The Basement is Calling for OUR MERCURY
Having met in grade one, Our Mercury members Ben Stevenson and John Watson have a long history, but let’s skip years ahead to when they first started playing music together– Grade 5. Performing a Dayglo Abortion cover for the school talent show, these boys were clearly punk rock prodigals. A fact that was confirmed when they competed for the Battle of the Bands while John was still in elementary school and Ben was just in grade 7. “When I first heard The Clash I knew for sure that that’s what I wanted to do. I knew from a young age,” recalls Ben about his first childhood musical heroes.
It wasn’t long before they outgrew high school gymnasiums, and by 12 they were playing their first show under the name Misdemeanor at an Edmonton punk hole-in-the-wall called Punk n’ Junk. Their reputation quickly spread. “Bands from California were calling up Punk n’ Junk asking to play with us, it was insane. We must have played once or twice a week. We were added to shows that we didn’t even know about until we saw our name on the posters when we were walking down the street,” remembers John.
Word of Misdemeanor soon traveled west, and they were recommended to producer Cecil English (SNFU, d.b.s., the smalls), who agreed to record the young punk outfit. In 1996 the band went to Vancouver to record at Profile Studios, playing shows in Vancouver and Victoria with d.b.s. during their stay. In 1997 they independently released their first full-length album Juvenihilism, aptly titled for a group of 15 year old boys. Using this CD to send out to promoters, Misdemeanor were able to take a year playing gigs, landing shows with Guttermouth, Jughead’s Revenge, Straightfaced, Good Riddance, 88 Fingers Louie, and others. Encouraged by the response to their demo and live performances, they were set to record more songs. In 1998 they headed back to Vancouver and recorded a dozen more songs with Cecil. Unfortunately, the band lost both the recordings from this session when Cecil went MIA, as did their guitar player in the year that followed. Only a rough, unmastered version of a few songs remain.
Taking this all in stride, by 2000, they were fresh out of high school and determined to break loose from their prairie ties to find fame in the big cities. They independently recorded another full-length demo, changed their name and moved to Montreal. Newly christened as Our Mercury, the band quickly learned, as most of us have, that moving to a new city and changing your name is not the secret to success. They soon realized that Montreal was not the punk rock land of opportunity they had anticipated. Holding their heads high, it was back to Edmonton in 2002, where they were reunited with their productive and creative impulses. It wasn’t long before Farway Records approached them for the release of their next album, Your Medicine, in 2003.
It was while touring this album that Our Mercury caught the attention of Smallman Records, who were impressed with the band’s exceptional musicianship, ambition and independent approach to their music. “What struck me about Our Mercury was not only their incredibly tight live performance, but also that they’ve been doing this for so long on their own,” states owner Rob Krause, who was thrilled to negotiate their next record release through Smallman.
Our Mercury has evolved from solid punk rock background into a band with diverse influences and a purposeful sound and message. In keeping with what the name Our Mercury represents, John explains, “It means so many different things: it is the only metal that is liquid; it’s poisonous; it’s the name of a planet; it’s a Greek god who was a messenger. The music is our mercury, it is our message to the people, and not the same old message, it is unique, fluid and mobile.”
The band called it quits after their last summer tour in 2007.
Ben Stevenson - Vocals/Guitar
John Watson - Drums
Matthew Bouchard - Bass
Eric Budd - Keyboards
Faraway Records | EP, Released 6/04/2003
- Our Mercury Final Shows (08/16/07)
- Our Mercury in Studio (01/29/07)
- Our Mercury Interview (11/27/06)
- Smallman Showcase at WCMA’s (09/27/06)
- Our Mercury Summer Dates Posted (05/29/06)
Rob Wright at SLFA Feldman & Assoc