Interview | Mere Women

Following the release of brilliant albums Old Life (2012) and Your Town (2014), and a split release with Melbourne’s Gold Class, Sydney four piece Mere Women recently released new single, ‘Drive’, premiering their beautiful video through Control. The release came just in time for their showcase at Bigsound 2016 where they were a definite standout. Guitarist, Flyn Mckinnirey took some time out ahead of Darker Party to talk about our their forthcoming new record, balancing multiple musical projects and the new golden age of Australian post-punk. 

You guys are working on a new record, where are you at with everything?
Last night, we structurally finished the last song. We’ve got 11 new songs, including ‘Drive’ that’s already come out. Structurally, they’re all done and it’s sounding good. We just need to fix a couple of them up a little bit and write a few little parts and then we’re recording in January. Physical release, probably April. We’ve tried to keep the radar by dropping some songs in the last couple of years. If you disappear it’s kind of dangerous, you can come back and no one gives a shit. We’ve been keeping busy with that.

Both Drive and Numb had a really warm reception – that must give you a bit of confidence leading up to a release.
Yeah totally, Numb was kind of written first out of this new batch of songs. We wanted to release that, and Drive was recorded at the same time and they have been really well received which is great. I guess it’s a little bit of a taste of what’s to come. It gets much softer than that and much heavier than that. We’re not going in a different direction or anything, but we’re basing a lot of stuff around vocals at the moment, and also with the addition of bass, we’ve got this other element to play with.

Have you found having Trish on bass involved writing has made it a different experience this time around?
Yeah, for sure. She’s an absolute chiller. The way that Mere Women has always worked is like, the three of us argue until we come to a point where someone gives in or two people overpower someone. She is just always a voice of reason, even if it’s not required she just calmly say what she thinks is the best thing. On a personal level, having her around in the room just in conversation, has brought this other element. Having the bass, she just finds this space between the guitar and keys that I didn’t know was there.

You guys have been fairly busy with shows in Sydney and Melbourne recently, have you had much of a chance to play live material?
Yeah, obviously we’ve been playing ‘Numb’ and ‘Drive’ for a couple of months but we’ve tested out maybe another three new ones and the response has been really incredible actually. We’ve been pretty stoked with it, especially when we play songs for the first time and everyone remembers it and it gets stuck in their heads. That’s a good sign.

Definitely, do you think we’ll hear some of the new songs at Darker Party?
Yeah, well I think at least three. I wont promise four but we’ll see how the night goes. You’ve got to keep people interested with some songs they know, but we’ll see. We’re vibing pretty hard on this new stuff so… It’s kind of hard at this point when the music is almost finished being written and you want to play it, and you want to show people but you’ve just got to sit on it for ages. Realistically, we’re not touring this album until May or June, that’s six months away. It’s crazy that you have to sit on these songs for so long but you don’t want to bore people when you finally do your album tour and people are like, “I already know that song. Already seen them.” You need some kind of shock factor, some questions need to be asked. You don’t want to show all of your cards before you actually release an album.

Do you ever use live shows as a way of testing unfinished songs and reworking them?
Yeah totally. It depends how they’re received at first. If you get a couple of claps from up the back, then you might go back and rethink it. We definitely did it for some older ones, we didn’t play them for maybe a year or so, I guess it’s just out of boredom that you revisit them and you find that you can actually write a better song if you just put a bit more time into it. One of the songs that we just finished last night, structurally, but we haven’t written properly, we’re recording in a month’s time so you don’t really have that much time to sit on these songs. Then you record them, and then that’s it, but if you revisit them maybe a year later, you realise, maybe if I put a couple of months extra it would be a better song. I guess a lot of bands do that and that’s why they take so long to record but I couldn’t be bothered to sit on a record for a year.

Yeah I find it interesting how a lot of bands, particularly ones with huge fan bases will sit on an album for five, sometimes ten years reworking parts, you must go a little bit mad. 
Yeah to make their masterpiece and then it comes out flat. You lose all sort of energy and what the record was about and the sound at the time of when you were playing at that specific time. What about the song five years ago that you wrote compared to the song right before the recording? They’re going to be pretty different. Your lyricist is going to be in a different headspace too. Sitting on records is not something we like to do. It will be almost three years before our last record came out when this new one is out. We had massive obstacles, Amy was living out west for six months out in the country, a lot of this new record is actually about that time. Our drummer had a baby, so there was time out there. It was a pretty quiet year but we’ve been going hard since we got Trish. I think she’s been in the band over six months, we’ve basically written the whole record. So it’s been crazily prolific over the last three or four months.

