Have Mercy’s vocalist talks Hopeless Records and crying fans

Have Mercy - Taken by Zero Platoon - Mike Henneberger
Mike Henneberger/Zero Platoon/Courtesy

Following their 2013 debut full-length album, The Earth Pushed Back, Baltimore’s Have Mercy have signed to pop punk/alternative powerhouse, Hopeless Records. While on tour in support of Real Friends, Neck Deep and Cruel Hand, The Daily Californian had the chance to speak on the phone with vocalist and guitarist Brian Swindle to discuss the switch to Hopeless Records, their latest album and how to awkwardly interact with crying fans.

The Daily Californian: What influenced the decision to sign to Hopeless Records?

Brian Swindle: We were with Topshelf Records for only a year, but when our deal ended with them we kind of just wanted to see what else was out there. Our friend, Eric Tobin from Hopeless, came out from California, and he seemed like he actually had a plan for the band and what potential we actually had. For someone to see a future for us, we kind of liked that and just signed on right away.

DC: Your latest album, A Place of Our Own, was produced by Paul Leavitt (All Time Low, The Dangerous Summer). What was it like working with him?

BS: He’s the first, I guess, “real” producer that we worked with. He really helped shape the songs to get them where they needed to be. We came in with maybe four solid songs and seven rough ideas and we just kind of worked them along. He’s been a fan of Have Mercy for awhile so it kind of helped. He knew what he wanted to do with the songs and we immediately agreed with every decision. He’s a smart guy.

DC: How long did it take to record this newest record?

BS: One month.

DC: And how long did it take to record the previous one?

BS: Four days.

DC: So what made you guys want to take a little more time with A Place of Our Own?

BS: With The Earth Pushed Back, we just had to rush through songs and we only went in with “x” amount of songs and we still had to come up with two or three on the spot. So it was rushed; it didn’t feel very planned out. But with Paul (on the latest record), we sat and we wrote songs together, and we literally wrote each song about 10 to 15 times until we were all satisfied with it. It was definitely a better experience because we wanted to have an album that was, to us, just flawless all the way through, and we’re really excited about it.

DC: You’ve said in previous interviews that you see people crying in the crowd during your sets. Does that still happen?

BS: It does happen often. It’s definitely weird. I mean, it’s cool that we have that effect on people, but I never know what to say or do. It’s just kind of nice knowing people can relate to our music and that we’re actually making an effect on people’s lives, but it’s definitely weird every time.

DC: Do they ever come up to you after the set, still crying?

BS: They always come up to us after the set, and we love talking to them. But, you know, we’re not like, grief counselors, so it’s very awkward for us. But we love talking to people! So hopefully those people know, like, if we made it awkward, we’re sorry.

DC: All of your songs are very emotionally charged. Do those emotions ever hit you while playing live?

BS: Live, it really doesn’t hit my like that. I wanna play it well and I wanna play it like the record. But I know when we were recording, it definitely hit hard. There were a few times when we had to stop because it started bugging me out. A lot of the songs on this record are way more personal than The Earth Pushed Back. It was hard to record, but now I love playing them live.

DC: How did you end up working with Ace Enders on the “The Place You Love” track?

BS: “The Place You Love” is my favorite song. It’s super catchy. (Laughs) I sent an email to our A&R at Hopeless, and I was like, “Hey man, can you make a childhood dream come true and get Ace Enders?” And (our A&R rep) was like, “Yeah, I know him personally, I’ll give him a call.” So they gave him a call, and Ace said he had been a fan of the band for awhile and that he would love to do it. It literally took him a day to record (his part) and send it back. We were in different states, but it was cool that he showed the interest and actually wanted to do it.

DC: How would you feel if you got to perform the song with him live?

BS: I’d lose my mind! I always wonder that, because I know he still lives in Jersey and we’re playing in Jersey soon … Maybe he would come out. I don’t know!

DC: And I’m sure the crowd would go pretty crazy, too!

BS: I don’t know if he’s relevant with the younger kids anymore, but he played a huge part in all of (the band’s) childhoods, with The Early November stuff, so it was an honor.

Have Mercy is playing the Oakland Metro Operahouse tomorrow.

Contact Rosemarie Alejandrino at [email protected].