Mercedes Lander talks about her new band, The White Swan, taking on vocal duties for it, and why her other band Kittie is still not touring.
Mercedes Lander tells readers about The White Swan.
Mercedes: The White Swan was basically a band created out of necessity. I had all these songs that I couldnâ€™t use for any other band I was in at the time so I just decided to go forward with making some demos. Both bands Iâ€™m in are kind of inactive right now and I start to get really antsy if I donâ€™t write music for long periods of time.
NRR: As you had the forming a band idea swirling around on the blueprints in your head, did The White Swan originally start out as a three-piece?
Mercedes: After I made the decision to actually go through with creating the band it was really a no brainer to go with Kira and Shane. The plan all along was to hire a drummer for live performances and keep it simple within the actual core of the band.
NRR: What made you to not only want to beat on the skins but take on vocal duties as well?
Mercedes: My primary instrument is drums and these were my songs so I figured it was best to take care of the parts of the recordings that Iâ€™m best at so they turn out as best as possible. As for vocals, I have a long history of writing melodies, lyrics and harmonies in my other bands so it made sense for me to sing as well
NRR: How long had the idea been around to wanting to form The White Swan?
Mercedes: I think the idea of being in a band that I front isnâ€™t something new. Iâ€™ve been the front person for a few bands in the past. Kira and I were really frustrated with how little the bands we were in weâ€™re playing live and how there really was no creativity happening. So around February 2016 we started demoing songs.
NRR: Was there any moment that got the band idea off the blueprints that kicked it into the real deal?
Mercedes: I would think that would probably be the first time we ever sat down at Kiraâ€™s house and started demoing songs with Shane. The songs came out really easy and everyone picked up the riffs I had written really fast. We were so pumped that we demoed like 3 songs in one day.
NRR: Was the heavy sludge doom genre something you had always wanted to do before?
Mercedes: I think that was just the style of songs that I had a surplus of and that didnâ€™t fit into any of the bands I was in at the time. Iâ€™ve always loved some stonery doom and think that my vocal range really lends to that kind of music.
NRR: Were there any of your musical influenceâ€™s that helped breathe it into life?
Mercedes: No musical influence really. Lots of life events and beer helped to shape The White Swan.
NRR: The White Swan featureâ€™s your band-mate from The Alcohollys Kira Longeuay on bass. What brought her into the fold with you?
Mercedes: Kira had always been my first choice. She was in before I even showed her any music. We work well together and we trust each other. Itâ€™s so great to have a team member willing to pull their weight.
NRR: Then you added guitarist Shane Jeffers into the mix. There is not much information about him out there. Whatâ€™s on his music resume? Where did you discover him?
Mercedes: I knew Shane from him playing guitar on Kiraâ€™s solo project a few years ago. Heâ€™s a great dude and we all get along with each other so it was really a no brainer to have him be a part of the project. Heâ€™s very easy going and has been a real asset to the band.
NRR: What do both Kira and Shane bring to the table as a band that you havenâ€™t had before?
Mercedes: Itâ€™s nice because everyone is on the same page at this point. We have a very team oriented mentality and we are all there to make the band sound good.
NRR: “Illuminate” and “Blood” are songs written before Kira and Shane were a part of The White Swan. Will they both be involved in future musical writing processes? Or will everything solely be done by you?
Mercedes: Thatâ€™s really up to them and if they want to bring songs to the table. Iâ€™m always open to that. So Far out of the 8 songs that we do have, with the exception of jet, Iâ€™ve done all of the heavy lifting on them and everyone is okay with that. Weâ€™re a team first and foremost.
NRR: While the band ideas still swirled around, were you trying to stay away from forming an all-girl band again?
Mercedes: Not intentionally. Gender has never been an issue with me, thatâ€™s why Kittie had a male guitar player for 4 years. For me, itâ€™s more about the persons personality first, their work ethic, and their playing ability. Gender is usually the last thing on my mind.
