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| MERCURY TIDE |
| Dirk Thurisch |
Already a while ago Dirk Thurisch started his own band called MERCURY TIDE and just recently the band released the debut "Why?". We met up with Dirk in his hometown Essen and had a relaxed chat with him about his new band, touring in general and of course also Angel Dust.
We'd like you to introduce Mercury Tide to our readers. How did you get the idea for the name?
The band name just came to be somehow.....because until the last minute I didn't know how to call the band. You know, my name does sound like a German schlager star or something, hehe. And then I had a couple of notes, Leif from Century Media once told me to write down several names and there was something with Mercury on it. By chance, he still had these notes and called me up "Listen, how do you like Mercury Tide?" And I said "Yeah, that sounds good" and he said "That is also the name of a legend" and then I went "yes, then it's ok". That kind of fits and..well, it sounds nice.
And who's in the band now and how would you describe your music? Some of our readers don't know Mercury Tide at all.
Well, I would say that.......well, it's definitely no old school metal anymore or whatever. More alternative rock or something like that. So, pretty "normal" stuff, a bit like HIM and such bands, but then again.....hm, how can I say......I don't really know myself. I haven't thought of that all too much, I only want it to sound good. I definitely wanted the stuff to be straight.
And how did you get to know the others in the band?
I knew them for quite some time already, from some Century Media parties or I got to know them at festivals. Stefan, well....that was before we were about to enter the studio. Stefan Gemballa, the drummer of Flowing Tears and Red Aim, they've been on tour with Tiamat at that time....oh no, wait! The week before I got to know Anders at Century Media beause he was there with Tiamat. And Leif and I were sitting there and he asked me "So, who's going to play on the record?" and I looked around and well....first it was the drummer of HIM who was supposed to play, Gaz, but he did not get in touch until then. So that question was still open and then Anders came along and I simply asked him "Do you want to play in my band?" and he replied "Yeah, sure", so I said "Ok, we already have him, hehe". That was of course funny. A week later they were in the Zeche (venue in Bochum) together with Flowing Tears and Moonspell I believe.......and there I saw Stefan and we asked "Do you want to play with us?". Because I got to know him when Angel Dust recorded "Of Human Bondage" at Woodhouse Studios. I had been there doing some vocal recordings down in the big studio and they had been recording the in the small studio upstairs and he was there to watch me record sometimes and so we got to know each other. And well, I liked his style and his way of playing. His drumkick, he only uses one bassdrum, quite simple somehow, and that's what I liked. So that's how we came together and the others also knew each other from other occasions which is also an advantage, and they are good, from a human point of view as well as musically. These are no rockstars or whatever, not like some of those that have been suggested to me earlier.
So, since when are you playing in that line-up?
Since about last year in July, that's when we recorded the first part in the studio. The first week we did the basics, drums and such.
Yes, we had to record in two parts. At first, the record was supposed to be out earlier. But then the studio was booked. And then there was trouble with Angel Dust, that shit. In the end, the studio was available in January again, so we did the rest of the recordings in January. All in all we've been for something like two weeks in the studio.
And the others have probably been busy with their other bands as well...
Yeah sure, but ok, that also fitted pretty well considering it all went that fast. We've never played together before but everybody had a cd with the music that I had put together with my cousin in my old flat on the computer. Everybody had such a disc and then we more or less met in the studio again. And it went very well and without any stress, unlike with Angel Dust, with all the nagging despite the rehearsals three times a week.
Is the line-up steady like it is now?
Well, we have to see. The main focus is on playing live now, first the show on October 18th, that's going to happen with others because Flowing Tears are in the studio at that time and Tiamat will be touring themselves. But for the bigger plans it will be the same line-up. There's going to be a second guitarist live but I try to basically keep it to this line-up.
When did you have the idea to found Mercury Tide? I remember you had already written some songs in 2000?
