The Merchants are Joe Abraham (Bass), Ernesto Sandoval (Guitar), Harry Bowness (Lead Singer, Guitar) and Harry Strachan (Drums). They are a collective of four tearaway melomaniacs formed in early 2019 by three Wirralians and a Mexican-born but now Liverpool native. During their first year as a band, they intrigued the local scene in Liverpool by showcasing a set that combines every member’s main influences, such as new wave, modern indie rock, blues and folk, whilst maintaining a strong unique sound. 2020 saw the group crowned as the champions of “Uncovered 2020” Twitter competition by Jorvik Radio show “Halfway 2 Nowhere” and selected to play the M&S Arena for LDM Festival 2020.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers, who you are and how you formed?
We’re a collective of 3 lads from the Wirral and a Mexican born but now Liverpool native who started putting tunes together in early 2019. Us Wirral lads (Harry Bowness – frontman, Joe Abraham – Bass and Harry Strachan – Drums) know each other from school and had been in a couple of bands before the 3 of us ended up jamming together and forming ¾ of The Merchants. Ernesto (Guitar) was introduced to us by one of our friends, he was here for a year studying abroad kind of thing, said he played guitar and would like to join us for a jam, and so we made it happen. We’d meet up every now and then just for the fun of having jams, maybe put a couple of parts together but almost always ended up in Chilli-Peppers-like (but mediocre) jamming sessions. It wasn’t until Ernesto landed a job that would sponsor him a visa that we thought about making it official and putting some actual tunes down.
What style of music would you describe yourself as and what influences do you draw upon?
Overall we probably fit within the modern indie rock category, we have quite a broad set of influences that we throw in the mix when writing together. Strachan and Ernesto lean towards classic rock influences like Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Police etc. Joe and myself are more influenced by the song writing skills shown by people like Dylan, Beatles, Arctic Monkeys and the Liberties.
How have things been for you over the lockdown/tier fiasco? What has been the most challenging?
Not knowing when we’ll be able to play live in front of an audience has been frustrating but being restrained from getting together to write tunes, record demos as well as make sure we don’t get too rusty has been probably the most challenging.
What are your feelings about the current situation and its impact on live music and venues?
It’s a shame because the live music scene in Liverpool was booming before this whole thing happened. There seems to be a new wave of Merseyside talent with potential to do great things but playing live is sort of essential to grow a local audience, it has always been the main and best way for bands and artists to showcase their music and get some income, being unable to do that has affected everyone in the scene basically. It’s been gloomy to see great local venues known to support the grassroots music scene like the Zanzi Bar and Sound Basement close their doors because of this pandemic.
Do you think there has been enough help for the industry throughout the crisis?
Absolutely not, it’s been clear that the government has had no interest in helping the music industry at all. On the flipside, we’ve seen a lot of music fans and people in the industry get together to help. It’s been nice seeing people asking for merch links and continuing to buy tickets for gigs knowing that they might get postponed or cancelled.
2020 has been understandably riddled with a lot of negativity, what was some positives for you in 2020?
We had the opportunity to play the M&S Arena as part of Liverpool Digital Music Festival, which was a mad experience for us; we thought it would be at least a couple of years before we could play an arena. We also got an unexpected shout out from Robert Carlyle sharing our newest single Glum Struck Fool on Twitter, it turns out he’s a supporter of new music and we were lucky enough to get on his radar.
Tell me about your most recent release or upcoming single/album…
We’ll be releasing ‘Together Alone’ next month; it’s a slow builder, emotional tune inspired by the mixed feelings experienced when going through a breakup. We weren’t sure about releasing a slow tune so early on but James, our producer really liked the demo and we’ve had very good feedback about it from people at gigs so we went for it. We can’t wait to release it now, we’re buzzing with how it turned out.
What’s the best venue you’ve played so far and what’s would be your dream venue to play after Covid-19?
Have to go with the M&S Arena for both, it was crazy to play a venue in which we’ve all seen many of our favourite bands perform, but it was empty… Playing there again post-covid with an audience would be an actual dream.
Favourite festival you’ve played or want to play and why?
Being a band that started releasing music in 2020, we haven’t yet had the pleasure to play a festival, but if we could choose one we’d go for Coachella. Our guitarist Ernesto has been and the way he describes the festival just sounds like a dream… A Sunny Glasto basically.
What tune should readers listen to right now of yours that sums you up the best?
Our latest single released in December 2020 Glum Struck Fool, it’s a tune inspired by the struggles of being a creative in a 9-5 job (which we all are) but it aims to connect with everyone who’s working class and find themselves wishing their life away waiting for the weekend. We think it also showcases a good representation of what the band sounds like live.
What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
Our new single Together Alone released on the 12th Feb and hopefully a bunch of live gigs! We’re also thinking about the possibility of recording and releasing an EP.
The Merchants are to about to drop their 4th single, Together Alone on 12th of February 2021. Keep up-to-date with them on their social’s below…