With the sun bearing down and the long open road before him, Thirsty Merc frontman Rai Thistlethwayte couldn’t have picked a finer day to embark on a breezy cruise down the coast.
Accompanied by his lady friend and her puppy, Thistlethwayte is enjoying the chance to unwind, taking a welcome break amid an admirable stretch of extensive touring.
“We’ve been go, go, go since we released Shifting Gears last year,” he says. “There were so many styles of gig – outside things, [A Day] On The Green things, RSL-style, community, small venues… it was hard to organise the info, to make it clear on social media what was going on, so we kind of called it the Shifting Gears Tour. Giving it the same name as the album was sort of a way of bringing it all home.”
At the time of our interview, Thistlethwayte is suffering from sleep deprivation and something of a hangover, having been at a Christmas party the night before. Generously, he shares a recommendation for the best hangover cure in the BRAG’s backyard.
“You absolutely must check out Single O on Reservoir Street,” he says. “It’s seriously the one place I’ve been where after three lattes I’ve turned to the friend I’ve been with and had to say, ‘Dude, I’m smashed.’ The coffee there is amazing, honestly – I felt drunk. It makes you feel like someone has put you in a cardboard box and turned a hairdryer on. Such a rush.”
Coffee has been a staple for Thirsty Merc of late thanks to their relentless touring in support of Shifting Gears – and it isn’t over yet. The three-piece are gearing up for an appearance at Summernats in January.
“I used to hear about Summernats growing up in Sydney and my dad was always a bit of a car fanatic,” says Thistlethwayte. “I’ve named my band with an automotive tone there – I don’t know if that was part of [Summernats’] thinking.
“When we saw the gig was there and Airbourne were playing – I saw them play one time, a really hard-biting band with a real tight vibe – we thought we’d be a good pairing and jumped at it.”
Following Summernats, Thirsty Merc anticipate that touring will continue until at least March, with a release date for any new material still a little uncertain. “We did bash around the idea of doing a smaller size release late next year,” Thistlethwayte says. “It could be something like an EP, but you never know. These things have a tendency to snowball. You sort of get six songs on a page and you think maybe you should continue.
“I’m constantly out there with the firefly net trying to grab at inspiration. These days you’re thinking about the concept, the time management of new material. We still have a lot of gigs in the books and it’s about getting to the end of February with them and finishing strongly with the album tour.”
Thistlethwayte speculates that this could very well be the last run of Thirsty Merc shows for some time, and it might be the best part of a year before they play live again.
“I can’t overstate just how good we are as band right now,” he says. “We’re absolutely firing at this point and the dynamic when we’re playing live, it’s feeling better than it’s ever felt in my opinion.”
Thirsty Merc to peform at Summernats 2017,Exibition Park, Canberra from Thursday January 5 – Sunday January 8.