Oh Mercy (band)

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Oh Mercy
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Associated acts The Preytells
Members Alexander Gow
Eliza Lam
Rohan Sforcina
Simon Okely
Past members Thom Savage
Annabel Grigg (touring keys)
Cliff Bowden (touring guitar)

Oh Mercy is an indie rock band from Melbourne, Victoria.[1] Originally a duo, consisting of Alexander Gow and Thom Savage,[2] the band quickly expanded to a quartet to tour live.[3] Named after an early influence, Oh Mercy take their name from the Bob Dylan album.


Alexander Gow and Thomas Savage formed a band, originally a duo, at high school the previous year and went on to record an ep of tracks that was self released and known as the 'Expats & Eczema' EP. A track from this EP caught the ears of several key presenters at community radio.

'Purveyors of hook-driven, quirky pop, Oh Mercy’s music references all the songwriting greats while still soundly unmistakably their own.' Wireless Bollinger

After a very brief introduction to the live scene in 2007, Oh Mercy in the Wireless Bollingers list of '10 bands to watch in 2008'.

'This command over the audience is largely to Gow’s easy going stage charm and natural troubadour’s swagger, qualities that is all too often missing or worse badly faked in most young singer songwriters.' whothehell.net

The track 'A Place Too Far' from their 'Expats & Eczema' EP won them a Triple J Unearthed spot on the Big Day Out in Melbourne in January 2008 at a time when they had played a mere 10 shows.

Alexander began production of what would become 2009's 'Privileged Woes' album.

These early years saw the band tour with The Panics, Little Red, Sparkadia and Gin Wigmore.

Oh Mercy released single 'Seemed Like A Good Idea' in 2008 which included crowd favourite 'Salvation Jane' as a b-side.

Released 'Privileged Woes' on the independent label Casadeldisco Records via Shock Records. The album was recorded by Myles Wooton (The Panics) in his spare bedroom, mixed by Matt Voigt and mastered at Sterling Sounds. Guest musicians included Eliza Lam, Peter McDonald, Ellen Morabito and Drew Wooton. The albums cover art was a photo taken by Alexander Gow during his short stint at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Privileged Woes featured the songs Seemed Like A Good Idea, Get You Back, Lay Everything On Me.

★ ★ ★ ★ - Rolling Stone - "Could potentially be the freshest, smartest songwriting partnership since the Finn brothers some 20 years before." ALBUM OF THE MONTH - The Age Melbourne Mag ALBUM OF THE WEEK -The Drum Media

During 2009 Oh Mercy toured constantly, over 200 shows, criss‐ crossing 100,000 kilometres of road... including a stint touring alongside national icons Crowded House and performing at Laneway Festival. While touring New Zealand with Cut Off Your Hands, Oh Mercy shot their debut video clip for the song 'Get You Back'

Privileged Woes was nominated and won the Qantas SOYA Award for Music and won The AMP (Australian Music Prize) Redbull Award for Outstanding Potential. It was also nominated for a J Award for Album of the Year.

Oh Mercy travelled to the US to participate in the 2010 SXSW. The band played a number of shows across the US. Alexander stayed on in the US to start recording the second Oh Mercy recorded with acclaimed producer, Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Elvis Costello). Recording concluded in June 2010. Musicians on the album include Alexander Gow, Thomas Savage, Davey Faragher, Michael Urbano, Pete Thomas, Hagai Izraeli and Mitchell Froom.

Australian art icon Ken Done allowed Oh Mercy to use his painting for the cover.

Having recorded albums with the likes of Pearl Jam, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow – not to mention recording Crowded House’s seminal self‐titled debut – Froom was the perfect choice to help guide Oh Mercy in their next endeavour. Gow decamped to sunny Santa Monica, working out of Froom’s home studio and whittling the 30 tracks down to a final 12.

“Mitchell was and is a wonderfully generous, kind and talented man,” says Alexander. “I consider myself privileged to have worked with him, along with his halfman/halfwizard engineer David Boucher. I think we made a very good album of simple arrangements, lots of acoustic guitar, lots of words, some marimba, and a healthy amount of congas.”

