in like Year 4 and scared everybody away with how inexplicably serious I was about it. Steve-o is most noted for his work with NWOBHM band, Kaine, who are good friends of ours and George played in a thrash band called Inexitus back in the day as well as some metalcore stuff I’m sure he’d rather not talk about. We all come from Essex, and we were all part of the same scene from the second we got involved with it. We basically all met at The Asylum, a venue in our hometown, which is sadly no more and watched each other’s bands.
Given that you cite classic hard rock bands such as Guns ‘n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Extreme, Judas Priest, Motley Crue and Van Halen as some of your biggest influences, how do you ensure that your sound stays fresh and modern?
[Max] We’re influenced by all of those bands for sure, but I’m not Axl, Bruce, Gary, Rob, Vince or (but I really wish I was) David Lee Roth. I was born in 1994, so for me to deliver a retrospective would be almost insulting. What we try to do is think about what our idols and influences SHOULD be doing now, or what they would be doing if they were just coming up, and try to give our take on that. The world is a different place now, so the music HAS to be fresh and modern. It has to tackle new themes, enter new territory, cross different borders – that’s what we’re trying to make it do.
[Rob] I think as a band we have a very eclectic and diverse music taste. So some of the styles and influences that aren’t strictly hard rock will be present in the music. I listen to a lot of other genres of music such as classical all the way to ‘80s synth pop. I try to incorporate some elements of this when writing music.
[Max] I’d like to add that none of us are ashamed of our love for Duran Duran and you shouldn’t be either.
What do you have lined up for the rest of the year as regards gigs and festivals?
[Max] We’re always adding to our schedule, but a lot of our time has been taken up planning for our EP launch. Once that’s out of the way, we’re out for a few weeks then back in London at The Big Red on 13th July and 20th July at ReitenFest in Suffolk with a few of NWOCR’s household names. We’re hoping to get a tour booked in for the latter half of the year too, and get a bit further afield!
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
[Max] At the moment, it’s the little things. It’s the interaction with fans, people asking us to sign things, playing a really packed show and seeing people genuinely loving what we do. A lot of the highlights of our careers have been shared behind closed doors, where we’ve got a song down in a night and it’s just felt amazing, or when somebody adds a killer new part into an old song and just takes it somewhere totally different. You have to pay attention to the little victories, or they’ll pass you by! Equally, though, we’re all for the big victories when they come… and they will!
If you could go on a world tour supporting any band, who would it be and why?
[Max] For me, it would be Mr. Big. I think we have a lot in common with them and I think me and Eric Martin would be great friends. Maybe he could give me a singing lesson!
[Rob] Probably Guns ‘n’ Roses. I have seen them live and they where incredible. They are for me the ultimate rock band and supporting them would be a dream come true!
[George] Royal Republic. It doesn’t matter where or when they play but they sure as hell know how to get a place moving. I have this crazy memory of them jumping on stage super early at Download Festival one year and even though it was probably 10am, even though everybody was still stewing from the heavy night before, they had this cathartic energy and it supercharged thousands of people!
[Steve] The band I would like to play with the most is Carpenter Brut. I think they are the most interesting and unique of all the bands doing the ‘80’s revival. They’re a lot darker and more progressive than other artists in the same niche and are a very good live band also.
What’s ‘The Dream’?
[Max] To take this as far as it will go and to be part of the movement putting rock music back on the map and into mainstream culture!
Watch the official video for ‘Running Out Of Time’ – the first single from the upcoming EP ‘Paradise For A Troubled Mind’, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-xJxS9B3nE
Mercury Rising are:
Max Campbell – Guitar/Vocals
Rob Raymond – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Stephen Ellis – Bass
George Tinsley – Drums