Sunday, September 11, 2022

Interview with Kerry Merkle of The Great Lie by Dave Wolff

Interview with Kerry Merkle of The Great Lie by Dave Wolff

The Great Lie recently played a show with the Nihilistics in Brooklyn, New York. Were any songs from your planned new release previewed?
Yes, we played four of the new songs Amputee, Bumsocks and Bourbon, S.T.E., and Love and Brutality. We enjoyed being able to perform live in Brooklyn again. It had been over two years since we performed there last. It was equally great to share the stage again with The Nihilistics.

How often have you played with the Nihilistics? Do you have a long-term friendship with them? How similar is your band attitude wise?
We shared the stage with them one other time at Amityville Music Hall opening for Murphy’s Law. I am good friends with the current bass player Doug. John our drummer has been a fan since his teenage years. I wouldn’t say we share musical similarities but we definitely have the same don’t-give-a-fuck attitude.

What’s been happening with your other band John Wilkes Booth since I last interviewed you?
We broke up in 2019. It wasn't a bitter or resentful breakup, we just kind of fizzled out. We just weren't as productive as we once were and the fun was kind of gone so we just all moved on. All the Booth members are still friends and we still get together over beers from time to time. Jay and Christian the guitar player and drummer are still playing together.

How many releases besides your current EP “Burners” do you have out? How has the distribution been?
We have released three EPs prior to “Burners” The first “The Old Crow Sessions” was with a different line-up. We had Marc Lopez on bass at that time and only one guitar player. Marc left after the recording enter Scott Martin on bass and Mike Scarola on second guitar and vocals. We then wrote and recorded “All Roads Lead To Where You Stand” followed by “Defying Extinction”. “Defying Extinction” was a big growth for us and we decided to record that EP with Martin Bisi who has recorded many bands we hold in high regard as well as Scott and John’s former band Mind Over Matter. State Of Mind records decided to pick up that EP as a split with War Babies and put it out on a limited vinyl release. That sold well but moving forward we could not secure a distributor for “Burners” so we have just released it digitally ourselves.

Where was “Burners” recorded, and how were the lyrics drafted?
The title is just a reflection on how we felt about the songs. We feel they are all “burners”, meaning they kick ass, haha. Usually our writing process is music first, followed by arranging and nonsense vocal melodies then the final process is the lyric writing. Sometimes Mike comes in with a fully written song with music, lyrics and arrangements. Everyone contributes to the songwriting process. Most of the lyrics are myself and Mike. But Gerry, Scott, and Mike all write music. John is an incredible arranger. We are currently down one songwriter because Gerry has recently departed the band.

What are some topics covered on “Burners”? Name specific songs and describe their inspiration.
Most of the songs deal with personal struggles. Depression, substances, family tension and things of that nature. “Amputee” is a play off the phrase "Cut off your nose to spite your face" and is basically about people who harm themselves while trying to hurt others. “Love and Brutality” is about people who constantly chase unreachable goals all the while ignoring the real people in their lives but then realize where the truth lies. “Bumsocks and Bourbon” is about a morning of regret after a hard night of drinking. Those are the first three on “Burners”.

What are Gerry’s reasons for leaving? Was the parting amicable? How soon do you expect to find a new member?
The pandemic effected many people in different ways. Not being able to play as a band for a long amount of time took its toll on Gerry. It was an amicable split and we are still good friends. I personally have been friends with Gerry for over thirty years and still consider him one of my closest friends. Currently we are not looking for a replacement we are continuing as a four piece for now. But who knows what the future will hold.

Punk and hardcore is becoming popular in Long Island again. Is The Great Lie playing a part?
I actually feel like it has declined since the pandemic. Before Covid we were getting offered stacked punk and hardcore bills on a monthly basis. In this post Covid world the show offers have been few and far between. I do notice the majority of the bands that we play with are veterans of the scene.

How many people turn out to see you when you do get to play? What local clubs still attract people in spite of the pandemic?
We usually get a nice crowd. Most shows we are playing to anywhere from 50 to over 100 people. Seems like there aren’t many restrictions in place anymore and more people have been heading out.

Who have you played with since Covid began? How about in Queens and Manhattan?
We really haven’t played many shows since the pandemic. But some of the few shows we have played were with The Nihilistics, YDI in Brooklyn and locally with Jones Crusher, Bitchswitch, and Motorplasma among others.

Has the pandemic had an impact on the number of people wanting to form bands?
I haven’t really noticed an impact but there are some new great bands coming all the time. Off the top of my head some great new bands from Long Island are Poer Lies, The Stress, Bitchswitch and Halfearth. I think people will always make music no matter what the circumstances but Covid definitely put a damper on the live end of it. Many musicians I know were still quite active recording music because they had more time to focus on writing.

Have you played or would you like to play Tompkins Square Park? Do you know the people who book the shows there?
We would love to play Tompkins Square Park. Looks like a good time! Unfortunately we don't know any of the people that book there.

What’s the situation with recording studios? Have more bands recorded in home studios?
It does seem like more and more musicians are recording on their own but there are plenty of studios that are still up and running.

Is State Of Mind Records a local label? What interested them in “Defying Extinction” and how well do they distribute?
State Of Mind is a label run by Dave Campbell out of Huntington, New York. I believe our drummer John originally reached out to Dave about releasing our record. We actually released as a split with War Babies. State Of Mind did a great job of getting it out there. We picked up quite a few new fans from their distribution and promotion.

What were the advantages of releasing “Burners” independently, promoting and distributing rather than through a label?
I don't know if there were many advantages releasing “Burners” independently. It just the only option we had at the time. We shopped it around for a while but got frustrated and wanted to put it out there for the world to hear.

Are the difficulties you have finding a label an indication of how local labels are faring?
I think making money selling music is a tough business nowadays in general. It's just so easy to record and release your music independently nowadays that I think many bands just choose to do it themselves.

Could you have more freedom in writing lyrics and music if you had to release all your material independently?
We have total freedom whether we release our music on a label or independently. We wouldn’t compromise for a label; we kind of stick to our ideals in that way.

The band is getting rotation at Banks Radio Australia and No Echo. How much has this exposure been helping?
We definitely noticed a difference in our plays on streaming services as well as the number of followers on our social media pages since Banks Radio and No Echo have added us.

Are you pleased with the good review “Burners” received from In Effect Hardcore? I noticed the comparisons to Cro Mags, Exodus and Slayer. Who else has reviewed it this far?
We are very pleased with the review from In Effect. They have been very good to us with all of our releases. We have also been reviewed by Metal Underdogs and you guys Asphyxium zine to name a few, all reviews have been positive.

I noticed you booked a show with Carnivore AD, Year Of Confession and Sarcosuchus. Explain what led to your inclusion on the bill. What other shows do you have booked for the near future?
We had played with Baron from Carnivore A.D.'s other band Motorplasma. When they were looking for bands I reached out to the promoter and Baron said we would be a perfect fit. We also have a DOOM and Dub festival we are playing October 22nd at Ghost and Great South Bay breweries in Bayshore. Should be a fun day, great lineup, cool vendors and of course BEER!!!!!!

Are there any other special plans or projects the band has in mind for the rest of 2022?
We are currently writing new material. We have about five new songs in various stages of completion. We are hoping to finish them up by the end of the year and get us in a studio.

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