Nights In

Interview: misterwives

Meet MisterWives. Collectively they are Mandy Lee (vocals), Etienne Bowler (drums), William Hehir (bass), Marc Campbell (guitar), Jesse Blum (keys, trumpet, accordion) and not neglecting to include sit-in saxophonist Mike Murphy in the MisterWives mix.
The New York City based band are coming to Dublin to the Whelans’ stage on May 19th to perform in support of the release of their debut full length album Our Own House. 
On route from Kentucky up to Connecticut, Will chatted with me, saying that they will stop in Pittsburgh for a bit, as there was a long drive ahead of them. 
He explained that his mom is from Galway and his dad is from Claire, and that as a result, he is no stranger to Irish shores. He has spent a lot of time here and always had a good time in Ireland, but he is very excited about the prospect of visiting our capital, as it will be his first time in Dublin. 
He explained that live performances are “absolutely their favourite thing” and the reason why they got into the business. He went on to explain that “it doesn’t matter if you are playing a half an hour or an hour, for that length of time you get to forget about everything, it’s the best thing in the world for them.” To get to play in front of people and indeed to get to go to Dublin is “bewildering” to him, he articulated.
The album Our Own House is very commanding, even the title suggests so. For example, the song Not Your Way deals with female empowerment and Queens is a soulful ode to life. It smacks of confidence and gives the impression of a ‘this is who we are and this is what we have to say’ ethos. Asking Will if that is an accurate observation, he said: 
“That couldn’t be more accurate. You nailed it. The whole idea of the album is that this is what we are, what we are doing and we are so grateful for everyone who has been so incredibly supportive over the last two years.”
There appears to be a great chemistry between the band members, so I inquired how they all met. “I met the lead singer through a mutual friend and Mandy met the drummer, Etienne, because they worked in cafes near one another,” Will explained.
“Etienne had played in a different band with our keyboard player, Jesse, so we brought him on. We went to the neighbourhood bar and we found our guitar player who was a bartender. It happened to be like the best Irish pub in New York City,” he said with a laugh. 
Asking about sit-in saxophonist Mike Murphy, I discovered that he is definitely a regular feature in the band and he has been on almost every tour with them. “Especially now, considering the new album, which is very horn based,” explained Will.
Music has no boundaries and that sentiment is echoed and very audible in the new album. Again to revisit the ethos of the band, there is so much going on in their sound, many genres of music are present in some form. I asked Will whether that was a correct observation. 
“Great observation and I think that is really the whole point, there are so many different genres,” he explained. “We all come from so many different musical backgrounds and it’s great to be able to incorporate them all. I don’t think we ever want to be put into one specific genre, it depends on whatever the song is and we sit down and work through it and see what we can do with it. We are all influenced by different musicians and different genres,” he added. 
Their journey as a band since their formation in 2012 was next discussed. A track from Their Reflections EP received twenty two million streams online and I asked how the experience of appearing on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! was. 
He laughed and explained that it was incredibly surreal, as is how they have advanced since Reflections. “It was an album that we put together because we wanted to play big music. We actually recorded it in our drummer’s bedroom and produced and engineered it all, so it was brilliant to actually go into a studio and work on Our Own House and come out with a final product and have a little time to do that,” he added.
The video for the title track of the album Our Own House is both vibrant and very profound. I asked as they have a lot to say through their songs, whether the video is a deliberate comment on that concept. 
“You know, I don’t think we actually intentionally did that, but that is actually brilliant,” he laughed, adding that they “should have definitely thought that way.” 
“I guess in a sort of way we all wear our hearts on our sleeves. When we are playing music, our personalities shine through and that is who we are as individuals. Everything about our music is the writing on the wall, there is no BS and we all just play our instruments and have so much fun doing what we do. 
“I don’t think we intentionally did that, but very apt observation. I definitely think that is the whole idea when Mandy is writing all these songs. There is so much going on in the world today, we are trying to talk about each individual thing, our individual topics and obviously gender equality is a huge issue. All the lyrics come directly from Mandy’s heart,” he explained.
As we were sadly running out of time, I finally asked if the band’s name MisterWives is a gender equality reference. He brilliantly explained that essentially it is and it is a play on the Mormon term Sister Wives. In the Mormon religion one man can have multiple women, many can be the lesser and it is the concept of the wives.

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