An Interview with
'The Mercury Riots'
that took place on Wednesday 31st March, 2021.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: From the outset, why does the World need to know about Jonny, Drummer of The Mercury Riots??? - A nice bit of self promo here - hahaha - my bad!!
Jonny: Ahhh well, because he's the man? Haha! I love talking about myself in the 3rd person! Haha!
I'm a hard working musician just trying to make his way.
Glenn: What was your area like where you lived where you originally got interested in music? Was there a live scene? If so, feel free to expand on that?
Jonny: I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I was very lucky to be surrounded by great musicians! My first band was myself and Chad from the band CKY. A lot of the guys I grew up with playing still play to this day and professionally. There was a local scene but nothing like I experienced later in life when I was in The Knives.
Glenn: What originally turned you onto playing drums as opposed to any other instruments?
Jonny: Well actually I wanted to be a guitar player and started with that. I couldn't get the hang of it and my brother was a drummer, so I had a kit around and it just worked for me.
Glenn: What particular players grabbed your attention in the early days? How did you discover them and what was it about them opposed to others?
Jonny: Well I always say Tommy Lee for his showmanship, Liberty DeVito (Billy Joels drummer for many years) for his power and taste and Stewart Copeland for his finesse.
Glenn: What was your first kit? When and where did you get it?
Jonny: My first kit was a Tama Imperial star in cherry wine bought from my older brother.
Glenn: What is your preferred brand of drum kit and why? How do you find it differs to others on the market? How does it particularly suit your personal needs?
Jonny: I love Ludwig maple, consistent and always just sound sick!!
Glenn: What are you preferred types of sticks and why? Do you have a preference on a certain tip - as in nylon or wood and what do you choose that in particular?
Jonny: Well I've been endorsed by Vic Firth for 16 years now and they are the best sticks on the planet. First sticks I ever used and a childhood dream in itself!! Perfectly weighed and always consistent. I use Extreme 5B Heavy Wood Tip.
Glenn: When it comes to the feet work, do you like to use double pedal or single? Why that choice?
Jonny: I take pride in being a single player. Funny story: I ended up that way because my first kit had 2 bass drums, my older brother was pushing double bass on me, so out of rebellion I sold one of the pedals so I couldn't do it! Hahaha!
Glenn: Do you have any endorsements and if so what does it entitle you to? What led to them? If not, who would you like one from and why?
Jonny: As I mentioned earlier, I'm with Vic Firth for drumsticks. I got that endorsement when The Knives signed our first record deal. My buddy was with Vic Firth and since I was in a up and coming buzz band at the time it was easier to lock up. I'm with Paiste Cymbals and have been with them since 2016. Timing was the key with that endorsement, I was at NAMM 2016 and the artist guy at the time was very familiar with my band Warner Drive and our crazy touring schedule we had for years. At one point we were doing between 200-250 shows a year for like 3 or 4 years. I was very lucky to have randomly talked to him that day. Thank goodness my resume was good enough! Haha!
I am also with 101 Snare Drums out of Sweden. I kept running into them at different festivals in Sweden I was playing and they would always have me try their snare out during my set. I LOVED the was they sounded, they are made of a special composite material and I just love the company and the guys who run it!! My dream is Ludwig - I came close when I was in The Knives. I've turned down some nice drum endorsements waiting for the dream endorsement with Ludwig.
Glenn: What about drum stools since every drum stool does not suit every single drummer? How do you like yours to be? Any makes that you like that most that suit you for whatever reasons?
Jonny: I use a Roc and Soc hydraulic pump control. Love it!! I have a good friend in England - a drummer named Stephen Jackson. He plays in the UK band, Heartbreak Remedy and with Chris Holmes from WASP. He has brought me to use a couple of times, the Porter & Davies Throne with bass in your ass! Wow! I would love one of those!!!
Glenn: In your opinion, what makes a good drummer? What needs to stand out for them and the band to succeed musically?
Jonny: A good drummer is a drummer who knows his place. Meaning a drummers only job is to keep time. We aren't the show but doesn't mean we can't add to it. However, the drummers job is to make it easier on the guys in the front. Drummers who over play just drive me crazy!! Hahahaha!! There is an old saying, "Your Band IS Only As Good As Your Drummer!!" and that is a saying for a reason.
