Interview: Damon Atkinson of Hey Mercedes

Tonight, Hey Mercedes kicks off their first US tour since their split in 2005. The tour comes as Run For Cover Records prepares to reissue their seminal debut album, Every Night Fireworks in a double LP format for its 15 year anniversary. I was lucky enough to ask some questions of drummer Damon Atkinson about what makes their debut album so special and what to expect from a band who hasn’t tour in over a decade together.

You are reissuing Every Night Fireworks, considered by many to be your masterwork. Do you think it is your best album?

I wouldn’t say it’s our best album but I certainly wouldn’t say it’s our worst either. Coming from a band who only released two full lengths, we don’t have much to compare it to. I would say Everynight Fire Works is my favorite though.

What is your fondest memory of recording the album?

The entire process was my fondest memory. Meaning, we recorded in the middle of nowhere in Cannon Falls, MN at this really cool studio/property. We had an entire 4 bedroom house to ourselves which had an indoor heated pool and a huge forest-like yard with a stream running through it, and then the actual studio had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the forest and stream. It was incredible recording this record there.

I assume you had to re-listen to the album before re-issuing it. Is there anything new you have noticed?

Not really. A couple drum fills I did that made me question what the hell I was thinking of back then.

Why do you think the album has stood the test of time?

Maybe because of when it was released and the touring we did surrounding it. 2001 was a strong year for types of bands like Hey Mercedes and I think having a label like Vagrant Records release it along with all of the other bands (The Get Up Kids, The Anniversary, Hot Rod Circuit, Saves The Day, Dashboard Confessional, etc.) It was an exciting time for music. Bands were moving a bit more toward upbeat fun songs as opposed to the sappier, slower emo songs. But what the heck do I know?

What is your favorite song to play live from the album?

I have a few favorites. My favorite song to play is “Eleven to your Seven.” It’s so much fun to play. Second favorite would probably be “Que Shiraz.” But as we’ve been rehearsing for this tour, I’ve been having a blast playing all of the songs.

As you embark on a US tour to support the deluxe reissue, what should fans expect from the shows?

I think they can easily expect the same amount of energy we use to put into our shows a decade ago. They can also expect us to play Everynight Fire Works from start to finish, and then we have about 7 or 8 other songs from our other releases including our debut self titled EP that we’ll be playing. I think it’s a really fun mix of songs and I cannot wait to finally get this tour started.

Finally, what’s next for Hey Mercedes? Maybe a new album?

Doubtful. We’re really just enjoying celebrating the 15th anniversary of this record and getting it back out there on vinyl but with extra songs all in one release. Playing shows will be incredibly fun for Bob, Todd, Mike & I and hopefully will be even more fun for everyone who comes to see us live. That’s all we’re focusing on right now, but certainly no talks of new music.

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