Yeah, these were the first two songs or so that I had at that time. It was bearly enough time for the whole thing. But the songs were "Why?" and how I call it "Ever" I believe. We always had to see how we could do it timewise. But well, I always wanted to do something like this somehow because the songs are quite personal and when you have something you can call your own you want to do it all your own way. You know, I also wrote a lot of songs for Angel Dust but there it was more like an idea and then I had to wait and see what the others did out of it. Especially when you have five people in the band, it was sometimes difficult to transpose the idea in Angel Dust. With Mercury Tide I already had it more or less done, the basics at least, so then I could tell the band the direction which I wanted to go. But I also told them to bring their own ideas, especially for the drums, when the drummer suggested "let's do a fill in here" and such.
So you did most of the songwriting.
Well, I had basically written the songs. They listened to it and to most of the stuff they just said "hey, that's cool, let's play it and see how it works".
And you also wrote the lyrics yourself?
Yes! I also wrote all of the lyrics.
There's not really a concept behind it, but is there a connecting idea behind them?
Well, the lyrics just came to be.....in different phases I've been in at the time or that I've experienced earlier, things that happened to others or just stuff that I was thinking of. I just wrote all of this down.
Ok, the songwriting process also streched over a longer time period.
Yeah, but I wrote the lyrics pretty much at the end of the songwriting, when I already had the music on this demo cd. On that one I had only sung some gibberish, but that wasn't all too bad.
For the production you had Siggi Bemm. Is that because of the cooperation with Angel Dust that you again worked with him?
Yes, well, let's say not only because of Angel Dust but we get along together pretty well and I've also done a couple of smaller jobs in that studio, recording some vocals here and there.I definitely wanted to record the album there and it's also good to get there from Essen (Dirk's hometown).
That's all not too far away...
Yes, and I knew what to expect and he does know me, how my vocals should sound and stuff like that, he all knew this already and he's also a good producer. That's why so many bands are recording there. It costs a little more but I think an album is like a baby. You know, most of the labels send their bands to a studio only because it's cheaper there, but the result sounds like that also. But you know, our record, that's something you have for the rest of your life. It's not that in two weeks you can say "oh, we want to do it again because the sound was crap" or something like that.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
Well, basically I like every song, but songs that could be a success if they were supported in a bigger way, are "Set Me Free" and "Why?" for example. These are some good songs, that I could also imagine to get airplay. So, when I do an interview at a radio show and they ask me "Which song should we play?" I tell them these two songs, they are ok to play unlike a song like "Alone" that runs for about six minutes, that would be a bit difficult again.
Do you have other bands apart from Angel Dust that have influenced you?
Not so many bands, but more certain periods. I cannot listen to all that 80's battering anymore, that's just too much. Only doublebass from beginning to end. There are some bands where I think it is cool that way, but I prefer to listen to newer stuff, I always did that. I can understand someone listens to Malmsteen and stuff like that, I've listened to that myself in the early days but nowadays I concentrate on real straight stuff, I like that better.
Besides that live gig, do you have plans for touring?
Hm, maybe already this year but I guess it will be next year, january, february. We'll try to do single shows this year, and then it's x-mas again. I think we will play at x-mas, a x-mas show or something like that. So, just a few shows, more or less some warm-up shows, that's how one could call it. To be prepared for something bigger next year.
Then you're going to strike! ;)
Yes sure, hehehe.
So it's definitely no studioband.
It was planned as a studioband only at first but we also talked about it and the others said they would want to play. But of course you also have to see that some of our activities are overlapping, right now, Stefan is in the studio with "Flowing Tears". I understand that, I can't say "hey, you gotta play here now". But you know, there are a lot of other good musicians and the guys have no problem with that. They say "go ahead and play, we'll play together again some other time".
So, you have some substitutes up on your sleeve.
Yeah, sure! I also prefer to have some people that are not the biggest in the scene, people that are down to earth, people just like me. We're not megastars or shit like that, there are enough musicians I could ask to help out but these are of the "I'm the greatest here" kind. And I can't stand that. I have some suitable musicians that fit in.
