Turn it Down: Drinking Mercury brings psychedelic experience to the Robin Theatre

Tommy McCord dishes on the new Drinking Mercury album


Saturday, Nov. 23 @ The Robin Theatre, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

All ages, $15, $10 adv., 7:30 p.m.

Since the summer of 2000, Drinking Mercury has slowly churned out wistful indie folk that teeters on the edge of well-crafted pop and psychedelic meltdowns. The local outfit releases its long-overdue second album Saturday at The Robin Theatre with special guests When Particles Collide. The self-titled disc released by the always-busy GTG Records showcases 11 superb genre-bending songs, all written and recorded by guitarists Michael Boyes and Tommy McCord, drummer Kevin Adams and bassist/keyboardist Timmy Rodriguez. Fans of Wilco, Tame Impala or Sturgill Simpson might want to check out the new tracks.

Here’s what McCord had to say about the new Drinking Mercury LP.

I heard this new LP was partially recorded at your family’s Blue Lake cottage in Bitely, Michigan — did that create any audio difficulties?

Tommy McCord: Honestly, the cabin recordings were almost ideal sessions. We all had a laugh at the cliché of it all. It was almost a “getting back to nature” thing, but spending a few days in the summer with a group of old friends, no distractions, no cell phone service, no internet, just our music and the lake is hard to beat. My grandpa, great uncle and some other friends, built the cabin in the early ’50s and I’ve been going there my entire life. I’d thought about recording there many times so I kind of had it all sketched out from a technical end well before we actually went up there. I had extra microphones and a backup drive for everything, plus we had the songs well-rehearsed so it was fairly smooth.

Looking back, what’s a couple of your favorite songs on the album?

“Catching Up To Me” is one of my favorite songs that Michael has ever written. I’m really happy with how lush and dynamic the recording turned out.

The song that I sing, “Stay Home,” has a great group vocal and excellent drums from Kevin, so that one’s also a personal highlight. The CD features a collage of photos Michael took at the recording sessions, which is a great compliment to the music. The album will be on all digital platforms Nov. 22 and vinyl is planned for the spring.

Drinking Mercury releases don’t happen very often, so how did you choose these tunes?

These songs kind of stockpiled gradually over the last seven years while we all started doing solo recordings. We kind of dispersed, living-wise, in separate towns between Lansing and Grand Rapids so a lot of fine tuning happened over internet messaging and sharing solo demos. We only recently nailed down a practice space and schedule that works for all of us so this album was almost entirely developed from a distance before we came together to hammer it out. It’s the most collaborative we’ve ever been.

This album is quite dynamic. It’s sparse yet vast. What vibes was the band going for?

We set out to make a record that prominently featured folky, fingerstyle guitar playing with big, psychedelic moments and lush vocals. There’s definitely a dreamy, autumnal mood to the record. I feel like it only gets “heavy,” maybe, once. And while we got clean sounds, we didn’t attempt to remove the fact that it was mostly recorded in a cabin. I embraced things that crept into a few takes, like door creaks, wind and footsteps. I love when sonic mistakes become part of a record.

While there were three lyricists contributing to the new album, was there a cohesive lyrical vision?

It’s kind of hard, but when I listen to it I think it’s about finding beauty in the world as we all aged out of our 20s and entered our next phase — both good and bad.

Follow Drinking Mercury at facebook.com/drinkingmercurymusic, advance tickets available at therobintheatre.com.


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