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Thirsty Merc

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Thirsty Merc
Side of stage shot of a band playing. Two members are shown in right profile both are playing guitars. Other stage equipment is visible around them. The audience is to the right and below stage level.
Thirsty Merc, March 2011, Fremantle, Western Australia
Background information
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
GenresPop rock
Years active2002 (2002)–present
LabelsDon't, Warner
Associated actsDrown, Twenty Two, Thirsty
MembersPhil Stack
Rai Thistlethwayte
Matt Smith
Past membersKarl Robertson
Matt Baker
Sean Carey
Oliver R Grinter
Vincent Buchanan-Simpson
Brit Wynne
Louis Roach
Tom Rowley
Anthony Alcala
Jordan Barker
Kim Prawn

Thirsty Merc are an Australian pop rock band formed in 2002 by Rai Thistlethwayte (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Phil Stack (bass guitar), Karl Robertson (drums), and Matthew Baker (guitar). In 2004 Baker was replaced by Sean Carey who was, in turn, replaced by Matt Smith in 2010. Thirsty Merc have released one extended play, First Work (September 2003), and four studio albums: Thirsty Merc (August 2004), Slideshows (April 2007), Mousetrap Heart (June 2010) and Shifting Gears (September 2015). The band have sold over 200,000 albums, toured extensively around Australia, and received national radio airplay for their tracks.

In June 2005 Billboard's Christie Eliezer felt their debut album showed "electric rock-, classical- and jazz-influenced pop [that] appealed to Australian radio programmers". The work reached the top 20 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified platinum by ARIA for shipment of 70,000 units by the end of 2005. Slideshows peaked at No. 4 in Australia – their highest position. It reached No. 38 on the New Zealand Albums Chart, however Thirsty Merc had attained No. 29 in that market. The group were nominated for four ARIA Awards in 2005 and the Thistlethwayte-written track, "20 Good Reasons", was nominated for Song of the Year at the APRA Music Awards of 2008. From 2006, their song "In the Summertime" was the opening theme for the Australian TV reality show, Bondi Rescue.


Three of the founding members of Thirsty Merc – Matthew Baker, Karl Robertson, and Phil Stack – had played together in various bands in Dubbo, a regional New South Wales city.[1][2] In 1996 Drown was formed with Baker on guitar, Robertson on drums, Peter Jamieson on vocals, and Stack on bass guitar.[3] By 1998 Baker, Jamieson and Stack had split to form Twenty Two and then moved to Sydney.[4] In 2002, Baker and Stack returned to Dubbo where Rai Thistlethwayte, from Sydney, as lead singer (later also on guitar and keyboards) and Stack worked as a live jazz duo and session musicians.[1] They were joined by Baker and Robertson, and formed a pop rock band, initially called Thirsty; soon after they moved to Sydney and were renamed, Thirsty Merc.[1][2][5] The band's name came from Thistlethwayte's old Mercedes Benz, which was a gas-guzzler.[6]

In October 2006 Thistlethwayte described his jazz and R&B background to MusicFix and the band's sound as "rock Sinatra" where "[t]he outlook, I guess, is about being a young person in today's society ... being an Australian in an American-ised, Britain-ised kind of world, where you're trying to stay true to yourself". Baker added "We contrived to make it not contrived ... Rai was all for originality in his own vision and so were we".[7]

A car accident on 22 September 2015 at Streatham, Victoria during a Thirsty Merc tour killed the band's stage manager and injured drummer Mick Skelton.[8][9]

First Work[edit]

Thirsty Merc's first extended play, First Work, was released on 8 September 2003 by the band's own label, Don't Music and was distributed by Warner Music Australia.[10] The five-track CD was independently recorded during downtime at a studio where Thistlethwayte worked. The EP reached the top 100 on the ARIA Singles Chart;[11] and its lead single, "Wasting Time", achieved radio airplay on national radio stations,[12] Triple J and Nova. The self-funded music video for the single was broadcast on Channel [V],[10] and became the 'ripe clip of the week'. At the time of recording the EP they were without a label.[10] After extensive gigging around Sydney's pubs, representatives from Warner had signed the band in June 2003,[12] for the release of the EP and the follow up single, "Emancipate Myself", which was a reworked version of the EP track.[10] It was issued in April 2004 and The Age's Andrew Murfett declared that "this bitter tirade wrapped in melodic hooks has become one of the biggest local radio successes of the year".[10]