To succeed on the drummer side, be solid and play what's needed for the song and for the band. just great songs. Come across as genuine as possible. I also run a management company called To All Of You, www.toallofyou.se out of Sweden with my business partner, Martin. When we are looking at bands being genuine is at the top of our list.
Glenn: Tell us about how you got started on the live circuit originally and how things improved for you bit by bit regarding shows/transport/sleeping arrangements?
Jonny: Well when I moved to Los Angeles for music school I just embraced myself into the Hollywood scene. I went out all the time and networked until I found the first band that got me one step closer to the dream. From there, we just worked our asses off until we got to the next level and the touring followed. We got an Agent and a Manager until I started doing that part. Just put as much hard work in as possible. The key is, work smarter not harder. Some of the bands I've travelled with stayed in hotels every night, some on buses & RV's and a lot of sleeping on peoples floors to keep cost down.
Glenn: Do you prefer to sleep on the bus or in a hotel while on tour? Best and worst of both options? I take it that it all depends on the options due to finance as well?
Jonny: I prefer a bus when I've been able to have them. That's the dream to me. I'll never forget my first European tour back in 2006 and CKY let us live on their bus. I would lay in my bunk at night and listen to the wheels turn and just remind myself, 'Wow this is the dream!'. Smelling that diesel in the morning.. it sounds weird but it's those little things for me. The down fall to the bus is no sh*tt*n on the bus. The bed is more comfortable in a hotel and a shower is always nice.
Glenn: You have been mainly known as being the drummer of Bullets & Octane.... what would you say have been the standout highlights over the years as a member of that band or even lowlights too?
Jonny: Well it was surreal to join Bullets And Octane. I was a fan of the band. I knew Gene from when The Knives toured the UK with Bullets in 2007. When Gene put the band back together he sought me out so I could play drums but also help with business. Some of the highlights for me include getting us a new record label that we own with worldwide distribution through Cargo Records UK and revitalizing the brand Bullets and Octane. Malmo Festival 2017 was a highlight of a show and Electric Ballroom in London also sticks out.
Glenn: Always either an easy question or maybe a toughie with a ton of "Shall I? Shan't I's? at times but when it boils down to it, why did you decide to leave Bullets & Octane?
Jonny: Well that's a good question. Sometimes in life a road just runs its course. I had a blast and got to experience some really cool stuff, and I'm grateful for that!
Glenn: Tell us how the new band, The Mercury Riots and the members. What are their backgrounds musically etc? Where did the name come from? How was it decided?
Jonny: The Mercury Riots consist of Zach, Felipe and I all from Bullets and Octane. We all left the band together but wanted to keep playing with one another. So we started writing some songs and before we knew it we had a bunch of songs. Felipe thought of the name so I don't wanna misrepresent what his thought process was but its cool if ya ever talk to him.
Glenn: What particular aspects of the individual members make it work to become that solid unit from a gelling and chemistry point of view??
Jonny: That's a great question! I think ultimately the better you get along as people and respect one another personally and artistically, the better the band will be on and off the stage.
Glenn: Tell us about Bad Mofo Records.... who are they? Is it your own label? Or why did you decide to be part of the roster?
Jonny: Bad Mofo Records is our own record label with worldwide physical and digital distribution through Cargo Records UK.
Glenn: What are your thoughts regarding Digital online releases & physical releases – what are your preferences and why with regard to selling as a band and also a consumer yourself and why?
Jonny: They both have their place. I prefer physical but I love the convenience of digital.
Glenn: What are you currently up to as a band and what are the future plans?
Jonny: Well we released our first single, 'Save Me A Drink' in February and we have another one coming April 30th. We have plans for this summer to tour if the world allows us. We are lucky enough to still have our agent from Bullets so touring, touring and more touring. If it's possible to travel we will be in Europe in August but we will be there in February of 2022.
Glenn: How would you describe the style musically of The Mercury Riots and what sets you guys apart form other bands around?
Jonny: Good old time rock and roll!
Glenn: As your single is 'Save Me A Drink' from the bottle, what drinks do you prefer and why? What influenced the song exactly? Or do I really need to ask that... Hahahaha.... Where was it written and recorded?
