Oh Mercy, the singer-songwriter based band of last year’s Great Barrier Grief, has created a new album. Deep Heat is bursting with pulsating bass lines, swaggering grooves and vocals luring crowds to the dance floor.
LIVE caught up with singer Alexander Gow about their new album, new sound and new aesthetic.
Tell me about the sound of Deep Heat.
The concept behind the record was preconceived. I did write a mission statement about what kind of record I wanted to make and step-by-step how I was going to do that and how it was going to work. The overall idea was that I was going to make a groove-based record, not one that was of the singer-songwriter kind of cliche style. I wanted to get rid of the acoustic rhythm guitar playing and let the bass imply all the chord changes and have a very muscular bass and drum sound which would help with the groove. Not to make a dance record in what people consider dance music these days, but a more groove-based record. We were influenced by '70s music which is a lot more sensual than dance music as we know it.
Is it very different playing Deep Heat live compared to older material including songs from Great Barrier Grief?
Yeah it is different literally in that I’m not playing the guitar basically at all. There’s very little guitar on the album. I only pick up the guitar now for when we play the older songs which we’ve reformed anyhow. So yeah, the start of the show is the bass guitar so Eliza [Lam] our bass player has really stepped up and as you can imagine it’s a whole new sound and a whole new aesthetic. It’s been really fun rehearsing it and we can’t wait to bring it on the road.
Was it liberating to embrace a new sound?
It really is and we’re really proud of it. We understand that it’s very different and that’s part of its strength and that’s one of the reasons why it’s such an enticing kind of concept to take it on the road and test this new aesthetic for us. I don’t know how I’m going to go not holding a guitar, I’ve had one over my shoulder for the past four years or something but I’m sure it’ll be fun.
Why did you record Deep Heat in the US city of Portland?
The idea of recording in Portland, I suppose it came from a matter of convenience. We’d just finished a tour of North America and we’d ended up in LA and I knew that we had some time to spare and that I had a whole bunch of songs that I wanted to record for a new album. Some friends of ours from LA partly owned this studio in the forest just outside of Portland so they suggested we go there. We lived on the bottom floor of the studio there and spent a couple of months recording. It was really beautiful and playing all of the songs live night after night in the lead-up to recording was really helpful as well. It was a perfect lead-up to making the record.
Oh Mercy play at the Cambridge Hotel on September 27. Tickets at Moshtix.