Houston – March 2014: The Mercury Cure
by Tommy D Kat – The Grind – 13 Steps Radio
Tommy D Kat: How long has The Mercury Cure been on the Texas music scene?
Kelly FitzSimons: Well it was officially – whenever Josh joined. Early September? We didn’t play our first gig until what December?
Josh Killian: November 22, It was Rusty Conner’s Birthday bash, and that was a hell of a first step out of the gate. It really was! He did us a good favor getting us hooked up with that show.
KF: So I guess officially since September, since Josh got in the band, but Me and Darren and Joe put the project together out of what was Carry The Storm, and we decided to do something a little bit different – and we looked for singers and looked for singers – and all the while wrote songs and salvaged what we could and decided not to play any of the old material – and worked on changing our sound. We each worked pretty hard changing what naturally we had been doing for years and years in order to fit more of what we were trying to do.
TDK: What makes your sound unique to Texas music scene?
KF: To tell you the truth we don’t really try and think about that – we just try to write as good a product as we can. We’re not really trying to go out and do anything groundbreaking or new, as much as we are just trying to use the vocabulary that exists and make a good product and a good piece of art.
TDK: Sum up your sound in 3 words.
JK: Just Fuckin’ Rock
KF: Titties and Beer!
TDK: Titties and beer. Ok, well that leads me to my next question. What’s some of your biggest influences? Musically speaking that is?
KF: My first concert was Huey Lewis And The News, and I wanted to play the saxophone but we couldn’t afford a saxophone. Then I went and saw Van Halen in 1992 and I was like “That’s what I want to do with my life!” I’d say Van Halen, Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler was a big influence early on, and it may sound fucking cheesy but Mahamad Ali’s cool too! Because he was just uncompromising. He just did what he did and he went through a lot of bullshit and people telling him he couldn’t or shouldn’t do things, and he did them anyway and he fucking came out on top.
JK: And at the end of every set Kelly yells “I’m so pretty!”. (laughs from around the table)
KF: No dude – I don’t do THAT.
JK: I kinda came from the old school Metal circle of like Bruce Dickenson, and Rob Halford, and like Eric Adams from Manowar and stuff like that. I cut my teeth on being a post-pubescent nerd playing Dungeons And Dragons and listening to kick ass Metal. Over the years it’s always been sort of a “forge your own sound” sort of take on it. Where you take your influences and you engrain them into your system. But I think you should always be in a process of trying to make your own voice heard no matter what instrument it is you’re playing.
Darren Robertson: Man growing up it started with Zepplin for me. It started with Bonham, then kinda moved in reverse to Buddy Rich, ya know, and there was alot of Classic Rock. Ian Paice is incredible, and there’s some modern guys ya know, there’s some sick drummers out there right now. But the roots was always like Bonham’ish kind of stuff. It’s really refreshing to get to do that with a band instead of guys that are like “how fast can you play?”.
Joe Praetoris: Well Steve Harris got me into playing the Bass. First time I heard Iron Maiden, I fell in love with the bass guitar! Geddy Lee is a big influence. Dream Theater is a Huge influence, although these guys don’t like Dream Theater. I’m a huge fan!
TDK: You can definitely hear these influences come across in your sound. When I first listened to your tracks, I was blown away! It was like Old School rock, you don’t really hear this stuff anymore!
JK: We want to take people back to why they like music in the first place.
TDK: If you could tour with any band on the planet right now who would it be?
KF: I would say fucking Nickelback because they’re fucking huge! I don’t personally like them but we would get exposed. That’s just common sense.
JK: I would say Maiden personally, for similar reasons. Also, it would be an homage to get to share the stage with one of the guys that broke ground and invented the genre! And are big influences to a couple of us in the band, especially with what they do overseas and in South America. The ability to play for the largest crowds possible – to get the most exposure for us that we possibly could.
DR: Exposure wise, I would say like a festival – a huge fucking Rock Fest – you know that’s in Europe and the US or something. I think that would get more asses in the seats. You get to see a lot of great bands too! That’s what’s so cool about it.
JK: Meet a bunch of like minded people that are hustling just as hard as we are.
TDK: I know The Mercury Cure is somewhat of a young project, but you guys are all veterans and have played for years in other projects. What’s some of you favorite Texas venues to play at?
KF: Favorite venue off the top of my head is House Of Blues.
JK: Yeah House Of Blues is great! I honestly, for me it’s any venue that makes you feel accommodated – that doesn’t just treat you like your trash off the street that’s there to make noise in their bar! They actually understand that this is our life’s calling, that we’ve put in significant years of practice and learning, and thousands of our own dollars, and actually understanding what an investment this has been to us. I’m not saying treat us like Rock Stars, but at the very least don’t be like “well you can go set up in the corner”.
KF: Here’s some free drink tickets, at the end of the night.
DR: Dude, Fitzgerald’s. The history there I think is really fucking cool. Just being there, being backstage in the shitty scumhole that is backstage at Fitzgeralds.
JK: Plus you get that adrenaline kick from a near-death experience every time. (laughter around the table)
DR: I mean the load in sucks, you know whatever, but it’s awesome to play. I mean you look up and there’s people up in the balcony, and when you play a packed show at Fitzgerald’s It’s just an adrenaline rush. And their sound is good, really good. It’s just bad ass!
KF: I’d have to say the best sound ever though was at Verizon. I never gone on a stage before that was so big and the volume was so low on stage. I could go up to Darren while he’s playing his drums be like “hey how’s it goin’ dude? What did you have for dinner tonight?”.
JK: That’s another good point to bring up though is the sound we get out of the clubs, because we’ve got it from several reliable sources that when the sound is done right at our shows that we turn our drummer into a portable sex toy for the entire audience. Rolling those double kegs just does something to the ladies!
KF: And we’ve never had a problem here at Acadia, Tommy’s always done a fucking fantastic job!
JK: Yeah this is basically home base for us, you know, this is where we started and it’s very comfortable.
TDK: Any immediate touring plans?
JK: Well we gotta wait for everybody’s probation to get up before we can leave the state. (laughter)
DR: Our rhythm guitar player’s still locked up. (Laughs)
JK: We definitely want to play out as much as we can. We love our local fans we really do, they’re not even fans they’re friends – because you don’t invite fans to a party! Our friends here are amazing, and do a phenomenal job supporting us! Really what we want to do is get as many of those fuckin’ people we can. The only way to do that is to branch out and get out of town. We’re playing Dallas, we’re playing Austin, we’re looking into Corpus and San Antonio, Beaumont. Then we’re gonna get out of state.
KF:That’s the whole idea I think, because in the last bands that I was in we focused ourselves on getting attention by trying to be like the big shit in our home town, but ultimately we were playing House Of Blues and Verizon, and we would go out of town and nobody’s even heard of us, so the idea of this band, show wise, the plan is to get out of town as much as possible. And to set up a circuit and go wider and wider and just meet more and more people! Houston has a lot of great bands and I think that the main way for Houston bands to do well and draw attention to the scene is to blow the scene out from within. Get out and be like “Hey we’re from Houston!”
JK: Expose it to everybody else to say “Hey put us on the map people”.
TDK: You and I were talking earlier Josh, and now that I have you all here, I want to ask you about the track (Whatever Happened To) Rock And Roll? When I heard this track it was immediately clear that it had a very old school rock sound and it seems that alot of that was due to the way you guys recorded it. Tell me about the recording process for that song.
JK: That’s what that song’s about!
KF: If you read the lyrics, it’s all about bringing it back to the basics and being involved in the music again. Not sort of just sitting there and standing there and criticizing every little thing.
JK: Or getting in the front row and just texting all your friends for the entire show. If you’re gonna get up there and take that prime real estate, throw some horns up to the air and enjoy yourselves!
KF: We had a couple of recorded tracks that we had left over from Carry The Storm and we salvaged one of them that sounded like it would fit, which is The Deception. That one was the way we used to do it, which was really carefully engineered and we played it and everything was tracked separately. It was very precise – It was a modern approach. So with the Rock song we were like well let’s bring it back to basics. So how would it sound if we all did it live?
JK: In 1978
KF:Yeah we did with like 1978 technology on 2 inch tape.
DR: 2 mics.
KF: Yeah we literally did. We all went in a live sound room. We all set up our gear and we put a couple of mics in.
JK: Doused ourselves in gasoline.
KF:…and shot up a bunch of Krockodile.
KF: and we didn’t have a metronome, and we didn’t have any auto-tune, didn’t have cut and paste or anything like that. We just did about 10 takes of the song, and we used the best one, and we overdubbed vocals, and we overdubbed the guitar solo.
DR: We owe a lot to the way that it sounds to Origin Sound, Craig Douglas and Mark Lopez. Mark Lopez was the producer and Craig Douglas was the Engineer. When we approached them about it, it was right up their alley! Because that’s what Craig likes to do is the older stuff. Basically, as soon as he heard the song, he was like “alright, it’s an homage. It’s Van Halen!”. You know it’s a modern day Van Halen. He’s like “oh yeah let’s do it.” No click track, the whole band live in the room to 2 inch tape, and let’s just fuckin’ roll and have a party. And that’s what we did. Through the mixing process, through everything, it was done as if it were 1978.
JK: Yeah pan the guitars hard left, stuff the vocals in a little bit to make the band sound as loud as possible.
DR: It’s exactly what we sound like live.
TDK: One last question for you guys, and this is an important one. If you were a midget porn star, what would your name be?
JK: Josh Killian
KF: Girth Brooks
DR: Robert The Brave
Leave a Reply