The Truth: 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. Under Violet Coloured Pines, Mercer has released a handful of original songs, the most recent being ‘Garden Of The Year’ which garnered to attention of BBC radio’s Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Chris Hawkins and Huw Stephens.
With the pressures and expectations of the new year in abundance, find solace in VC Pines’ somnambulist single ‘Vixen’. Providing the personal back story to this dynamic number is Jack himself:
“Vixen is about mental vacancy and an apology for being so. I’d been focused so much on my music for months and months and months and had kind of forgotten people that were most important in my life.”
Mercer’s experience of epilepsy – a symptom of which is chromesthesia and hence the source of his new moniker Violet Coloured Pines – may also be a key to unlocking this song’s multitudinal meaning. As Jack further explains:
“The song is also a statement to say that even if I’m vacant minded here and there, and seem like just a shell, not to worry about me. Mental vacancy is also something that can happen to me physically as a symptom of epilepsy, but I’m always okay after a seizure and it’s not something that will be the end of me.”
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.
Armed with new material that was written and recorded in a St. Albans studio tucked away above one of the oldest pubs in Britain, Jack Mercer returned to the stage last year at the helm of a seven-piece band, performing ‘Garden Of The Year’, ‘Golden Gai’, ‘Drowning Lessons’ and a crowd-pleasing version of Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’ at The Social, Omeara and Old Blue Last, all in London.
As the Pixies cover should tell you, Jack is passionate about the influences that first sparked his love of music, and as for many of us, it starts with raiding our parents’ record collection.
“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.”
Looking ahead to the rest of 2019, VC Pines is set to play a headline show at London’s Lexington on April 3rd.
“Moving from plangent psych to soul, pop to spoken word, it’s an intriguing, late night affair, a twilight burner that refuses to give up its secrets lightly.” – Clash Magazine
“Lovely record!” – Steve Lamacq
“A soft, soul-filled performance shines through melded with wonderfully clean guitars and tight, snappy drums. All of this lies underneath a punky, yet delicate vocal that is complimented with some stunning instrumentation.” – Yack Magazine
“Amazing track!” – Huw Stephens
“bold and vibrant indie-pop swoon” – Mystic Sons“Garden Of The Year love love love that, absolutely beautiful!” – Chris Hawkins