The Mercury Riots are the rock‘n’roll love child of three guys with a CV that makes them legends on the LA scene. With former members of Warner Drive, The Brave Ones and Bullets and Octane, and with hit releases already under their belt, the guys are set to light up the UK as soon as they get the green light.
Hi Zach, Jonny and Felipe. The Mercury Riots, when and how did the band come together?
J: We started the band right before the pandemic broke out. Felipe and Zach had a handful of songs they had demo’ed out and when they showed me the songs it was a no-brainer. “Light It Up” and our next single “Make It” we’re amongst the songs they first showed me.
What were the drivers behind the rock’n’roll sound of The Mercury Riots rather than the high octane punk rock that we are used to hearing you guys deliver?
F: Coming from a punk background, it’s always a lot of fun to play fast, aggressive music and to feel that energy every night, but it won’t be much different than what you’ll see with The Mercury Riots. It’s still Jonny playing drums, Zach playing bass and singing and me on the guitar. Expect a hell of a rock’n’roll show at The Mercury Riots traveling circus!
You have a long history together, you have toured the world with great success – I’m getting a sense that you actually really like each other! What is the dynamic between you guys that makes it work so well?
F: We do! The three of us get along really well. I think we all respect each other a lot, not only as friends but as musicians. We enjoy what we do, and are grateful to be in the position we are, to travel the world, visit a different city every day, and play music for people that appreciate what we do.
After 2 hit album releases and a hugely successful run of dates spanning 3 years in the UK and Europe, Bullets and Octane are currently on hiatus. Are there any plans in the works to make another album?
J: We’ve had some great times touring around the UK and Europe with Bullets and we’ve met some amazing people along the way (Hi Viki!!) As far as an album goes, we won’t be working on any new BAO material.
How do you find audiences differ across the globe and how do you cope with life on the road? Living in an RV with 4 other guys has got to present some challenges?!
Z: As many differences as there are from country to country, city to city, what I love the most is what every city has in common. Those that come out to a live rock’n’roll show just want to go out and have a good time with their friends, have some whisky, and listen to some good music. So when we get up there, we better not disappoint!
F: Living on the road takes a huge toll on all of us. As fun and as rewarding as it is, it’s mentally and physically draining. It’s a constant hustle, from the second we get to LAX and check out bags, till we’re all finally back in our own beds. By the time we get back home, it’s understood, we’re not talking to each other for a while. We all know each other pretty well – the quirks, the pet peeves, the food we like, the food we dislike, and most importantly we know how to wake up Jonny. It’s a very delicate process, but hey, I’m not one to talk. Zach keeps it together for the both of us in the mornings. Jonny and I don’t function very well before noon. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true, there’s a bond that forms after going through the struggles, the highs, the lows and everything that comes with being a rock’n’roll band on the road.
Tell the HRH Mag readers about how Covid-19 has impacted upon you as a band and as individuals? What was it like living through lockdown in a city that is so very much all about the arts?
F: We’ve all been able to stay relatively healthy throughout the pandemic, and we’ve managed to stay surprisingly productive considering the circumstances. We started The Mercury Riots, wrote and recorded a whole album’s worth of music. When there’s so much downtime, there’s not much else that will keep us as entertained as playing guitar and writing songs – and we’ve had our fair share of downtime these last couple years, so there’s a ton of material for us to work on.
How did you keep up the momentum of writing songs and recording new material when all performing was on hold?
Z: It was extremely difficult when the city was quarantined and under complete lockdown. At that point, we were just writing individually at home, and then we’d send voice memos and stuff like that and then when we’d finally meet up, we’d go over the message thread and pick whichever one stood out at the moment.
And, how does it feel, the thought of getting back on stage with a new project and in what feels like a different world?
F: It’s all very exciting, not only because it’s a new band and new songs, but we haven’t played a show together since this all began. There’s been some performances here and there but no proper rock shows. It’s reminiscent of the excitement and the nerves you felt when you were a kid. It’s kinda refreshing!
Staying on that topic, do you have a release date for the album as yet?
J: We do not have a released date set in stone but as of now we’re looking at a 2022 release. The three of us grew up listening to records, and love the album listening experience so it’s important for us to carry on with that tradition. But In the meantime, we will be releasing singles until the full-length album comes out.
Until we see you next guys, what will be keeping you all out of mischief?
F: I find myself usually going to the studio to work on The Mercury Riots songs or recording with my other band The Alright Alrights. In my free time, you can catch me grilling on my patio, dancing to “Huey Lewis and The News” and nostalgically looking out my window!
Z: I’m always busy with my other projects as well as producing for other artists and bands. I was also a recent guest on Jonny’s podcast where we talked about some tour stories and craziness! But I’m excited to get back out in the world playing the music we’ve been working on all this time.
J: During the pandemic, Ryan from Warner Drive and I started a new podcast called “The Whatever Buddy Podcast“. It’s been really exciting for me and has been a good thing for my neurotic brain to let loose for the whole world to hear!! Haha! So go check it out! Along with that my business partner Martin Nilsson and I run a management/tour company called To All Of You. So with all that I’m pretty busy!
Interview conducted by Vicki Ridley