So what does Thirsty Merc sound like? Rai likes to describe part of what they do as "rock Sinatra".
Thirsty Merc are actually the combination of two unique musical forces that married together not that long ago, after separately gathering years of experience and knowledge.
On one side you've got Phil Stack (bass), Matt Baker (guitars) and Karl Robertson (drums). These guys all met each other in primary school in Dubbo, NSW. By the start of high school, they were playing in bands together. Within a few years, one of their early outfits, Drown, won the local final of Triple J's UnEarthed competition.
Fast-forward to a few years back and Phil Stack moves to Sydney. He meets a young singer/songwriter with the impressive name of Rai Thistlethwayte. Rai's more into jazz and R&B his music has already seen him travel the world. Phil likes jazz and R&B too, so the pair starts performing together in their spare time.
It would take a couple more years before a collective light bulb goes off why doesn't everyone join forces to see what comes out? "I wanted to work with Rai ever since I heard his early demos with Phil," says Matt. "I was blown away. As for the rest of us, all the road trips we've done together since early high school, all the bonding, for better or worse, you can't audition in the back of street press and find that straight away."
"We played our first gig a week after our first rehearsal," adds Rai with a smile. "It was absolutely fast-tracked."
Karl: "It went surprisingly smoothly. We clicked straight away. We knew what was happening."
And like that, Thirsty Merc were suddenly out on the live circuit, sounding like they had been doing this together their whole lives. "We were rehearsing for ten years before Rai walked in," laughs Matt. "We were just waiting."
So what does Thirsty Merc sound like? Rai likes to describe part of what they do as "rock Sinatra". Matt adds that the only rule from the outset was that Thirsty Merc would sound like nothing else. "We contrived to make it not contrived," he says. "Rai was all for originality in his own vision and so were we …. So you push the two together and you get something else again."
"The outlook, I guess, is about being a young person in today's society," Rai says, by way of further explanation. "It's about being an Australian in an American-ised, Britain-ised kind of world, where you're trying to stay true to yourself, get by, get through your relationships, pay the parking fines on the side, and reassure your friends and have your friends reassure you that everything is going to be alright in the end."