Mermaidens began in 2013 as a two-guitar, one-drum trio, creating what guitarist/vocalist Gussie Larkin calls “twinkly” indie rock. But in a quest to solidify their sound Lily West switched to bass, shifting the focus towards psych and garage rock.
Like many young New Zealand musicians, Lily, Gussie and drummer Abe Hollingsworth formed their band after attending the Camp A Low Hum festival. They set a goal to play the fest the following year and so formed Mermaidens. Not only was their goal achieved but they’ve also shared the stage with Death Cab For Cutie and Sleater-Kinney.
The band’s next challenge is to release their debut album, Undergrowth and provide momentum for their next release, an EP, which they aim to record and make available before the end of the year.
Noisey caught up with guitarist/vocalist Gussie Larkin to find out what makes Undergrowth unique.
Noisey: Are there any strong themes on Undergrowth?
Gussie Larkin: The visual element in the lyrics has always been really strong. Lily and I have always been fascinated by nature because we’re surrounded by so much sea and bush. We write a lot about the forest and the sea; it’s a metaphor for different situations and certain relationships.
Is there a song that vividly recounts that theme?
“Undergrowth”, which is the title track, has a really strong journey. It’s about getting lost in nature, which is a metaphor for losing what you’re about and crumbling into the undergrowth. It is not from personal experience, but I like the idea and the image of someone having to crawl through shrubbery.
Are you the main songwriter or is it a collaborative effort?
The songwriting and the lyrics are shared between Lily and I. On the album she sings four or five and I sing four. Whichever one we’re the main voice on, [that person has] written the lyrics and the melody.
Undergrowth was recorded in May 2015. Has your music changed since then? Are the songs still representative of how you’re feeling now?
I feel good about them; I really enjoy playing them and I think they are strong songs. They’re still pretty representative of what our sound is, but I think we’re going in a more jammy direction and hopefully getting weirder.
This year we are going to record an EP after the album release tour, just so that we can keep up the hype after the record comes out. We’ve got quite a lot of material because I was away living in London for six months. The band was separated for that time, so there’s lots of stuff for us to work with, which is cool. Longer term, we’re hoping to do a second album around this time next year.
'Undergrowth' will be available March 18 through Mermaidens bandcamp and on limited edition cassette tape.
Catch the band at these shows:
March 18 – Wellington at San Fran
April 8 – Auckland at Whammy Backroom April 9 – Mt Maunganui - Imbibe Bar
April 15 – Palmy - Great Job (All ages)
April 16 – Whanganui at The Old Arc
Follow Nick at @nick__fulton