Long identifying with Tampa’s DIY punk scene, Merchandise’s second proper album, Children of Desire, falls somewhere outside its genre barrier—but where, exactly, is difficult to pin down. It’s a noisy, painful, romantic gesture made by believers in capital-A Art and not so much in capital-B Business that has found them in an unfamiliar spotlight. For a band that allegedly turned down Pitchfork coverage (though that has since changed), their sold-out, three-night spree through NYC this September and hyped return for last week’s CMJ festival was nothing but unexpected, and maybe for no one more than the band.
Talking on the phone from his home in Florida fighting “some weird mouth infection” (“It’s not like I made out with any strange people while I was up in New York”) frontman Carson Cox reflects on the last few months, Merchandise’s desire to stay industry outsiders, and the frustration of being mistaken as a Brooklyn band—a label they don’t at all want. He’s extremely friendly and talks with little breaks, allowing a series of unfiltered thoughts and ideas to tumble out that occasionally bump into self-contradiction. Making sense of Internet success has never been easy though. Especially if you’re determined to fight the good fight.