Despite a career that has spawned five studio albums and tours for more than the past decade and a half, Thirsty Merc are still hungry for live experiences.
The three-piece band toured the country five times in 2016 alone, and they’re not slowing down for a holiday any time soon, kicking off their summer tour of their latest album, ‘Shifting Gears’. “It’s not much of a chore. I work with such great guys and still blessed to have songs that connect to audiences over many years,” Thirsty Merc’s lead singer, pianist and guitarist Rai Thistlethwayte says.
“It’s partially the inspiration too, when you have a good crowd. When we put the word out and people come and start singing along, it fuels me for the next one. You want to make every gig like your first or your last. That’s just my attitude towards it.
“The older we get and the longer we stay together as a band, we appreciate the positive journey that it’s been. That is more and more what the inspiration behind it is and that makes us really enthusiastic about being able to play live,” he says.
Their latest, crowd-funded, independent album doesn’t cut corners. “We had to fund everything on the way in, instead of having a label pay for things. We had to generate everything ourselves. That was fantastic, but it was also more work, having to work out how to do that.
“We also got some help from some crowd-funding stuff, a few gigs and a few early shows. Thankfully, we didn’t cut any corners in terms of where, who and how we were working on it and how we did it. It all worked out quite well,” Rai says.
Rai wanted to create an album with more “emotional depth”, resulting in many slower, ballad-like songs on ‘Shifting Gears'. But using personal experiences within the lyrics can be emotional. “I have been writing a lot of the songs on piano. The piano obviously lends itself more to soulful, ballad-style songwriting.
“When you’re playing, you have to face some of the more heavy subject matter. It all brings it up again, sometimes emotionally. It can be a bit turbulent at times, especially depending on when the performance is.
“I think it is a way of documenting emotionally where you’re at. In a way, it helps me through the hard times,” he says.
The ‘In The Summertime’ singer has been performing with the band for more than a decade and Rai always tries to keep “match fit” within the Australian music scene. “You have to be interested in the scene and how it has changed.
“Travelling overseas will give you a new perspective, so I do a bunch of that. Writing music and coming up with new material is a huge challenge. The scene is just changing all the time, no matter which way you look at it. The way people consume and listen to music. It just is what it is.
“Some things have become easier, some things have become difficult. People are still loving music and they are enjoying it just as much.”
Thirsty Merc ShowsWed 25 Jan - Hamilton Hotel (Brisbane)
Thu 26 Jan - Racecourse Hotel (Ipswich)
Fri 27 Jan - Villa Noosa Hotel (Sunshine Coast)
Sat 28 Jan - Parkwood Hotel (Gold Coast)