MisterWives are an indie-pop band from New York City, consisting of singer Mandy Lee, Bassist Will Hehir, guitarist Marc Campbell, drummer Etienne Bowler, and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Blum. Emily Pratten caught up with them in London at the O2 Academy Islington where the band played a one-off show on May 21st.
How’re you doing?
Are you doing a lot of press today?
Mandy: Yeah a bit, but it’s fun. I just feel like we’re not the right people to be interviewing so interviews always seem to go in a totally different direction that I think the interviewer is expecting!
We then look over to a stuffed squirrel that is atop a very sophisticated and very elegantly decorated table. I ask about it and Mandy replies, “Who made that creative decision? I spied that a lot time ago. It’s been watching us.” Will says, “I don’t know. I respect it.”
How was Dublin the other day? I saw you tweet about it.
Mandy: Oh my god! It was amazing. It was unreal. I mean…I guess we’ve been playing these shows now that are bigger, and we’re overseas in Dublin so first of all we’re like “How does anyone know who the hell we are?” And then to be squashed with all these amazing people in such a small room and have it be such an intimate sweaty performance…it was just so much fun. Will cried.
Will: It was emotional. My entire family is from Ireland so it was a kind of homecoming of sorts, and my dad flew over from New York just for the show, which meant the world to me.
What emojis would most describe the band?
Mandy: The poop emoji, and the smile? We can make any bad situation a good one. The party emoji as well. The dancing salsa lady, the singing notes. The diamond ring as well because that’s our logo.
Talking of logos, can you talk to be about the album artwork? It’s really cool.
Mandy: Thank you! Well it’s the treehouse where I wrote most of the album and then coming out of the treehouse are all of our spirit animals. So I’m the elephant, Will’s the dinosaur, and then there’s the octopus and the squirrel and the bird.
Who would you invite to a dinner party, living or dead?
Mandy: Stevie Wonder! Oh my god, he is so funny. We saw him in concert recently and it was amazing just to see Stevie Wonder play of course, he was so magical, but he was also just hysterical.
Ah did he have good stage banter?
Mandy: The best. Yes. The best. The best we’ve ever…we were pissing ourselves. He was joking a lot about the fact he was blind, he was sitting across from the piano and got up and walked to another one and then called the audience out on their worry that he would fall. He was just so funny.
So Stevie Wonder would be there. What about celeb crushes? [One of the boys here states he has an enormous crush on Ryan Gosling. Who doesn’t?]
Will: Mila Kunis.
Mandy: I’d say Tina Fey. She’s a class act.
She’s hilarious. It’s ridiculous that we’re in 2015 and people think that women can’t be funny.
Mandy: Yeah I know! That’s why I chose her.
It’s so stupid. And then when women are funny…
Mandy: People are surprised! I know I know, there’s a song all about it on our album, it’s called Not Your Way.
There’s a real big thing with focusing a lot on the gender of female fronted bands and female solo artists which is a thing that male artists don’t find themselves having to deal with.
Mandy: Like, what’s it like living with a bunch of dudes?
No, like, how do you feel about those types of gendered questions? How do you respond to them?
Mandy: I feel like I don’t really get asked that too much because people know that there’s no difference between any of us at all. I fart and burp just as much as any of these guys.
So you’re all really close and tour must be a huge amount of fun. Is there anything bad about being on tour generally?
Mandy: No, not at all. Honestly. You miss home every once in a while but then you go and play a show and you’re like “Wow okay I feel fulfilled again.” We live together at home so whether we’re at home or on tour we’re always together anyway.
Amazing. And is this your first time touring in the UK?
Mandy: This is our second time being in London. This is the first time going out of the UK, to like, do European excursions.
Are there any stops in mainland Europe you’re particularly excited for?
Mandy: All of them. But Amsterdam definitely is gonna be crazy. I’ve never been. It’s got quite the reputation for being a wild loose cannon so we’re excited.
If you could add a celebrity to your band who would you add? Like you obviously have a hugely strong family dynamic here but who would make the cut?
Mandy: Right. Will Ferrell. On the cowbell [huge laughs].
If you were getting a retro playlist together of like, 90s jams and so on, what would you absolutely not miss out?
Mandy: Wannabe, by Spice Girls – any Spice Girls song – Barbie Girl, Girls and Boys by Blur, No Scrubs, Blink-182, Chumba Wumba.
Your cover of Riptide got a great deal of hits on Spotify, is there anything else you’d like to cover? Any dream covers?
Mandy: Well this has changed recently because the new Jason Derulo song is amazing. It’s uh, Want To Want Me: [sings] “Girl, da da da, I want you to want me”. It’s just like, so amazing. It’s so good; it’s like crack. We normally go with something less mainstream, but this song… We never listen to the radio at home but we did one time and we heard it and now whenever we’re in the car we’re purposely putting on the radio like “Where is that song?” It just makes us so happy.
How was SXSW? I’d have loved to go. Did you get a chance to see a lot of artists during the festival?
Mandy: We got to see the Fat Jewish. Do you know the Fat Jewish? Oh my god, follow him on Instagram and your day will go from zero to a million in like, two seconds. Fat Jewish and Fuck Jerry are the two best Instagram accounts out there. Who else was at SXSW? Marina and the Diamonds was cool, Jack from Bleachers. James Bay was really good.
Do you have a bucket list?
Mandy: It’s sounds cliché but we’re kind of living our bucket list, we’re living our dreams right now. With everything we’ve gotten to do all of our dreams have come true and it’s hard to keep up with it but it’s mind-blowing. It’s been my dream ever since I could talk. It’s so cool, so like anything that happens next I’m okay with.
And that’s amazing because you all came together and bumped into each other so organically in New York, it was like fate, right?
Mandy: It’s epic. We’re very organic. We’re locally grown, no GMOs, none of that crap. Just real friends playing music [laughs].