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Merrin - Merrin Newsletter Interview

27 Nov 2016 // An interview by LoraThompson

MERRIN is where soul and rock collide.

With an edge defined by a distinctive guitar sound, soulful vocals and a rhythm section that creates the very heartbeat of this band, Merrin is a musical experience.

Lora spoke to Charlie and Karl from Merrin for muzic.net.nz:

Charlie/Karl – I'm blown away by the unique soulful Grunge/rock sounds the songs on Don't Forget to Breathe – Of course every interviewer always asks 'How would you describe your sound?' - I was wondering with this EP, what are some of your main influences in particular? 

Awww thank you. When Karl and I first decided to write music together, our goal was to make it unique to us. Influences... simple, LIFE and lessons learned, from a lyrical perspective. We both love Rock so that sound was always going to be our go to. A rollercoaster of emotions were happening for both Karl and I at the time. I had made hard choices in my life and moved to Wellington hoping for a fresh start. Karl had just come through his 2nd Renal Transplant (2009), his 1st one happened when he was 13. If anyone has walked in his shoes, they will empathise with how much dreams and goals can feel just out of reach, yet he never let that stop him. He told me about his life. His survival method was to flood his mind with music. He found it hard to continue music studies in his teen years with constant health problems.

Karl dreamed of creating a Rock band called Merrin as a child, he told me why and asked me to help him make it a reality. At the time, I had given up on songwriting and had lost enthusiasm to sing but this encouraged me to feel excited about music again, so I jumped at the chance. We played out as a duo at the end of 2010, we just started with the basics, writing and meeting great people. At the end of Nov 2011, we spent 3 months creating a band which at that time consisted of Brendan Candy (Drums) and Lisa Tagaloa (Bass and Bv’s). Mushed up together with slugs, spice and everything freakishly quirky and shazaam, Don’t Forget To Breathe EP was spawned.

Don’t Forget To Breathe has our heart and soul at the core, laced with elements of artists that helped get us through some of those hard times. Live, Chris Cornell, No Doubt, Skunk Anansie are obvious ones that spring to mind, there are many more though. Later we added a Lead Guitarist Dan Murray, and our new drummer Rich. Dan eventually had to move back to Australia bringing us back to a four piece. We managed to record more songs and released one song called Angerfist. They are all insanely talented people so we feel very lucky to have been able to work alongside them. We wanted our music to relate to anyone who felt the way we did, so we thought about where we had come from and went from there.

How has the sound of the band changed/developed over the last 3 years since this release, and who is currently in the line up? 

In the past we have seen ourselves as ‘Soul Infused Rock’. This was mainly due to the soul fuelled vocals emitting from myself and Lisa when we sang over our rock feel. This latest line-up is evolving differently. We are still definitely Rock but our sound is becoming something vibrant and heavier in its own right. The rhythm section is driving and pumped, keeping us all amplified. At this point, we have decided we are ‘Rock under construction’. The Rock/Metal scene is so broad, we feel we don’t need to be tied down in the reconstruction process. I think I accidentally found myself vocally this year, while recording a song called Repentant, which will be available at our live shows soon. Many of our fans think we have taken our sound to a whole new level. We feel that we just want to awaken what is aligning us all musically. I also asked the guys for their thoughts, in case more came out of it. Logan: “It’s shitloads different... we’ve become brutal famz” m/(^-^)m/. Rich: “It’s gotten a lot heavier, darker... ruthless. It’s like we’ve gone through a rebirth”. We all agree.

Secondly, our current line up is: Karl Wootton (Guitarist), Charlie Phillips (Vocals), Richard Maxwell Jnr (Drums), Angelo Pantelakis (Lead Guitarist) and last but not least Logan Wood (Bass). We all write, we all compose. 

What is the most exciting show you guys have played to date?