A strict six‐hour session policy allowed for high output and maximum creativity. Alexander fell in love with a 100‐year‐old rosewood marimba. At first Mitchell laughed when I said I wanted to use one, but it’s beautiful,” he says. “Mitchell’s studio is out the back of his house, it’s quite cosy. It’s packed full of his keyboards – almost a storage unit full of them, with a mixing desk hidden underneath them all. The first time I met with Mitchell I told him I wanted to make a rock’n’roll record with congas, flutes and vibraphones, and that I don’t sing very loud. I said, ‘Can we do that?’ – and he took that challenge on.”

The Grammy‐nominated Froom lent his own considerable keys and piano skills to the recording, playing on tracks ‘Mercy Valley’, ‘Tenderness’, ‘Confessions’ and ‘Doldrums’. Listen carefully and you’ll also hear a delicately placed flugelhorn in ‘Let Me Go’, plus that rosewood marimba on ‘Stay, Please Stay’.

Six weeks later, Great Barrier Grief was complete. “With this album we could refine the recording process using every instrument, melody and phrase to stand alone and yet be uniformed within the song, and the album,” Alexander insists. “I’m a single man, don’t fuck up my plans,” he sings in ‘Let Me Go’, while, ‘On The Run’ sees the singer pleading for a gentle touch: “I’m on the run and I want you to be my girl.” “I’ve still got the same passions and problems: still just a young, middleclass, white boy, lyrically speaking,” Alexander explains.

Thomas Savage left the band prior to the recording of the Great barrier Grief album to pursue other musical projects. He did, however, record guitar on several tracks on the album.

The Keith Street EP and 7 inch was released independently via Shock Records before the band signed to EMI in Australia. Oh Mercy toured nationally to support the release of the EP.

During the year Oh Mercy toured alongside Crowded House, Temper Trap and performed at Big Day Out, Pyramid Festival, Splendour In The Grass.

Paul Dempsey invited Oh Mercy to record their version of his song "Ramona Was A Waitress" for his Bats EP release.

Alexander Gow recorded and released a version of "I Feel Possessed" for the "They Will Have Their Way" compilation series. This concept also toured Australia, with Alexander performing the songs of Crowded House alongside Sarah Blasko, Paul Dempsey, Sally Seltmann, Clair Bowditch to name a few.

Women Of Letters invited Alexander to write and perform a letter as part of their Splendour In The Grass performance. This letter was printed in the first of the Women Of Letters books.

The 'Great Barrier Grief' album was released in February and was featured as Triple J's Album of the Week. New album, Great Barrier Grief, recorded by Mitchel Froom (Crowded House, Elvis Costello) debut number 13 on the Australian ARIA album chart and was recently nominated for two ARIA Awards. Eleven tracks of evocative acoustic pop, Great Barrier Grief was inspired by the idea of the classic albums and songwriters who soundtrack our lives. Timeless in feel, Great Barrier Grief is a confident, purposeful album with the occasional bird noise thrown in.

Reviews included “The strength of writing here is phenomenal; killer opener ' Stay Please Stay' has enough hooks in it for three other songs.” Pedestrian TV “Great Barrier Grief will earn its place as one of the best local releases of recent years” The Music Network “Oh Mercy’s lovely laconic melodies wash over you... a wonderful and authentic style that makes the whole album a delight to listen to” The Herald-Sun “It’s easy to see how this is destined to be a big album of 2011 and beyond” The AU Review “Alexander Gow’s knack for crafting pop with shiny, fresh-out-of-the-oven results is uncanny” The Daily Telegraph

