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Saturday, September 18, 2010

MERKIT Interview


  Merkit is a hardcore punk band from southern Florida that have been killing it since 2005. They have toured extensively, including Europe - which you can read about in several issues of Maximum Rock N Roll (John Fahy's Column). After I got a copy of their split EP with ROBOTEER several  years ago, I was instantly hooked and I constantly play them on the Annihilation Radio show. Since we are not doing a show this weekend, I thought this would be an interesting post in it's place. The interview questions were answered by Nevin, a super cool guy that runs IFB RECORDS.


  1.) First things first. Who comprises Merkit and what do they play?

Chris does drums, Joe does guitar, and John and Nevin switch off on bass and vocals.


2.) How did you guys meet? Did you attend the same school or have mutual friends?

Ft. Myers has a pretty small punk/DIY scene, so you pretty much know everyone that's interested in this sort of thing. Everyone had played in local bands before Merkit except for John, and we had all lived in Hoople House at one time or another. John and I had both written a song on our own and recorded them with a friend. Joe played drums with John on that. When everyone liked what came out we decided to do a full band together. We knew Chris from the million bands he had done in Naples and got him on the drums.


3.) What type of "real" jobs do you guys have?

I (Nevin) teach middle school social studies. Joe is a screen printer and that comes in handy since his shop has all the equipment ready to go. John works at a furniture store, and Chris is a student in Miami right now.


4.) Merkit releases a lot of their albums using recycled material. Have you released all of your albums like this? Is it purely for environmental reasons or does it also make production cheaper?

It's definitely for environmental reasons first and foremost. I really think punks should take ideas about resource use seriously and put them into practice. We have had no problem finding paper that was going in the trash, or scrap vinyl for stickers, and even used record covers to turn inside out and re-print. You've just got to ask friends that have different jobs to keep an eye out for materials that could be used. Stockpile stuff that you find. I have a huge roll of paper that was thrown out sitting here just ready to go. When you're ready to make inserts/jackets/whatever, we usually cut a template out of plywood and just handcut the paper with razors. When it comes to shipping records I do the same thing - I stockpile old cardboard (John's job at the furniture store can always supply more) and cut it up and ship everything in used cardboard. In over 10 years of doing a label/distro, I've only bought one pack of manila envelopes for shipping (usually I get tons of used ones at school). Other than tape, all my shipping materials are re-used stuff.

Now, an added bonus like you said is that this does make production cost much cheaper. Basically, the jackets we make out of recycled stuff only cost us time and ink for screen printing.


5.) Merkit has a website but not a myspace page. Is there a reason for this?

Yeah, myspace looks stupid, is boring, and is owned by Murdoch who is a crappy businessman and supports crappy ideas and politicians. Again, punks need to take their ideas seriously and act on them. Everyone that talks to us about myspace says it sucks, but they do it to get their music out there. I don't think we should be swallowing corporate pills all the time just to get music out there. Try touring, mailing your records to people, or just lower your expectations about how many people should know about your music. This is punk, and we don't need the most fans or hits on a stupid site. We need good friends and good times and people that take this stuff seriously, not just a bunch of idiots wasting their time on the internet all day.


6.) What other bands and projects are members of Merkit involved in?

Lots - I hope I don't forget anything:


Chris - Drugged Conscience Records, Sloane Peterson

John - Human Crush Records, Your Day Will Come horror fanzine, Panzram

Joe - What the Fuck Happened to Tapes Records, Seven Inches to Freedom zine, Panzram

Nevin - IFB Records label and distro


7.) The Merkit / Resurrectionists split 7" is out now. How did you get hooked up with them?

Merkit toured Europe for 10 days last summer with Her Breath on Glass. Lars that does React with Protest Records had put out an LP with HBOG and did a show for us all in the shed behind his house in Germany. The shed was in this beautiful wheat field and I was eating tons of raw wheat right off the stalk. Lars was real nice to us and cooked an excellent dinner and amazing breakfast the next day. He was listening to raw grindcore while making breakfast, and when asked about this he explained "Pop makes me aggressive." I was real excited to meet him since I had every record he had released on his label and we did some trading and away we went. We couldn't tell if Lars really liked Merkit or not, since his personality was hard to read. A couple months later he emailed me out of the blue and asked if Merkit wanted to do a split with his new band Resurrectionists. We immediately said yes. Resurrectionists has most members of an older band Arsen AKA Konig Der Monster, which put out an LP and a 7" and is well worth checking out too. We screenprinted the covers on recycled paper and got the records pressed and mailed Lars' half off to Germany. The customs office held them for over a month, and I'm not sure what Lars ended up doing to get them, but he did. Germany has the most pain in the ass customs - I'm regularly making fake invoices and promo letters to put in packages that go to Germany because of this.


8.) Are you planning any tours in the future?

We're thinking about some, but nothing solid. We're kind of taking it slow right now. Chris is doing school in Miami, and I'm real busy, so we just do what we can, and when winter comes we'll see.


9.) Are there any other bands from Florida that we should watch out for?

Tons - Florida is hot right now. Again I hope I don't forget anyone. Here's a list -

Divisions (RIP, but Human Crush still has their stuff), Sloane Peterson (Miami pop-punk), Mehkago NT (Miami HC/crust), Worlds (G-ville grind), Diet Cokeheads (G-ville), Merchandise (Tampa), Cult Ritual (Tampa), Slave Scene (Tampa), Horrid Cross (Tampa black metal - gooood), Murder Suicide Pact (reformed w/ a new demo), Give Up (Melbourne), Panzram (Joe and John from Merkit), Crow's Foot (Clearwater crust), Dead Friends (G-ville), Tourist Trap (Jacksonville).

I know there's more, but that's a good start.


10.) Anything else you want to add?

Thanks for the interview, and I just want to encourage people to try to live some of their ideals. Too many punks hear the same "punk ideas" about environmentalism, anti-consumerism, vegetarianism, etc. but don't make any effort to live those out. The best change we may be able to effect will probably come from living a lifestyle that takes these things seriously and serving as an example to others. I know that as a vegetarian teacher I've gotten a number of kids to go veggie, not by talking about it all the time or telling them they should, but simply by answering their questions.

Don't be that punk that's always at the bar but doesn't have $5 for the show.

Don't be the punk that wrecks shit at people's house shows or other DIY venues that are trying to eke out an existence.

Be the punk that's creating things, helping the community grow, supporting people and the scene in general, and being a responsible person.

Merkit killing it live!

Click the link to visit Merkit's Website. There's tons of info on the band, including releases, and links to all the projects the band members are involved in.

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