Debut studio album[edit]

On 16 August 2004 Thirsty Merc issued their debut studio album, the self-titled, Thirsty Merc, which was co-produced by the group with Lindsay Gravina (The Living End, Magic Dirt).[10][12] Also that month, prior to a national tour in support of its release, Baker left and was replaced on guitar by Sean Carey (ex-Midnight Swim), whom they had met when playing a support slot to his group at a Kings Cross venue, Club 77.[13][14] The album spent 48 weeks on the ARIA Albums Chart Top 50, peaking at No. 15,[15] and launched the band in the Australian mainstream. dB Magazine's Kelly Parish observed "[e]ven though the band's sound is predominantly rock, it has been influenced by more traditional flavours ... they have developed a very wide audience which embraces both the alternative and mainstream camps".[16] Thirsty Merc reached No. 29 on New Zealand's RIANZ Albums Chart.[17] It was recorded and mixed on 2 inch tape, and then further mixed by Gravina at his Birdland Studios.[18]

Five singles were released from Thirsty Merc: "Emancipate Myself", "My Completeness" (August 2004), "Someday, Someday" (December), "In the Summertime" (April 2005), and "When the Weather Is Fine" (September). All five appeared in the ARIA Singles Chart top 50, with the highest charting, "Someday, Someday" reaching No. 19.[15] Of these singles only "In the Summertime" reached the top 50 in New Zealand, where it peaked at No. 12.[17] In June 2005 Billboard's Christie Eliezer felt the album showed "eclectic rock-, classical- and jazz-influenced pop [that] appealed to Australian radio programmers".[19] The album was due for United States and European release in early 2006 on Atlantic Records.[19]

"In the Summertime" was nominated at the ARIA Music Awards of 2005 for "Best Video", while "Someday, Someday" was nominated for "Single of the Year", "Best Group", and "Best Pop Release".[20][21] At the ceremony in October, the group performed "Someday, Someday".[22] In 2006 Carey described the group's style to Jet Magazine, it was "Just be yourself" and "about being young and living in Australia. We’re not trying to be 50 Cent or anything, we’re all just boys from the country, just trying to move into the city and make our way".[5] He listed Evermore, Crowded House, Foo Fighters and Cold Chisel as his favourite bands.[5] In February 2007 they supported Ozzy Osbourne on the Australian leg of his national tour.[23]


Thirsty Merc's second album, Slideshows, was issued on 21 April 2007 via Warner Music Australia. It became the band's most successful release yet, peaking at No. 4 in Australia,[15] although it was less successful in New Zealand, only reaching No. 38.[17] To support the release of Slideshows, Thirsty Merc toured Australia, playing an album tour in theatres nationally and then various regional tours, the biggest of which had 38 shows booked across seven weeks. The album's first single, "20 Good Reasons" (March 2007), reached No. 4 in Australia and No. 17 in New Zealand.[15][17] In June they supported Evermore on a tour of New Zealand, showcasing their "unique blend of pop rock dance-able balladry".[24] The next three singles appeared in the top 100 in Australia, "The Hard Way" (September),[25] "Those Eyes" (December), and "Homesick" (May 2008).