Jonny: That's a true story about the life of Zach and Felipe when they were roommates not too long ago. I really was there everyday.
Glenn: When can we expect a full length album? What can you tell us about it at the moment and tease us with right now? Any title or cover ideas yet?
Jonny: The full length won't be out for a while by design. If we tour in August we will have an EP and we will release our full length before Festival season 2022.
Glenn: What do you enjoy outside of playing drums as in hobbies and interests and what originally turned you onto them?
Jonny: American Football!! I just love the concept of how a team of 11 guys all work together and put something together, kind of like a band...everyone has their role and when it's done right, it works great!
Glenn: What are the pros and cons in the music biz that you have experienced so far?
Jonny: Pros...anything can happen! Dreams can come true. You can see the world while playing music! I can't think of a better job!!
Cons.... With this business of course you need talent, but you also really need a lot of luck and ultimately you truly have to be in the right place at the right time. There are different levels of that. I've been in the right place at the right time but it only got me to a certain level. Then there is the next level, and then the 3rd level. The reason to always play and always do as much as you can is that you just never know when that right place at the right time will be.
Pro... I'm a dreamer and this allows me to dream. Live the dream is a pro being broke is a con! Hahaha!
Yeah that's funny and true so so much... Look to my con answer to answer this one as well. Lol!
Glenn: Is the band life versus day to day life or dare I say it, job life complete night and day to one other or have they become one and the same thing all the time? How do you juggle between it all and manage to keep it all flowing together?
Jonny: I am lucky that I don't have to work at a bank or anything!
Glenn: Is music a full-time thing for you? How do you really make ends meet since the majority in bands apart from the top tiers have alternate incomes / investments / part or full time jobs with understanding bosses and plenty of paid leave or annual leave available to them when they need it?
Jonny: Music is full time. Sometimes gigs are played that are just for money.
Glenn: So far, what have been the best and most classic 'Spinal Tap Moment' that stand out?
Jonny: Getting stuck at the Poland/Ukraine boarder for 10 hours to show up to the gig 4 hours late right from the van to the stage!
Glenn: What places do you like to play best with regard to countries? Have any had an effect on you over the years and even on days off when you have had time to check that particular place out almost like a normal tourist... if a normal tourist really exists! Lol!
Jonny: Well I'm very fond of Scandinavia. It's been great to me - some great friendships. Europe as a whole! I've spent a lot of time in the UK in the last 4 years, I think 5 tours in 2 year period or something like that before the pandemic, so I now have some really great friends there now as well!! (Thanks Nic (Rudd) for hookin' this up!)
Glenn: What venue sizes are your preference from small pubs / bars / clubs to arenas and stadiums?
Jonny: I haven't been lucky enough to play arenas or stadiums. However, I've played some really big festivals and venues. I would always say the bigger the crowd the better. That energy keeps ya goin'! With that being said, there is nothing like a small club packed to the gills and sweat everywhere!
Glenn: What bands would you like The Mercury Riots to tour with if the opportunity rose and why?
Jonny: Any and all!!!
Glenn: What are the proudest moments so far in your career and life and for what reasons?
Jonny: Getting my Vic Firth endorsement was my first big career moment. We had gotten an indie deal and all but this was the first stick I ever picked up: to see my name next to that logo was a real moment for me. You could also say the same exact thing about Paiste! Seeing The Knives 'Skin Flicks' album in a store the first time was pretty cool too. And as far as my life, just achieving what I set out to do when I was 9 years old. I have more to achieve but if it all ended tomorrow I did live the dream.
Glenn: Is there anything else we should know about you and the band at the moment?
Jonny: Yeah!! I have new podcast premiering on May 3rd called 'The Whatever Buddy Podcast' with my buddy, Ryan Harris from Warner Drive. You can find it on all your favourite listening platforms! As far as The Mercury Riots please check us out and come check us out when we are near your city!!!
A big Thank You to Jonny Udell for giving us a grand helping of his time to be Interviewed as well as
Nic Rudd (Drummer of Sour Tusk & Doomsday Outlaw) who set it up and added some cool questions & wild inspiration to the mix too!