You guys are so tight as a band, it kind of seems like she was there the whole time.
Yeah totally, she’s fit in really well and we’ve managed to work around her as much as she has with us and I think Kat’s really enjoying having a bass player there. As much as I try and go with her rhythmically, I tend to fuck her up. I’ll do different rhythms completely and she’ll do the same to me so it’s really nice to have someone sitting on one rhythm. Me and Kat will constantly fight for rhythms and it’s a bit of a head fuck sometimes. But having a bass player, Kat will choose one rhythm over the other so one becomes stronger than the other. It’s easier to listen to I think.

Do you guys come from similar musical backgrounds? Do your tastes tend to overlap?
We all come from pretty different backgrounds, I come from a little more of a punk background and you’ll hear that in the majority of the songs. I still grew up on 80s goth stuff, my mum was right into it so I inherited that. Amy had the same thing, she’s massively influenced by The Smiths, Kate Bush, Björk and The Cure and stuff like that and so is Trish. Whereas Kat really loves her RnB stuff now but she came from quite a thrashy background. Really quite fast punk, and she still absolutely loves it. You’ll see her up the front of any heavy band that she likes and she’s front row centre, it’s pretty cool. We somehow overlap, I don’t really know how but the four sounds end up coming together to somehow mould this punk thing we’ve got going on. We try and keep that kind of goth sound that we started with. It gets lost sometimes because sometimes you just write a pop song. I think on this new stuff, Amy has gotten super emotional in some of the lyrics and it really comes out in the sound as well. That’s definitely bringing that kind of Kate Bush and Smiths vibe to life.

Is that what attracted you guys to working with Gold Class on the split release earlier this year? They’ve got a similar background, a kind of different sound but that same heavy post-punk influence… Were you guys friends before?
Yeah for sure. Well, a friend told me about them when they’d kind of just started and I asked them to play our album launch down in Melbourne and we loved them. We brought them up to Sydney as well for a show and we became mates with them all and it’s kind of like kindred spirits in the small music industry of Australia. I’m not sure what they all listen to but we seem to have similar music tastes and we do have a similar sound. We’re both, as you said, sit on that kind of post-punk vibe but stray as well. I think they’ll be releasing a record around the same time actually so I’m interested to hear what they come out with. Should be a strong 2017 for some post punk. Terrible Truths are releasing a record, so there’s going to be some great Aussie punk releases next year.

You guys should all put on your own touring post punk festival, that’d be amazing.
Yeah that’d be pretty crazy. There are enough bands popping up that I could totally get 15 bands that I absolutely adore that would never play the same festival. There’s always a massive headliner or a really mixed festival. I think today in Australia, our generation are really starting to play that kind of 80s post punk stuff again. I know it’s happened before but it kind of got a bit lost, but it seems to be coming back.

You play bass in You Beauty and played in Ohana, how do you find balancing multiple projects alongside touring and everything?
It’s actually getting a bit hectic, only six weeks ago I was up in Brisbane with You Beauty and since then it hasn’t stopped. I’ve either played in You Beauty or Mere Women every weekend and I work full time as well and trying to finish a record. I’m almost burning out, so it’ll be really good to have this Darker Party as an end of year celebration, it’ll be fun. If I was a slightly different person I’m not sure if I would able to do it but somehow I do. With You Beauty, writing has gone on the back burner a little bit because I just don’t have room to write another record on top of the one I’m trying to finish at the moment. We’re playing the bass player from The Ocean Party’s wedding on the weekend so that should be interesting. I think we’re playing ‘My Pony’ by Genuwine.

So Darker Party wraps up the year for you guys, after that, what else is coming up that you’re looking forward to?
To be honest, going down the coast to the beach, I just really want to get away. I’m absolutely craving it. I live in the inner-west of Sydney so it’s pretty busy all the time and I don’t have a single night to myself so honestly, a week or two by myself where I don’t have to think about anything would be amazing. We’re slowly booking shows for next year, we’re already getting asked to play shows in May and I don’t know what to say with that. They’re starting to come thick and fast so we really have to start thinking about the new year quickly. So yeah, we’ll recharge then get back into it and it’ll be sweet.

Darker Party is this Friday! Event details here