Mermaid in China at Kelly’s Olympian – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Kelly’s Olympian hosted an eclectic line up on their celebratory night, featuring Lee Allstar’s EP release, Bleach Blonde Dudes and Mermaid in China – drawing a diverse audience, and exposing us all to some new music – Mermaid in China opened the night with some fantastic layered instrumentals and hauntingly constructed vocal arrangements. With influences like The Beatles, Tame Impala,Ween, and Pink Floyd, you can anticipate some complicated chord structures and demanding vocals – Mermaid in China pulled it off well. I think you’ll be blown away by one of Adam Corkery’s answers in the following interview. The formation of the band is unique in my experience. Here is a link to their self-titled EP, available for free download on soundcloud. “The Vast Divide” is first song on the EP.

You all are very precise when performing live – how did you perfect translating that highly produced sound from studio to stage?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-04An excess of music gear and tap dancing! I think we all strive to replicate our studio recordings when we perform, which is impossible to execute with four people (with drummer). But we still have fun trying! (BTW the tap dancing is a reference to operating effects pedals with our feet).

What’s the writing process like? Do you write together, does one person lead? Do you chart first or jam?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-03Our creative process seems to be continuously evolving. Some songs are more collaborative than others. I think we’re starting to figure out that each song needs a leader for executive decisions, otherwise a riff or idea will never develop into something more complete and focused. Sometimes during band practice we’ll be noodling and a cool idea might materialize, but it seems like in order for that idea to become an actual song one person needs to take the helm. Songwriting for us is largely a solitary activity. I think the most collaborative steps in the process occur during the recording of a song.

As far as charting or jamming first, it sort of depends. I know Ryan sometimes notates first. I think it helps him work out voicings and harmonies. I’d have to say that for the most part we are playing an instrument and/or singing during the writing process.

What’s on your personal playlist today, Adam? What are Nick, Ryan, and Chris into?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-02We’ve all of course got our own musical tastes, some of which overlap. Adam has been a longtime Ween and Pink Floyd fan. Ryan like Beach Boys and Jacco Gardner. Chris’s old favorites include Radiohead and Elliott Smith. Nick is a Ryan Adams fan. Stuff we all like: The Beatles, Tame Impala, Temples, The Strokes, MGMT, Radiation City, Beach House, Air, The Flaming Lips, Gorillaz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Grizzly Bear, Vulfpeck…

What inspires you to keep working as a band?

I suspect each of our answers might differ somewhat, but I think we are all still in a band together because we have become close friends who simply enjoy playing and making music together. We share a passion for the art form, and I think working as a band helps keep us sane!

How did the band form? Are you all brothers, best friends, or have you bonded over the music?

One word: Craigslist! I believe Adam responded to a seeking-bandmates post by Ryan in 2009. In 2010 the duo responded to a Craigslist post by Chris, who was looking to join a band as a bassist or guitarist. In 2013 the then trio discovered drummer Nick via Craigslist.

How did you come up with your band name?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-01Sadly, it’s not an interesting story. For some time we kept an ever-growing laundry list of potential band names. We wanted something that wasn’t taken, or at least something that would show no results when searched on the internet. We liked the way Mermaid in China rolled of the tongue. It’s a name you usually don’t need to restate when someone asks what your band’s called. So many band names require you to repeat yourself!

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