Do you think touring pays off?
Hm, look at Angel Dust, we played a lot and also bigger tours and we didn't sell much more records. When we were on tour with Rhapsody we sold as many discs as before.
I thought that the bands didn't quite fit together on one billing though.
Yeah, we always had strange luck there. We often had the "wrong" bands to play with. Apart from Nevermore and Opeth in the States, that was a lot of fun. Also the audience was good there.
So where's the difference between touring in Europe and being on the road in the States?
Over here everything is well arranged and you don't have to care for much. Over there you don't get catering and backstage rooms and such. You get a room "you can sit down over there and we have some sandwiches over here". There you have 40 people and 10 sandwiches from the day before.
So no choice of meals like over here, hehe...
Yeah, but you had some money to get something yourself. And we also had great weather. Well, we first had a van that broke down at some point but then we had a mobile home. It was like a holiday or a trip with your classmates and with playing in the evening. It was a lot of fun and I thought it was cool, definitely. You ran around with shorts and slippers, in the evening you pretended to be a rockstar, got out there and started barbeque or something like that. We actually bought us a barbeque there. Yep, that was like vacation and a little playing in the evening.
But wasn't that also a little painful, considering the long distances you had to travel?
Ok, yeah, that driving was tiring. And the waiting, you often started to eat because of boredom. I always had pumpkin seeds, I believe I had something like 40 kg of pumpkin seeds during the whole tour, hehe.
I've had them everywhere. When there was someone looking for me he only had to follow the trace. They were laying around everywhere and the ashtrays were always packed "Dirk, could you put that shit away?" I was like a rabbit or something, haha, it was funny. But back to the driving. The shortest tracks took us around four hours, no wait, the last shows, from San Francisco to San José, we drove about an hour, that were the last two shows. But for the other longer distances we had to change the driver every now and then. First our driver, then Ritchie took over, after that it was our roadie and sometimes myself. But you can drive straight, you can look right and left of you and there's only desert and rocks or something. And then you only beg to not have a breakdown of the car. But there's still this speed limit. We once drove a little faster than allowed and all of a sudden there was the police. We drove there for like 15 hours and you haven't seen anybody during the whole time but out of nowhere they come to tell you that you have been driving a little too fast. And sometimes you drop in at some stop along the road and it's like in the movies. The bar, the music, an officer who is stirring his coffee, the waitress....it's exactly like in a hollywood movie, haha.
And what do you think about Europe?
Europe, well....it's not like in America. In Europe enter the venue around noon, you have catering there, can take a shower, have your own backstage room, you basically don't have to care for anything but that can also be boring......that's when you pick up your guitar and put new strings on it or you go and wash your clothes. On tour you often realize that you didn't bring enough clothes with you, hehe. Anyway, Europe is quite relaxed for the bands, the whole thing isn't that much rock'n'roll. That's why the bands from America like playing here, it's like "wow" for them, like paradise.
Which of the European countries do you like most?
From the type of people the Southern countries, Greece, Spain, Italy.
...where the fans are said to be so enthusiastic.
Yes, they enjoy it much more. You go and play there and they are all having a huge party. You can have that in Germany as well but sometimes it is as if the people don't really want to see you. Even when you're playing as headliner. That's when I ask myself why they are coming to the show in the first place but that also varies from city to city. In most of the cities in Germany there's a great atmosphere, the people are friendly and all that. But then there are some cities....there's just nothing happening.
Well, I think there's a different audience in each city...
Yes, but all in all it's ok everywhere. But you notice differences. On the Rhapsody tour for example, we played the first gigs in Spain and it was a huge party and then we got here to Germany and then you got this "music police", you know, people in the first row checking out who is playing which guitar and why. And down there in the South it doesn't matter, you can play on the oldest equipment, they just want to see the band and want to party - and that's how it is supposed to be.
Is there a country you want to play that you haven't been to so far?
