Former JSB frontman finds new sound

Despite being a relatively new band, there is some serious musical muscle powering Halifax group Craig Mercer and The Will Be Gones. Comprised of members from various Halifax-area bands including heavy metal band Big Game Hunt and Myles Deck and The Fuzz, the group is led by Craig Mercer, the frontman for the recently disbanded Jimmy Swift Band.

Musically, Mercer’s Will Be Gones walk a different path than Jimmy Swift did. While the latter focused upon sweat-soaked live shows that swirled around a sweaty electronic-rock experience, The Will Be Gones opt for a more direct, roots-rock approach that would be at home alongside albums by Neil Young.

Craig Mercer and The Will Be Gones will be taking the stage at Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub in downtown Moncton tomorrow evening. The show is slated to start at 9:30 p.m.

The Will Be Gones first started making music together last summer when Mercer joined forces with Halifax band Deerfield in preparation for a Johnny Cash Tribute Night at a Halifax club.

“We ended up jamming at their rehearsal space a few times before the show and it was a ton of fun,” Mercer begins. “At the time, I had been looking for a band to play material I had written and it was such a perfect fit that the Will Be Gones were born.

“When the Jimmy Swift Band started, we were more of a rock band, with a stronger emphasis on songs and songwriting than what we had become in later years. I find that The Will Be Gones are taking me back to that place.”

Asked about the demise of his former band after a very fruitful 10-plus years together, Mercer says that it had become obvious to him that the direction his songwriting was headed and where the band was headed were two different directions.

“JSB was always a pretty complex entity. Ten years of touring and playing together led to some differences in opinion between some of us, so we decided that the band had run its course and called it a day,” Mercer says. “I am still very proud of what we were able to do as an independent band in this country though.

“JSB embodied a power in music that I have rarely heard anywhere; a feeling I don’t get while playing live anymore but one that I hope to find again someday.”

With roughly 20 songs ready to record with The Will Be Gones, Mercer says that he has probably been more prolific with his songwriting in the past year than ever before. Although he has no firm timetable set for a record release, he admits that getting into the studio is just a matter of time at this point.

“We are planning on recording early this fall and taking our time to make sure it is something we are happy with. I have a lot of confidence in this material; I think these songs are some of the best that I have ever written. After that, who knows though? We plan on taking things step by step and seeing what happens when the record comes out.”

Article published in August 12, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript