A BAND INTRODUCTION, SINGLE REVIEW OF ‘TOGETHER ALONE’ & INTERVIEW
A Songbird EXCLUSIVE
The band The Merchants is made up of Harry Bowness on Vocals/Guitar, Ernesto Sandoval on guitar, Joe Abraham on Bass and Harry Strachan on Drums.
The band were formed in the beginning of 2019 and by the April had secured their first gig at the Zanzibar in Liverpool showcasing the level of talent these lads had from the outset. They also played at the Liverpool Digital Music Festival and were due to do a headline slot at EBGB’s in Liverpool at the end of January, but alas a killer virus had other plans!
Despite the shit storm that has undoubtedly been 2020/early 2021, The Merchants have managed to release four singles being – Hostile” in April 2020, “Roots Hold The Trees” in September 2020, “Glum Struck Fool” in December 2020 and now “Alone Together” which is released today (12/02/21) All tracks were recorded at Olympic Hall Studios in London and produced by James Grant.
So just how did these four pals end up forming the band The Merchants ? Well as so often is the case with a lot of bands, these lads started out as school friends and met each other through school or through mutual friends. All except from Ernesto (known as Ernie to his pals) who moved to Liverpool from Guadalajara in Mexico in 2017. He came to be in The Merchants when his girlfriend introduced him to the other members of the band through Joe’s girlfriend and the rest as they say is history.
The brand new release out today “Together Alone” has prior to its official release already caught the eye and ears of BBC Introducing Merseyside and secured over 350 streams on Spotify (at the time of going to press) and we are therefore thrilled to be able to bring you this Exclusive Review, Interview and first Official Play of the new track on The Songbird.
Break up songs. Unwelcome at first. Raw to our senses and have an uncanny way of bringing the most strong of us to our knees. Eventually though, through the fog and once the tears have been wiped away, the songs we once forced ourselves to listen to as we mourned the end of a relationship can bring us peace and look with a fond reminisce at the past and what once was.
That’s what Merseyside band The Merchants have expertly produced in their new single ‘Together Alone’. Following on from the excellent ‘Glum Struck Fool’ they have remarkably exhibited yet another diverse sound with a raw acoustic tale of post breakup life without someone they lost. Heading into the unknown but with a sense of rebirth and starting afresh, lead vocalist Harry Bowness really manages to portray such a depth and range, that we can unquestionably sense every lyric he fantastically sings. It’s no shock to believe that comparisons with the great Kelly Jones from Stereophonics are a fitting tribute. However, so often when you find a group with such a strong vocal talent, the rest of the band are just ‘at hand’ supporting in the background but with The Merchants this is not the case at all. Bassist Joe Abraham, drummer Harry Strachan and in particular a mention to Guitarist Ernesto Sandoval who all create a sound so effortless and memorable that upon each listen to ‘Together Alone’, you discover a new favourite moment each time.
‘Together Alone’ is a complicated yet effortless track to fall in love with. It would not seem out of place alongside soundtracks to our favourite drama’s growing up. Shows such as The OC which elevated up and coming artists such as Sufjam Stevens and Death Cab for Cutie during the early 00’s. The Merchants are showcasing a plethora of talents the four possess and with ‘Together Alone’ this may just be their best yet and potentially catch the eye (or the ears) of a wider audience.
Written during the first lockdown Harry shared the raw track with the rest of the band with an acoustic version that the guys unanimously decided should be conserved and emphatically shapes the track throughout around purposeful and impassioned lyrics.
“ We fall back on our time together. Though we’ve tried it seems this is as far as we go. I see that you’re minds still bitter. All sense is gone so I’m gonna say so long”
Its the epiphany we all need after a breakup after coming out the other side unscathed. We look back with great memories yet its now rooted deep within it was for the greater good as moving into the future with a new added purpose. The Merchants really capture the emotions and feelings involved in a poignant and yet rock and roll manner.
Listen to the brand new track ‘Together Alone’ here now.
The Merchants plan to bring out a live version of the track that they recorded at Olympia Hall Studios recently, until they are able to record a proper video given current lockdown restrictions, in the next couple of weeks.
Talking To The Songbird
The Songbird caught up with The Merchants recently to have a little chat.
Hello and welcome, we’ve got few quick fire questions here for you, ready here we go…..
1) Who would you say are your non musical influences?
ES – Steve Jobs HB – Tough one that, the people who influence me the most in every sense are the people closest to me. JA – Ruben Carter HS – A non musical Inspiration to me is somebody like Levison Wood, an explorer who is always looking for his next challenge. He’s walked the Himalayas, the Arabian Peninsular and is also the first person to walk the length of the River Nile.