Yes, for me that would be definitely Scandinavia, I've never been there and I would like to see how the atmosphere is in Japan. Many people told me the people there are clapping and also partying but that's it. Like, "ok boys, the band just finished playing their song, you may clap now for two minutes and then it has to be good". I also heard they're sitting over there, well, I cannot imagine that at all, that's more as if you were sitting studying or something, hehe.
I have a question concerning Wacken Open Air. You sold merchandise there. You still have your old job, don't you?
Yes. That was just for fun. I thought I could help there a little.
You also did this on some tour...
Yes, on the HammerFall tour.
But not the whole tour, only on a few dates around here.
I remember I got a text message on my mobile from a friend saying "hey, Dirk is doing the merch here".
Yeah, that was funny, it just came to be that way. I thought "why not?". It's also funny to see the reaction when people see you standing there. Some didn't even recognize me anymore. I guess a lot of them also think that I wouldn't do a job like this. So I also allowed myself a few jokes with them (laughs). There was this guy standing with a "Human Bondage" shirt and I asked him "hey, great shirt, would you sell that?" "No, I want to keep it". And I said. "And how do you like the band? Do you know that guy who's printed there on the back? Have you seen and met him once?" "yes!!" "Oh well, he's standing right in front of you". So, that was sort of funny.
Well, most remember you with still long hair.
Of course, and to be honest, I almost didn't recogize myself when I came back home from the hairdresser. But the hair was totally broken. Originally I only wanted to have it cut a little but the hairdresser cutted a little more than I wanted and oh no, that looked like shit. And she said that she would even have to cut more to regain some healthy hair and so I told her to cut off the whole crap! But it took me a while to get used to it. But I do still have the plait at home
You can one day do a give-away.
Yeah sure. Ebay!
So how is the situation with Angel Dust? We're not talking about all the bullshit in the past that we could follow in the guestbook etc...
I don't know....everybody who had read that only got to know a little part of the whole thing. A lot has happened.......it's a little as if you had discovered that your girlfriend or boyfriend had been unfaithful to you and you cannot simply carry on the next day........too much has happened. Especially from Banx' side, but also Assy who still doesn't seem to be able to decide whether he wants to play or not. There was no feeling anymore. And well, we wanted to play Wacken but that got cancelled by Banx without us others knowing it and we had to pay for not playing in the end and all that kind of shit. It was a coincidence that I was in the studio at that time and I was so pissed off that I said "you know what, I will carry on doing my own thing now". Maybe some will understand that, but who's not involved will probably not be able to follow the whole thing. Most say, "come on, guys...........pull yourself together", but they don't know how the situation is right now.
But what about that magic end of this year? You wanted to start songwriting again?
Well...that was another wrong information.
So you don't have any concrete plans to carry on?
Exactly. If we do, then it's going to be with a new line-up anyway...but, well...Steven is the the only one that I'm still friends with at this point.
I understand that that's not a basis..
The trouble was not only last year, it started even earlier. It's a pity, but some things you cannot force.
And that decided the issue that you'd do your own thing? But you already started before that....
I originally wanted to do both, Mercury Tide was supposed to be a side-project. We wanted to have a little break in Angel Dust and I thought I could use the time for my own thing, to continue with Angel Dust after that again.
What do you think about the music scene nowadays and the new law concerning downloading mp3s?
I think it totally sucks especially for smaller bands that you can download the whole stuff. I think you can download whole albums. Then a buddy burns a CD here and a CD there and soon you have a whole bunch of burned CDs, oh well. Would you buy the disc in the shop we'd get more money, you know. Or illegal pressings, from what I've heard in Brasil for example.. At the end of the year you get a statement and according to that one you only sold like 20 CDs or whatever. Then you think that playing there wouldn't pay off but then you see in your guestbook 50 people saying "Hey, please play over here!" and eventually you really play there and the venue is sold out and everybody can sing along to your songs. And that's the point when you start wondering what's wrong there.
So you support the law that you're not allowed to download anything unless it's offical.
