I caught up with Chris Greig from ‘Chris Greig & The Merchants’ this week to discuss all things music! We chat about their highlights from 2019, the Scottish music scene and of course their latest single, ‘Shy’ which comes out next month! Read all about it below…
1. Introduce the band and tell me an interesting fact about each member.
We are Chris Greig & The Merchants – unapologetically indie-pop rock since 2017. We are made up of Chris Greig (surprise that, huh?), Chris Johnston, Donald Russell and Daniel Jack.
Chris Greig (Lead Vocals & guitar) – Once dressed as a policeman and stripped to his boxers in front of a family friendly crowd in Tenerife.
Chris Johnston (Backing vocals & lead guitar) – Used to be a wrestler called Kris Blake.
Donald Russell (Bassist) Won’t tell us what went down when he went to Thailand last year.
Daniel Jack (Drummer) Has a cardboard cut-out counterpart called Cardboard Dan who appeared when Dan was in LA. Cardboard Dan mysteriously disappeared upon real Dan’s return…
2. You had an incredible 2019… What were some of the highlights?
2019 was an incredible year for us and to really put it down to one moment would always be a hard question. We lived our dream of headlining King Tut’s back in July. We packed it out and the crowd were just phenomenal! Another huge one for us was Kendal Calling festival! That was a lot of fun and very… VERY messy. By the time we opened the Woodlands Stage on the Sunday I had lost my voice and Chris J had to cover for me half of the set on the fly.
3. Your latest single, ‘Shy’ is released next month… What was the influence behind it?
We took a totally different outlook to writing SHY. I have always written songs about things in my own life and reflected them through my music – ex’s, horrible bosses, not caring what people think etc.
This time the idea was to write about something that doesn’t effect me or the rest of the boys personally but does effect a large number of people around us and is an ever growing struggle in the modern age – social anxiety. The idea was to write it from my perspective, seeing someone you care about struggle daily with ‘normal’ interactions and wanting to help.
4. How do you and the band write your music?
To be honest with you Chelsea, the process has been different for every song we write. It’s weird, you hear of people having a set process and it works great for them. For us, what might work for one song, might not work for another. For example, for our songs ‘Railways’ and ‘Home’, Chris J and I wrote them the livingroom of my old flat, whereas Talking Aloud was written over voice messages and Lipstick was entirely in the studio. For ‘SHY’ Chris J wrote the guitar riff and as a band we all wrote the rest of the song in our practice space. The only thing that has been a constant in every process is I have taken the lead with lyrics – although the boys do contribute when good ideas come up or I get writers block.
5. The Scottish music scene is bouncing at the moment – who are some of your favourite musicians / bands at the moment?
Bouncing is 100% an understatement here. I think I’m just biased though, as I’m a part of that music scene and I think it’s the best music scene in the world. The talent that is coming out of Scotland right now is unreal and we have made some incredible friends along the way! It is no secret that we are really good pals with PYRO – who are creating some incredible music right now. What we have noticed a lot lately is the boom in incredible female artists in Scotland and a few of our favourites are Kohla, Anna Sweeney and Amy Lou (whoever she is). They are creating some incredible music and their live shows have genuinely blown us away.
6. You are supporting the wonderful Amy Lou on Saturday at PJ Molloys in Dunfermline on Saturday – what can fans expect from your set?
For those of our fans who decide they’re gonna trek to Dunfy to see us (and we love you if you do) you can expect the usual energy and daftness we bring to our sets. You’ll get to hear ‘SHY’ live before anyone else AND another brand-new song! Not to mention four extremely handsome guys on stage…
7. What’s your favourite song to perform live and why?
I am pretty sure it is agreed between all four members of the band that the best song to play live is ‘Sick to Death’. We always get to have fun with this song. Whether it’s improvising random part of the solos or unleashing any pent-up frustrations in the huge final chorus of the song, it’s always incredible to play and is a song where the magic you capture live could never be captured in a studio. We always get a huge reaction for the song and it’s a great form of validation for the hard work and effort we put in when we get the reaction we get. Plus it’s fun to go a bit daft on stage!
8. What advice would you give to musicians / bands that are just starting out?
The same advice Sam McTrusty (Twin Atlantic) gave to me on a random train journey 6 years ago. Don’t give up. Keep doing what you’re doing and stick at it. If it doesn’t work out, then make sure you have the time of your life doing it while you can. Most importantly, don’t let any negativity stand in your way. The music industry is a fickle business and there are a lot of petty, harsh and bitchy people out there who will try and put you down. You’ve just got to rise above it and do you. You’re doing it because you love it and your own happiness should always be the goal.
9. If you could play at any festival in the world, where would it be and why?
Honestly there are so many festivals out there I could list of. Reading/Leeds has always been a dream. Who wouldn’t want to play Glastonbury either!? SXSW over in the US sounds like it would be a mad trip – considering what we were like travelling down to Kendal for Kendal Calling…
But to be honest with you the big one for me personally (and I know the guys would likely agree) would be a festival like TRNSMT or T in The Park if it was still here. To be able to play the biggest music festivals in Scotland to hometown crowds and to get your name to a larger audience in Scotland would be incredible! Plus, we’d be able to go out to our local pubs after.
10. What are your aims / ambitions for the band over the next year?
The plan over the next year is to hit hard with new tunes, more gigs, more festivals and reach out to a bigger audience. We’d love to bring our own little version of indie-pop music to more people. We’re also living with high hopes that ‘SHY’ performs well on streaming services and gets enough exposure. We’ve put a lot of hard work into this track so it would be great to have it perform well. Most importantly, our priority is to just keep doing what we love and hopefully people will keep buying tickets so we can do just that.
Check them out on their socials below ….