2) What new and upcoming bands and artists are you listening to?
ES – There are so many at the moment but The Pale White, Youth Sector, Oye Paya, Bandit and Clean Cut Kid are the ones I’ve been listening the most. HB – Seen some great local triumphs from Red Rum, Samurai kip, Eyesore and the jinx, SPQR and the heavy north. JA – Baby strange, The Hubbard, Micky James. HS – I’m a big fan of the duo The Pearl Hearts and another duo from Leeds called Teeff. Both bands have a great sound and some really catchy riffs.
3) What song would we be surprised to find on your Spotify playlist?
ES – ‘I touch myself’ by Divinyls HB – We were looking on covering ‘Man! I feel like a woman – Shania Twain’ the other day so I guess you might not expect to see that number on there. Still a belter though. JA – Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift. HS – ‘Everything She Wants’ by Wham, love that song. There are so many melodies and every one is just as catchy as the other.
4) If you couldn’t be in The Merchants, what band would you be in?
ES – I don’t think i’d get the gig but Foals would be the band I’d try to audition for. HB – I’d love to of been in The View especially when I was a teenager, those lads look like they know how to be in a band! JA – This probably changes daily, it’s usually just whatever band or artist I’m listening to most at that moment so I’ll go with The Killers haha HS – A band around today would be probably be Foals but a former band would definitely be Led Zeppelin.
5) What do you guys like to do in your spare time?
ES – I enjoy cooking, I actually aspire to open my own taco place at some point. HB – In normal circumstances you’d catch me in the pub, or on the guitar but recently I’ve been catching up on some boss telly I’ve missed over the years. JA – I’ve got an unhealthy relationship with shit YouTube videos. HS – I’ve been learning the keyboard lately to fill my spare time because there seems to be a lot of it at the moment.
6) What films and boxsets have you been watching through lockdown?
ES – I watched all of the Resident Evil films the other weekend. I’m also hooked with The Queen of the South series. HB – I absolutely smashed through Game of Thrones over Christmas, probably finished it in under a month. Quite fitting with winter coming at us thick and fast, but recently started The Sopranos which I’m sure won’t take me long either JA – House of Cards. HS – The Sopranos has been my lockdown watch
7) What can we look forward to from The Merchants in the future?
ES – Hopefully loads of live gigs but definitely a bunch of new music this year. I can’t wait to release some of the tunes we’ve recently put together. HB – Hopefully in the future some live shows but, in the meantime, we look to make a bigger impact on the local music scene through our future releases including the brand new one ‘Together Alone’ whichis out today. Hopefully we can get back to gigging soon and spread the word! JA – World Domination!!! HS – Hopefully at some point gigs will be allowed and we can entertain the masses. The last time we gigged, we never had any music out for people to listen to, so it would be good to see some of the people who have been listening down at some gigs to see the live stuff.
8) Who inspires you musically?
ES – Jimmy Page and Hendrix are probably my biggest all-time influences but a few bands from the early 2000’s wave of indie like The Strokes, Black Keys and Kings of Leon helped me shape my sound as a guitar player HB – In the early days the likes of Dylan, The Arctics, The Libertines, The Beatles, the View, The Enemy, the Strokes and more recently Radiohead, Tom Waites, The Doors, the Growlers and too many more to name. JA – Bob Dylan, Fontaines DC and local bands like The La’s, The Stairs & The Coral. HS – Paul McCartney is my true music inspiration, he can play any musical instrument and his song writing is just next level. I especially love the stuff he did with Wings and his solo albums.
9) If there was one song you wish you had written what would it be?
ES – Gravity by John Mayer HB – Too many songs that I wish I could of wrote but if I had to pick one it would be ‘Jigsaw Falling into Place – Radiohead’ every time I hear that song it takes me back to the first time I heard it, the emotion and delivery takes you away, it never gets old for me. JA – For No One – The Beatles at the moment. HS – Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney, I think that’s a contender for one of the greatest love songs ever written.
10) What venue would you most like to play?
ES – The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado HB – Glasto Pyramid Stage is the dream, sentimentally I’d love to play The Zanzi and Sound Food and Drink one more time. Had some of the best memories playing there over the years and unfortunately because of COVID won’t get the chance to again! Hopefully we can get back out there soon to save the local scene and its venues! JA – Glasto pyramid stage. HS – Always been fascinated with Madison Square Garden in New York. Couldn’t imagine what it would be like to walk out on the stage in that venue.
FOLLOW THE MERCHANTS
Review by JUSTIN AYLETT Interview by ERIN POWER (Edits and fore word by SALLY NEWMAN)
Photo Credits – BEN ROBERTS, KATIE BRYAN & DAVE HUDSON