After over a decade of making music, they’re still as thirsty as ever.
They’ve released an indie EP, which garnered triple J airplay back in 2003, three critically acclaimed studio albums, an acoustic fan favourites record entitled ‘AAA: Acoustic Anniversary Album’ and a swag of classic tracks such as “20 Good Reasons”, “Emancipate Myself”, “Someday Someday”, “Mousetrap Heart” and “In The Summertime.” Australian rock stalwarts Thirsty Merc are still excited to be making music, and hungrier than ever before to extend their legacy.
Vocalist and songwriter Rai Thistlethwayte says, “We’ve haven’t really stopped since 2002, and being around for over a decade, we’ve got lots more experience than when we started. We’ve also got still got loads of energy, and we want to harness that energy to work hard, around the clock, to continue touring and making good music.”
After selling over 200, 000 records through Warner Music, this time round, Thirsty Merc are tackling the recording and release of their fourth studio album independently, and very differently.
The boys have utilised crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic, and the response has been overwhelming. In fact, the band reached its goal within 48 hours of its 75-day campaign.
Thistlethwayte says, “We were completely blown away. It was insane! We love crowdfunding because it allows us to work directly with our fans. We’re prepared to work hard, we’re in control of our material and we won’t be cutting corners in making quality music. This is really going to help us cover the costs to record and master the album properly, exactly the way we want to.”
After originally being signed to Warner Music, the band has witnessed the music industry evolve drastically. Thistlethwayte explains, “There’s been a huge flattening of the industry since 2000, when CDs were at their absolute peak. Major record companies don’t really have a long-term approach anymore, but we are long-term musicians and we’re definitely in it for the long haul.”
And so, taking advantage of crowdfunding to release their new material independently seemed to be the most natural fit for Thistlethwayte and his bandmates Phil Stack and Matt Smith. “We’re just trying to roll with the punches, and we’re simply moving in a different model. And the best part is, people are getting a raw version of what we do without any external influences.”
While the model has continued to evolve, the band has never been afraid of experimenting with its sonic direction either. “Our first album was recorded on a 2-inch tape, and it was really sarcastic and brash”, Thistlethwayte says. “Our second record was more layered with string sections, horns and keyboards, and our third had more groove and funk, and it was pretty sleek.”
For their forthcoming release, Thistlethwayte is eager to incorporate some “acoustic guitars, Hammond organs, and we’re going to explore some classic rock, storytelling and folk elements.”
More importantly, the band is ensuring they return to the rock roots they unleashed on their first record. “A really important element for us is going into the same headspace of where it all began, and we’re lucky enough to be working with the producer who helmed our first album, Lindsay Gravina.”
“We want to get into the same room, and without the shackles of a major record label, we can take risks, and not cut any corners musically. Because there are less diluting elements, it could be the most authentic album we’ve ever made.”
Thistlethwayte has spent the last few years living in LA collaborating with other musicians, and even writing for music mogul Akon. “Practice makes perfect with anything,” he says, “and because I’ve being doing it longer, and probably because my creative and emotional experiences are getting fuller, I do think my songwriting has improved.“
He’s ready to flex his songwriting muscles on the forthcoming record, and this time round, he says, his songs are “exploring life on the road, emotional honesty and about my reconciliation with the concept of love, which a very complex thing. I’ve written a lot of straight up love songs, and to be honest, I’m ready to wear my heart on my sleeve a lot more than I have on previous records.”
While the band have booked Grammy nominated Emily Lazar (who’s worked on albums by Foo Fighters, David Bowie, Sia and The Killers) to master their record in New York, Thirsty Merc’s ultimate plan is to take their record back to the people who’ve made it possible.
“We really want to tour this album to as many of our fans as we possibly can. We want to tour rural areas just as much as the regional and metropolitan areas. We want to have a solid playlist of songs, and our new album is a way of adding a strong new body of work to our existing catalogue.”