Misterwives – The Best of What’s Next

Music Features MisterWives

Misterwives know commitment. From their name, chosen to reflect frontwoman and solo female member Mandy Lee’s figurative marriage to the dudes in the group, to the group’s tight quarters and serendipitous meetings, Misterwives’ history has some convincing parallels with a romantic story arc—beginning with their immediate musical chemistry.

“I was friends with Will for a while, and we used to just jam for fun,” Lee says. “Etienne and I used to work a block away from each other in the city, and we used to cross paths and always talk about music. We invited him to rehearsal, and we all just clicked immediately.”

Misterwives’ sound is cohesive for such a young band, pairing Lee’s effervescent vocals with an array of percussion, guitar, bass, even trumpet and accordion sounds.

“I’ve done touring before with other bands, and it’s great, but it never felt the way this feels,” drummer Etienne Bowler says, who has been playing percussion since age 12. “So I’ve been trying to get here for the past 15 years, and I feel like I’m finally at home.”

After just one rehearsal with the original trio (Lee, Bowler and guitarist Will Hehir) along with new members Marc Campbell and Dr. Blum, the musicians of Misterwives had found their match. Things began to happen very quickly for the band, whose live show is buoyant yet powerful, and after one particularly strong performance at Canal Room, the band got hooked up with Photo Finish Records, which got the ball rolling on making their dreams of a long-term career in music a reality.

“We started to take the project very seriously,” guitarist Will Hehir says. “We all moved in together, so it’s kind of a reflection of our making sure that this is the thing we’re going to be doing for the rest of our lives.”

Bandmates, roommates and buddies, Lee and the guys have also been out on the road together, playing support on tour with Walk The Moon and American Authors. Long drives in the van and countless PB&J’s set to a radio soundtrack inspired one of their most viral tracks, a re-arranged cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”

“The song was on the radio the whole tour, and it just kind of became an ongoing thing between us, like ‘just hold on, we’re going home,’” said Lee. “It’s just a different interpretation for sure.”

But Misterwives’ success in songwriting far outshines their penchant for catchy covers, and songs like melancholy “Coffins” and catchy single “Twisted Tongue” showcase Lee’s versatile writing style.

“I write the skeletons on the keys and write all the vocal parts, and then we bring it to the band and just rehearse it out until it sounds like a band, and sounds like Misterwives,” said Lee of the songwriting process.

“Sometimes Mandy will bring a song in and we’ll actually record it before we ever play it,” Bowler adds. “So we’ll have these demos that’re pretty bare bones, and it kind of starts that way.”

This lack of hesitation, both in the studio and on the stage, probably has something to do with the band’s extensive background in music before Misterwives. Lee’s vocals, a focal point in all of the tracks, were honed in performing arts school where she studied opera, and are accented by her high-spirited attitude.

“I was just a very nutty child,” she says. “I’ve sang since I could speak pretty much—it’s the one thing in life that I knew that I wanted to do.”

Polishing her vocals studying German, Italian and French opera and later enrolling in songwriting classes, Lee’s upbringing in a musical environment right in New York made immersing herself in music at home with her bandmates all the more natural.

“We turned one of the bedrooms into a studio,” she says. “And we don’t see a lot of sunlight because we constantly are recording in our apartment in the Bronx.”

This ‘round-the-clock attention to recording is something the band hopes to maintain in 2014, with hopes to retreat to the studio and get a full-length album together. In the meantime, all ears are on their EP, out this month, a six-song collection titled Reflections.

“Each song emphasized something that’s happened within the past year or two that’s stuck out to us, or to me at least, in writing,” said Lee. “We got to record it ourselves, you know, Etienne produced it in our bedrooms, and it’s a cool reflection of Misterwives in the beginning. I think it speaks volumes as to what sound we’re about, and what kind of music we were into from the beginning.”

The band’s influences range from Animal Collective and Reptar to vocal legends like Aretha Franklin, and their energy on-stage takes poppy cues from ‘90s bands like No Doubt.

“I’ve been in many different bands with many different projects, but it wasn’t until recently that it felt right,” said Lee, and Bowler and Hehir seem to agree. It’s hard to argue with their logic when you look at the timeline: as Misterwives hits its one-year anniversary as a band this month, they’re releasing a proper debut EP into a flurry of attention thanks to a wide presence on Soundcloud and a handful of bloggers championing their work. As they embark on another year together, the group says they hope to continue the recording and touring they’ve been doing on a bigger scale, possibly even expanding to Europe or planning a headlining tour.

“You’d think we’d be sick of each other, considering we see way too much of one another,” said Lee. “We’ll let you know how it goes the following year, you never know. We might all kill each other. For now, we’re all best friends. We’re not a band, we’re definitely a family.”

Misterwives’ debut EP Reflections is out today on Photo Finish Records.

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