Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to chat with Have Mercy mastermind Brian Swindle about his band’s then upcoming album, Make The Best Of It. This was back in early April 2017, and at the time I had spent just a couple weeks listening to the album. I had even written a review of the record, which appeared in issue #57 of our magazine. Our chat lasted somewhere in the area of fifteen minutes, and from what I recall it was a pretty great conversation.
I agreed to interview Swindle with intention of creating an online feature for Substream using highlights from our conversation. Some of you may already be able to piece together what happened – or in this case, did not happen – based on the title of this editorial, but the piece never ran. This was not due to me or anyone here forgetting the feature. Somewhere between recording my chat with Brian, saving it, and later returning to transcribe it the file became corrupted and a draft of the feature never made it into existence. By the time I realized this nearly a week had passed and, to be honest, I was embarrassed.
There are very few rules that apply to everyone in the world of music journalism, but not running an exclusive interview a PR team set up specifically for you is a big no-no. Every few weeks since then I have been asked about that interview from the people who put it into motion, and more often than not I have tucked my tail between my legs and ran. Why? Because I hate to admit I messed up. I hate the thought of someone being disappointed in me. I hate having to ask for forgiveness, especially when I don’t feel it is deserved.
If there were a way for me to tell you the details of that conversation from memory without quoting Brian I would, but at this point such efforts would be the writing equivalent of grasping at straws. I have probably conducted one-hundred interviews since then, and trying to recall the details of more than a few can be a challenge. What I do remember is that Brian was kind, and his excitement over the excitement others had for his new music was palpable. I remember the way it felt to tell him his music had helped me as well, which now is even harder to admit because of how the promotion I should have given him did not come to pass. I let him down as much as his team or the people who might have read that post, and for that I feel like I cannot apologize enough.
The title Make The Best Of It comes from a line in a song that ended up not making the album. Maybe it’s silly of me to connect with this point, but here I am writing an editorial about an interview that will never appear in this publication. I thought for a long time I could brush off my feelings and find a way to move forward professionally, but the album itself refused to allow me such comforts. I’m the biggest fan of Have Mercy I know, and I realized at some point that if I was going to continue championing a band that has helped me so much then I should be mature enough to admit when I let them down. I believe Brian Swindle would do the same if roles were reverse. In fact, he kind of did when he told CLRVYNT about being unhappy with Have Mercy’s second album, A Place Of Our Own, almost immediately after it was released:
“I didn’t think we’d done enough with A Place of Our Own, and I wasn’t happy with songs. Immediately when that record was released, I was like, “We need to get back in the studio. We need to make something better to make up for this.”
No one asked me to write this post, but after spending the last several months finding comfort through Make The Best Of It I felt it necessary to say something. Listening to this record has taught me that sometimes things fall apart for reasons we could never have predicted, but that lack of knowing is no reason to live in fear. To do so would be to deny yourself the journey of life, and that journey is riddled with setbacks too numerous to count. Sometimes you lose an interview you thought was great and sometimes – in the case of Swindle – you lose every other member in your band just before getting to work on your latest album. Sometimes you let people close to you down without setting out to do so, and sometimes you lose your apartment with zero notice while trying to figure out how to keep your dream alive in the face of a mountain of difficulties (that last one also happened to Swindle while creating Make The Best Of It).
Another thing I have learned from five-plus months with Make The Best Of It is the inevitability that you will one day realize most of life is out of your control. There are things you can do to shape your reality, but this adventure called life that we’re all on can only end one way. You can either let that fact destroy you or choose to rage against the dying of the light until your body fails you, but either way you are only guaranteed this time you have right now. Every moment spent living in fear or denying your truth is another moment you can never get back. You may think you’re helping others, but really you’re hurting yourself and deceiving those who actually give a damn you exist.
Have Mercy will be touring this fall. My plan is to attend a few shows and, hopefully, cross paths with Swindle in hopes of apologizing in person for my mistake. I also want to thank him because I only found the strength to accept my shortcomings and admit them to others through listening to his music. Make The Best Of It is a record about many things, but when you get down to it the core lesson deals with doing exactly as the title suggests in ever facet of life. Control what you can, accept what you cannot, and embrace the reality of your situation because that is the only way you will ever grow. Denial does not benefit anyone in the long run, nor does pretending something did not happen when it did. I’ve known that my whole life, but I wasn’t ready to accept that as truth in my situation until Have Mercy showed me the way. For that, I am eternally grateful.
10/06 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
10/07 – Richmond, VA @ The Camel
10/08 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre
10/10 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
10/11 – Margate, FL @ O’Malley’s
10/12 – Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
10/13 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/14 – Nashville, TN @ The End
10/16 – Houston, TX @ Walter’s
10/17 – Austin, TX @ Come And Take It Live
10/18 – Dallas, TX @ RBC Dallas
10/20 – Mesa, AZ @ Nile Theater
10/21 – Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
10/22 – San Diego, CA @ The Irenic
10/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
10/25 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone Berkeley
10/27 – Portland, OR @ Analog Theater
10/28 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
10/30 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
10/31 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
11/01 – Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
11/03 – Minneapolis, MN @ Amsterdam Bar and Hall
11/04 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
11/05 – Detroit, MI @ The Loving Touch
11/07 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s
11/08 – Toronto, ON @ The Hard Luck
11/09 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
11/10 – Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room
11/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
11/12 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair