I N T E R V I E W
MSMR101: An Interview with Dr Mesmer's Private Army
with Ian Duggan
It's only a few days until the 10th Annual Circle Jerk! One band making its first appearance at the event is Dr Mesmer's Private Army. We talked to Kent Macpherson (Octave guitar/synth/field recordings) about the concept behind band's performances, aspirations, and the story behind their name.
HUP: You are not a typical band. Explain to us how a Dr Mesmer’s Private Army performance works.
Kent: Every show we do is improvised. We have been together for 2 years and had our first rehearsal last week! That was because we needed to figure some riffs and motifs from other bands to weave in to our set. Every show we have done has been in the key of A minor. It provides us with a simple framework to escape within. Our shows are freeform with no breaks. There are ebbs and flows, dynamic shifts. Slow and hypnotic.
HUP: The concept of the band appears in many ways similar to that of ex-Hamilton band ‘Grok’, with the improvisational nature of the recordings. What was your inspiration for the concept?
Kent: Jeremy [Mayall] and Kent [Macpherson] spoke about this concept of live ambient improvisations influenced by the avant classical soundscapes of artists like Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds, utilising pianos, guitars and electronics alongside field recordings. Both of us have been interested in the idea of incorporating a visual aspect to a somewhat static onstage musical performance. Yotam [Levy; cellist] is a rare breed of classically trained performers who is comfortable with this chaos and calm.
HUP: You have released a number of recordings via Bandcamp this year, made up of different live performances, and a studio album called ‘Introductions to the Cosmos’. For someone wanting to experience the band, what track would you suggest for them to go and experience first?
Kent: Dawn 1 is a very good introduction to what we do. It's an early recording for us but captures us in fine form.
HUP: The band has been active for just over two years. How many performances have you done in that time? Is the project becoming more serious through time?
Kent: We have done about 15 shows we think. It is semi-serious as all of us have our professional lives outside of it. We all love to hang out and do shows. We don't take ourselves too seriously and truly enjoy the challenge of being in the moment and taking an audience with us on an audio-visual journey through space and time.
HUP: Do you have aspirations for the band?
Kent: We are very keen to take the group to the regions, and in particular, primary and high schools. We recently played to around 100 year 4-6 students at Woodstock Primary School in Hamilton. Their minds were totally blown! We did a Q and A after our performance and the students asked some truly inspired questions. We love playing art galleries and outdoors. We are looking at playing through water at some stage, whilst our audience listens whilst floating above underwater speakers.
HUP: What is behind the name, ‘Dr Mesmer’s Private Army’?
Kent: Paul's (visuals) partner came up with it. The word mesmerise is named after Dr Mesmer, who was actually a real person! None of us really know what it means but it does have a certain cryptic nature to it, which we love.
Visit Dr Mesmer's Private Army's Bandcamp page HERE