We've been quietly writing new material in the past few months alongside a few big shows. We recorded the album in December, so since then we've done a few headlining Melbourne shows, supported Cough/Windhand in Melbourne on their Australian tour and we have just gotten back from our first overseas tour, a short run in New Zealand with the legends in WATCHTOWER.
2.You have a new album coming out in May, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
'Beneath', very much picks up where 'Suzerain' left off, especially in the fact that it is an exercise in low end brutality. We try and write music that is not your standard sludge, something with a bit more complexity and with more layers. The EP has a higher level of intricacy, extended psychedelic parts and is just a bit more surgical than 'Suzerain' - or at least we like to think.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
While our first one dealt with the mourning of others, the state of the world and our sanity, Beneath deals with the concept of the Self. The lyrical themes have a common thread in that they deal with identifying inner darkness and grappling with it in an effort to better our own existence.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Merchant'?
Merchant just sounded tough to us.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Our NZ tour last week was definitely the pinnacle of our live rituals so far. The buzz from heading to another country and playing to people there is otherworldly. In terms of our stage performance, we're a pretty aggressive unit and we try to deliver something as visually devastating as we aim to be sonically.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
We've got shows booked in Sydney, Ballarat and Melbourne over the next month and we're currently mapping out where we're going to get to before the end of year. We aim to hit every Australian state and then we'll probably look a bit further away for next year.
7.The new EP is coming out on 'Black Bow Records', are you happy with the support that they have given you so far?
Undoubtedly. Jon Davis (Black Bow/Conan) has been incredibly easy to deal with and has helped us out at every step. It's a huge confirmation for us that we're on something resembling the right track by having him put this EP out on Black Bow.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of sludge and doom metal?
We've been stoked at the feedback we've had from all over. We're literally just four dudes playing loud amps in a small room for the most part, so to see people listen to our music, recommend us to their friends, wear our shirts is hugely humbling.
9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
It's difficult to say. We will always be a heavy band at heart but experiences within a musical journey and outside of it will always influence where we're going. It takes a long time to get to where you want to be artistically and in reality, it takes people's whole lives' as they hone their craft.
There'll probably be a few really brutal slow riffs in our future though, that's for sure.
10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Both myself and Ben grew up on tech-death and bands like Gorguts, Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist before falling down a cavern of sludge. These bands and their odd riffing will always be part of the Merchant writing style, but stuff that's influenced us heavily as of late includes Sumac, Amenra, Cobalt.
11.What are some of your non musical interests?
We are all a bit partial to an ice cold adult beverage. 50% of our band seem to like tattoos, the other 50% don't like much.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Stay grim and wear more long sleeves with metal as hell sleeve prints.