Sydney mosh five-piece Hand Of Mercy are out to show the world what they can do. After travelling to America to record with producer Shane Frisby, the band are set to release their sophomore album ‘Last Lights’ through rising alternative label UNFD. Hand Of Mercy recently spoke with Killyourstereo about the album and their upcoming tour with Dream On, Dreamer, Like Moths To Flames and In Hearts Wake.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the band?
My name’s Josh and I play guitar. We all kind of help out with the songwriting and everything and all have our own roles to play. As far as me personally, I help out with riffs and lyrics and stuff like that.
It’s been a long journey getting to the point you’re at today. Why did you guys take the DIY route for so long?
We just never really thought that we needed that much help. We were always keen to see how far we could get on our own. Over the years we’ve always met new people that are happy to give us a hand. They were all kind of like hardcore kids and we thought that it would be the best way to do it. It’s worked out great and we’ve made great friends. I don’t think any of us would have changed the way that we did it. With that said, there’s only so far that you can get with that DIY thing before you have to step it up.
What drove the decision to sign with UNFD?
I guess in Australia they’re the label to go with. They’re the home for bands that we know and like and are in the same vein as us. If you wanna stop going doing that DIY route and get a major release without being on a major label like Sony or something then it’s logical to go with UNFD or someone like that. We’d heard good things about them and had dealings with the people there. They’re all really nice, so it was natural that we’d go with them.
‘Last Lights’ is a phenomenal album. Was there a conscious decision to up the ante this time around?
I don’t know if it was a conscious decision, but I think we learned from our mistakes on the past CDs. We did a lot more pre-production this time around and dissected and analysed the songs a lot more. We tried to make them the best that they could be before we went into record. We tried to go in there with the best foundation that we possibly could and it gave us a lot more time to write it this time around. Before, we needed to record by certain dates and kind of rushed it. There was a lot more planning this time around. We made a conscious effort to take more time and effort to make the best songs that we could.
How did the songwriting on ‘Last Lights’ differ from your previous releases?
We definitely tried to bring a bit more melody into it mainly. We definitely tried to utilise different tunings and things like that as well, just to see how we could make it a bit more interesting than your usual mosh/metal CD. We wanted to make it stand out a bit from other releases that we’ve had in the past and make it live up to a major release. We wanted to make everyone aware that we’ve stopped messing around and matured as a band.
What was it like travelling to America to record the album?
Travelling to America is something that anyone in a band from Australia would wanna do to start branching out. America is always seen as this big, massive land of opportunity as far as musicians are concerned. As a kid, I always dreamed of being in a massive band and travelling overseas. We had a joke around and one day we decided to ask some people. We hit up Shane (Frisby) of The Brick Hithouse and he had an opening in November, so we booked it. It was just one of those things that started off as a dream and became a reality faster than any of us could have anticipated. It was definitely the best decision that we’ve made as a band.
Did you guys fit in any live shows when you were in America?
No, we managed to get two shows in. We made a bunch of friends over in Cape Cod which is where we were recording and some of those dudes were in a band and playing a show. They put us on that show and we were a bit of a black sheep. Every band was real Trash Talk sort of thrash bands and really melodic sort of hardcore bands. There weren’t really any mosh bands but it was cool to play that show. There were some kids there that seemed to really enjoy it. There was a Transit and Ligeia tour happening at the same time, and somehow we managed to get on the hometown show for that tour in far-west Massachusetts. We’re all massive fans of Ligeia and they were supposed to come over here and they never did. Not only did we get to see them, but we got to play with them. There are a couple of us in the band who really like Transit as well. It was good to see two bands that had never been out to Australia before that we really enjoyed and get to play with them as well.
You must be excited for Transit’s tour then.
Yeah, I can’t wait. I’m definitely gonna go to both of those shows. If I could go to more shows around Australia then I definitely would, but I’ll definitely go to the Sydney ones.
Who has more breakdowns, you or Shinto Katana?
Um, who’s got more breakdowns… I think Shinto does. That new Shinto CD is off its tits. It’s out of control. Shinto Katana are probably one of the heaviest band in Australia. We’re not trying to compete with them as far as breakdowns go because they have that. They have that on lock.
The band is set to go on tour with Dream On, Dreamer, Like Moths To Flames and In Hearts Wake later this month. Are you stoked for the tour?
Yeah. We’ve been playing shows with Dream On, Dreamer for year now so we’re pretty good friends with them. We always love and chance we get to play a show with them. It’s a chance to have a hang around with friends. Shows with them are always apeshit, kids are always keen as to get involved which is great. We all like playing with our friends. We’ve toured with In Hearts Wake are good guys and their new shit is sick, so we really can’t wait to get out there and make some new friends and hang out with old ones. It’s like a little holiday.
What can fans expect from your live show?
Sort of the same as it always has been. We’re just a bit better at playing our instruments, so we can do more dumb shit like run around and hopefully not fall over. We’ve been practicing our stuff, so hopefully we can get a tight live show with not too bum notes that kind of make you cringe. They’ll just get a good live show and explosive energy.
Have the ‘Trash The Party’ EP tracks been officially put to rest?
I don’t want to confirm or deny that they’re being permanently put to rest, but it might be a while before we bring those out of retirement. They’ve been out for a while so they need to have a bit of a rest. It’s definitely not out of the question that we’ll play them again in the future, but we’re more psyched to play a bunch of new songs off the album that we’re about to release. You never know, you never know what could happen. We want to show off what we’ve been sitting on for eight months now.
Tell me about the craziest thing the band has ever done?
I’ve been asked this question in the past and I always draw blanks. I guess probably, as far as a feat, actually going to America and recording there, but as far as a wild story I don’t know. Wild stories never really get remembered. It’s kind of a bit of a blur. Something probably happened and I don’t remember.
Can you remember the show you guys played at the Lucky Oz in St Marys?
Yeah, that probably is the wildest thing that ever happened. If I could pick a moment, the Lucky Australian was definitely the coolest thing that’s ever happened. We’ve been banned from there for years since then. The show got shut down by the Jimmy Barnes sound guy. That was the craziest thing that’s ever happened. Not to mention the venue was pretty wild in itself. I haven’t really known how topless waitresses go at an all ages hardcore show. If you ever get a chance to go to the Lucky Australian Tavern on a Friday night for a show you definitely get more than you bargained for.
What are your goals for the future of Hand Of Mercy?
I guess ultimately we’d like to go overseas and do some tours and see how far we can really go with the whole band. You put a lot of time and effort into it so you want to do as much as possible. It’d be great to go over there or even just release a CD there. I guess that’s kind of the goal of a lot of Australian bands that are trying to step it up and it’s what we want to do in the future. As far as anything else, we just want to put on the best show that we can.
Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
If anyone is keen on hearing some new music out there, definitely listen to Endless Heights and Legions. They’re two bands from Sydney and some of my close friends are in those bands so absolutely check them out. They’ve both got stuff coming up later on in the year or early next year. Come out to a show on this Dream On, Dreamer tour. If you can’t get to that or you like what you hear and have only seen us the first time, we’ll be back to your city as much possible or probably one or two more times this year. Come out, pick up the album, have a mosh, have a stagedive. Just come hang out.