Around this time last year, I had the pleasure of personally meeting and interviewing Have Mercy on a rooftop of the Rivington Hotel, located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With a beautiful New York City skyline in plain view during the opening days of last year’s CMJ Music Marathon, this was around the time that the band was about to release their sophomore full-length, A Place Of Our Own, on Hopeless Records—an anticipated follow-up to their phenomenal debut, The Earth Pushed Back.
Since then, the Baltimore-based group has been graced with many opportunities along the way, which included opening shows for the likes of Real Friends and Taking Back Sunday, leading the pack on their first headlining tour as a group this past spring alongside Head North, Weatherbox and You Me, And Everyone You Know, and also embarking on their first-ever run on the Vans Warped Tour.
By the summer’s end, the band spent a lot downtime back home before they started their upcoming fall tour with Transit, Somos and Microwave.
Right before they hit the road, I had the chance to catch up with vocalist and guitarist Brian Swindle and talk about their run of headlining shows this month, the release of their latest single, “Collider,” and their plans for the rest of the year. Swindle also shared their experiences of playing the Vans Warped Tour as well as Chicago’s Riot Fest in September.
Pretty soon you’re going to be staring your upcoming headlining tour with Transit, Somos and Microwave. How does it feel to get back on the road again since playing on the Vans Warped Tour?
Oh, it’s great! I mean, I’m really excited to get back into a club environment—I always like those more intimate shows. Being out in the open every day at Warped Tour and having every millionth band playing around you kind of gets overwhelming, so it will be good to have this tour be a club tour. All of the bands that are on it are friends of ours, so it’s going to be a good time.
I actually did not find out until recently that this past summer was your first year on Warped Tour. How would you say was your first experience overall?
I enjoyed it, based solely much on the fact that the fans were awesome, and we met so many friends on that tour. I don’t know if we’d ever do it again. I guess we didn’t feel it as much as we thought we did, or as much as we would, but it was definitely an experience. I mean, to be in a touring band, and to do Vans Warped Tour… I guess kind of gives you street cred. Like, that’s the hardest fucking tour that you’ll ever get to do, and I am glad that we got to do it and say that it’s on our resume now.
Yeah, definitely. I bet that’s a great opportunity to finally have that experience under your belt. I was able to catch your Warped Tour set in New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Needless to say, that was one of my favorite sets of the day.
Yeah! That was our craziest show of Warped Tour. That crowd was killer.
Earlier in the year, you embarked on your first headlining tour with Weatherbox, Head North, and You Me And Everyone You Know. What were some things you learned after finally getting the experience of headlining your own tour? How do you think your upcoming tour will be different this time around?
Well, we first did that headlining tour in the spring. We had to do it because of all the things that happened with Front Porch Step. We weren’t ready for it, but once we got into the swing of things, we kind of… I don’t know how to put it—it fits us. We loved building that tour, and picking the bands that we wanted and going out. There wasn’t one day that was miserable on the tour or that we wanted to go home. It was great, and I know it’s going to be the same on this fall tour. Like, we picked every single band because we love their music, and we love the people in those bands.
Having it as our headlining tour, we get to play a lot of songs, and take our time and interact with the crowd more instead of being restricted to a 25-minute set. We get to have an hour to mess around, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
For sure. I bet it’s going to be a great feeling to not be so pressed for time, and to able to make your own rules as a headlining act.
Yeah, we’re not rushing anything. And you know, we get to be leisurely; it’s nice.
Now, you also played Riot Fest in Chicago a few weeks back. What was it like to have the opportunity to play a huge festival on the level of Riot Fest?
It was completely surreal. I would do Riot Fest every year over and over again; it was the time of my life. I mean, we did Chicago, so it was three days of just great bands. We got to meet a ton of different people and hang out with some of our favorite bands. Like, I’d never thought we’d ever be on the same bill as like, Snoop Dogg and No Doubt. It’s crazy! It was a lot of fun.
Awesome. I can totally imagine how fun that must have been.
Yeah, and we didn’t think anyone was even going to watch us, and then when we looked out, and there was like 2,000-plus people watching us. So it was incredible.
What were some personal highlights of that weekend?
Well, we made it a point to get into town Saturday, and we saw The Academy Is. We also saw… Kevin Devine played the same day as us, Manchester [Orchestra]. We saw Taking Back Sunday twice—they played a surprise set before we played on our stage. Man, we saw a bunch of people.
Yeah, it was awesome. I mean, three days of just drinking and loving good music, you know?
Recently, you premiered a new single called “Collider,” which is a song you’ve been rehearsing on and jamming for a while during your spring tour. Will you be breaking this song back out during this upcoming tour?
Yeah, that song definitely came out of nowhere. We actually started tracking it back in February, and we just… like, it took six months probably until we finished. We just kept going in, changing things. Hopeless gave us a budget to do a song that we really loved, so we went in and tore it up.
We’re definitely going to play it on the tour, but I really don’t think it reflects anywhere that the band is going to go. Like, I don’t know if our next record is going to sound like that, but it’s just a fun song. When we play it, it’s just us rocking out.
Ever since writing and releasing “Collider,” have you guys been extensively working on material to follow-up A Place Of Our Own? Or are you still on the touring cycle of supporting that record?
From what I know now, this upcoming tour is going to be our last tour of that cycle. I have probably seven or eight songs demoed and I guess we will start working on those right when we come back from the UK with Mayday Parade and The Maine. So we will do that, come back home and start another record.
Once you finish this headlining tour, what is the rest of the year looking like for Have Mercy?
Once we do the fall, I guess we’re going to be off all December, and we will be in the UK and yeah, that’s about it. We were doing the math and we played like, over 200 shows in the last year, so I think we’re looking to take a little break right after the UK. Just kind of relax and get back to our home lives.
I totally get that. I’m sure after doing Warped Tour, you guys were probably ready to head back home, you know?
Yeah, it’s nice. We all have girlfriends back here and we have family here we’re really close to. Any time we’re home for an extended period of time is actually really enjoyable. I love being on the road, but home is where the heart is, you know?
This week, Have Mercy will be starting their second headlining tour of the year with opening support from the likes of Transit, Somos and Microwave. The tour will be making stops at The Foundry in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, The Marlin Room At Webster Hall in Manhattan on Oct. 16, and the Amityville Music Hall on Oct. 17. Have Mercy’s sophomore album, A Place Of Our Own, is out now on Hopeless Records. For more information, go to wearehavemercy.com.