It’s a hard thing to replace the vocalist to which most of your fan base has become accustomed to hearing. But in the case of Sydney’s Hand Of Mercy, they’ve made the right choice in recruiting Nick Bellringer to fill the shoes of former frontman, Scott Bird. The former Take Us To Vegas bassist tracked his parts for the band’s new album earlier this year. This November will see the quintet take on a massive run of national dates with fellow UNFD buddies, Hellions, and Melbourne upstarts, Void Of Vision, in support of their third album, ‘Resolve’. Killyourstereo.com spoke with the new vocalist to talk about how he got the job, the new album and their upcoming tour.
The first thing I really wanted to know was how you got the spot in the band?
I actually left my old band and got in touch with Adrian Kelly (Thy Art Is Murder’s manager) and said I was looking for a new band. He told me that Hand Of Mercy were looking for a new singer and that I should get in touch with them. I emailed them and they sent me back a track, which was ‘Rumble In The Grundle’ and so I went to Troy Brady’s home studio [The Amity Affliction] and recorded the track and sent it back. After a few months of deliberation I ended up with the gig.
So the Deez Nuts/Confession and Architects shows were your first with the band, right?
Yeah, they were all my first shows with the band, straight off the bat.
That’s an awesome way to start out man. How was it for you to be a part of those shows?
It was awesome! With the Rampage tour, I already knew some of the guys in Confession. So that was cool already having some buddies around. Deez Nuts were so great to us, and they’re some of the greatest dudes in the world. Architects usually played in thousand cap arenas so to have them play these sold out club shows and see them in those kind of venue was incredible. And Stray From The Path just killed it every time.
I actually saw you guys at one of the Melbourne dates on the Rampage tour and again when you supported Architects, and I noticed that you actually sang on ‘Mr. Nasty Times’ and ‘Last Lights’. So will there be more singing on this album, as I know Scott only did the screams.
Essentially when I went into the studio, I had so much that I wanted to try out for the singing. But the record had already been finished with Scott’s voice on it, so I had to go in there, get all the stuff that Scott had done down, and then have time to do my own thing. But due to time constraints, I didn’t end up getting to do as much as I wanted. The next time around, when I’m more involved in the writing process, there’ll probably be more of it then.
With Scott already having tracked his parts, does that mean a lot of the lyrics and songs were his as well?
With all the lyrics and phrasing, from what I understand from what the band has told me, is that it’s Josh who writing the lyrics and the phrasing and all that. On this record, Scott had written bits and pieces, which has been removed and rewritten. I also changed a lot of the phrasing too. Scott’s voice has got a deeper, barking sound than me. So the way he would do things just didn’t suit my vocal style. The lyrical content would have been the same with Scott as Josh had written it anyway.
With having two different styles between you and him, do you think it’ll take a while for fans to warm up to you as the vocalist?
Absolutely! So far the reception has been amazing. There have been heaps of people giving heaps back positive comments, but at the same time, there’s been some who say that it’ll never be the same without Scott, and I understand that. So far, the general consensus is that I fit the band’s sound well.
Have you actually ever met or spoken with Scott?
No, never. The closest I came to him was when Take Us To Vegas played the Brisbane Warped Tour last year that Hand Of Mercy were on and we were on the same stage as them, like five or six bands apart. I was standing in the crowd watching a few of their songs, but that’s as close as I’ve come to meeting ‘The Bird’.
So is it fair to say that you were a fan of the band before you joined?
Yeah, absolutely. Though I was never really gung-ho into them, but every time I heard them, I thought that it was Australian guys doing it right. It’s a cool mix between Hatebreed, The Ghost Inside, and Misery Signals, so it was right up my alley. But at the time, I was in Take Us To Vegas, so that was a little stripped back. So I was mainly listening to bands like Hands Like Houses but now I’m catching up on what the Australian hardcore scene has to offer. I’ve been into since forever, but I just sort of lost touch with the scene, so now I’m discovering a lot of great bands.
That’s good to hear man. Does the lyrical theme in ‘Desperate Measures’, about depression and overcoming it, does that follow through in the other songs on ‘Resolve’?
There’s quite a lot of stuff that ‘Resolve’ covers lyrically. Everyone will take away what they believe the songs are about, which is the sole intention of the way it’s written. Essentially, the record revolves around the power of yourself. For instance, by not having your judgement clouded by religion, and at the same time, to overcome depression and having the strength within yourself really.
With ‘Resolve’ coming out soon, you guys will be touring in November, and that’ll be the biggest tour you’ve done with the band so far, yeah?
Yeah, I think it’s nearly double the Rampage tour, so it’ll be a big one for sure!
Now, you’ve got Hellions and Void Of Vision along for the ride as well, have you played with any of those guys before?
Take Us To Vegas supported Hellions on one of their tours earlier this year, and I’ve known Lewis Usher from that band for years and years now. And obviously, Hand Of Mercy and Hellions are both pretty close being from the same town so it’ll be a really fun tour.
For sure man. I know Hand Of Mercy have been overseas before, so under the new album cycle, will you guys try and head out internationally again?
So this tour in November is first. From what I’m hearing, we’re aiming for New Zealand in January, South East Asia after that, then maybe Europe in March/April, and then some more Australian dates. Obviously, in between all that, we’ll be on Unify Festival, which will be pretty wild. We love Australia, and we love touring, but getting back out to foreign crowds is a big thing for us too.
On the topic of Unify, how are you feeling about being on such a massive line-up of other Australian bands?
(laughs) It’s amazing! A lot of those bands are friends as well. I was thinking about it the other day, and it seems like those cheesy American sitcoms were the nagging wife won’t let the husband go on the trip to Vegas with the boys, and this festival seems like two days of that.
One of the big wildcards of that festival is Break Even getting back together for it. Were you much of a Break Even fan?
Yeah, I was massively into those guys. So I’m stoked to see them get back for it.
Yeah, that seems to be the general consensus lately.
Yeah! All of Hand Of Mercy are massive Break Even fans so when those boys get their stage time, we’re all probably gonna get some mic time and some stage diving.
With you personally, when did you first start to sing and scream?
I’ve been singing since I was a little kid. When I was old enough I started listening to my mum and dad’s records and realised I could sort of hold a tune oaky. Then I got into punk rock and heavy music as time went on, and I started playing guitar as well, so it just kinda evolved from there. Just from doing bands in high school and working out that I could do it.
So obviously, with this being a big opportunity for you, what are looking forward to most in being a part of Hand Of Mercy?
I suppose just making music with a lot of like-minded individuals, and hopefully getting to do a bunch of traveling. The biggest part for us is meeting the kids at the shows, and meeting new people, we are always down to hang out with people.
‘Resolve’ is out October 31st via UNFD.
Hand of Mercy tour nationally this November with guests Hellions and Void Of Vision. Details here.