I am struggling to think of one so... I Am Giant, main support was Hollywoodfun Downstairs and we won 2nd support. That was an epic gig. We felt honoured to play main support in Wellington for Everclear from the USA alongside Silence the City and King Laser, that was amazing. They are all fantastic musos, we still catch up online with most of the band members, even now. It may seem insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, but we all agree after this new line-up recently played 'Bitchfest', that was grand too. This is a female-fronted concert in Wellington held annually. We were placed with some smashing artists we hadn’t seen before, Wintyr Dreaming and Miss, and good mates Axaeon, Diamond Sutra and Curlys Jewels

It's certainly an exciting time in NZ Rock for female fronted bands – with the recent radio breakthroughs of artists like Devilskin and now also Decades - into a radio market that previously didn't really play much music by females at all (apart from the odd Tadpole song) – although in many ways it’s a shame that I guess being 'female fronted' is considered a genre, is it comforting to kind of see these breakthroughs anyway/experience solidarity with these other bands even though your sound is very different? Or would you say that this is not particularly relevant to you in your approach to the NZ market? 

To be honest I’ve always taken to the mantra “if you can do it, I can too!” even if that’s not always the case. Oh the stories I could tell haha I guess it’s my tomboyish way of steadying my heart and giving me broad shoulders to keep moving forward as pressure’s arise in life. The music industry is tough at times, you must work hard at it. I don’t believe it will come to you and take you by the hand to make you successful overnight #realtalk. Seriously though, music has no boundaries so being female or male is irrelevant to us. 

I feel like “just one of the bro’s”, who like to create music together. It’s all about the signal, connection, family and people. It’s the adrenaline released as we see people at shows excited to watch us, and us equally excited to share our perspective of the world with them. 

I think great music speaks for itself and a focussed business team to keep you humble and on track, is essential no exceptions. Every exciting story I’ve ever heard about artists breaking into the scene as household names, have often shared another side to them. “Oh I’d been playing for 16 years before I really got noticed” or “This is a side project of a band that folded that were really close to becoming that household name, after so much hard work had been achieved”. It’s a slow, long road. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all. One of our close friends, Heather Wood has taken on general management alongside Karl and I over the last couple of years. Balancing business and art can be overwhelming at times so she has helped us to stay a lot more artistically sane. For Karl and I, this means we can be solely focussed on being artistic with the guys when it’s crucial, and just know that things are ticking over on the business side, we see her as a member of the band.

I've seen in your bio it really details some of the personal heartaches that both of you have endured and it describes being disillusioned by the world – Would you say that you describe your music as Melancholy? 

I guess there are melancholy elements in there but we believe it may be more straight up and in your face, high energy rock. It’s more a sense of telling ya how it is or how it’s been from where we stand. Feeling the frustrations, feeling alone, dark, or even finding positive release. 

Merrin have been around in New Zealand since 2011, releasing a few singles and also an EP Don't Forget to Breathe in 2013 – what's next for the band/what have you guys got planned for 2017? 

We are evolving our sound and that takes time to gel. Lots of bonding drinks, Youtubing bands we love, it means food and watching good ole horrors, more drinks, more laughs, more experiences, oh yeah did I say food usually in the form of pizza and of course daring each other to do crazy shit cause let’s face it, it’s freakin’ fun. Then of course there are loads of writing and jamming together. We have 2 single video releases in the pipeline, the first is for Mr. Dominant due for distribution on the 1st of January 2017 and the 2nd is in the middle of the year for Sin, touring follows both of these releases. We are also writing our first album and will be recording that after Sin is released. 

The Album will be released in Jan 2018. 

When's the next live show, and where can people find you online? 

Dates for the start of 2017 are:
27th Jan @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton
11th Feb @ Valhalla, Wellington
18th Feb @ City of Song Festival, Upper Hutt
3rd Mar @ Cabana, Napier
4th Mar @ The Stomach, Palmerston North
18th Mar @ Churchills Live, Christchurch

Check us out at: http://www.merrinmadness.com/ We are also on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


About Merrin

Keeping it real in 2023… 4 tenacious kiwi blokes and 1 enigmatic chick carving up stages in Aotearoa, with an exciting sound that could only ever evolve from Wellington based Rock Band Merrin. Captivating, dynamic and uncompromising.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Merrin


Year: 2017
Type: Album
Don't Forget To Breathe
Year: 2013
Type: EP

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