It’s evening, and we’ve found ourselves in a surprisingly pleasant alleyway on the edge of Gastown. With us are Harvey Merritt, Travis Goeres, and Liam Less, our down-to-earth stars for today’s photoshoot. Despite the threat of rain, they’re upbeat and full of spirited conversation.
The Ponytails band members only arrived on the Vancouver music scene a year and a half ago, but they’ve already caught the city’s attention with their charismatic blend of psychedelic pop sounds and old-schol surf rock. Today, the three band members have agreed to chat with us about their upcoming summer schedule.
In between shots Merritt, lead vocals for Ponytails, grins at the mention of his Wallace Hamilton digs. Like the rest of the band, he’s a creative soul; as a kid, he even considered fashion design. “But I couldn’t draw for shit,” he laughs. Merritt’s life may have taken a different turn, but the musician still appreciates quality menswear.
As it stands now, best friends Merritt and Goeres split their time between the band and their work at New Shanghai Barber Shop. The pair actually met through an old barber shop that Goeres managed. “I was kind of an asshole at the time,” Merritt admits of their first meeting. “I was an alcoholic and ended up getting fired for that.” He knew it was time to make a change in his life, so he checked himself into rehab—and that’s where he met Liam Less.
They both came out of their rehab stints with a lot more than they expected. Their friendship was kind of a two-for-one deal: Less gained a new friend and barber, and Merritt gained a friend and talented musician. Less was literally getting his haircut by Merritt when the Ponytails co-founder asked him to play bass for the band.
They released their first EP the winter of 2016, and the following autumn they met Graham Serl—affectionately known as Serly Bird—through mutual friends in the Vancouver music scene. Serl, who couldn’t join us for the shoot, is Ponytails’ multitalented drummer. According to the rest of the band, he’s been “a beloved addition to the group,” and we’re excited to see his Ponytails debut this summer.
For Ponytails, writing music is a truly organic process, and whatever comes out and sounds good, that’s what they keep. “That’s one of the great things about Vancouver’s music scene, and music in general,” says Goeres. “It’s that you don’t have to be tied down to a singular genre.” When asked about musical influences though, Goeres points out that each member has a diverse range of musical tastes and that together, they’ve never really aspired to a particular genre. “People do describe our music as post-surf, I guess, but really, it’s everyone playing the instruments the way they want to play them.”
Goeres, lead guitar for Ponytails, is also the guy who’s in charge of organizing the band’s performance schedule. He’s had a hectic few months setting up their summer tour, and with new music coming out this year, he’s as busy as ever in and out of the recording studio.
Starting this summer, Ponytails will be releasing three singles, each with a pair of tracks you can jam to before the year’s over. When asked what fans should expect of their upcoming tracks, Merritt appears thoughtful.
“Growth,” says Merritt. “And there’s a bit more of a mellow, pop sound to it… not as dark as some of the songs from our old EP.” Their new music sounds summer-ready, and first up is Darlings. A music video has already wrapped for one of its two songs, so you’ll be able to watch “Cherry Pie” online this summer.
Back at the Wallace Hamilton storefront, Merritt, Travis, and Less are taking bites out of their vegan burritos (whether they’re vegans or not remains unclear) while chatting with our crew.
The image reminds us of a story Merritt told us earlier. The band name “Ponytails” came from a discussion Merritt and Goeres once had about the future of their hair: “We just thought fuck it, one day we’re going to be old dudes with long hair and ponytails, and it’s going to be awesome,” says Merritt. When the time came to name the band, Goeres didn’t miss a beat.
It’s easy to envision Ponytails decades from now eating vegan burritos while debating everything from pop culture to music. And they’ll have ponytails, and it’ll be awesome.
Check out Ponytails on Bandcamp, and catch them live this summer:
May 24th Nanaimo, BC @ The Vault Café
May 25th Victoria, BC @ Vinyl Envy
May 26th Salt Spring Island, BC @ Moby’s Pub
May 30th Kelowna, BC @ Habitat
May 31st Calgary, AB @ Night Owl
June 1st Edmonton, AB @ Sewing Machine Factory
June 2nd Revelstoke, BC @ The Last Drop
July 7th Vancouver, BC @ Khatsalano Festival
July 14th Horsefly, BC @ Arts on the Fly Festival