Oh Mercy recorded their Like A Version for triple j, a cover of E.L.O's "Evil Woman" and their own song "Let Me Go". "Evil Women" appears on the "Triple J - Like A Version 7" compilation released through the ABC. Originally a B-Side to Keith St, "With You" was released on a compilation "When I First Met Your Ma" through Universal Music. The album was inspired by Paul Kelly's song of the same name and the booklet features photos of the artists with their Mums. Asked to contribute a song to the first "The Key Of Sea" compilation, Oh Mercy began composing and recording with Australia-via-Pakistan refugee Nadia Omar. Oh Mercy recorded a version of "Big Red Car" by The Wiggles for the 'Re-wiggled' compilation, also released via the ABC. Alexander appeared on SBS "Rockwiz" TV Show alongside Romy Hoffmann, they performed a Leonard Cohen song at the closure of the show. Released as a single by Liberation Music. The creator and co-host of the show, Brian Nankorvis requested play the song "Get You Back" on the show as it is one of his personal favourites.

Alexander spent several months in the US performing solo


After a successful North American run of shows – 13,450 kilometres in a tour van – Oh Mercy moved into the Family Farm, a beautiful homestead-turned-studio on the banks of Lake Oswego, just outside of Portland. Between games of Mario Kart and episodes of Law & Order SUV, many cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and exercise sessions in a makeshift gym, the album "Deep Heat" started taking shape. At the helm was producer and renaissance man Burke Reid, who’s worked on some of Gow’s favourite Australian records including Jack Ladder’s Hurtsville and Havilah by The Drones.

For the first time ever, Alexander began writing in the third-person, taking on characters and exploring some of the darker sides of sexuality and desire. “I read Paul Kelly's memoir and was excited by the idea of writing from another perspective. Subsequently every song on the album is a work of fiction. It has opened up a whole new vocabulary for me to dive head first into.” This was the first time Alexander had written songs within the studio space, writing the opening track while in the shower on the first evening of production.

Prior to the release of 'Deep Heat', Alexander teamed up with Dan Sultan for a national solo tour, with both artists performing solo, and finishing the show as a duo covering each other's songs. The tour sold out nationally.

The 'Deep Heat' album was released in August 2012. The singles included Drums, My Man, Pilgrim's Blues and Rebel Beats.

The album artwork featured a photo from Carnival in Rio shot by the infamous Australian Photographer Rennie Ellis. This cover continues the bands tradition of women on the album over: “A semi-nude woman surrounded by men in gold space suits playing tambourines? It was an easy decision.” Alexander Gow.

The iTunes version of Deep Heat featured a bonus song "Metropolis" recorded while the band were in Detroit at the Key Club Recording Studio. iTunes originally threatened to censor the album cover of Deep Heat.

Oh Mercy headlined their Australian album tour and also played shows with Father John Misty, Paul Kelly and Neil Finn also played Falls Festival and Southbound before the end of the year.

Oh Mercy were invited to record a song for the Red Hot Organisation's Arthur Russell tribute album, alongside artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Jose Gonzalez, Scissor Sisters, Robyn and Hot Chip. Set for release in 2014.

Sarah Blasko recorded a haunting version of Oh Mercy's "My Man" released as a b-side to the bands single version. Oh Mercy also released a version of Bruce Springsteen's classic "State Trooper" as their b-side to Pilgrims Blues.

The house party video clip for first single "Drums" was shot in the bands old share house in Collingwood, Melbourne.

Oh Mercy were invited to tour with The Triffids in both a support band role and also to play a part in the headline set - performing early Triffids songs.

Alexander was asked to host a short film for the City of Yarra: Discover Your Own Backyard Community Campaign.


Early 2013 saw Alexander Gow head to Paris, France with Gossling and debut their collaboration on Deezer and shooting video clips for 'La Minute de Silence' as the lead single for the Mélodie Française compilation.

Alexander Gow co-wrote the song "Accolade" with Gossling for her debut album 'Harvest Of Gold' released to acclaim in 2013.

Beth Orton invited Alexander to perform solo in support of her 'Heavenly Sounds' tour of Australia, performing nationally in Churches and Cathedrals.

