Have Mercy Frontman Talks Hometown Show

By: Rachel Ferrante

Last week in Baltimore, Emo-Rock band Have Mercy, kicked off their first headlining tour with a hometown show at the Ottobar. I was lucky enough to sit down with the lead vocalist and guitarist, Brian Swindle, to discuss the future of the band. Have Mercy has gained a lot of traction and popularity since releasing their first album, The Earth Pushed Back, in 2013.

Q: “How is the process of producing each album different? How are you changing your methods moving forward?”

A: “Well the first was done over the span of two years and we were way prepared when we went in to record it. With this most recent record [A Place Of Our Own] we wrote in the studio. And with this one I have started writing it already and I have, like, five demos so hopefully in a year from now we’ll be way more prepared.”

Q: “So you recently put out a split with Somos where you covered ‘Somebody’s Baby’ by Jackson Brown. What made you chose that song?”

A: “It was really the only one we could agree on. We all have different tastes in music so we kind of went along and decided to do ‘Somebody’s Baby’ because we all love ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High.’”

Q: “Are you recording anything new right now?”

A: “Yeah, we recorded a single but I have no idea when that’s coming out. But, honestly we’re probably not going to do anything until early next year when we start another record.”

Q: “’Let’s Talk About Your Hair’ has become an anthem. How do you feel about that being so popular and did you expect that from that song at all?”

A: “No. [Laughs] It’s funny because we wrote that like four years ago now, and still at every show we go to, every kid wants to hear it. It’s still so fun to play—its not boring yet.”

Q: “What is your favorite song that you’ve written”

A: “Probably ‘Hell.’ I love playing that song, live. It’s really slow and droning, it’s really cool and gives all the feels, as the kids say.”

Q: “What was the response like to the second album, in comparison to the first?”

A: “It definitely widened our fan base, but some kids who really liked the first record have opinions that are negative about this one. But you’ve got to expect that. We’ve never done more than one album so going into this one we figured there was going to be some criticism, but we still like it.”

Q: “Are you taking any of that criticism into consideration going forward?”

A: “I think the one mistake we made on the last record was writing a lot of it in the studio, which we thought would be more comfortable. Now, we are definitely reverting back to the old ways and spending way too much time on songs to get them the way we want them.”

What struck me was Brian’s enthusiasm about Have Mercy’s future. As he performed, I could see him holding back smiles as the fans screamed back lyrics to both “Hell,” and “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” as well as others. Having it been a hometown show, many people in the crowd knew the band personally which added to the experience of seeing them live. They even paused for a round of shots bought by one of their friends. Also, the bands commentary on the sold out venue was touching. Brian mentioned, “last time we played Baltimore there was only about eighty kids.” This show had at least four times that. Headlining a tour, and only being on their second album is remarkable in any case, but it is more than clear that this band deserves the recognition it has been getting. The band is somewhat young, having released their first EP only three years ago. Although new music may take some time, Brian is confident it’s going to be well worth the wait. Most bands want to produce the best work they can but far fewer seem to have the patience and care that Brian does in regards to Have Mercy’s new music. Also, Brian seemed critical of his own work, which in my mind can only lead to a record even better than “The Earth Pushed Back,” which is the fan favorite of the two.   You can catch Have Mercy on this summer’s Warped Tour.

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in studio performances