Bonnie Mercer is a Melbourne based guitarist who has wielded the axe in bands like The Grey Daturas, Paul Kidney Experience, Little Desert and the Dacios. Whilst she also periodically collaborates with Sydney experimental outfit Scattered Order, it was her recent solo album, Mystic Decade (Psychic Hysteria), which compiles material she has licensed out to various compilations in Australia, North America and Europe between 2007 and 2017 that had us captivated. Not unexpectedly it highlighted her worship at the alter of shimmering near ecstatic guitar feedback, though also the diversity of her approach as she joyfully explored the sonic potential of her instrument. It was a strange creepy, violent, yet at times a fragile listening experience, and its these contradictions that made us seek out Mercer to ask about the music that moves her.
Charlie Parker – Now’s The Time
Before I started playing the guitar, I was pretty serious about playing the alto saxophone. I wanted to be a jazz musician. The dudes at school were playing fast Metallica solos. I wanted to play fast bebop sax solos.
Magic Dirt – Choker
My friend Yani gave me a tape of ‘Signs of Satanic Youth’ when it came out. I was gobsmacked on hearing the opening riff of ‘Redhead’. I got my first wah pedal a few months later. I’ve seen Magic Dirt play live roughly several hundred times. Their powerful live sound and the unrelenting energy of their performances have had a huge influence on me.
Sonic Youth – 100%
I blew up my first amp trying to play along with the ‘Dirty’ album. I think I was sending my ‘ZZ Top’ stratocaster copy into my parents stereo, through a Boss DS-1, and finally into a tiny Gorilla practice amp. The guitar tone was wonderfully hectic for the short time it lasted.
Earth – Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine
Hearing ‘Earth 2’ helped me make sense of a lot of sounds I was experimenting with, and reaffirmed that it was ok for things move much slower and heavier. I’ve played several shows with Earth and they have been important people in helping me evolve many aspects of playing solo.
Mainliner – Black Sky
Mainliner & Les Rallizes Dénudés really do hit the sweet spot. So much harshness and beautifulness all in the most pleasing proportions.
Skullflower – Starry Wisdom
I love everything i’ve heard by Skullflower. It’s an impressive body of work that inspires me to keep recording and try new things.
Henry Flynt – Violin Strobe
Find your jam and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it…it feels pretty good. My Grey Daturas bandmate Rob Mayson played ‘ Hillbilly Tape Music’ to me once in the tour van. Ok highway driving music, I guess. I was instantly extremely curious. It was a nice lesson that drone isn’t always slow.
Cluster 2 – Im Süden
Another tour van greatest hit, and in the words of Stuart Grant/ Primitive Calculators in their Cyclic Select, “We didn’t really listen to krautrock….except Cluster…”. Well personally, for me….only ‘Cluster 2’, to be exact.
The Stooges – Loose
Ron Asheton, seems to speak a familiar and comforting guitar language. I get the same warm, fulfilling feeling listening to Bardo Pond also. Most likely has got something to do with speaking the language “wah-wah”.
Patti Smith – Birdland
I had one of those revelatory experiences last year when received new speakers for my birthday…you know, when you suddenly hear things that you’ve never heard before. Whilst living in a bizarre dream a few years ago, Kevin Shields introduced me to Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye at a show in New York. I couldn’t get much to fumble out during the conversation. I’d love to have that time again….now that I have an extensive list of questions for Lenny.
You can find Bonnie Mercer’s find Mystic Decade here.