T.A.C Album – Have Mercy Available Now

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Somewhere between countless shows, line-up changes, an ever evolving sound and a lot of miles in the underbelly, These Automatic Changers have finally found their way. 3 years after bassist Lee Catlin and guitarist/vocalist Solomon Cole started playing gigs around the city as T.A.C. (after the demise of their previous band Payola), the duo has now started over, with a new vision, a new guitarist, and the gift of a future to be made on the eve of their debut album.

The sound of Have Mercy comes from everywhere and nowhere-it carves a crudely drawn map and embarks on a aural road trip through the shallows of blues music; from 70’s inspired satanic blues, chest thumping Neanderthal rock tone to swaggering proto-swing sneer straight from the archives and catalogues of any vintage and retro lover of rock music . For 9 months, Cole, Catlin, drummer Phil Peters, and former guitarist Daniel May have holed up in an inner city studio together, to piece together a group of songs that would be their calling card. In this studio in Eden Terrace — they built their first album as a new band from the ground up. “It was like our time had come, the core songs came together in one large writing session and we knew anything we’d done before was redundant” Catlin says. “Something happened to us in there though, the sessions were different and a new sound evolved quickly that was darker, bluesier, heavier, cathartic really. We just let them take us over completely and everything else took a back seat”.

Hodkinson since replaced long time T.A.C. guitarist Daniel May, bringing a new found sense of melody and finesse to the quartet and Cole’s is very pleased. “Stu knows how to listen when he plays, and embellish on the spot” Cole says, “there’s a new intuition and ability to watch our eye signals as we’re really going to delve into an idea.” With Hodkinson on board, the band rehearsed in Eden Terrace at the Native Audio (formerly Air-force Studios), quickly pulling together the live show and learning to play the album itself now it has been completed. “We wrote these songs in a couple of concentrated sessions” Catlin says,“Then when we tried to add other songs we had along side them but they just wouldn’t gel with those sessions. It’s just got that kind of excited, effortless feeling, where we didn’t know where it was gonna go next and we just played intuitively until it screamed itself into existence.”

Have Mercy blends a raw sexual energy, a meltdown of their previous songs, but forging a style that encompasses everything T.A.C. is meant to represent going forward. The agitator distorted Ampeg bass sound, the acoustic driven blues interludes, edgy early Sabbath swing , the raw unfetted blues rock guitar tone, Have Mercy makes for powerful listening. The title of the album, a term garnered from an early blues chant, and a simple term to represent the current state of play in today’s doom and gloom, T.A.C. positions itself now on the edge of dimness but never quite delves in too far. Instead keeping a firm handle on making sure the record can be played at full volume at any house party in the country. “I had been listening to a lot of old blues recordings and reading the history of blues terminology and the circumstances they were coined in” Cole says, “ The one phrase “Have Mercy” kept leaping out at me though for some reason. It kinda seem to sum up what was happening in the news and peoples disillusion and the fact that Lee and I both have very young children and what world they are growing up in which we talk about all the time’. But it’s a very old phrase. These days you kinda just shake your head about the stuff you read online and think Have Mercy”.

With songs of end of times, revelations, conspiracies, and lost souls, Have Mercy navigates much sensitive ground for Cole being a father to children under 5 years old outside of music.The album is a blues infused spirit soaked rendering of Anglo/American influenced rock with enough lowdown, belly in the dirt guitar grit. The hand claps, tambourine, and foot stomps alongside the swinging riff of “Have Mercy” tells us “see the sign of judgement come a blow my way.” The blues boogie thump of “Shine like Gold” evokes a country swagger amid the four on the floor riff and revival tone of “ Went down to the valley, two wings for to veil my face, gonna tell Him all my problems here to stay..” The in between interludes, acoustic and piano pieces make up the rest of the story away from the fire and brimstone fury of the heavier tracks.

“Aint got no worries
The Lord done give me no gold
I wake up with the cold water
Go to sleep in the coals
I aint no sundown man
Just to work the whole day through
Wake up just to fight the dead
And roll the dice in a tune
Whoa I eat the honey and drink the wine
It’s amen to damnation I say
Whoa I ‘m going down to the valley to shine
Gonna tell God my troubles today”

Tell God My Troubles

Solomon Cole is also a big fan of Tom Waits, and T.A..C try to translate emotion into song, and evoke spirit into words that sets off on temperamental expeditions deep into the soul. “We wouldn’t be a band if there was something like us already on the NZ music scene talking the things we talk about,” Cole says, “The only thing that gratifies my inner settlement is music…” Catlin adds, “The only thing that keeps me in check is music really. Getting together, knocking it out and creating it ourselves. I’ve been through a lot personally in the last year and these songs represent that as well, this album is basically my f….. you to the last 15 months ”

T.A.C’s perpetual drive to create, to express stories of hard times, keeps them going. It’s a compulsion, and greedy thirst appeased only by the undying love of rock and roll. “To me music connects everything we do, it is there no matter what and keeps you sane but drives you to the brink of insanity at the same time” Catlin says, “If Solomon and I are able to pen something on this album that another person can relate to, or draw something from, then we’ve done our job”