Thursday, September 20, 2018

Interview with Kerry Merkle of THE GREAT LIE by Dave Wolff

Interview with Kerry Merkle of THE GREAT LIE

When I started corresponding with you, you were the frontman of the LI band John Wilkes Booth. Is that band still active? Has anything new been released by that band?
I am still in John Wilkes Booth. We have not released new material since 2014. We are currently working on recording new material for a follow up to Useless Lucy.

How soon do you expect the new JWB release to come out? Are any songs completed for the follow up you would be willing to reveal early?
We are expecting to begin recording before the end of the year. Right now we are recording demos to work out the tunes. I don’t think we will be releasing anything early but you never know.

Will the next John Wilkes Booth release sound like the previous one, or will there be differences?
JWB has definitely evolved. Our new songs are in a different direction than our earlier material. There is a lot more noise in the new tunes. Definitely a bit of a departure from the "stoner rock" sound though elements of it are still there.

Discuss the making of The Great Lie's latest CD All Roads Lead To Where You Stand.
We recorded All Roads Lead To Where You Stand in one nine-hour session. We recorded it in our friend Tim O'Connor's garage studio. We were definitely shooting for a raw honest representation of who we are. We believe Tim did a great job of capturing our sound.

What equipment did O'Connor have in his garage studio? Have other bands recorded there?
He runs pro tools. We played all our own equipment for the recording. So far I think Tim has recorded American Slobs and is currently tracking Mike from The Great Lie's other band Half Ton Session.

What can you tell the readers about Half Ton Session’s forthcoming release? How long has this band been around and how many releases do they have out at present?
I would have to refer you to Mike for Half Ton questions. They currently have one demo out, this will be their first proper recording. They have been a band for almost ten years and Booth has played many shows with Half Ton. Gerry and I wanted to add a second guitar player for the longest time and thought Mike would be a great fit. It worked out well.

On what platforms was All Roads Lead To Where You Stand released? How many copies do you plan to press? Are you considering pressing it on CD and vinyl?
We released the EP on Bandcamp, Spotify, Deezer, Itunes, Youtube. Pretty much all available digital platforms. We are currently discussing how many copies to press, we're thinking about 500 on CD. We are still debating on pressing it to vinyl.

Are you searching for labels or distros to help promote the new album?
We are not actively searching. At this point in our lives if someone is interested, awesome. If not we'll just do it ourselves. At this point we make music for selfish reasons, not for success. I'm not saying we aren't happy when people enjoy our music. Anyone who creates art appreciates accolades. It's just that we have been doing this so long that to do it for anything other than pure enjoyment would be pointless.

What was your new songs written about? Who is the band’s lyricist, or are the lyrics a collective effort? How do your lyrics complement the band’s attitude?
Boston Jugular was written about a bar fight in Boston that ended in someone's death. Lie Where You Stand is basically about life becoming a lie to yourself. One Closer To The Grave was basically about navigating through everyday life with the fact that we are all gonna eventually die anyway. Progression Aggression and Do More, Say Less were written by Mike our second guitarist. We both have a hand in lyric writing. I am the primary lyricist but we as a band are very open to anyone bringing lyrics in. I tend to focus on lies both internal and external when writing for this band. We are still a new band and I'm sure our song writing will progress.

Were the other songs inspired by specific events or generalizations of everyday life? What is the title All Roads Lead To Where You Stand intended to mean?
All Roads Lead To Where You Stand means that all your past choices lead you to where you are today. Closer To The Grave is a statement about each day bringing us closer to the end. How we always think we have time when the time for things is now. Lie Where You Stand is about our current political climate as is Progression Aggression and Do More, Say Less.

What specific events or news stories are Lie Where You Stand, Progression Aggression and Do More, Say Less about? What is the band’s position on those matters?
I would rather not get into politics. Everyone one in the band has their views and we all respect one another's political beliefs even if we don’t all agree. We will keep the interpretations up to the listener.

Is writing lyrics for the band a cathartic experience for you?
I usually wait until the last possible moment to start writing. I always get my melodies down early usually with nonsensical ramblings and build from there.

Punk and hardcore have been making a comeback on Long Island after several years. Which nightclubs from your area, old and new, are actively booking bands from the Island, the city and other nearby areas?
We have played Amityville Music Hall, Mr. Beerys, Rams American Pub, Webster Hall, The Kingsland. I would say Amityville Music Hall and Kingland have been aggressively promoting Punk, Metal and Hardcore bands.

Are club owners and local press writers more accepting of the genres now that they’re growing in popularity again, or is it more or less the same?
Although there are many outlets to promote your music in the digital age I miss the days of stuffing envelopes and sending them out. The club owners we have dealt with have been supportive. There isn't much local press coverage of the local scene nowadays.

How are the fans who come to support you in comparison to twenty years ago? Are the newer fans more or less passionate?
It's a lot different now being older and playing this type of music. The fans seem to be older, the young kids don’t seem to be as passionate about underground music any more, or I could just be the old clueless guy now. There are definitely fewer clubs than back in the day, but a few are still run with a love of the music.

New clubs have opened in Brooklyn and New Jersey over the past decade. Have you performed at any of them lately?
We have played Kingsland in Brooklyn but have yet to play Jersey. We are still working on getting some more Brooklyn gigs. We would definitely love to play St. Vitus. 

How actively does SBC Booking support metal, hardcore and punk? How long have you been working with them?
We played quite a few shows with them. We have opened for Murphy's Law, Beyond, H2O, Agnostic Front, Night Demon, Dave Smalley. They have diverse acts and it surprising some of the bands they have booked for such a small club.

As far as record stores go, Long Island parted company with Slipped Disc in the 2000s but we have Utopia and Newbury Comics at Roosevelt Field.
The record industry is in trouble. Vinyl is a collectible thing now. There is Looney Tunes in Babylon also; they have a pretty good selection. I do miss the days of browsing the bins for hours. Empire Records was another good one.

How many vinyl albums do you have in your collection at present? Any rarities to speak of?
I prob have well over 500 vinyl records. Some of my favorites are The Melvins trilogy picture disc set., signed Possessed Beyond The Gates, a few rare Pedro The Lion 7" just to name a few. My vinyl purchasing has greatly diminished since the birth of my children.

Is there still a need for mom and pop record stores in Long Island and New York? How about printed fanzines? Do you prefer a physical zine to a webzine or blog?
I don’t know about a need for mom and pop record stores but I certainly think they are valuable to the music culture. There is something about physically looking through hard copies of recordings that is special. I prefer old school zones but I might just be a victim of nostalgia on both of these issues.

Is it worth it to continue playing hardcore? What are the reasons you stick to it as opposed to settling down and leading a “normal” life?
We only do it for the love. We do it because we have to. It's just what we do. If we were in it for money or fame we would have stopped a long time ago.

How do you account for hardcore lasting so long when hardcore bands aren’t active only for money and status?
There is no doubt when something is produced out of love and delivered with passion it is undeniable. Hardcore is a raw and honest art form and I think its honesty is what keeps it alive.

What plans does The Great Lie have for the immediate future? How many performances are scheduled for the rest of 2018?
We are finishing up songs for our follow up to All Roads Lead to Where You Stand. It's our plan to get that out early next year. The only gig we currently have booked for 2018 is Punktoberfest Saturday, October 13 at the Great South Bay Brewery. Afterparty, No Lives, Playing Dead and Cherry Pop are the bands performing. I believe the show is getting much press coverage. It sold out last year.

-Dave Wolff

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