Described by The Scottish Voice of New Music Jim Gellatly as "an ideal festival band with stacks of energy" Have Mercy Las Vegas gone from strength to strength following their arrival on the Scottish music scene in 2011. Their rowdy and eclectic mix of folk and blues, with a Celtic flair as a nod to their Scottish roots has earned them rave reviews of their studio material in the form of their debut EP and new single Pappy.
Musicmuso bumped into the guys at the 'eat all you can buffet night' at the 'Koh-I-Noor' Indian restaurant right next to the M8 motorway in Glasgow, whilst waiting for some fresh naan bread to be delivered, we chatted about Stephen Fry, Elvis and road crossing chickens, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
A rowdy and eclectic mix of folk and blues, with a Celtic flair.
You’re called Have Mercy Las Vegas, how did you come about choosing this name and is it for children eyes?
Probably not for children's eyes…. The PC Version is that a friend had an unfortunate first night in Las Vegas, and the next morning they were sitting in the House of Blues in Las Vegas reflecting on where the night went wrong. Right above, there was a big neon sign with the brightly lit words “Have Mercy Las Vegas”. It never did show him much mercy though. The name stuck!
You were n ‘best under the radar of 2013 of Amazing radio DJ Jim Gellatly, how did that feel and how did he hear you?
Jim had played a couple of the tracks from the first EP in the past, but he caught us live at Haddowfest in Edinburgh last year and enjoyed our set. Pappy, our single at the time, came out the next week and he gave us a good few plays on Amazing Radio and Radio Clyde. It was great to be recognised as one of his favourite folk acts of the year – particularly when there are some fantastic bands around at the moment.
Your debut album has been funded by the fans, how did these ideas come about and what advice would you give to other bands and musicians on trying to achieve this also how has social media aided your music?
The Kick Starter Campaign wasn’t our plan. Up until April last year we had fully mealy 2 years worth of recording our self and had been proud of that. We ideally didn’t want to ask our fans to help fund it, but final mixing, mastering and printing had financially just become too much. We had thought about playing more gigs, however it would have taken much longer and with the album nearing 2 years since we started recording felt we really wanted the album out for the summer. The campaign was a huge success as we met our target and above in a short space of time. Social media has been great for us, Stephen and Andy tend to keep the page updated pretty regularly and we have good interactions. What we don’t like about social media are the offers we always receive to get “bought” likes. We’ve seen a few bands go down this route (their favourite city suddenly becomes somewhere on the other side of the world, with thousands of inactive profiles liking the page overnight) and it’s something we’d never do. We love the fact that people have liked our page for a reason. Facebook can be challenging in trying to get you to pay for posts and such. We try to make our page as engaging as possible so we can reach more people organically.
Give me three words that best describe you as a band?
Energetic, harmonious, barnstompy (new word, just invented)
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
I think that’s largely impossible to answer! I could tell you about 20 albums I can listen too from start to finish without wanting to skip a second of it. I could never put one album above them all though… Top 3 might be The Division Bell by Pink Floyd, This is Hardcore by Pulp and Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons… But I’d probably give you a different answer tomorrow. Andy has never heard of an album before, so you'd get nothing useful from him either :) Marc doesn’t think it gets any better than Blue by Joni Mitchell. He’s had a few drams by this point, but he’s not wrong.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (Only living members please)
This group would take some beating. John McLean on vocals. (Marc's dad) Stuart Trotter on Guitar (Eilidh’s Dad), Joe Plunkett on Mandolin (Phils Dad), Nigel Scott on fiddle (Stephen’s Dad, Herbie McAlpine on bass (Crispin's Dad) and Jane Napier (Andy’s Mum) on Brass.
‘Tear to my Eye’ a track which the lyrics and the music all fit emotionally together, any song that mentions a mono-brow is liked by me. So, therefore you like mono-brows and not many one eyed people that smoke crack?
Thanks for the praise! I’ve nothing against monobrows… The character smoking crack in the song is, I’m sure, a fictional character I’m sorry to report.
‘That’s Life’ is a beautiful soulful tune, what is your inspiration behind this?
Our main man Crispin brought the tune to us in the studio and we gradually built it up. It’s a song we’re really proud of. I don’t think there’s a particular event that inspired it… but people can take their own meaning from the song.
Do you think Maggots get drunk, when they bury alcoholics?
I can honestly say its something I’ve never considered… Scientifically, I’m sure the alcohol would be out of the system by then. I’d imagine the beasties would need to stick to fermented fruit for their alcohol intake. If you ever find out though, our inbox is always open!
What is your favourite song to hear on Ukulele?
It would be easy to say one of our own… But Crispin and Eilidh do a brilliant version of the song “Tonight You Belong To Me” from The Jerk… sang by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters.
Who designed the artwork for your EP cover?
It wasn’t so much designed, but a picture I took when messing about with a camera at Glasgow University. The band liked it so we choose it as the cover!
First gig you ever went to and first gig you ever played?
I went to various folk festivals as a youngster, seeing the likes of Billy Connolly, The Waterboys and such… I think the first gig I bought a ticket too was R.E.M at Stirling Castle. First gig I ever played was with my high school band. Lead Guitar on The Riverboat Song by Ocean Colour Scene.
‘Pappy’ your latest single has been getting rave reviews, and listening to you myself I can see why. What was the process of the writing of this single?
Crispin had written this song after watching the film “O Brother Where Art Thou” and was really influenced by the natural slide blues sound. We had recorded a couple of demo versions and recorded the single version a couple of years back. We released the single version after Andy joined the band and added his fiddle parts. It’s usually the song we finish with, and the ending has steadily became more crazy as time goes on. At the last gig, headbutts were exchanged on the last note!
Where did you record your debut EP and what made you choose that studio?
The EP was recorded at SAE Studios in Glasgow. Our good friend Gavin Forrester was studying a music production course and offered to record the songs for us, it was, for most of us, our first time in a studio, and we are really grateful to Gavin for giving us the opportunity. We had them mixed by another friend of ours, Matt Harvey at Maybank Studios. Matt has also recorded our album which is due for release end of this month
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Walter White, Stephen Fry and Elvis.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Far to many to mention. There’s loads of great bands we love. check out King Eider, The Youth and Young, The Dark Jokes and The Holy Ghosts as a starter.
Any stories that would be printable from Vegas?
We’ve never gone over as a band, yet! It would be great to do it and play under the sign we took our name from. I’m sure there would be plenty of great stories to come from that.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Ulysses Everett McGill
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
Not any more man. health and safety’s gone mad in that respect. Can the chicken even be on the pavement without a carer or a responsible adult? Do we need special buttons on pedestrian crossings so the chickens can cross safely in the first place before even considering what’s on the other side? Also, why did the farmer let it out in the first place, should we really be questioning whether he is responsible enough to have chickens given they are just wandering around the place? What was the question again?
Mmm, Nando's. Please give us free chicken, we'll play all day long.
What are your plans for what remains of 2014?
The album is out soon, we’re really excited about that. Its been a long time coming and were looking forward to getting it out there. We have a good few festivals booked, and we’re in the progress of organising a 3 date tour of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness with our good Pals Alan Frew and Dorec-A-Belle
The naan breads were taking their time so we opted for a dozen Papadum's (each) to munch on, whilst we were selecting whether to dip into the lime pickle, yoghurt stuff or the orange coloured sauce that's quite nice, we threw in a few quick fire questions....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
We have a Phil
Mac or PC?
Mac. PC’s are rubbish at keeping the rain off.
Fry up or Sunday roast?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
The Fringe or Hogmanay?
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or electric?
Live Show or Recording studio?
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
I have neither!
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?