The band's main songwriter, Thistlethwayte, inadvertently wrote a "break-up album", which The Sydney Morning Herald's Brett Winterford noted was unusual, "that the articulate and intelligent 27-year-old has strung together 12 such stock-standard, radio-friendly songs about broken hearts".[26] Thistlethwayte described his influences: "Jazz taught me about spontaneity ... Central to jazz is improvisation. It's also great to get that knowledge of theory, an understanding of the geeky side of music" and writing advertising jingles had showed him how to "do a lot of things in differing genres and recording styles – but had to try to be authentic about it".[26] After writing the tracks, the other members "choose the songs that had the ultimate emotional impact".[26]

Mousetrap Heart[edit]

The band is seen in right profile. Robertson is at left and obscured by his drum kit and stage structures. Smith has his back to the viewer and is partly obscured by a microphone stand. Stack is further away and mostly blocked by Smith. Thistlethwayte is behind a keyboard at front of the stage with a microphone at his mouth. Other stage equipment is visible including bright over head lights.
Thirsty Merc, May 2011, Queensland. From left to right: Karl Robertson, Matt Smith (closest to viewer), Phil Stack (partly obscured), Rai Thistlethwayte.

On 14 January 2010 Thirsty Merc announced that Carey had left the band and was replaced on guitar by Matt Smith, from afrobeat and reggae band, The Strides.[27][28] Carey wanted to work as a record producer and spend more time with his wife.[27] On 18 June 2010 Thirsty Merc released their third album, Mousetrap Heart, which was recorded mostly in Los Angeles with Matt Wallace co-producing, while two tracks were produced in Melbourne with Gravina.[29] Bernard Zuel of The Sydney Morning Herald opined that "we buy, or actively avoid, songs that excite a response in us but radio wants songs that fit in, that don't provoke strong responses, that offend the fewest people ... this [album] is a collection of extremely professional, well-considered, carefully targeted songs whose key performance indicators are ticked off one by one in a manner so efficient you suspect band meetings must have an agenda, notes secretary and double-cream biscuits for elevenses".[30]

The band toured nationally in July 2010 to support the album, while its lead single, the title track, had appeared in May and charted in the Top 30 on the ARIA Singles Chart.[15] The second single, "Tommy and Krista", was released in September, which peaked at No. 10 in New Zealand.[17] Another single, "All My Life", was featured in the promotional clips for the 2010 AFL grand final. Its music video was directed by Adrian Van de Velde and was shot in early October in Bangkok, Thailand. The narrative is a 'heroic love' set on a local military base and features Russian model-actress Maria Mazikova, together with 50 Thai army troops, an Iroquois helicopter, and a Chinook helicopter.[29][31] In November Lip Magazine's Shannon Andreucci reviewed a live gig, "[they] are certainly no Pixies, Beatles or Sex Pistols. They're not breaking any rules or boundaries in the revolutionary world of rock music. In fact they are perfectly happy and capable of playing within the parameters of radio friendly and commercially safe pop rock. But one thing is for sure; they go the extra mile in giving a charmingly refined and hearty live performance and that in itself should be commended".[32]


Current members
Former members
  • Matt Baker – guitar, backing vocals (2002–2004)
  • Sean Carey – guitar, backing vocals (2004–2009)
  • Karl Robertson – drums, percussion (2002–2014)


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Thirsty Merc 15 29
  • Released: 21 April 2007
  • Label: Warner Music Australia (5144204302)
  • Formats: CD, download
4 38
Mousetrap Heart
  • Released: 18 June 2010
  • Label: Warner Music Australia (5186591662)
  • Formats: CD, download
Shifting Gears
  • Released: 4 September 2015
  • Label: MGM Distribution
  • Formats: CD, download
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
First Work
  • Released: 8 September 2003
  • Label: Don't Music
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"Wasting Time" 2003 95 First Work
"Emancipate Myself" 2004 37 Thirsty Merc
"My Completeness" 26 34
"Someday, Someday" 19
"In the Summertime" 43 12
"When the Weather Is Fine" 2005 46
"20 Good Reasons" 2007 4 17 Slideshows
"The Hard Way" 63
"Those Eyes"
"Homesick" 2008
"Mousetrap Heart" 2010 30 Mousetrap Heart
"Tommy and Krista" 10
"All My Life" 80
"The Good Life" 2015 Shifting Gears
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Awards and nominations[edit]

APRA Music Awards[edit]

The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).[37]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2006 "Someday, Someday" (Rai Thistlethwayte) – Thirsty Merc Most Played Australian Work[38] Nominated
2008 "20 Good Reasons" (Rai Thistlethwayte) – Thirsty Merc Song of the Year[39] Nominated
Most Played Australian Work[39] Nominated

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards are presented annually from 1987 by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Thirsty Merc have received four nominations.[20][21]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 "In the Summertime" – Adrian Van De Velde – Thirsty Merc Best Video Nominated
"Someday, Someday" Single of the Year Nominated
Best Group Nominated
Best Pop Release Nominated


  1. ^ a b c Scott, Jeremy (25 January 2007). "Thirsty Merc Snubs Dubbo – Regional Tour Itinerary Omits 'Home' Town". Daily Liberal. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2007) [1987]. "Thirsty Merc". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.
  3. ^ Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2007) [1987]. "Drown". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.
  4. ^ Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2007) [1987]. "Twenty Two". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.
  5. ^ a b c Olivia Skinner, ed. (2006). "Thirsty Merc". Jet Magazine. APN Publishing. Archived from the original on 1 January 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  6. ^ Banoub, Marina. "Thirsty Merc – Full Biography". MTV Australia. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Drown-ing One Day, Thirsty the Next". MusicFix. ninemsn. 30 October 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Australian band Thirsty Merc crew member killed in car crash". 23 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Thirsty Merc drummer Mick Skelton wakes from coma after fatal crash". 28 September 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Murfett, Andrew (13 August 2004). "Running on Empathy". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  11. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 6th October 2003" (PDF). The ARIA Report. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) (711): 4. 6 October 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Cashmere, Paul (26 November 2003). "Thirsty Merc to Start Work on Debut Album". Undercover Music News. Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman. Archived from the original on 29 March 2004. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  13. ^ Jason Ankeny. "Thirsty Merc > Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  14. ^ Mathewson, Catriona (26 July 2007). "On the Road Again". The Courier-Mail. Queensland Newspapers (News Corporation). Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Hung, Steffen. "Discography – Thirsty Merc". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  16. ^ Parish, Kelly (11–24 August 2004). "Thristy Merc". dB Magazine. Arna Eyers-White (338). Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Hung, Steffen. "Thirsty Merc – Discography". New Zealand Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Catching up with Thirsty Merc (July 04)". Australian Music Online. 19 July 2004. Archived from the original on 9 September 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  19. ^ a b Eliezer, Christie (4 June 2005). "Global Pulse: Merc Revs Up". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 117 (23): 51. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Winners by Year: Search Results 'Thirsty Merc'". Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  21. ^ a b "ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year 2005: 19th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  22. ^ Donovan, Patrick (24 October 2005). "Missy Higgins Wraps Up the ARIAs". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  23. ^ McWhirter, Erin (9 February 2007). "Fed: Thirsty Merc not singing the blues about Osbourne spotlight". AAP News. Financial Times Ltd. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  24. ^ "Evermore and Thirsty Merc on Tour June 2007". Under the Radar. New Zealand. 1 May 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  25. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 5 November 2007" (PDF). The ARIA Report. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) (922): 4. 5 November 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  26. ^ a b c Winterford, Brett (17 May 2007). "Thirsty Merc". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  27. ^ a b Carey, Sean (14 January 2010). "Hey Guys, Sean Here..." Thirsty Merc Official Website. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  28. ^ Thistlethwayte, Rai (19 January 2010). "New Guitarist!". Thirsty Merc Official Website. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  29. ^ a b Cashmere, Paul. "Thirsty Merc – Undercover Interviews". UCTV. (Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman). Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  30. ^ Zuel, Bernard (19 June 2010). "Thirsty Merc: Mousetrap Heart". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Thristy Merc – 'All My Life' [Official Video]". NME. IPC Media (Time Inc.). Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  32. ^ Andreucci, Shannon (24 November 2010). "Live Music Review: Thirsty Merc". Lip Magazine. Zoya Patel. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2005 Albums". ARIA. Archived from the original on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Albums". ARIA. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Singles". ARIA. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  37. ^ "APRA History". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  38. ^ "Nominations - 2006". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 20 April 2003.
  39. ^ a b "Nominations - 2008". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 20 April 2003.

External links[edit]