Merry Hell

Interview - Merry Hell

Merry Hell

Blink … and you miss it

(Mrs. Casey Records)

Merry Hell - Blink and You Miss It



"We are in the black theater of nonexistence. In an eye blink the curtain is up, the stage ablaze, for the vast drama of ourselves."
Herman Wouk ( - 1915) US novelist

worldbeatcanada: Life moves fast. Blink and you miss it. Fortunately, we chanced on a long distance glimpse of Merry Hell, a UK band that is revitalizing and redefining British Folk Rock with their debut disc, Blink and you miss it.  We have Andrew and Virginia Kettle from Merry Hell is online to embellish the story. Congratulation to the band. We love the new album.

Andrew and Virginia: Thank you very much. We're very proud of it.

WBC: Can you bring us up to speed on the resurrection of the Tansads and the consequent formation of Merry Hell?

Andrew: The Tansads were around quite a number of years a go and we got a little bit long in the tooth and split up. And then, someone at a birthday bash thought it would be a good idea to do some reunion gigs. We didn't expect it to be much of a success. It had been ten or fifteen years since we played. We then organized a gig and it sold out. On the basis of that, we ended up doing three sold out nights in a venue in a small town near our hometown. So, after that some people said, "Should we carry on? That was really good fun." Some of us did and some of us didn't so we decided then, since some of the band members weren't willing to come along to the new band, we decided to change the name and that’s when we changed the name to Merry Hell.

WBC: So, 8 band members, 4 Kettles. What can you tell us about this family affair at the core of the band?

Andrew: 3 of us are brothers. I am the youngest and John is the oldest, Bob the mandolin player is in the middle. We grew up together in Wigan in Northwest England. And, several years a go John captured and married Virginia. John and Bob have been writing ever since they were kids. I've always been singing along with them. I never really expected to be in a band when I was seventeen years old. I had a guitar that I was playing, actually Cathy's Song from Simon and Garfunkel and John popped his head around the corner and said, "Do you want to be a band?" And, I said, "Yah, OK." The rest is history. Virginia is in the band now and has brought a really kind of cultured and grown up way of song writing into our repertoire. So, we're really pleased.

WBC: Well, you're all in the same boat. If this thing all falls apart tomorrow there's no sleeping on the brothers' couch.

Andrew: This is fair enough, yah. Being family members, often on the road it can end up in heated debate. But, the pro side of that is that no one ever holds a grudge. It's just family.

WBC: These songs seem to be anthems for the common man, born out of the pub scene. Is that accurate? Are those kinds of venues your bread and butter?

Virginia: I think that's quite an accurate observation, Cal. Because, even though we love our folk music and we play folk music, we've all grown up on pop as well. Some of the great bands from the 80s when I was growing up ... I always liked a song with a message and it seems some of those messages are just as strong and poignant now, around the world, as strong as they have ever been. So, it's great to be resurrecting some stronger social comment within those melodies.

WBC:  What’s in a name? Can you tell us the inspiration behind the band name and the album title, both of which are very intriguing?

Andrew: Actually, if I can get this right, Merry Hell came from one of John's really early songs. One of the lines at the lead in is kinda plagiarized from Shakespeare. I believe it's from Taming Of The Shrew or something, where he says< "Get ye gone to a nunnery." and John wrote, "Get ye gone then to a nunnery, and lay your head down in Merry Hell. When you're naked you get taken to the cleaners. So, I'll bid you fare thee well." So that line, merry hell was from a really early song. We were really struggling to find a name and that one seemed just as good as any.

WBC: And, what about Blink ... and you miss it?

Virginia: Yah, Blink ... and you miss it is the title of one of the songs on the album. When we were thinking about titles for the album, it just seemed to strike a chord with all of us. This time around especially, I think in forming this band. We're enjoying it so much and we have a different set of values. It's great not to be too cool. Honestly Cal, it is! We're into nourishing people and uplifting them, because life is so short and it's only when you get a little older that you start to realize that. Blink ... and you miss it all. So, stop blinking all of you, now!

WBC:  Looking for a Merry Christmas follow-up for the New Year. Cry Merry Hell. They’re our guests on worldbeatcanada radio and Celt In A Twist. The debut album is Blink .. and you miss it. Don’t miss one of their formative footsteps. Keep up with their movements online at the homepage, Write ‘em and let them know you’d like to catch them where you live. How’s the touring season coming together at this point?

Andrew: We've got quite a number of shows lined up for the summer, some reasonable festivals. We're just kind of a jobbing band. We're just trying to get as many gigs as possible. It's one of those things where we want to go out as often as we can. And, we would really, really, really love to arrange a Canadian tour.

WBC: We'd love you to as well!

Virginia: He wants to come cycling to British Columbia.

WBC: Yah, well lot's of hill here though.

Andrew: The alpine region on the North Shore, that's what I'm interested in with the mountain bike.

WBC: Oh, of course. Hey, I know this is radio but I have to bring up the album art which is as intriguing as the name, title and everything else about Blink … and you miss it. We have people speeding past an apparent upper class twit bound in red tape. What’s going on there?

Andrew: I think you've kind of grasped the original idea of that.  What we were trying to say is that in the cities such as London, people don't stop to look at anything. If people are in trouble on the streets, you get many, many passers-by because of the blink ... and you miss it tag line. There's beauty everywhere. You noticed on the cover as well, the red roses entwined as a nod towards nature. And, there's a deer amidst the crowd, and on the back, the deer remains and all is quiet. So, in the end, nature will reinherit the earth, hopefully.

Merry Hell was interviewed, January 18th, 2012 for broadcast through Calcopyrite Communications.