This spring, Have Mercy returns with the release of their anticipated third album, Make The Best Of It. A lot of time has passed since this Baltimore-based outlet put out their beloved sophomore effort, A Place Of Our Own, and there’s no question that Make The Best Of It sets the stage for an entirely new chapter in the band’s career. In a sense the album’s title conveys a suggested theme to cherish every single aspect of your life, and make the best of any given situation, for better or worse.
Guitarist and frontman Brian Swindle now remains as the sole original member of Have Mercy after several members of the group parted ways. Putting everything into this outlet moving forward, Swindle persevered through a rigorous seven-month-long creative process in order to bring to life a cohesive effort that truly embraces Have Mercy’s progression and emotive maturity as a band. Despite scrapping previous material and writing from scratch in the studio, Swindle regards Make The Best Of It as the band’s most rewarding artistic endeavor to date.
Shortly after Make The Best Of It’s release, Have Mercy embarked on the first leg of their North American run with Real Friends, Tiny Moving Parts, Broadside and Nothing, Nowhere—where the new material has been graciously praised by their fans every single night so far. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Swindle and discuss the band’s new full-length, Make The Best Of It, the creative process of the record, and their spring tour with Real Friends.
Currently, Have Mercy is on the road with Real Friends and Tiny Moving Parts. How has the first leg of this tour been treating you far?
It’s been awesome. I mean, the crowds have been crazy—a lot of kids know the words to the new record [Make The Best Of It]. So far, so good. I’m happy.
I know Have Mercy played many supporting shows with Real Friends in the past. What’s it like to reconnect with them again on this tour?
It’s kind of funny because we haven’t toured with them since our last record [A Place Of Our Own] came out, so it’s good to see them. We hang out every single day, and they’re all good guys.
You also released Make The Best Of It recently. With this new record out right before the tour, what’s the reception been like playing this new material live so far?
I didn’t think all of the kids would be yelling the words back a week after the record came out. But they know every lyric, and it’s been pretty incredible. We have three guitars now, so it sounds really big live.
Make The Best Of It is Have Mercy’s first album since putting out A Place Of Our Own back in 2014. How does this album best represent where the band is at right now, both musically and personally?
Yeah… for me, everything’s been perfect right now. Make The Best Of It, when we were writing it, was summing up everything that’s been going on with my life. From getting kicked out of my apartment to having to build a new house for my girlfriend and I, the band changing up—everything went into this record. Luckily, a product came out… I didn’t think we were going to have an album, but everything just feels right now. I think the fans get that too.
As the sole member of Have Mercy, how did that make an influence on the writing process of Make The Best Of It? Did you face any challenges or obstacles along the way?
I didn’t collaborate with new members. Like, I had my one writing buddy, [guitarist] Nate Gleason. He was out on our last tour with us, and wrote a few songs on A Place Of Our Own. We went into the studio with 10 songs, scrapped them all, and ended up just rewriting everything in the studio. So that was a huge obstacle.
We spent seven months like writing terrible songs, scrapping them, trying to write each song in a little bit of a different style. It was the toughest record that I’ve ever made… it was hell (laughs).
On a related note, what was the most rewarding experience of creating Make The Best Of It?
It felt great. There were a few times where everyone was so burnt on the record at one point, and it took us seven months to record and write it. There was one point where we were just over it, and I didn’t think it was going to come out. Luckily everyone rallied up, we got our morale boosted again, and it came out. It was really rewarding just to hold it in my hands when kids handed it to me to sign it. Like, that’s the reward.
That’s incredible. I know it’s been a long time coming, and it’s really awesome to finally have this record see the light of day, for sure.
Oh yeah. We had an amicable split, you know? People’s lives and hearts were in different places, and that’s fine—we all still hang out and chill. But this is definitely my solid 100 percent effort right now… to make this album happen, and I feel great about everything that’s going on.
What does the album’s title, Make The Best Of It, mean to you? Are there any messages or themes that you would hope for fans to take into consideration while listening to this record?
The title, Make The Best Of It, just came from a random song about I wrote. But then, I can definitely relate it everything in my life that was happening and is still happening now. Going forward with the band, I have to figure out a lot on my own, and figure out which direction to see of this. I’m getting older (laughs), which is another weird thing to deal with. I’m just really trying to make the best of everything that’s going on in my life. Just live it and enjoy every moment of being in a band, and being able to see the world and travel.
Of course! With Make The Best Of It out, what’s the rest of 2017 looking like for Have Mercy coming up?
Yeah, we have touring plans for the rest of the year. Like, some real bangers, and some really good tours. I think we’re really trying to do some unique things on this album cycle. Hopefully we can do like a little acoustic run. Maybe we can add in some instrumentals, and strings and stuff like that.
We’re just trying to hear these songs in as many different ways as we can. We’ve played them different every night and switched them up when we play them during acoustic sessions and stuff. This album cycle… we’re trying to have the most fun with it, and so far kids are loving it. I’m excited.
Have Mercy is currently on the road with Real Friends and Tiny Moving Parts, Broadside and Nothing, Nowhere. The band will be playing at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on May 31, the Theater Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on June 1, and at Irving Plaza in Manhattan on June 2. The band’s third studio album, Make The Best Of It, is now available on Hopeless Records. For more information, go to wearehavemercy.com.