Yeah, I mean.....it's ok to have two songs there for download, as a little publicity. Or you put all the songs online but only samples of each song, only a verse and a chorus and then let it fade out.
Well, you also want to earn something.
Let me say it this way: fans often want to hear the stuff in advance, most of the time the record is already available before the album is out. You can also read in your guestbook then things like "Hey guys, great album" and you go like "What? The album isn't even out yet". The real fans say "I listen to this stuff now, I wanna be the first and as soon as the album is out, I will buy it". That's ok for me, but there are not many of them.
How's the reaction for Mercury Tide been so far then?
Especially from magazines and such I was a little surprised that people say that it's cool and sounds good. Also in interviews and in the guestbook. Apart from two entries, but I know them, they've been like that before.
I read the guestbook yesterday and there was an entry that was a punch below the belt.
That's a band from Essen.
So you know them?
I suppose it's them. When it reads "You died with Angel Dust" then I've been dead for them earlier, before Mercury Tide.
And the second is probably a buddy of them. They've been upset when I quit their band to do something with Angel Dust. And now that they see that I can do something on my own as well, there's even more of that envy. There are such people, but the rest is ok so far.
When you think of the music scene nowadays and and you could change something - what would that be?
Yeah, sure, you cannot live off them, haha.
You know, a few years back you still had the chance to get good fees. I mean, it's a lot of work and stress for a band. You don't get to play for hours, you have to drive to the venue, you cannot relax once you're there etc. I like in Wacken this year that they had fewer bands that had the opportunity to play a little longer. Because there were years when bands got to play half an hour and you had something like 100 bands playing on one weekend. That was only going on stage, playing and going off the stage because it was the next band's turn. You didn't have the chance to really represent yourself. A lot of bands only had a decent sound when they already played the last song.......the first 25 minutes you only got to hear drums or something like that.
Yep, Summer Breeze does have that also, the first bands get 20 or 25 minutes to play, the next bands 30 or 35 minutes and so on.
Anyway, the fees get smaller and smaller and the promotors say "Look, it's bad times, you only get to play for the costs you have". On one hand I think it's ok because we want to play and we want the people to see us but on the other hand you think that you've been travelling a long way only to play for an hour or something like that.
Some bands already start to reject playing for such low fees...
I recently had such an offer. I mean, I'm not a rockstar or anything but I got offered 200 EUR to play. And I told that guy that this doesn't even cover the costs. I have to take musicians with me and a sound guy and you don't get a hotel room and whatnot. So I said no. You pay for your people and for the crew and you end up paying around 300 EUR for small gigs.
Hm, I'd like to come back to America there again: is it different there?
No, it's the same there. We've played a club where it had been just like over here. It was a very small one, some billard pub in Florida. We asked a woman that worked there where the stage was and she pointed at some spot and said "Well, it's here. We will just have to move that table away". I was very sceptical, but in the end we had a fantastic show there. People there don't say "That band that is playing there is shit", they say "All bands have played here already once in their career". For example, Kiss had been playing there.....like 20 years ago. Anyway, the show was cool and also people said that it was, even though we only had two lights that were constantly on and such, but it did not matter.
I'm just asking because in 1994 I've been to a gig in America in...well, not really a club, it was more like a theatre. We had to sit there.
Ok, but the clubs we played were also bigger ones, for 2000 people and they were standing. Depends on the club maybe. In some clubs, you're not even allowed to smoke. We played in one where you were only allowed to smoke on stage. You can imagine, that while the main act was playing on stage, the support acts where standing somewhere on the side of the stage to smoke and drink there because that was the only area where you were allowed to smoke. Very strange.
Famous last words to our readers?
Oh, I have to think there for a moment.
Hehe....stop that tape for Dirk! ;)
Nah, it's ok, it's just always so difficult to come up with something out of nowhwere. I hope you people like it as much as the Angel Dust stuff....I'll see you somewhere when we are playing live! What else can I say......have fun in your life!
submitted by Silkie/Cora 18.01.2004