Oh Mercy record the track "The Slab (Betty's Worry)" for the Hunters and Collector's tribute album with producer Shags in Melbourne. Released on the compilation album 'The Crucible: Songs of Hunters and Collectors' released through Liberation Music.

2013 also saw the band relocate to the Portland, OR and begin touring.

Qantas debut a short film series 'Our Australia' at Tropfest featuring Oh Mercy as their Victorian topic. Alexander returned to Melbourne from America to partake in the filming. In that time he was interviewed on and off camera, at rehearsal and he performed a secret solo show playing new songs to invited guests.

The band's music has received national rotation on Australian national radio station, Triple J,[4] and all three of the band's albums was a featured album on the station.[5]

Achievements and awards[edit]

AMP Award[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Privileged Woes Redbull Outstanding Potential Award Won

The Australian Music Prize (The AMP) is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. The award made by Australian Music Prize Ltd, a sole-purpose entity sponsored by a variety of music industry figures and record companies. The AMP was established in 2005. Unlike the more mainstream ARIA music awards, The Amp aims to encourage Australian music of excellence - the prize's stated aim is to "financially reward and increase exposure for an Australian artist (or group of artists) who have produced and commercially released what specially appointed judges vote is the best contemporary music album in any one calendar year". In this sense, The AMP is broadly comparable to the UK's Mercury Music Prize.

ARIA Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
2011 Great Barrier Grief Breakthrough Artist - Album Nominated[6]
Best Cover Art - Ken Done Nominated
2012 Deep Heat Best Rock Album Nominated
Best Cover Art Nominated

The Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (commonly known as ARIA Music Awards or ARIA Awards) is an annual series of awards nights celebrating the Australian music industry, put on by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

EG Music Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
2012 Oh Mercy Best Group Nominated
Outstanding Achievement Won

In 2012, the band was nominated in the 2012 EG Music Awards, run by The Age newspaper sold in Victoria, Australia, alongside Something For Kate, The Temper Trap and The Dirty Three, among others. Oh Mercy won the 2012 EG Award for Outstanding Achievement. As of 2012, the EG Music Awards is in its seventh year, the EG Awards and is the largest reader-voted music awards in Australia.[7]

Band members[edit]

  • Alexander Gow
  • Eliza Lam
  • Rohan Sforcina
  • Simon Okely


  • Expats & Eczema ep (2007) - self released
  • "Seemed Like A Good Idea" single (2008) - self released
  • In the Nude For Love ep (2009) - Casadeldisco[8]
  • Privileged Woes (2009) - Casadeldisco/Shock[9]
  • Keith St ep (2010) - Casadeldisco
  • Keith St 7 inch (2010) - Casadeldisco
  • Great Barrier Grief (2011) - Casadeldisco/EMI[10][11][12]
  • Deep Heat (2012) - Casadeldisco/EMI

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kuch, Jesse (16 June 2011), "HYPE Life, love and truth", The Cairns Post 
  2. ^ "Catch them in the Nude", MX (Australia), 12 June 2009 
  3. ^ "No woes as Oh Mercy hit road", The Chronicle (Toowoomba), 1 October 2009 
  4. ^ "Big-name help pays off for band", Fremantle Cockburn Gazette, 16 June 2011 
  5. ^ "Good grief, Mercy", The Canberra Times, 17 March 2011 
  6. ^ "And the ARIA nominees are ...", The Daily Mercury, 14 October 2011 
  7. ^ "The Age 2012 EG Music Awards". The Age. 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Hammond, Graeme (24 May 2009), "In the Nude For Love review", Sunday Herald Sun 
  9. ^ "Oh Mercy", The Canberra Times, 17 September 2009 
  10. ^ Bastow, Clem (22 May 2011), "Great Barrier Grief review", Sunday Age 
  11. ^ Humphries, Glen (31 March 2011), "Great Barrier Grief review", Illawarra Mercury 
  12. ^ Rodway, Anna (6 March 2011), "Great Barrier Grief review", Sunday Herald Sun 

External links[edit]