Mercies

Mercies (l-r): Jordan Flower, Josh Rheault and Sam Dent. (Promotional Photo / July 9, 2013)

Mercies

w/Oh, Cassius!, The DuPont Brothers, July 13, 9 p.m., $7-$10, Arch Street Tavern, 85 Arch St., Hartford, (860) 246-7610, archstreettavern.com.

 

Suffield's Mercies — singer/guitarist Josh Rheault, drummer Sam Dent and bassist/vocalist Jordan Flower — know the difference between being a scene band and a touring band.

Last summer, they went on a self-funded five-week tour, playing mostly for people who didn't know their music. "A lot of the cities where we played were completely new," Rheault told the Advocate from his home in Suffield. "Some of the bigger ones — like Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco — we had really great shows and a surprisingly large turnout." Even in Arkansas and Idaho, where nobody knew who they were (or cared), the feedback was positive. "Fans have stayed in touch and are curious as to what's happening next. It was definitely a positive tour, that's for sure."

That experience, as touring musicians will tell you, teaches volumes about communal living. "I think we've all been in other bands and have had stressful situations with people you may not get along with," Rheault said. "With us, we've been friends for so long, and we have such a long musical history together. We all gel so well that when we're home, we're still hanging out and getting together, writing. We don't really separate it too much. This is our life, and whether we're on the road or at home, we're being creative. It's a really good situation."

As Mercies, Rheault, Dent and Flower have released one full-length album (Three Thousand Days), an EP (The Ballet), the recent double-single "Barely Speak"/"Vultures," and other tracks, all recorded in a renovated barn behind Rheault's house. "It was just an old tobacco barn," Rheault said, "pretty much junk, really." They went to work in 2010, making it livable and functional, running heat and electricity to it, bringing in recording equipment and generally turning it into a place to hang. "That's where we've done all of our recordings, along with some other artists who've come down and recorded there. It's a nice creative space, for sure."

Mercies sound about as big as a barn, even with only three people. They also know how to use the studio to their advantage. (Rheault was trained as an audio engineer). The band makes that sound happen on stage, with loops of vocal harmonies and sounds triggered from the drum kit. Mercies songs, even though they're mostly radio-length, don't seem to hurry to get where they're going; sections linger until it's time to move on. It's gorgeous and atmospheric, what you might call technology-enhanced Americana.

"Barely Speak"/"Vultures" was completed around Thanksgiving, with the hopes of releasing it on 7" vinyl. "Just being a DIY band, the cost of doing that was so expensive, we thought we'd wait a little bit, and then we decided to just do it digitally," Rheault said. "[The singles] are just kinda their own thing, but I think soundwise, it'll be similar to the next record." A new full-length album, Rheault said, will hopefully arrive soon. "The songs are written, and we just started recording last week, actually. We laid drums down for four or five songs. It's in the beginning stages, and there will be a full-length out by the end of the year. But they're still early recordings."

Mercies' show at Arch Street Tavern this Saturday — with Oh, Cassius!, from Bridgeport, and Vermont's DuPont Brothers — could be one of their last hometown shows. They plan to relocate to Los Angeles, where Rheault and Dent lived at the end of the last decade.

"I've moved to L.A. three different times, at this point," Rheault said. "I actually plan on going back out there, I'm not sure when, but possibly soon." And maybe for good: "We don't want to just be a band in a spot, and play shows. We want to open ourselves up to other opportunities, to collaborate with different creative teams that aren't necessarily just bands or record labels... I just want to open ourselves up to more things in that realm and not just the typical band-releasing-a-record type thing."

L.A., Rheault said, is where those kinds of things can happen more readily.

"This is really all we do," Rheault said. "This is our business. We're trying to make Mercies a career band, so we need to take the steps necessary to continue moving forward, you know?"

 

mhamad@hartfordadvocate.com

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