VC Pines is Jack Mercer the former frontman of The Carnabys who has moved away from the realm of indie-rock and has immersed himself in a well of alternative soul poetry and punk performance. ‘Garden Of The Year’ is his debut track on fierce panda and ties in with autumnal live shows at Omeara and the Old Blue Last as outlined below. Fittingly as the evenings draw in ‘Garden Of The Year’ represents a lovely comfort blanket of a song - soulful but light of touch with languid hooklines gentle surges of sound and an elegantly orchestral denouement.
“It’s a coming of age song ” says the man himself “tackling themes of jealousy and understanding relationships - how you deal with them at a younger age what they mean to you and how you are perceived. The term 'he got the garden of the year' is a metaphor for someone having something you wanted/something you strive for and the panic behind the thought that with this title they could pull apart the precious relationships you so dearly hold at a younger age. Your own jealousy never helps these situations either. Writing it was a very 'in the moment' thing which I find can sometimes be the best outcome. It's so easy to overthink and overwork things so this was a breath of fresh air...In the Garden Of The Year.”
Having spent four years touring with The Carnabys and becoming a festival regular - including repeated Isle Of Wight slots - Jack has already built a huge live reputation one he has carried on into VC Pines if his first two (sold out) shows at Notting Hill Arts Club and The Social earlier this year are anything to go by. That live show is a riot of colour and stax of fun as alongside a sometime seven-piece live band VC Pines delivers deep organ drones and trills to provide the dark underbelly for this wander down an alt-soul avenue while a ‘70s-esque sound coats the grit with trumpet and trombone.
The past year was when VC Pines tracks like ‘Garden Of The Year’ and previous single ‘Golden Gai’ became fully realized when the artist tucked himself away in a studio above one of the oldest pubs in Britain. He’s called on the musical influences close to his heart no matter how seemingly irreconcilable they are…
“My influences stem from punk and soul with a lot more on the side. It’s a strange mix but they were CDs I could steal from my dad so my ideas come from Richard Hell The Stranglers Iggy Pop and Nick Cave to Curtis Mayfield Bobby Womack Otis Redding and Sly & The Family Stone. Then when I got older I really got into poetry and fell in love with John Cooper Clarke and Gil Scott Heron’s works. It kinda all comes out as VC Pines. There are lots of influences coming from all directions but that’s what makes each song unique in its own way.”
Jack’s new moniker VC Pines also lies very close to the artist’s life experience. Standing for Violet Coloured Pines this name relates to the musician’s condition of synaesthesia in which neural networks allow senses to cross over. For Jack this means that he hears sounds and sees colours at the same time more specifically called chromesthesia. Throughout history the musical likes of Duke Ellington Dev Hynes Mary J Blige Grimes and Tori Amos have been diagnosed with a similar affliction. For Mercer his synaesthesia is a symptom of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy