When you see a band likened to YOB, and particularly a relatively new band, the knee jerk reaction is to shrug it off. It’s easy to throw that kind of weight around and not deliver. But every once in awhile the stars align and this sort of promise actually comes to fruition. Such is the case with Australia’s Merchant on their upcoming second full length Beneath. From the majestic opening moments and subsequent heavy-as-a-ton-of-bricks approach on “Guile as Vice” to the cavernous swagger throughout “Succumbing” this band seems older and more seasoned than many of their counterparts. Since forming in 2014 they have a demo and Suzerain, their debut full length, under their belts and while Suzerain was thick with beefy riffs and soaked in fuzz, Beneath completely eclipses its predecessor with better songwriting and the kind of awe-inspiring feel that we’ve come to expect from this genre’s veteran statesmen. Just ahead of the album’s release we had the opportunity to ask Tommy Mirgiannis (vocals) our set of Profile questions so read on to see what he had to say.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
We’ve never set a single goal. Personally, I’ve had playing Max Watts and The Corner on my bucket list for as long as I’ve been in bands. I’ve seen my heroes like Lamb of God play Max Watts, seen Sleep at The Corner. To be able to say that we demolished the same stage is pretty damn cool.
Being able to play with bands like Cough, Weedeater, Windhand and Conan is surreal and means success in my eyes. Success is what you make it, you know? Whether it’s one good show or a tour. We’re not really trying to do one thing, just onwards and upwards.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
Nope, we respect each other and the music we make. The second you take the easy road or let your quality slip is the second you stop being seen as the real deal. One of the things that define Merchant is our confidence and respect for each other. When you’ve been friends for as long as we have, it really solidifies and creates crazy energy when you put all the pieces together in a room.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Metal in general will always be strong. Last weekend there was Blacken festival up in Alice Springs, loads of the Melbourne scene travelled up to hang out and watch some shows. Because there are constantly more kids getting into this music, there is always fresh sounds and events everywhere… then there are the bearded veterans that kick those new kids in the head at shows.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
My mate Andy and his brother TK got me into metal. My parents didn’t care as they were already dealing with my crippling cough syrup addiction.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Don’t talk shit about bands or genres if you don’t get it. It’s not cool to write a whole article about how a guitarist looks and totally ignore the music or show because it’s not your preferred style. Doom isn’t as popular as Death Metal and Hardcore stuff, so maybe there isn’t the amount of reviewers/critics/outlets that can properly check stuff out. I recently read a review of a doom show where the writer had a Death Metal background. He almost completely ignored the music except for some childish little pokes at it. Instead, he focused on the crowd being in the zone instead of moshing. You know the crowds that are completely, 100%, there with you for the show? That just nod their head in approval constantly and maybe once every ten minutes raises a horned hand in salute? This dude didn’t “get” that that crowd is having as much fun (and maybe being more appreciative) as the kids that are spinning fists and kicks around in a pit. Yes it drones. Yes it repeats. Yes that fat guy is smoking a joint. This is what we do.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Our goal continues to be, and always will be to write music that is heavy as hell and comes from a place we truly believe in. No fake shit.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favourite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Mastodon – Leviathan
Weedeater – God Luck and Good Speed
Sumac – What One Becomes
Shellac – 1000 Hurts
The Flatliners – Cavalcade
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Tommy for his time!