NRR: Most fans will know you from your other band Kittie who have been around for 20 years. Other than 2012s Not Soâ€¦Safe release and the recently crowd funded “20 Year Anniversary DVD” campaign, itâ€™s been pretty quiet with Kittie. Do you think you will you make music with your sister Morgan or even Kittie again in the future?
Mercedes: As Iâ€™ve always said, itâ€™s up to everyone else in the band. They know where I stand.
NRR: The White Swan cover Paul McCartney & Wings song “Jet”. What made you decide to pick this song?
Mercedes: “Jet” is such a heavy song on its own, how could I not take advantage of the catchiness and the fact that it was already in the key of A.
NRR: Just for fun did you ever consider covering a song from a band that has a drummer doing lead vocals? Mikey Dolenz-The Monkees, Don Henley-Eagles, Phil Collins-Genesis, Ringo Star-The Beatles, just to name a few.
Mercedes: Nope. If we ever do a cover again it will be a song thatâ€™s really out to lunch and totally unexpected.
NRR: What were some of the inspirations behind the name The White Swan and the name of the EP Anubis? Anubis is the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion. Could you almost say that The White Swan is â€˜Lifeâ€™ and Anubis is â€˜Deathâ€™?
Mercedes: The White Swan was oddly enough named after a T-Rex song. Iâ€™m a huge fan and went on a T-Rex binge and thought wow that would make a great band name. As for Anubis, I thought that the title really fit well with the death and rebirth and healing theme of the album.
NRR: The White Swan have a few upcoming live shows starting in early December. In 2017 will The White Swan do any major tours? Will touring the United States also be an option, or will you just strictly play places in Canada for now?
Mercedes: If we have a label that will pay the ridiculously expensive work visa fees for US Visas we will for sure tour there.
NRR: Recently reading an article on â€˜Why It’s So Expensive for Canadian Musicians to Cross the Borderâ€™ One could totally understand why bands wouldnâ€™t want to cross the border because it’s so expensive. Is that still discouraging a lot of bands and even you from even trying?
Mercedes: Pretty much. The cost is outrageous and we canâ€™t afford to pay it. Itâ€™s as simple as that.
NRR: Back in July of 2014 in a London Grove Machine interview your sister Morgan said, â€œThe way things are, weâ€™re not making enough money. Even if we toured nine months out of the year, it’s not enough to pay our bills.â€ Are you still feeling this way with what she said even two years later, and four years from when Kittie last toured?
Mercedes: And thatâ€™s why Kittie havenâ€™t been on the road. The current situation is, is that it’s very expensive and we canâ€™t afford to tour.
NRR: During Kittieâ€™s hiatus, you became a real estate sales representative, are you still doing that? Are they any scheduling conflicts between work and play?
Mercedes: I havenâ€™t been selling since 2014. It was a great job but people from the press got a hold of the story and I had to quit my job because people kept calling the office and jamming up the phone lines with interview requests and show offers. It was really annoying.
NRR: Lets go back to your vocals. In a recent Exclaim review of Anubis, it reads, “The most striking aspect of The White Swan is Lander’s gorgeous, soaring vocals, which are a focal point throughout the EP.” Before The White Swan, had you ever wanted to sing before in a band?
Mercedes: Iâ€™ve had a few bands Iâ€™ve sang for in the past like Night Of The Demons, I also sing for a few cover bands around town in London.
NRR: Whatâ€™s next for The White Swan? What are in the cross-hairs now for you?
Mercedes: We have a bunch of shows booked for the next few months. We also plan on going back into the studio in January for another EP. We are also looking into shooting a video for some songs on Anubis so look out for that as well.
NRR: For most, a three song EP almost just isnâ€™t enough to tide the hunger over. Will there be a The White Swan full album release anytime soon?
Mercedes: We are looking into some options to get a full length out in the near future. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
NRR: Are there any last words you have for your fans out there reading this?
Mercedes: Check out The White Swan and support live music.