Mermaid Avenue have been regulars on the Brisbane scene since 2015 and are made up of a group of very experienced and seasoned musicians :- Peter Clarke (singer/songwriter), Darren Madeo (lead guitar), John Doyle (bass) and Anthony Judd (drums) and Marc Besselink (Keyboards).
On the 9th of August 2018, Mermaid Avenue released their debut album ‘Temptation and Half the Truth’.
The album is an earfest of their abilities to intermix both indie rock and alternative country genre’s and blend them into an album which deals with relationships from the very beginning through the fuzzy middle, the highs and the lows and to the loss of a loved ones!
Don’t despair though because this album is not sorrowful or mournful. It’s very easy listening and has a familiarity in context for all listeners. It’s one you can listen to from start to finish without having an emotional meltdown.
Out of the 10 tracks on the album I think I most identify with ‘Wagons’..the tale of a relationship just stuck in a rutt and going around and around in circles without ever addressing the problem. Distracted from each other by outside influences if you will. I can very clearly remember a time in my life where I experienced this for quite some time…years in fact.
I wanted to find out more about how this album came together for Mermaid Avenue,the processes and thoughts behind the lyrics and caught up with singer/songwriter for the group – Peter Clarke posing him a few questions…
Jenny: What does the title of the album reveal about its themes or is it more a string of standalone tracks?
Peter: I don’t think it was done consciously but the title track seemed to sum up most of the themes on the songs we chose to put on the album. Time moving on, missed opportunities, doing things, things you shouldn’t and not being completely honest with yourself are themes that run through the song ‘Temptation &Half The Truth’ and I think they run through most of the other tracks as well which is why I think this collection of songs hang fairly well together.
Jenny: Did you have any overall mood you were trying to capture whilst writing songs for the album?
Peter: I don’t tend to make a conscious decision with respect to the mood of a song whilst in the process of writing it. I kind of let it take me to wherever it needs to go. Having said that I would say that all the songs have a certain melancholy in them at least lyrically. I wrote most of these songs at various stages over the last 3 to 4 years during which time my wife had a fight with cancer (and won), my mother passed away from cancer, and I spent periods away from home with work commitments. I guess it was a bit of a tumultuous period in my personal life. It’s not all doom and gloom though. I think you learn a lot of lessons about yourself (and the world) during these experiences including appreciating what you actually have in life. A song like ‘Hold On To Love’ is a case in point. Though it’s directly related to the death of my mother it’s about finding your way through that and learning to appreciate your loved ones in the here and now.
Jenny: How would you describe the sound of the album to a new fan?
Peter: I’d say a fairly accessible mix of alternative rock along the lines of bands such as REM and Powderfinger and with some alt.country flavouring inspired by early Wilco among others, with a few interesting detours along the way.
Jenny: What is your favourite song on the album and why?
Peter: My personal favourite is ‘Jealous of Heart’ which is probably the most different track on the record. It started out as a very simple country song and then mutated into a big, almost 80’s style goth rock number with the band over time and in the studio. I also got to channel my inner Ian Curtis by dropping my vocals down an octave from where I usually sing.
Jenny: Now this question is important, so please pay attention; What do you think cats dream about?
Peter: I don’t think they need to dream. I have a cat and I think his entire life is a dream. Sleeps most of the day, does nothing and still gets fed! If reincarnation is real I’m coming back as well cared for cat.
Jenny: It’s stated on your Facebook page that Mermaid Avenue are influenced by such artists as You Am I, Ryan Adams and Badfinger – Who are some of your favourite new artists on the scene?
Peter: Well there’s five of us in the band and if you asked each of us who we are influenced by you’d probably get 5 different answers! In terms of more recent stuff I’m a big fan of The National and The War on Drugs. I also like the rootsier stuff coming out from acts like Nathaniel Radcliffe & The Night Sweats. Closer to home I’d like to give a shout out to Brisbane locals Cedarsmoke who are putting out quality, catchy indie rock tunes and who have one of the best young lyricists going around. Do yourself a favour and check them out!
Jenny: Where is the album available?
Peter: The album is available for streaming or download on all the usual suspects (eg. iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, CD Baby etc). For those who prefer a CD you can order one online at CD Baby or you can come and pick one up at one of our shows.
Jenny: Any last words for our readers and potential fans?
Peter: Please stream, buy,download so we might be able to fund a band practice six pack! Seriously though, we set out to make a coherent, quality album in terms of songwriting,musicianship. It is all DIY off our own back so we put into it as much as we could. Have a listen and if you like what we do drop us a line, come to a show and keep an eye for the next record for which we will be heading into the studio to put down next year.
In summary – ‘Temptation and Half the Truth’ is well worth the listen and will find it’s place in your playlists or on your CD shelves. If you enjoy this album why not catch a live Mermaid Avenue gig the details of which you’ll find on their website – https://mermaidavenueband.com