Wed 17th Feb, 2010 in Features
It is a great and rare skill to create music that evokes honesty. The harmonious blend of rock and smooth classical undertones that is Oh Mercy proves that these fine musicians have mastered this skill with precision, creating music that warms the heart and invites the soul back for more. Endearing listeners as their distinctive sound graces airwaves, and mesmerising audiences into a euphoric state at their live shows, it is no wonder why Oh Mercy are following a steadfast path to success.
The delicate melodies of Oh Mercy’s whimsical sound are only heightened by the dynamic songwriting partnership that is Alexander Gow and Thomas Savage. Gow and Savage are prolific in all components of their sound, with Gow’s ethereal vocals evoking a tenderness that resides with the listener, and compliments the raw and intricate chords of Savage’s guitar. The two began writing songs together at the age of sixteen, after meeting at school, when courtyard conversation lead Gow to hear of Savage and his impressive skill in mastering The Strokes album ‘Is This It?’ “Once we found out we shared the same interests and outlook on music, it all came together very naturally. We met at a time when career advisors were trying to point us in the right direction; we knew we were serious about music and very dedicated to the idea of making it work.”
Oh Mercy collectively bind their charm and ability to produce songs that have both an essence of fragility and a great pop structure. Their sensibility is eloquent, yet rhythmic, a balance that many bands struggle to achieve. Influenced by the harmonies of The Go Betweens and the thought provoking lyrics of Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy capture both elegance and edge in their unique bittersweet style. Despite their youth, Oh Mercy demonstrate maturity in all facets of their musicality, something which Gow attributes to their endless study of timeless artists and their craft. “Thom and I share a great appreciation for the classics. I suppose that is why we have a mature sound, because we look to artists that we grew up listening too and have developed our sound from there. We find them so astonishing, so we have always wanted to approach our music in the same manner.” Their textured pop songs are layered with tales of romanticism and heartbreak, but Gow understands that being open to vulnerability is to be expected when expressing personal experiences through song, “I think it is important to leave some mystery to the lyrics, but music shouldn’t feel detached, so as songwriters we have to pour our emotions into our music. Its therapeutic in a way, it helps to deal with certain situations.”
Their debut album Privileged Woes was well received, and highly commended for its polished and developed sound. Songs such as ‘Get You Back’ and ‘What Good Is That’, display the fine artistry of this band, with the light hearted drumming of Rohan Sforcina and crooning bass lines of Eliza Lam nicely balanced amongst the guitar work and vocals of Savage and Gow. According to Gow, the album title was inspired by feelings the band experienced during its production, “We had all been working so hard, so at times we found ourselves complaining about little things. We soon realised how silly we were being because essentially our whinging was a product of being so privileged to be in the position to make an album. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to pursue what we love and are overwhelmed at the response it has been getting.” Gow adds that recording their album was an enjoyable process, “I found the process of making the album so enjoyable, from the artwork to the actual recording. To receive a copy of the final product of our album was such a great feeling.”
Having played 120 shows over the past year, with artists such as Little Birdy, The Veils, and with Ben Folds at the Sydney Opera House (a highpoint for the band), Gow believes Oh Mercy have definitely grown in terms of stage presence, and developed more as artists, “Playing so many shows has been such a positive experience. We have been through four to five set lists since our first gig and it feels like we have found our rhythm, but it is always good to have a variety of arrangements to keep us on our toes.”
Despite the atmosphere being different with every show, Gow admits there appears to be a consistency, “There is usually a vast range of ages in the audience. I think it’s great because it shows we are doing what we aim to do and our influences are infiltrating through our sound which is important.”
Oh Mercy met a wizard who granted them the gift of musical genius, but one thing is for sure, their sweet sounds are not falling on broken ears, as they take everything in their stride on the road to bigger and better things. Oh Mercy! – seems like a good idea.
Oh Mercy play Plus One at the Ed Castle on Saturday February 20 along with The Salvadors. $12 at the door from 9pm.