Thirsty Merc
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Thirsty Merc

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Ah showbiz, it’s a world of smoke and mirrors… Having recently both mentored and performed as part of Channel 7’s reality TV show The X Factor , Thirsty Merc singer Rai Thistlethwayte tends to agree.

Ah showbiz, it’s a world of smoke and mirrors… Having recently both mentored and performed as part of Channel 7’s reality TV show The X Factor , Thirsty Merc singer Rai Thistlethwayte tends to agree. Admitting that he’s always had mixed feelings about the concept of the show, the frontman claims he’s happy he at least provided contestants with some insight into the workings of the music industry…

“Well, hopefully,” he laughs. “I mean, you only get so much time with them. I will say that I’ve got mixed feelings about various aspects of the show. There are lots of different things that are positives and negatives about it. The one thing I will definitely say has made it difficult for me is to see so many talented and wonderful people have to go home. Most of them won’t really get the chance to take their talent any further after the show.

“It’s a tricky thing because this is actually quite realistic of the music industry – there are so many talented people out there who don’t get to keep going, that’s true,” he muses. “On the other hand, the show doesn’t really provide a holistic view of what’s actually going on in the industry. You only see bits and pieces of how it works on the inside, not really that hard work that goes with it.”

The emotion and heartbreak that comes with a show like The X Factor can be very difficult to deal with, according to Thistlethwayte. But meeting some of Australia’s potential superstars of the future was a major bonus for the band who got to perform their new track All My Life on the show.

“Vocally, my favourite performers were Mahogany, I’ve really loved watching them do their thing,” claims Thistlethwayte. “That’s been a highlight for me, but also getting to play our new song was a huge deal for me because the track is so close to my heart. It’s actually a very different style of track than what we’ve been doing lately. It’s a heroic love song based on that eternal yearning to meet the person of your dreams who will be ‘the one’ forever. It’s about how long people actually wait and hope for that and how much they anticipate it… Ok, it’s pretty much a power ballad!” he laughs.

“The song has some grand scale production on it and it’s just a big, sweeping piece of music! Thirsty Merc is known for doing certain pop and rock stuff as well as these sweeping big-scale pop odysseys. All My Life is definitely in that vein.”

And although much more rockier and classic in sound, according to Thistlethwayte, so was previous single Tommy And Krista, come to think of it. And if the track itself sounds somewhat vintage, there’s a good explanation for it.

Tommy And Krista has probably been in my head since I was a teenager,” confesses the singer. “But at the same time we were intentionally trying to do an old-sounding song too. I’ve just always had those melodies and those words going through my head from the early days, mostly because my dad used to listen to that kind of stuff on the radio a lot when I was growing up. It’s very ‘70s sound, for sure. I was trying to channel that suburban teenager existence which is all about riding your bikes around the neighbourhood and chasing chicks and hanging out at the bus stop and playing music… It’s very much a narrative – and it’s to be continued,” he promises.

But for the time being, all ears are on All My Life, with a nationally tour coming up for Thirsty Merc on the back of the new single. And when it comes to this band, according to Thistlethwayte, the live stage really is where it’s at for the Sydney foursome – even if recording with superstar producer Matt Wallace did prove to be one of the band’s highlights.

“It seemed like something we should definitely give a shot to!” laughs Thistlethwayte. “Matt is just awesome and we had great facilities at the studio. This is the place where giants like Metallica and Nirvana have worked before and there are always lots of people going in and out of the place… Actually one of those people was Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, so that was pretty surreal. But, you know, when you’re in a studio like that you have to keep professional because it’s always in the back of your mind that you’re just there to do a job.”

And what a job they did. Third album Mousetrap Heart has so far seen the band already tour Australia in July, and has seen the title track already reach the Top 30 on the ARIA singles chart.

“It’s one of those things that band managers do really well – book a good producer a year ahead of time,” laughs Thistlethwayte. “We had been thinking about getting Matt on board on our last album but that never arose because it was just too late. We also worked with Lindsay Gravina in Melbourne for Tommy And Krista, so I’m very proud to say I have him on there as well.

“We did really well with timing on this album,” he laughs, “because we were at that point where we wanted to have some really good people on board, but the good people are always busy and it’s difficult to pin-point their availability. Luckily, it worked out for us the third time around.”

THIRSTY MERC bring their All My Life tour to Victoria this week, playing The Bended Elbow, Geelong on October 13, Mac’s Hotel in Melton on October 14 and then The Hi-Fi on October 16 (tickets from thehifi.com.au). Their latest album Mousetrap Heart is out now through Warner.